Friday, February 5, 2010

"A High Son of Liberty": the Site of Dr. Samuel Prescott's home, Concord

As noted in an earlier post, the one midnight rider who actually made it to Concord to warn of the British excursion on April 19, 1775, was Dr Samuel Prescott. Prescott was the 24 year old son of Dr. Abel Prescott, who was leaving Lexington at an early hour of the morning after courting Lydia Mulliken, who lived near the Munroe Tavern.

In those days, there was no medical school to learn to become a doctor. In the case of young Samuel Prescott, he apprenticed with his father, Dr. Abel Prescott, Sr. Samuel lived in his father's home along with his older brother, Abel, Jr., and a sister, Lucy.

The phrase "high son of liberty" comes from a 1798 letter from Paul Revere to Dr. Jeremy Belknap. The letter described his view of the events of April 18-19. Revere wrote:
After I had been there [at the Hancock-Clarke house] about a half an hour, Mr. Daws (sic) came; we refreshed ourselves ourselves, and set off for Concord. We were overtaken by a young Dr. Prescott, whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty... I likewise mentioned that we has better alarm all the inhabitants till we got to Concord. The young doctor much approved of it and said he would stop with either of us, for the people between that and Concord knew him and would give more credit to what we said.
Shortly thereafter, the three riders were surrounded. Revere was captured but both Dawes and Prescott bolted. Dawes made it to the home of Captain Charles Smith of Lincoln and hid there. Prescott, however, rode into the night, warning the leaders of Concord and then Acton. Along the way, he stopped at is home and enlisted his brother, Abel, to carry the word further. Abel thundered off to Sudbury and Framingham.

While their heroics considerably aided the stand at the North Bridge in Concord, - it was the men of Acton who stood at the front at the Bridge - the day went hard for the Prescott brothers. After Samuel Prescott notified the leaders in Acton, he rode toward Lexington where he sought out Lydia and tended to the wounded. Later in the day, the British soldiers burned the Mulliken home as they departed the community. Prescott spent days in the Lexington area, treating wounded militia.

Dr. Samuel Prescott then went off to war, leaving his Lydia behind. His efforts, first begun early on the morning on April 19, 1775. In the next two years, he was attached to a unit in Fort Ticonderoga and then signed for service as a privateer. His ship was captured by the British in the North Atlantic. For years, no one had any word of what happened to the brave Dr. Prescott. Then a returning veteran came forward with the story of how Dr. Prescott died in a Nova Scotia prison and that he had been a cellmate.

Lydia Mulliken waited for eight years for her love and then gave up hope. She married and moved to Haverhill; she did not live a long life.

As for the other Prescott rider, after traveling to Framingham, Abel returned to Concord, just in time for the beginning of the long battle from Meriam's Corner back to Boston. A musket ball found its mark and he fell wounded. The wound never healed. Abel Prescott died in August 1775.

The Prescotts had paid a high cost for their courage and commitment to liberty. There is a Prescott Road in Concord that is presumably named for the patriots; there is also a Samuel Prescott road in Stow, Massachusetts, that will take a traveler to Acton's Liberty Tree Farm - where Samuel Prescott ended his night of warning his countrymen. Prescott's ride in Acton is re-enacted every year.

The plaque is located here on Lexington Road in Concord. Parking is available at the Old Orchard House parking lot and the site is a short distance from there. According to Ruth Wheeler's Concord, Climate for Freedom, some of Dr. Prescott's father's home has been incorporated into the existing structure standing behind this wall.

3 comments:

  1. I’ve usually seen the fiancée’s surname as Mulliken, but spelling was variable in the 1700s so perhaps documents have it in both forms.

    It’s often said that Dr. Samuel Prescott was captured while serving as a surgeon on an American privateer and died in captivity in 1777. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to appear in local records after that date.

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  2. I corrected the spelling of Mulliken. Most of my texts and sources have it spelled as you suggest.

    I have tried to clarify what happened to Dr. Samuel Prescott. And thanks for the comments.

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  3. i have to do a project. thanks for the info.

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