Deborah Samson Gannet Diary + FAMILY LORE
A Heroine of the Revolutionary War
Accurate Samson art!
Written Records of Deborahand Family
What was written about her gives us some amazing insights, of her character and situation in life.
Deborah Samson was a self driven woman with many life goals that kept her on the move throughout New England, New York and beyond.
Deborah always kept written records, and Descendents like the Moody's Monks, Nelsons, Gannett's Thayers and more kept Deborahs's family lore alive
A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare)
But our Deborah was a Samson....
DEBORAH SAMSON GANNETT TIMELINE
1760 Born, Plympton, MA December 17, 1760. Direct descendent of Mayflower
passengers, Gov. William Bradford and Alice Southworth, Capt. Myles
Standish, Hon. John Alden and his wife Pilgrim Pricilla Mullins.
ca. 1765 Father Jonathan Samson Jr. deserts family; broken home. Deborah and 6
siblings are "scattered" by their mother. (Deborah Bradford Samson. This was a
legal practice at the time, and helped her mother pay off debt).
1765-1768 Deborah was moved to live with (distant aunt) Ms. Ruth Fuller in Plympton, who
died 3 years later.
1768-1770 Deborah moved to Middleboro, Massachusetts to live with Mrs. Thatcher,
(widowed wife of late Congregationalist minister Rev. Peter Thatcher). Under Mrs
Thatchers tutelage, she learns how to write simple script and spin cloth. Mrs.
Thatcher dies two years later. Deborah later said of this time in her life "Iwas
alone in my wretchedness".
1770-1778 Deborah moved to another home in Middleboro (while aged 10 -18), to work as
indentured servant with Jeremiah and Susannah Thomas, and their five sons. This
was a patriotic and Congregationalist family.
1780 A 20 year old Deborah, teaches school at Middleboro's "Jenks House" school for
two years. Works at Sproat's Tavern, The Andrew Leach Store and and various
other stores and homes in town, as a Waitress and Spinner. Leaves
Congregationalist church (and is called a "come-outer") and joins 3rd Baptist
Church of Middleboro. Her 2nd cousin, Noah Alden, is an elder of this church.
1782 Deborah try's to enlist in the Continental Army, in Middleboro, disguised as a man
with fictitious name of Timothy Thayer, but was discovered. Subsequently she is
banished from the 3rd Baptist church and quickly exits town for her own safety,
since this cross dressing offense is punishable by law.
1782-1783 Disguised as "Robert Shurtlieff" she successfully enlists in the 4th Massachusetts
Regiment of the Continental Army, on May 23, 1782, in Bellingham, MA, fulfilling
the town of Uxbridge, MA quota for soldiers. 12 days later...reports to duty at the
cantonment camps in Hudson Valley NY near West Point. Fights in at least 5
recorded skirmishes with the elite Light Infantry, in New York. Is wounded in
action. Volunteers to suppress a mutiny of discharged (unpaid) veterans, in PA.
Also serves a "waiter" (military servant) to Brigadier General John Patterson
(while disguised as a man). Catches malignant fever in Pennsylvania, and almost
dies in Philadelphia. Her sex is discovered by Dr. Barnabas Binney who writes
letter explaining Deborah's true identity, to her officers. She returns with the
letter, to West Point and is honorably discharged; October 23, 1783.
1783-1789 Deborah Samson, ventures to Stoughtonham to live with her mothers sister (Aunt
Alice Bradford Waters in 1783. On April 7, 1785 she marries Benjamin Gannett Jr.
of Sharon, MA, at aunt Alice and Zebulon Waters home, on Bay Rd. in Sharon. Has
3 children, and adopts a 4th child. Teaches school in town of Sharon
(1788-1789), at East District School, on East Street.
1791-1792 Appeals to Massachusetts Legislature for compensation for her Army services. On
January 19, 1792, they grant her "back pay" totaling a paltry 34 pounds, for money
she should have received as a soldier during active duty, but never received.
Her request was approved by John Hancock.
1797 Collaborates with Herman Mann (a teacher from Walpole and later newspaper
mogul in Dedham) and publishes "Memoir of an American Young Lady". (Later
called The Female Review). He then ghost-rights her speech for lecture tour.
Meets Philip Freneau, a poet of the American Revolution, who writes an ode in her
1802-1803 Undertakes one year, lecture tour (NY, MA and RI). On tour she tarries as
honored guest of several of her former officers, like Captain George Webb, of
Holden, MA and retired Brig General John Patterson (then Judge Patterson) of
Lisle New York.
1804 Neighbor and friend, Paul Revere, of Canton, MA, helps Deborah, and Gannett
family, after meeting her at Cobbs Tavern; by writing a letter on her behalf, to
secure veterans pension for her.
1805-1818 Annual pension of $48 per year for her military service is approved. In 1816,
Congress increases her pension to $76.80 per year. In 1818 the "New Pension Act"
passed. She petitions for eligibility and her pension is increased to $96 per year.
1809-1813 Deborah works for Beaumont Mills in Canton, carding Cotton (removing seeds), at
home in Sharon. In 1813 Deborah moves into new home at 300 East Street, built
by her son. Its affectionately called "Earls Mansion"
1820 Deborah petitions Congress and Senate, for missing compensation from 1783-1803
(her invalid (wounded in action) veterans pension payments). Her request is
denied by Senate.
1827 Deborah Samson Gannett dies, April 29, 1827, at home, at 300 East Street in
1836-1837 Her husband, Benjamin Gannett requests wifes pension supports (on several
occasions) as "the widower" of this female Revolutionary Soldier, from 1827-1837.
He dies in 1837 weeks before special legislation is passed in his favor. Heirs of Ben
and Deb request $466 awarded compensation. Their request is granted, by special
act of special legislation by John Quincy Adams.
1850 Deborah's story popularized by Mrs. Liz Elliett for her series "Women of the
1944-1987 A Liberty Ship "USS Deborah Samson Gannett" is commissioned by Gannett
family in 1944. In 1983 Gov. Michael Dukakis, prclaims May23rd: Deborah
Samson Day, and names her the State Heroine of Massachusetts. Gannett
Foundation donates $10,000 for Statue, built in her honor, in 1987. Its designed
by artist, Lu Stubbs.