Mary Hartwell and the Alarm on April 19, 1775

Woman in 18th century light colored gown and bonnet stands in a doorway
Mary Hartwell passed her stories of April 19, 1775 on to her grandchildren

Michele Gabrielson

Quick Facts
Mary Hartwell was the wife of Samuel Hartwell, company 1st Sergeant of the Lincoln minute man company. She left a vivid account of what she saw and did on April 19, 1775. Writers and historians of later generations elaborated on her story which is still a source of debate.
Place of Birth:
Lincoln MA
Date of Birth:
March 22, 1747
Place of Death:
Lincoln MA
Date of Death:
July 23, 1846
Place of Burial:
Lincoln MA
Cemetery Name:
Lincoln Cemetery

Mary Flint Hartwell was born on March 22, 1747. She married Samuel Hartwell on September 12, 1769, when she was 22 years old and he was 27. Samuel and Mary occupied a house on the Bay Road in north Lincoln, located about 200 yards to the east of Ephraim Hartwell's residence and tavern. In April, 1775, Mary Hartwell was 28-years-old. She and Samuel had three children: Polly, age 4; Sally, age 2; and baby Lucy, only five months old.

April 19, 1775 was a day Mary would remember for the rest of her life. She and Samuel went on to have three more children. Years later she often related the story of the events of April 19, 1775 to her family. It is through them that we have her account. In the morning she observed the army marching past her house toward Concord where her husband Samuel was waiting the the men from his company and other towns. Mary remembered...
"The army of the King marched up in fine order and their bayonets glistened in the sunlight like a field of waving grain. If it hadn't been for the purpose they came for I should say it was the handsomest sight I ever saw in my life."

Later in the afternoon she said "I heard the musket shots just below by the Old Brooks Tavern and trembled believing that our folks were killed. Some of the rough, angry soldiers rushed up to this house and fired in but fortunately for me and the children the shots went into the garret and we were safe. How glad I was when they all got by the house and your grandfather and our neighbors reached home alive."

Beyond the remembrances past down through her children and grandchildren, there is a legend that she carried the alarm to her neighbor Captain William Smith. Is it true? Read this excellent paper by local historian and Lincoln Minute Man, Donald L. Hafner.
Mary Hartwell and the Alarm on April 19, 1775


Minute Man National Historical Park

Last updated: January 17, 2023