Revolutionary Residents

From an article published in the Republican Journal, November 29, 1877 titled HISTORICAL PERSONAGES OF MONROE:

A correspondent of the Kennebec Journal, writing from Monroe, in this county, gives some facts in regard to former inhabitants of that town, which we think will be new, even to many residents of the town. The writers says–

In a little quiet country graveyard in the town of Monroe, in this State, lie the bodies of two persons, who in their day enjoyed a good reputation, which lives only in the memory of a few old people, and with them, will soon pass away all remembrance of these heroic ones, for no monumental pile marks their last resting place, nor is there any record to perpetuate their names.

The first of these noted persons was William Winchell, who was a soldier of the Revolution and served under Washington as Lieutenant. He was a brave and efficient officer and rendered valuable service to his country, in establishing her independence, for which he deserved better treatment than he received. He got but little or no compensation or even gratitude, for he died a pauper and fills an unknown grave. When the army was disbanded, and he discharged, the credit of the Nation was weak, and his pride and high sense of honor forbade his accepting his pay in the depreciated currency of the times, and he refused it. He was supported in his last days by the hand of charity. Kind friends, in the persons of the family of Daniel Ricker, administered to his wants and made his declining years happy and comfortable. Lieut. Winchell was a gentleman of the old school in the manners as well as in the fashions that prevailed in the olden time, and always wore ruffled shirts, knee buckles and breeches.

The other personage whose memory should be rescued from oblivion, because of services to the country in the dark “times that tried men’s souls,” was a woman known as Peggy Lilly. She was a quadroon, born a slave in Virginia; ran away from her master, donned male attire, and enlisted as a drummer boy in the Continental army. After a short service, she left the army, came to Maine, and for many years lived in Monroe, alone in a little cabin, going out to service, weaving and performing such labor as she could, and thus gaining a livelihood. She supported herself until within a few months of her death, when she was, at her own request, removed to the house of Daniel Ricker, where she died. She had the reputation of being a witch, and woe betide the person who offended her. Many stories were told of her wonderful powers as an enchantress, only one of which will be related. Mr. Ricker, who frequently befriended her, and whose wife so kindly cared for her in her last sickness, incurred her displeasure at one time, and to punish him, she bewitched his oxen and stopped them just as he was driving into the barn with a load of hay. A heavy thunder tempest was approaching, the rain commenced falling in torrents, but not an inch could he persuade his oxen to move, until the whole load was thoroughly drenched, when the spell was removed, and it was drawn into the barn with the utmost ease. Peg Lilly was a strong-minded, energetic, self-reliant and superstitious woman, who under other and more favorable circumstances, might have won distinction.

Lieut. Winchell, the proud and polished gentleman and gallant soldier, and Peggy Lilly, the quadroon slave, the drummer boy of the Revolution and the reputed witch, lie side by side in Harmony Place Cemetery, in almost unknown graves. A few years, and there shall not be one to point them out; but they sleep as quietly as other heroes of the Revolution, who slumber beneath marble monuments, and their rest and reward shall be complete.


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One comment on “Revolutionary Residents
  1. marge sheridan says:

    good stuff …thank you


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8 Swan Lake Ave.
Monroe, ME 04951

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