My name is John Hosbrook, and I died 216 years ago. My family has asked me to take you on a tour of our Patriot Past. They said you might need a refresher since Twitter, texting and TV dance shows have made you a mite forgetful. Why was I selected for this task? Perhaps it’s because I was both a Revolutionary War soldier and a frontiersman – but I’ll tell you my story later. I first want you to help me spell out LIBERTY as we tour our American past and meet my family.
L is for Laws as our tour begins here in New Jersey. We are a nation of laws, not men, so let me introduce you to Judge Joseph Kitchel, born in 1710 and thus not to be confused with those more modern magistrates, Judge Joe or Judge Judy. Judge Kitchel keeps a careful watch over the legal system here in Newark, a city founded by his ancestors, persecuted Puritans who fled England for religious freedom in America.
I is for Initiative, the juice that energizes and powers our American system and its can-do philosophy. Examples abound, but, look, there go Judge Joe’s two granddaughters, the Kitchel sisters, setting out for the frontier with their families. Such a bold move by young mothers takes ambition and courage since they’re trading settled security for raw and risky wilderness. One of the sisters, Lydia Kitchel Hosbrook, is my wife. We’re headed to Ohio.
B is for Burden, and James and Elizabeth, part of my extended family, have a heavy burden of heartache to bear here in Pennsylvania. Soon after James wrote home about “Jane, a fine garrel, age 3, and Alexander, a fine boy born June last,” both children fell victim to a frontier fever. Many families bore the burden of grief, translating it into effort to honor their loved ones. James and Elizabeth moved on to Ohio for a fresh start.