Temperance “Tempe” Wick is one of the most famous women of the Revolutionary War era in New Jersey.
Temperance Wick (October 30, 1758 – April 26, 1822), also known as Tempe Wick , was an American Revolutionary War heroine and the subject of many early American legends.
On December 21, 1780, her father Henry Wick died at Jockey Hollow. In January 1781, the Pennsylvania soldiers under the command of General Anthony Wayne mutinied.
The soldiers intended to gather food and other supplies, including horses. They supposedly intended to travel south to Philadelphia to march on Congress to demand higher pay and better living conditions for soldiers.
Instead of heading south to Philadelphia, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania negotiated with them, and the mutiny ended peacefully, and many of the soldiers agreed to stay in the army.
During that same winter, Mary Wick, the widow of Henry Wick, sent her daughter, Temperance Wick, known locally as Tempe, to get her brother-in-law, Dr. Leddel.
Upon returning on her horse, Tempe was stopped by several soldiers and ordered to dismount and give them her horse. Tempe pretended to dismount, but tricked the soldiers, and escaped with her horse.
Tempe was keenly aware the soldiers knew where she lived and the first place they would look for Colonel was the barn.
When she arrived at the farm she led him up the stairs of her home, hiding Colonel in a second floor room, using a feather bed to muffle the sound of the horses hooves.
Legend has it she kept him there for several weeks. The soldiers, of course, never thought to look upstairs for a horse, and Colonel was saved.
Visitors say you can still see the faint imprint of a horse’s hoof on the staircase.
Other versions of her story include Tempe Wick saving General Washington from mutineers during the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny, passing letters through British lines, and acting as a spy. However, these versions of the story are generally regarded as folk tales.
Tempe is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Morristown, New Jersey. Her adventure with Colonel is told on the weathered surface of her large burial stone. She has a road named after her.
Today Wick House is part of the Morristown National Historic Park.
• Download to read Frank Stockton’s full account of this legendary young New Jersey woman and her horse Colonel, Word or ODT (OpenOffice Document), 5pp
• See her Wikipedia page here »
We published this story early in case you want to make a visit to Morristown part of your Independence Day celebrations. Happy 4th to horse lovers everywhere!
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