Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Molly Brinkerhoff Doll - Buried With A Families Cherished Possession During The Revolutionary War

When I was doing my "The History of Faceless Dolls" research I ran across another doll that I was intriqued with and wanted to know more.  She was also around in the colonial times and had an amazing history. It seems she was loved so much she was buried in a chest by her owners with other cherished possessions when the British invaded Long Island and then dug up later when the war was over.

Can you imagine loving a doll so much you want to safeguard her during a war? I certainly can.

While she wasn't pertinent to my research on "faceless" dolls I just had to know more. While there wasn't a lot of information on her there was some. Here's what I found.

The Chicago Tribune in 1948 had an article in their Books Alive column by Vincent Starrett that was reviewing a book "The Dolls of Yesterday" by Eleanor St. George (Scribner).

In their article they mentioned the Molly Brinkerhoff doll and said:  "YOU will not find the name of Molly Brinkerhoff in American history, and that is a pity, for she was a heroine of the Revolutionary War who merits our sympathy and respect. One of the oldest rag dolls in the United States, she has come down the years in fair condition, all things considered, and now lives in Vermont - aged perhaps 175 years - with her present owner, Mrs. Richard G. Miller of White River Junction."

"Molly is mother made of  old homespun linen stuffed with flax. Her hair and features are embroidered.  One arm now is missing, and her clothing has long since vanished: but with care she may last another century or two and survive seven more wars."

"Her adventures have already been notable.  Certain colonial Brinkerhoff kids loved her and wept to leave her when the British army swept toward their Long Island home. They hid her in a chest, with other treasures, and buried her in the sands of Long Island, then fled with their parents before the tide of war. Later, when the war was over, she was resurrected and restored to her adoring family."

"After her mother's death, Mrs. Miller -a direct descendant of two colonial famiies - found Molly in her attic, together with a plaque that had accompanied her to some fund-raising fair in Civil War times.  The plaque reads:"
Molly Brinkerhoff

I am not made of dust or wax,
But homespun linen stuffed with flax,
No human being treads the earth
That was alive at Molly's birth.
Many scores have I, old Molly,
Kept the Brinkerhoff children jolly.
During the war of '76
I ofken chest deep in the sand
I was buried on Long Island strand.
There safe from British and Tories I lay
Til the last of the redcoats skedaddled away.

"There is no signature, but the poet is obviously Molly herself, writing perhaps on her hudreth birthday.  The note of quiet authority is unmistakable."

In the book Cloth Dolls From Ancient to Modern - A Collector's Guide With Values by Linda Edward there is a mention of the Molly Brinkerhoff doll on page 8 that said, "A Revolutionary America period doll known as Molly Brinkerhoff was oened by the Brinkerhoff children. She is 25 inches (63.5cm) tall and made of linen stuffed with flax. Her hair and features are neatly embroidered. She was held in such hig esteem by her owners that when the British troops advanced on Long Island, New York, she was buried in a chest on the Long Island Strand along with the other family valuables to protect her from the "Redcoats and torries." When the family returned home after the wa she was dug up again safe and sound to become a cherished family heirloom."

Also, according to The Information Please Girls' Almanac  By Alice Siegel - Page 146, "Molly Brinkeroff - Molly was a doll that was buried by her owners along with their household goods when the British invaded Long Island in the days before the American revolution. When  Molly was dug up she became a keepsake for generations of Brinkeroffs, who associated her with that period in history."

I wish I had found more information on her and had found a picture.  I haven't yet, but I'll keep trying.

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