Molly Pitcher

Molly Pitcher
As Americans began writing their history in the 1800s, they searched for heroes and heroines symbolizing America’s spirit and character. George Washington became “The Father of Our Country.” And America’s Revolutionary War heroine? Molly Pitcher. Bits and pieces of actual people and events, along with half truths and embellishments, evolved into the Molly Pitcher Legend that has been handed down from generation to generation.

The Legend:
On June 28, 1778, Continental and British troops clashed at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. Reported as “one of the hottest days ever known,” soldiers dying of heat and thirst welcomed the sight of Mary Hays, wife of an artillery soldier, as she repeatedly brought water to the exhausted and wounded men. They nicknamed her Molly Pitcher. (Afterwards, any woman bringing water to soldiers on the field, was called “Molly Pitcher.”)

As the battle raged, Molly’s husband was wounded while manning his cannon. Molly rose to the occasion by picking up the rammer and servicing the cannon through out the remainder of the battle. Her heroic efforts were recognized by George Washington himself (as some stories claim) and by the State of Pennsylvania.

Carlisle’s Molly Pitcher:

The Basics
Mary Hays McCauley (McKolly or McCalla or McCawley or McAuley) was born c1753 and married William Hays. William was a gunner in Proctor’s 4th Artillery at the Battle of Monmouth during the American Revolution, and Mary, like many women, followed her husband to war. After the War, William, Mary, and their 3-year-old son, John L. Hays, settled in Carlisle purchasing lot #257. William entered the barbering business. William died in 1786 and by 1793 Mary married John McCalla, who dies or disappears by 1810. In 1822 Mary Hays McCauley applied for a pension from the State of Pennsylvania and was granted a yearly $40 pension by special act of the PA legislature. The initial bill, Senate No. 265, was entitled “An act for the relief of Molly McKolly, a widow of a soldier of the Revolutionary War.” Striking “widow of a soldier” and inserting “for services rendered” was a deliberate change to the bill and Mary thus received the pension in her own right. Molly and her son continued to live in Carlisle until her death in 1832. Mary Hays McCauley is referred to as Mary, Molly, and Polly in various tax and other records. Although oral accounts have been passed down that Mary Hays actually took her husband’s place at the cannon after he was injured at the Battle of Monmouth, there is no documentation – as yet – that she really did this.

Mixing it up
Also in Cumberland County at the time of the Revolutionary War, just north of Chambersburg,
(now Franklin County) was Mary Corbin. Known as Captain Molly, she fought at the Battle of Washington in 1776 and documentation verifies her firing a cannon and being wounded during that battle. She also received a pension in her own right. She is buried at West Point.

Was she the original Molly Pitcher?
FYI: Other women were also granted pensions for their services during the American Revolution by special act of the PA Legislature.

Does it matter?
Whether Carlisle’s Mary Hays McCauley or Margaret Corbin, visiting the Molly Pitcher Monument in Carlisle’s Old Graveyard is worth the visit to pay respects to all women who followed their loved ones to war and made heroic sacrifices in the cause of Independence – on and off the field of battle.

Compliments of Carlisle Guided Tours * Walking Tours of Carlisle * (717) 249-2926 (Not sure if they are in business now)

References:
Thompson, D.W. and Schaumann, Merri Lou. “Goodbye, Molly Pitcher,” Cumberland County History, Vol. 6, Number 1, Carlisle, PA, Cumberland County Historical Society,1989.

Echman, Walter. Program script on the history of the Carlisle Carpet Co., 1964.

Hoffer, Ann Kramer. Twentieth Century Thoughts-Carlisle: The Past Hundred Years, Carlisle, PA, Cumberland County Historical Society, 2002.

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part III

by Charlie Andrews

The Decline Again

Over time, most organizations, businesses or communities fall into a routine. There is no individual fault, yet we are all at fault as we become comfortable, and complacency creeps into our routine. This is a difficult thing to combat, but it is particularly disastrous for what is essentially a marketing effort. We need to continue finding ways of increasing our marketing to the outside world, and ways of funding it. Our efforts have stalled, because our current plan for addressing this is no longer effective.

The downtown’s new decline is now apparent and has begun a vicious cycle. As empty storefronts appear, they are not soon filled with new merchants. They remain empty, become trashy looking, weeds are beginning to grow and tree wells are not maintained.

Stores become harder to rent, and rents start dropping. This allows less-credible merchants in who do not maintain or improve their storefronts, sidewalks, window displays, etc. The gutting of the sign ordinance further enhanced this deterioration. These less-credible merchants don’t stay long, and we are left with either another empty and now further- deteriorated site, or another less-credible merchant who is not going to last either.
All this means fewer people on the sidewalks, so they become attractive to skateboarders and bicyclists. This is illegal, but because there are fewer merchants or shoppers to complain, even less attention is paid to the downtown. Even traffic and crosswalk enforcement declines for the same reasons.

An ominous indicator of the downtown’s decline is that this year (2004) a building owner applied for and received a zoning exemption to convert a storefront into a residential apartment. For the downtown, this is “the kiss of death.”

Go to Part IV

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The Marketing of Carlisle : Part IV

by Charlie Andrews

A Return To Growth

What does a viable, dynamic and prosperous downtown offer?
• Increased employment.
• Increased property values.
• The adaptive reuse and renovation of older existing structures.
• Increased tax revenues.
• A more attractive community for new business, industry and residents.
• Enhanced quality of life for all of Carlisle.

The “Marketing of Carlisle” concept is supported by significant data and research. A 1997 study commissioned by the Greater Carlisle Chamber of Commerce and prepared by the Danth Corporation is called A Retail Marketing Strategy for Carlisle, PA. The study cites the strengths and weaknesses of Carlisle, and recommends strategies for revitalization. In regards to the downtown it says: “This downtown has a number of important assets, not the least of which is a leadership that fashioned an effective positioning strategy and made important improvements. Because of these improvements and policies, as well as the downtown’s other development assets, DANTH believes that Downtown Carlisle is ready to emerge from its chrysalis and become a true regional destination.”

In 2000, an actual blueprint for the downtown’s revitalization came from the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority, and was approved by the DCA. It is titled Carlisle MainStreets Plan: The Road to Shaping the Downtown into a Commercial and Retail Power Center. The plan describes the leasing of 30,000 square feet of first floor space for prime retail space, the development of 20,000 square feet of class A office space on second floors, and 25 market rate apartments in the downtown. It also addresses public relations and business recruitment, facade and public private site improvements and even public and semipublic art. In conclusion, the report states: ”Consensus on a downtown strategy is of critical importance. National retailers overall want to know what the overall goals of the downtown revitalization effort are before locating in a downtown. Funding agencies such as state government also want assurances that there is consensus on an overallstrategy. For these reasons, Carlisle MainStreets can be an important document to help guide the downtown effort in both the short and long term.”

The recently completed Drive Shed Report by the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance states that within a 20 minute drive of Carlisle: “The population in this area is estimated to change from 393,935 to 395,848, resulting in a growth of 0.5% between 2000 and 2004. Over the next five years (2005-2010), the population is projected to grow by 1.6%”.

The return to growth for the downtown will require a resurgence of the DCA. The DCA’s executive director’s position needs to be upgraded in salary and benefits. The position’s job description needs to have an overriding emphasis on marketing and communications. There needs to be an increase in funding for materials, memberships in outside marketing groups, advertising packages in outside areas we are targeting, etc. Again from the DANTH study: “The responsibility for implementing the Downtown development strategy presented in this report would fall mainly upon the Downtown Carlisle Association (the DCA). While in the past the DCA has shown itself to be an effective organization, it is highly doubtful that this small staff and modest budget will be sufficient to implement the proposed strategy. The required heavy promotions and advertising, in both the print and broadcast media, means that the DCA will need substantially more program funds for air time and print ads. The additional recruitment efforts, targeted though they might be, will also require additional program funds. The ads, promotions and recruitment materials will all have to be designed. All of this will require additional staff who have the proper training and job experience.”

Funding this effort initially for the first five years should be a coalition of the Borough, County, Chamber of Commerce, DCA, major businesses and industries. It should also include any state or federal funding sources such as Community Development Block Grant funds and the Department of Community and Economic Development and other private and local sources detailed in the Carlisle MainStreets Plan. Two years before the end of this funding period, the borough should enact an ordinance for the creation of a “Business District Authority” (BDA), or as described in the DANTH study: “DANTH strongly recommends that Carlisle’s leaders seriously explore the feasibility of establishing a Downtown Investment District to provide some of the additional funds the DCA will require.”

The report further states: “These districts are a mechanism that allow downtown business operators and property owners to assess themselves and thus raise the funds needed to provide the special services and improvements that can revitalize a downtown. The other citizens of the municipality are not assessed! but all who might benefit from a special service district are assessed according to some fair and agreed upon formula.”

The bottom line is that we will know if this course of action is working within three years, and if it is, the BDA or some other formula to sustain it will be doable.

Development a marketing plan is crucial, and this responsibility would be that of the executive director of the DCA. This would become a strategy to use our funds tactically to derive the greatest return.

Go to Part V