Founded in 1750, Cumberland Valley is steeped in history – with museums, historical sites, and markers and monuments to the past. Yes, George Washington really did sleep here for a week in 1794 on his way to Western Pennsylvania to quell the Whiskey Rebellion; Olympian Jim Thorpe was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School; and US President James Buchanan studied at Dickinson College, which was founded by Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In 2023, celebrate Molly Pitcher's 269th birthday and the 10th anniversary of Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. at the Molly Pitcher Birthday Bash on October 14, featuring food, drink, live music, brewery tours, and cemetery tours.
Perhaps one of our most famous residents was Mary Hays McCauley, otherwise known as Molly Pitcher. Molly was born on October 13, 1754. Like other women at the time, she followed her husband, William Hays, after he enlisted in Thomas Proctor’s Artillery as a gunner during the Revolutionary War. These women worked alongside the men and helped with cooking, sewing, and cleaning, among other tasks. They also cared for those injured in battle by carrying water to the wounded and dying. When Molly’s husband was hurt at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey, she supposedly took his place at the cannon. While there is no documented evidence to support this claim, Molly did receive a pension of $40 per year awarded to her by the state for “her services during the Revolutionary War.” Today, a water pitcher owned by Molly (although not the one she used in battle) is often displayed at the Cumberland County Historical Society, which obtained it from her great-great-granddaughter, Mary E. Wilson.
After the war, Mary and her family settled in Carlisle. She became a widow in 1786 and remarried, but her second husband was no longer living with her by 1810. She died in 1832 while living with her son in a building on the corner of North and Bedford Streets. Two Carlisle newspapers ran her obituary, but neither mentioned that she fired a cannon during the war. She was buried in what is today known as Carlisle's Old Public Graveyard. Over the years, the burial site has been improved. A proper tombstone was installed in 1876. The cannon, flagstaff, and flag were added in 1905, and the large statue was added in 1916.
Molly Pitcher Brewing Co.
The Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. pays homage to the early patriot and hero, Molly Pitcher, whose memory still lives on. The brewery's founders were raised in Carlisle and were first introduced to Molly Pitcher during school field trips to the local graveyard where she was laid to rest. In choosing a name for their venture, they wished to reflect their pride in their hometown and its community. It was a happy coincidence that the brewery's original location was just a few steps away from the Old Graveyard and Molly's statue. The taproom initially brewed English and American-style beers with a twist, all following a Revolutionary War theme for both the beer names and taproom decorations. The beer continues to be brewed at the original location, near where Molly is buried, even though the taproom has moved to a larger location a few blocks away. When visiting the taproom, one can delight in a Patriot Pale Ale, Cannonball Kolsch, or Black Powder Stout and raise a glass to this remarkable woman.
(Note: Thanks to the Cumberland County Historical Society for sharing their information with us about Molly Pitcher. For more information on Molly and the early history of Cumberland County, be sure to visit the Historical Society museum just around the corner from the taproom.)