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Frances Hart Sheftall

When her husband and son were captured by the British, Frances Hart Sheftall managed to earn money and raise her family alone through bouts of yellow fever, a smallpox epidemic, and the upheaval of the Revolutionary War. Sheftall came to America with her brother and married in 1761. Prominent in the Jewish community of Savannah, Georgia, she and her husband, Mordecai, began hosting services regularly in their home by 1774. When her husband and oldest son were captured in 1778, Sheftall began petitioning for their release while raising her four younger children, borrowing money and doing needlework, laundry, and ironing to earn an income. The family was so poor that their clothes were impounded to pay their passage from Charleston to Philadelphia, where they were reunited with her newly freed husband and son in 1781. After her husband’s death in 1792, she petitioned for compensation from the US government for his service, to support her children. Her letters offer a vivid glimpse of the turmoil of this defining moment of American history.

More on: Motherhood, Military
More on Frances Hart Sheftall
Sheftall, Frances - still image [media]
Full image
Portrait of Frances Hart Sheftall. Before the Revolutionary War, the Sheftall house was the scene of regular religious services for the local Jewish congregation.
Institution: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH, www.americanjewisharchives.org
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
The Hague
Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Frances Hart Sheftall." (Viewed on March 25, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/sheftall-frances>.


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