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Mom Rinker — the Little Ol’ Lady Who Spied for Washington

She sat up there at the top.

She sat up there at the top.

There is a rock in Philadelphia along the Wissahickon Creek made famous by a little old lady who was one of George Washington’s best spies. No blond bombshell who blinded the British with her shocking good looks, she was merely an innocuous-looking little ol’ lady.

One of the complaints against King George listed in the Declaration of Independence was

“…For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us”

Troops could and often did simply move in and take-over a family’s home. Understandably, this didn’t sit well with the property owners who weren’t in favor of the King’s rule in the first place. Molly “Mom” Rinker was one such dissatisfied English subject willing to fight for her independence. She didn’t sit idly by while British soldiers took over her family’s inn and planned their attacks. An older, matronly woman, who would ever suspect her of being a raging patriot and spy?

No one … and she planned to keep it that way. While soldiers banned the male members of her family from the dining area, Mom was kept at hand so she could wait on the redcoats. She waited on them, all right, and made sure to keep jugs of liquor and ale in the dining room so she had fewer excuses for leaving.

Then this clever little Granny-like lady would pass intelligence to Washington’s men. She was never caught; her identity never revealed. So how did she do it?

Each night after gathering her intelligence, she wrote the information on a small piece of paper and wrapped it around a tiny stone. She then wrapped yarn around the stone until she had a normal, mundane looking ball of yarn. Every day, Mom would go to a lovely little spot along her favorite creek and seat herself on a rock. From this rock, she had a pleasant view of the woods.

She would then subtly drop the ball of yarn and watch it roll down the small cliff. One of Washington’s men would retrieve the note and disappear into the brush. No one was ever the wiser. The British never saw her converse with anyone. Granny sat upon her rock and knitted stockings for her beloved Colonial soldiers. She couldn’t be the spy; had to be someone else.

The British never even searched her basket. Probably wouldn’t have found the messages anyway. Not all spying during the American Revolution required complicated cloak-and-dagger techniques. The beauty of this deception was its simplicity, an idea born of wisdom and experience. Talk about a woman who could truly say, “Mom knows best.”

by Heather Frey Blanton

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About Heather Frey Blanton

"I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is ... and God loves us anyway." -- Heather Blanton

Posted on April 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Lady of Winchester

    Here appears to be the common error of using the term ‘British’ as synonymous with ‘English’. ‘British’ of course includes Scotland after the Act of Union of 1707.
    Of course, there would probably have been Scots and Welsh among the Redcoats fighting in the American Revolutionary War.
    I could put the cat among the pigeons and ask whether they are to be tarred with the same brush of vilification of that the English get, or are Scots exempt because they are better liked?

    • Lady of Winchester, you know, it is interesting that there is such a love/hate relationship with England. We didn’t like you so much then, but by WW II, we were all best buddies. The things that come about because of war.

      • Lady of Winchester

        Who is the ‘we’ in this sense? From what little I know not all Americans were opposed to continued British rule in the Revolutionary war. So what of the other side, and it may be asked was the antagonism Universal?

  1. Pingback: Mom Rinker — the Little Ol’ Lady Who Spied for Washington | autigergirl74

  2. Pingback: The Spy Who Knitted Socks

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