Sunday, July 8, 2012


Source:  Berks County Historical Society

Made to William Wetherill at Morgantown, PA, March 26, 1858

Martha or Patty Barefoot

John C. Evans who is at this time a Senator at Harrisburg from Berks County, Pennsylvania, and lives near Morgantown a short time since informed me there was a female living in Morgantown by the name of Martha Barefoot who was a servant brought up partly in the family of General Morgan who was my great great grandfather on my mother’s side, and that the mentioned Martha commonly called by her aquaintances Patty was in a suffering condition and her friends now not being possessed of means to enable them to give her the ordinary comforts required by an old body of her age, which he thought must be bordering on to eighty years.  I told him it would give me pleasure if I were able to make up some small amount for her temporary relief and that I would make an effort to do so as soon as an opportunity occurred.  On my return to Phila. I saw my sister Mrs. Gumbes and we agreed each to give Patty twenty five dollars.  And it being my wish to visit Morgantown partly to look after some little property left by the estate of my mother but mainly to afford relief to one who had served faithfully to the date of his death an ancestor whose memory has been highly respected.  I started from my home on a Friday morning March 26, 1858 and drove across the country arriving at Morgantown about 1 o’clock P.M. having been about four hours on the road the distance about thirty miles from my residence on Fatland farm in Montgomery County.  It was also my desire in going to Morgantown to obtain as much information as I could pertaining to the history of my mothers family the members of which are dying off and the females marrying and even the old family name may in a few years be lost altogether.

On my arrival at Morgantown I put up at the only public house known in that place, and after dinner went to see Patty Barefoot.  She is at present living with Mrs. Litetia Finger, who I believe was a Jenkins (of the “son-in-law Joseph Jenkins” family?) before she married.  I inquired of her respecting Patty Barefoot.  She said she was then in good health but had a short time since been so sick she thought there was no chance of her getting well, but that she revived gained strength and was able now to move about again, though still in feeble age.  He said she had given her a home and calculated to do so if she herself was spared as long as Patty lived.  I told her I would like to see her.  She said Patty had heard I was coming up and she would go and call her.  She did so and came into the parlor with her.  I found Patty Barefoot a tall thin female much advanced in years, but for her advanced life of a clear complexion and health aspect.  The expression of her countenance was intelligent and agreeable though rather of a sad case, just as would naturally be expected of a female of her age who had passed through the cares and troubles of service such as she must have undergone through her life.  I stated to her so much of the object I had in visiting Morgantown as related to her, informed her that my sister Mrs. Gumbes and myself felt an interest in her as an old rememberance of our ancestor, now dead many years.  She expressed her thankfulness in the kindest manner and her mind and memory of events of olden times seeming so active and clear, I asked her to do me the favor to relate all she could recollect respecting the attack made by the Robbers on Genl. Morgan a short time before his death.  As she related I took down in writing what she said, which is litterally as follows -

Patty Barefoot’s Statement of the Attack on Genl. Morgan by the Robbers

“I was a young girl at the time the Robbers attacked Genl. Morgan at his home  I was living in the family at the time and was then about ten years of age.  I had been laying down asleep in the room and having been called up to supper, was standing by the supper table not having set down yet to eat, when two big Black painted fellows, there were white men but had their faces blackened, came into the back door.  There were four robbers in the company, two came into the room, and two remained outside the door.  The two that came into the room stepped up to the old gentlemen who was engaged in reading the Bible to his wife who was in a very poor state of health and was seated by his side.  One of the robbers told the old gentleman to deliver up his money or he was a dead man.  He made no reply but took his Spectacles off laid them down on the table and took up the chair on which he had been seated and beat them off with it.  One of the robbers at that time fired a pistol at him the ball did not strike him but passed through the bottom of the chair with which he was beating them out of the room.  The chair was a rush bottom.  He succeeded in beating them out of the room and shut the door bolting it with the only fastening it had which was a plain wooden bolt.  The robbers then burst the door open, and on their entering the room again, he took up the table without regard to what was on it, to fight them out a second time.  All the supper dishes and the burning candle that was on the table were thrown upon the floor, and the candle continued burning, laying on its side on the floor, during the whole battle.  He succeeded in driving them out a second time with the table and another pistol shot was fired at him which cut the skin to the bone off the back of three of his fingers.  The hired girl was coming into the room on the first arrival of the robbers and as they were being driven out the first time from the room they met her and seized her.  She pulled to get away from them and the skirt of her dress was torn half off.  The tearing of her dress enabled her to get looses from them and on getting away she jumped out of a window and ran towards Morgantown to give the alarm.  The robbers fired another pistol shot at her as she ran.  The robbers still forced their way and entered the room a third time and with a club they struck the old gentleman on the head and knocked him down.  His wife than began to beg for her life.  But the old man did not remain long insensible.  He soon came to himself.  He caught hold of the root of the bedstead, the old sword which he had carried in the wars was hanging up at the head of the bed.  The point of the sword hung down so that I could reach it from underneath the bed.  I took hold of the point and tried to get it down so as to hand it to him, but the handle of the sword was too large to allow it to drop between the bedstead and the wall so I worked it along with the handle above the bed until the handle came to the foot of the bed and within his reach.  He took hold of it, got upon his feet with fresh spirit.  He got up by the back of the door and made a cut at one of the robbers who escaped without being hit.  Another of them then came in and he cut him across the arm. The blood from this wound was afterwards tracked for some distance from the house.  There was not a word spoken excepting when the robbers came in and demanded his money, and when after her husband was knocked down and she thought killed, the wife begged them to spare her life.  The inmates of the house at the time were the old gentleman and his wife, two grandchildren whose names were Polly Price and Rachel Morgan.  The female servants were Mary Levis and myself.  Mary Levis was the young woman who escaped from the robbers and jumped out of the window.  Polly Price was the sister of Rachel Wetherill, Rachel Morgan was the daughter of Jacob Morgan Jr..  Rachel Morgan was the wife of Andrew Douglass and after his death she became the wife of James Ash.  There was also an irish servant man in the house named John McDermont whose time had been bought from off shipboard.  Polly Price and Rachel Morgan tried to get Irishman John to go downstairs and help fight against the robbers.  There were loaded guns upstairs that could have been used but John refused to go down and help saying, “Oh! Oh!  I was afraid to come down, the flash fired right in my face.”  After the fight was over the old gentleman made John come down stairs and directed him to go out and alarm the neighbors as he expected the robbers would return but he refused and the old gentleman was obliged to force him by putting him out of the house.  When he was forced to go John started full run and he said the robbers chased him for more than a quarter of a mile.  He said he hid himself by laying down between two rocks and the robbers passed without finding him.  There was an old gentleman spending the evening with Genl. Morgan the night of the attack.  The robbers could see into the room they were occupying from the back of the corncrib through the window of that room.  It was afterwards made known they were watching and that they did not attack until after the visitor had gone and time enough had passed for him to get near as far away as Morgantown.  The old gentleman who was visiting  the Genl. on that evening was John Jones who kept tavern two miles below Morgantown on the turnpike.  About six or seven months after the attack made by the robbers, a man who lived in the forest---was taken up for robbery and horsestealing and sent to Philadelphia for punishment.  The penality at that time for such an offence was hanging.  Suspicion arose that this Elliott was one of the robbers who attacked Genl. Morgan and Benjamin Morgan (son?) went to see Elliott in Prison and told him he would try to get him reprieved by the Governer of the State.  Elliott then told he was one of them and they waiting in the orchard back of the corncrib watching the best opportunity to attack.  From the orchard near the corncrib they could see all that was going on through the back window of the room. 

I am now hard on eighty years of age.  I lived with Genl. Morgan from the time I was three years of age until I was about in my fifteenth year.  I remained until both the old folks had died.  Mrs. Morgan died about eleven months before her husband but I continued to live there after her death and remained until after the old gentleman died.  I then went to live with Joseph Jenkins.  Your Grandmother Mrs. Price wished me to go with her after the death of her father and live with her in Philadelphia but I preferred living in the country with Mrs. Jenkins about two miles out of Morgantown.”

I have, said Patty Barefoot, some small presents that were made me by your mother when she was Rachel Price.  She went out and brought me to look at a pair of sky blue silk shirt sleeves that were given to her by my mother, Mrs. Rachel Wetherill, when she was Miss Price on a visit to her Grandfather. ---On the inside lining of one of the sleeves there is written in the handwriting of my mother, Thursday 1785.  Patty thinks Rachel Wetherill (nee Price) was about eighteen or nineteen years of age at the time she gave the silk sleeves to her.---She said the Genl. was seventy five years of age when he died.---He had been engaged for seven years in the Indian wars previous to the declaration of independence.  He was a Captain in the British service before the revolution.  He was lame from an injury of one of his legs, and for seventeen years used crutches to enable him to get about.  But the night the robbers attacked the house he forgot his crutches and his lameness and went up and down stairs after driving them out carrying his heavy sword as suple as anyone, with the blood running from his head to his toes from the blow with the club the robbers had struck him on his head.

“I screamed all the time under the bed as loud as I could.”


Note: - In a letter written by Rebecca Gumbes in 1865, mention is made of the death “on Sunday 24th of December at Morgantown, of Martha Barefoot or rather Patty Barefoot as she was familiarly known --- at the time of her decease (she) was one hundred and six years ten months and nine days old.”

Thus, when William Wetherill saw her in 1858, she was in her late nineties and not “boardering on eighty years,” as his friend, John C. Evans, thought.

The letter also mentions the “Robbers.”  “These fellows who were tories had gone on a pillaging expedition among the whigs.”

In unidentified handwriting, the following is stated:

In addition says Patty Barefoot not only filled the position of “oldest inhabitant” in the village, but at the time of her death was said to be the oldest person in the state.

She was the daughter of Samuel and Jean Barefoot, two of the early settlers of Amity Township, Berks Co., and was born not far from Douglassville, Feb. 15, 1759.  She was christened “Martha” and in the church register of the Morlattin Episcopal Church at Douglasville is a record of her baptism by Rev. Alexander Murry, an English Missionary who at the time was pastor there.  She was baptized September 13, 1778, when she was in her twentieth year.

***end of article***

Note: the comments about this Martha “Patty” Barefoot being the daughter of Samuel and Jean Barefoot is incorrect. The Martha Barefoot who was the servant girl of Jacob Morgan was the daughter of Sarah Barefoot and was born in 1776, according to her baptism record. The above statement was transcribed as written – all spelling errors, etc., appear as in the copy of the document received from BCHS. Patty Barefoot’s tombstone is in the property of the Tri-County Heritage Society in Morgantown, PA, and states that Patty was 90 when she died.  – Sharon Sheldon

Honey Brook Herald
Sept. 2, 1937

The Village Gossip writes of Patty Barefoot, A Remarkable Old Lady of Morgantown lived to be 106 years old.

She was the daughter of Samuel and Jean Barefoot of Amity Twp., Berks Co., and was born not far from Douglasville, Feb.15, 1759.  She was christened Martha, and in the church register of the Marlattin Episcopal Church at Douglasville is a record of her baptism by Rev. Alexander Murray, an English Missionary and at that time pastor of the Congregation there. This baptism took place on the 13th of September 1779, when she was in her 20th year.

When quite young, Patty Barefoot removed from Amity Twp. To Morgantown and became a member of the household of Jacob Morgan after whom the village of Morgantown was named, and who lived on a portion of the lands granted by letters patent, from William Penn to his father, Thomas Morgan.  Morgan had seen service in the French and Indian War and acquitted the title of “Colonel” during the Revolution War and Patty, whose recollection of events of her early life was very clear and vivid, related many anecdotes of those stirring times in several of which Col. Morgan figured as the hero.  On of these in particular she told with much zest and had to do with an incident which occurred at the Morgan home, one evening toward the close of the Revolution, Col. Morgan with Patty and an Irish laborer employed on the farm were sitting by the kitchen fire when there was a loud knock at the door on its being opened, in walked three men, rather rough looking fellows, who demanded food.  This was given them, and after finishing it, they attacked Mr. Morgan who was unarmed and well advanced in years and who had to deal with young athletic assailants armed with knives and pistols.

The laborer, when the affair commenced, jumped out the window and skedadled, thus proving he was not a real Irishman, and Patty Barefoot, badly frightened, ran to an adjourning room and dived under the bed, here discovered some of the space was occupied for it happened the Colonel’s sword which he had carried on the Continental army was stowed there.  Seizing it she quickly placed it in the hands of the owner who used it with such energy and success the tide of the battle soon turned and the three ruffians were glad to decamp with their lives.  One of the men was severely wounded, another slightly.  These fellows who were Tories, had gone on a pillaging expedition among the Wigs and on their retreat from the Morgan home came across the laborer who ran away when they opened their attack and him him a most unmerciful beating.

On the death of Col . Morgan in 1792 Patty was employed as housekeeper by Israel Finger, a Justice of the Peace in Caernarvon Twp. After she had kept house for him for 25 or 30 years Squire Finger married and the services of Patty were no longer needed but the Squire and his wife offered her a home  with them until her death.
Patty was a devout Christian woman, a friend to the poor, the needy and suffering.  She was a welcome guest, not only in every home in Morgantown but for miles around.  Patty died Dec. 24, 1805.  Her mental faculties were unclouded to the last.  Her remains were interred on Tuesday, Dec. 25, in the graveyard in the rear of the Morgantown Methodist Church.
The late John E. Finger in his will left a sum of money sufficient to care for the few square feet of earth which is her last resting place.
Patty never married and little is known of her family or relations.  Evidently she outlived them all.  In fact she outlived every soldier of the Revolution, excepting two and her memory was a record of transpiring events for more than a century.
Martha “Patty” Barefoot was evidently the daughter of the same Samuel and Jean Barefoot of Berks County, Pennsylvania, who were the parents of Thomas Barefoot.  Thomas (1742-1784) married Elizabeth Wells (1746-1778) in 1763.  He was a private in Capt. Sample’s Regiment, Pennsylvania Continental Line, In 1779.
Thomas had a son, Dr. Benjamin Barefoot (1764-1839) who was married to Rebecca Ross (1769-1853).  Rebecca was the grand-daughter of Col. George Ross, a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Pennsylvania.  Col. Ross is, I believe, the uncle-by-marriage of Betsy Ross.  (This information is not correct – Sylvia Sonneborn).

Benjamin and Rebecca had five sons and  8 (can’t read) daughters.  One son, Samuel, is buried at the Leacock Cemetery.  The eldest son, James, migrated to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, where he married Mary Slick in 1810.  Mary was one of fourteen children of Sgt. William Slick (1754-1844) of the Flying Camp in the Revolution.  Her mother was Rebecca Mettler (1772-1842).

James (1788-1844) and Mary Slick (1792-1885) had twelve children.  Two of those I well remember, Samuel who died in 1914 and Job who died in 1915.  William (1817-1887) married Diane Heck and had ten children.  One was James Alexander Barefoot.
This James married Sarah Jane Wolf and they had seven boys and three girls.  Through these children Mary had 54 grandchildren.  One of the seven boys, Clark Barefoot, married Georgianna Weyant.  They are my parents.  There are two more generations after them. 
As you see, the Bedford Country Barefoots did a little better than their cousins who stayed behind.  We hold an annual reunion.  We try to draw in Barefoots from everywhere.  We found that one of Benjamin’s sons migrated to Virginia;  they now attend out reunion.  Barefoots can be found along the eastern coast to Georgia.  Some are in Arkansas, in Alabama, and in Kentucky.  Of course, many of our immediate clan have migrated as far as California.  Barefoots are found in Germany;  Barfod’s are in Denmark, and Barefoots are known in England and Ireland.  One of the earliest Barefoots to arrive in America was Dr. Walter Barefoot who was a governor of New Hampshire under King Charles.  He was a Royalist and a headache to the Puritans.
The name might have originated among the early Saxons and then found its way into Germany, Denmark, England, and Ireland.
In the Bedford County area we have hundreds of Barefoots and thousands of descendants of the clan who bear other surnames but proudly claim their membership to the clan.


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