Nancy Hart, Our Namesake

The lady Patriot for whom the Milledgeville DAR chapter is named, made quite a name for herself during the Revolutionary War period in Georgia. Some question the reliability of the story of Nancy Hart, but there seem to be many facts that substantiate her "legend." Nancy Morgan of North Carolina married Benjamin Hart and moved with their family to a frontier cabin near the Broad River (now Elbert County) in Georgia. The legend has it she was six feet tall with red hair and was slightly cross-eyed. As did many frontier women, she learned to ride horses and shoot a gun as well as any man, and earned the nickname "War Woman." Life on the frontier was difficult with much adversity; women were required to be strong, hard-working, and know how to handle firearms.

Bill Osinski, in an article for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1997, relates that Nancy Hart was a supporter of the Liberty Boys, the Colonials who would join the fight for independence. She sometimes would act as a spy for the Patriots, even to the point of dressing up like a man and entering an "enemy camp" to get military information.

The story that gained Nancy Hart the status of heroine centers around five Tories entering the Hart cabin when her husband was away. At that time, the Tories required settlers to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the King of England. One of Nancy's neighbors, John Dooly, had refused to sign and was shot dead in front of his family. Nancy was in the house with one of her daughters when the soldiers came and told her about Dooly.

They demanded food, so Nancy not only prepared for them but furnished them whiskey. The soldiers relaxed and propped their muskets in a corner of the cabin. Nancy began shoving the muskets out through a chink in the wall. One of the men saw her and jumped up from the table. With musket in hand, Nancy warned she would shoot the first man who moved toward her. One did, and she shot him. Her daughter, Sukey, handed her a fresh musket, and another Tory fell. Nancy held the rest of the soldiers at gunpoint until her husband and other men returned to the cabin. The remaining Tories were hanged from a nearby red oak tree. News of Nancy's feat spread and thus began her legend. Some 150 years later, when a railroad was being placed in the area, five skulls were found near the place called Tory Pond.

Nancy and her husband moved to the Georgia coast, where he died. She returned to Elbert County but found her cabin had been washed away in a flood. She lived with her son, John, in Watkinsville and became a fervent Methodist. When John removed to Kentucky, she went along. She died at age 83 in 1830; her grave is located not far from the town of Henderson, Kentucky.

Nancy Hart's skills, bravery, and dedication to the love of her country and her desire for it to be free from England's rule have been an inspiration to historians and researchers through the years. It is an honor for the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to bear her name.