All Posts

Love thrives in the most unexpected places, even in the trauma of war, and in collections like Fort Ticonderoga’s…

In 1775 Hannah Lawrence, a 17-year-old Quaker living in New York City was moved by the Revolutionary struggle to write pages upon pages of poetry praising the virtues of the Continental forces pushing into Canada. By the end of the next year, she lived in an occupied city, but still wrote, now aiming her pen at the British soldiers and officers that filled her hometown. She caused a sensation when she secretly disseminated her poems in front of Trinity Church. Hannah’s world changed dramatically when her family quartered a young loyalist officer named Jacob Scheiffelin.
Jacob had been born in Philadelphia, to German parents, but grew up in the new British Province of Québec, eventually moving as far west as Detroit. As the war began, he remained loyal to the crown, serving as an officer in a loyalist unit known as the Detroit Volunteers. He fought at the fringes of British power in America, in what is now Vincennes, Indiana. There, he was captured by Virginia forces and transported to Williamsburg, where he was imprisoned. He escaped, carefully hiding out for months before getting safely to British-held New York.
In 1780, Hannah, the pacifist, Quaker, poet met the recently escaped, German-American, loyalist, soldier who was billeted in her parent’s home. Despite her prior feelings about the war, and against the wishes of Hannah’s church and family, she married Jacob that August. Within a month, this unlikely pair departed New York for Canada. A voyage of seven months took them around the Atlantic coast, down the St. Lawrence River, and eventually back to Detroit.
The end of the war in 1783 brought more dramatic changes. Hannah’s family remained in New York, and after years in Montréal and London, she and Jacob returned to America in 1794, where Jacob ran his in-law’s apothecary business as a citizen of the nation that he had fought against. Hannah and Jacob lived the rest of their lives in New York, living well into the 1830s.
As part of the acquisition of the Robert Nittolo Collection, we have brought Hannah Lawrence Scheiffelin’s wedding jewelry (pictured) back alongside her husband’s uniform (pictured), which was donated to Fort Ticonderoga in 1945. These objects from this remarkable couple help us connect to the world of the past through the power of emotions that still, and always, will define what it means to be human.
Interested in learning how you can support the Robert Nittolo Collection acquisition? Please contact Beth Hill at
Learn more about the featured items in our online Collections Database: