Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Jonathan Harrington House, Lexington, MA

Sitting on the edge of the Lexington Green is the Jonathan Harrington house - a home with one of the sad stories of that morning of April 19, 1775.

Jonathan Harrington was from one of the old families of Lexington. And he married Ruth Fiske - from another of the well-established families in the community. They had a young son and a fine house in the center of town.

Given his proximity to the Lexington Green, Harrington was undoubtedly one of the first of the militia to muster in the early morning of the 19th. When Captain John Parker told his men to disperse until more reports were available, it would be likely that Harrington returned to his home.

Just after 5 AM, a rider came galloping back to the Buckman Tavern and told Captain Parker that a large force of British regulars were just behind him. The belfry sounded once more and 77 brave men assembled.

The British force - that was ten times the size of the militia - marched close. In a community that had a population of slightly more than 700, this force must have looked enormous. Perhaps 150 of the regulars peeled off to confront these local men.

Parker, a veteran of the French and Indian war, had seen battle before. After seeing the British line move toward Concord - and not toward the Hancock-Clarke home - he ordered his men to disperse.

Harrington was probably quite relieved by this order. He turned and headed home. His wife and young son watched him from the window. Perhaps he waved to them. Perhaps a nervous smile crossed his face.

First there was a shot. And then the crackling fire of a volley from behind. A musket ball ripped through Harrington's body and he fell forward to the ground. He rose, fell again and tried to crawl home. He stretched his hand out to his family - and then collapsed on the front step of his home. Ruth and the young Harrington rushed to him as he died.

The Harrington tragedy did not end there. The young Harrington boy died the following year.

This home is a private residence but the site of the death of the patriot Harrington can be seen at any time. Parking is available in the area.


  1. My husband's mother is a Harrington - as a history teacher it is a cool tale to tell, even if it is only family my marriage.

  2. My mother is Jane Foley and grew up in the house. I make a point of visiting Minuteman National Park any time I get to New England

    1. I was a friend of your Mother's, She taught me how to ride at a camp in Maine. She was very special to me and would love to connect with her!
      Linda Klein -

  3. How did the Harrington boy die? Did Ruth remarry? I'd love to hear "the end of the story" for Ruth, after losing her husband and son.

  4. My name is Aidan and this is my great granddaddy's story. Keeping it real!

  5. My grandparents also lived there .... Rowse

  6. I'm a descendant. Another Harrington died there that day too. Fun fact but it would be so much better if the house was still owned by family. I have visited graves and feel at home when I visit.