Archive for April 6th, 2010

We stopped this weekend at what I am going to call the Old Carlisle Cemetery, for lack of any consistency in naming I can find.  I had some vague recollection of the fact that the cemetery was there, which I’m going to chalk up to some otherwise forgotten trip with my father in my childhood.  We visited for the “Molly Pitcher” memorial because we had less than an hour to spare to make the five hour drive home.  The first thing I noticed was that there was no name on the three sides of the cemetery that we drove around..  There is no gate.  The sign listing the rules and hours includes no name.  The GPS didn’t know how to find that cemetery.  When I got home, I searched Google to correctly label my photos and discovered that no one agreed on what the place was called.  I’ve seen it referenced as Carlisle Cemetery, Old Cemetery, Carlisle’s Old Graveyard and Old Carlisle Cemetery.  This is a cemetery containing the graves of over 50 Revolutionary War veterans and dozens of veterans of later wars (I saw markers for veterans of the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and both World Wars in my walk of less than 1/4 of the cemetery) as well as Carlisle’s most legendary resident, the famous “Molly Pitcher,” but the place has no fixed name.

Detail of Mary Ludwig Hayes McCauley monument

“Molly Pitcher” is actually not a woman’s name, but a nickname that was given to women who carried water to Revolutionary War soldiers on the battlefield. Molly was also a nickname for Mary, which seems to have further confused some of those who encounter the story. Then Mary LudwigHays, the wife of a soldier at the Battle of Monmouth, became the most famous “Molly Pitcher” of the war because she was credited with taking her husband’s place at a cannon when he was wounded. Hays married another man with the surname of McCauley after being widowed. Not everyone agrees that the legends about Hays’ war service are true, but the fact that she received a pension from Pennsylvania in 1822 “for services rendered” rather than, more usually, as a widow of a soldier.

Disagreement on names was the order of the day, because it turns out no one knows how Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley’s final surname was spelled.  The monument lists her as Mary McKolly/McCauley as well as having her married name of Mary Hays and her birth name as Mary Ludwig. Other sources online mention the spellings M’Kolly, McCalla, McCawley, and McAuley. This is not terribly surprising consider that spelling wasn’t standardized in the 18th century, but I had never seen that murkiness carved into a monument. To add to the confusion, I’ve also included a photo of the smaller stone behind the monument which identifies her as Mollie McCauly.

Mollie McCauly


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