Molly Stark, née Elizabeth Page, (February 16, 1737 – 1814) campaigned for smallpox vaccination. She was mentioned in a battle call because she was the wife of American Revolutionary War general John Stark. A state highway in Vermont is named after her.
Life and significance
Elizabeth "Molly" Page was born on February 16, 1737/8 to Puritans Caleb Page and Elizabeth Merrill. She was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, moved with her family to Dunbarton, New Hampshire, around 1755, and was the daughter of the first postmaster of New Hampshire, Caleb Page. Her mother died when she was five, and she was adopted by her aunt, Ruth Wallingford, a widow with ten children of her own. She spent ten years with the Wallingfords. She later returned to live with her father in Starkstown in 1752 at the age of 15. Her father owned slaves, which was not common in New Hampshire. She married John Stark on August 20, 1758. Together they had 11 children, including their eldest son Caleb Stark. The Molly Stark House still stands in Dunbarton at Page's Corner, denoted by a New Hampshire historical marker (number 111).
Stark gained historical notoriety due to her husband's battle call of "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" before engaging with the British and Hessian army in the Battle of Bennington. Stark is also known for her success as a nurse to her husband's troops during a smallpox epidemic and for opening their home as a hospital during the war. In late November 1778, she petitioned the New Hampshire Court "praying for leave to inoculate herself and family for the Small Pox," but was denied by state authorities who continued to ban inoculation for fear that it would spread the disease.
In New England
Stark is honored throughout New Hampshire and Vermont with many businesses, streets and schools bearing her name, as well as the Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, Vermont and a statue of a gun-toting Molly which overlooks the Deerfield River. There was a gazebo next to the statue, but, during Hurricane Irene's visit in 2011 which flooded downtown Wilmington, the gazebo disappeared. The inn on the other side was badly damaged, but, the statue stood tall, and never moved. Also named for her is the Molly Stark Trail, otherwise known as Route 9, which crosses southern Vermont and is thought[according to whom?] to be the route used by General Stark on his victory march home from the Battle of Bennington. Molly Stark Mountain is one of the Green Mountain peaks on the Long Trail, just south of Camel's Hump and north of Route 17; the adjacent peak is Baby Stark.
The Molly Stark Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is located in Manchester, New Hampshire.
In Ohio and Minnesota
Numerous revolutionary war veterans settled in Ohio, so the General and his wife were honored there. Molly Stark Park is located in Nimishillen Township, Stark County, in northeastern Ohio. It is the grounds of the former Molly Stark Hospital, which served as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the 1930s. It became a state hospital for the mentally ill and the aged, and closed in 1995. In 2009 the Stark County Commissioners released the grounds and former hospital to the Stark County Park District. After asbestos remediation the old hospital is to be demolished, and more hiking and bicycling trails, and picnic grounds added.
- Colonel Williams Inn website
- Vital Records of Haverhill, Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849 Vol 1 Births. Topsfield, MA: Topsfield Historical Society. 1910. pp. 237–328.
- Rose, Ben Z. (2007). John Stark: Maverick General. amazon preview: TreeLine Press. pp. 41–43, 142. ISBN 978-0-9789123-0-7.
- "List of Markers by Marker Number" (PDF). nh.gov. New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. November 2, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
- "Vermont State Parks/Molly Stark State Park". Vermont State Parks. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- "NEW HAMPSHIRE - State and Chapter Web Sites".
- Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 402.