Deborah Scudder was the daughter of Richard B. Scudder and Hannah Reeder Scudder. Her family moved to New Jersey about 1717 and settled near the Falls on the Delaware River. She married John Hart, a farmer and future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1740. The two were parents of thirteen children; they lost one child as an infant but saw the rest of their children reach adulthood.
John, known as "Honest John," had grey hair when he was elected to be a delegate to the first Continental Congress. There he was "an active and outspoken advocate of political liberty." Soon after he signed the Declaration of Independence, the war moved to his home state of New Jersey. John was still in Congress and his two oldest sons were in the Continental Army when the British came to New Jersey. Deborah was very ill and could not be moved very far, but her children carried her to a place of safety. Their home was "pillaged and destroyed by the Hessians and Tories."
When John heard that his wife was dying, he hurried home to be at her side; however, he had a price on his head and "was hunted by the Tories like a criminal." Deborah died on October 28, 1776, while her husband was moving from one hiding place to another.
After the battle of Trenton and the capture of the dreaded Hessians, John and his family gathered back to their farm and prepared to build a new home. John's health was so badly broken by his hardships that he never fully regained his strength. He passed away in 1780, an "ardent and earnest champion of independence until his death."
Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp 144-147.
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