Search:
Join Our Community:
Watch for these Programs:
  • Astronomy Series
  • Birding Series
  • More 'Ghosts' in October
  • Snowshoe events when it snows!
  • Animal Encounter Series
  • 'CT Trail Day' Hike in June

Mrs. David Ingersoll Olmstead - The Red Petticoat

May 7, 1751 - February 8, 1815

Abigail Ingersoll was the second daughter of Reverend Jonathan Ingersoll and his wife, Dorcas. The Reverend Ingersoll came to Ridgefield in 1740, where he served his parishioners for more than 35 years. When the American Revolution began, the Reverend remained strongly loyal to England and urged his parishioners not to take up arms against the King.

When Abigail turned 18, she married David Olmstead, who was the prosperous grandson of the original proprietor David Olmstead. They had a farm on Olmstead Lane near West Lane. When the war broke out, Abigail was in a difficult position. Her father was a strong supporter of the Crown while her husband was an ardent patriot. David Olmstead was one of the first Ridgefield men to go to war in 1775. A year later he captained a Ridgefield company in the Continental Line.

With her husband in the army, Abigail was often left home to run the farm and take care of the children. On April 27, 1777, when the British marched into Ridgefield, Captain Olmstead was fighting at the barricade at the north end of Main Street. When the British managed to capture the town, they started southward, burning down some homes and damaging the Episcopal church. The patriots were forced to flee into the woods.

Legend has it that when Abigail, who was alone with her children, saw a detachment of British troops marching down Olmstead Lane, she feared her home would be burned down too. To save it, she decided to pose as a Tory. To persuade the soldiers of her loyalty to the Crown, she removed her red petticoat and waved it from the upstairs window at the marching soldiers below. The trick worked, and her house was saved. In fact it is still standing today. But upon hearing of her performance, her husband declared if he had seen her do such a treasonous act, he would have shot her!

Abigail and David had 9 children. So that no one would ever question her loyalty again, she named her fourth child George Washington, in honor of the husband’s commanding general.  Her children's names:  William, David, Sarah, George Washington, Millicent, Abbey, Charles Goodrich, Abigail, and Polly

FYI: During Abigail's time, a petticoat was an outer garment, not part of a lady's underclothes. The red petticoat alleged to be waved out the window, was really similar to a skirt.

Search:
Join Our Community:
Watch for these Programs:
  • Astronomy Series
  • Birding Series
  • More 'Ghosts' in October
  • Snowshoe events when it snows!
  • Animal Encounter Series
  • 'CT Trail Day' Hike in June