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ANN ELIZA BLEECKER (1752 – 1783)

Ann E. Bleecker. The Posthumous Works (1793), frontispiece.

ANN ELIZA BLEECKER (1752 – 1783)

Raised among the aristocracy of New York City, Ann Eliza Bleecker developed an interest in poetry as a young child. After marrying lawyer John James Bleecker in 1769, she moved to his rural estate in Tomhanick, which was then frontier land twenty miles from Albany. There she gave birth to two daughters and wrote sentimental poems about the loveliness and loneliness of country life.

When British forces invaded Tomhanick in 1777, Ann Bleecker fled to Albany with her children, and her husband joined the militia. She soon suffered the loss of both her mother and younger daughter, and, grieving, returned to Tomhanick. A second invasion in 1779 spurred her once more toward Albany with her surviving daughter. Upon hearing in 1781 that her husband had been captured by Loyalist forces, she suffered a breakdown. While her husband was shortly released, she never fully recovered from the shock, and her writings from her final years of life are melancholic and bitter.

Ann Eliza Bleecker died at thirty-three, leaving behind manuscripts of poetry and prose she apparently never intended to publish. About seven years after her death, her work began to appear in magazines, and a volume containing The Posthumous Works of Ann Eliza Bleecker, in Prose and Verse (1793) saw publication, thanks to the efforts of her daughter, Margaretta, who was also a writer. Historians today read Ann Eliza Bleecker's stories and letters for their vivid depictions of war on the western frontier, as recorded from the perspective of an articulate and terrified young mother.

Another portrait appears in:

Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, eds. Cyclopaedia of American Literature (New York, 1855), vol. 1, p. 366.



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