By Bill Miller

1860 log cabin like the Hinzman’s

         Occasionally I hear complaints of “a bad-hair day!” Others, like myself, regularly have a no-hair day. However, I found a 249 year old women in my wife’s family who experienced both conditions on the same day.

It was probably like every other morning for 32 year old, Charity Hinzman. She sent her husband, Henry, out to catch something for dinner. She sent the three kids out to play, hunt, fight or work in the garden. She had no water to wash clothes, no vacuum to run, no toilets to clean and only a fire to watch. So I picture her sitting in front of the fireplace in her old rocker (see photo) working on her quilt, her hair a mess but contentment on her face.

Suddenly, the three kids, Abe, Tom and Sarah, came running into the cabin screaming, “The Redskins are coming!” (and not to play football). She barred the door, hid the kids under the cabin floor, and probably got her gun, but it was too late. The Indians broke into the small cabin and scalped Charity, as the children listened to the violence above. When it was safe they came up and found their mother bleeding on the floor. They ran to the nearby cabin of Nicholas Linger for help.

With the help of their neighbors and an herbal doctor she miraculously survived the scalping. Charity’s daughters later recalled that “for the rest of her life she wore a knit cap to hide the bald spot.” Apparently Henry did not mind the cap. They had nine more children, several after she was 50.


Jones Family cane chair & quilt

Before their marriage, Henry had fought in the Revolutionary War – on both sides. He came to America from Hesse, Germany as a Hessian soldier fighting for England. In his second battle, the Battle of Trenton, NJ, he was captured by George Washington, after Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on Christmas (December 25, 1776), and imprisoned in Pennsylvania. He opted to join the American cause and enlisted in the Continental Army serving until the end of the war. He was rewarded for his service with a Bounty Land farm and a small war pension.

When Henry died in 1827 Charity received his pension. However, at the start of the Civil War she lost the pension. That put Charity on the warpath. In 1866, the 99 year old lady wearing a knit cap reapplied for her pension by stating that “she had not in any manner encouraged the rebels or manifested a sympathy with the cause of the late rebellion in the US, and she was last paid on the 4th day of September 1859.” She won the battle and was granted a pension of $23.33 per year for the rest of her life.

Six years and $140 later, March 13, 1872, Charity died in Roane County, WV at the ripe old age of 105 years, after 32 bad-hair years and 73 no-hair years. So, if you are having a bad-hair day remember Charity, put on a hat or cap, throw a log on the fire, go to your computer and work on your family tree. If you need help join the Lake Lure Genealogy Club on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at Mountains Branch Library.