Phebe Angle was born 10 May 1776 on the cusp of Revolutionary change in America to parents John Angle and Martha Burwell. I am fortunate that her granddaughter, Martha Frances Strait, took the time to write down some family stories about her. That makes this more than just-a-facts story about Phebe who, as you will see, was a character!
Phebe Angle was only four months old when her father, John Angle, enlisted to serve in the Revolutionary war. What happened after that was a traumatic event for the family. According to the story:
“In September, 1776, when his daughter Phebe was only four months old, John Angle, with his two brothers, Jacob and William Angle (also from Germany), enlisted in the Sussex County, New Jersey, Militia at Newton, N.J., and so became soldiers in the Revolutionary Army.
“State of New Jersey, Office of the Adjutant General,
Trenton, June 29, 1908.
It is Certified, That the records of this office show that JOHN ANGLE served as Private in the Sussex County New Jersey Militia, – during the Revolutionary War.
(Signed) R. Heber Brentnall,
The Adjutant General.”
I suppose the three brothers must have enlisted at the same time, but John Angle did not go to the war as he ought, and so they came and took him while he was plowing in the field below Jephtha W. Dunn’s (which went by the name of Angle’s hill) and did not even let him go in and say good-bye to his family.It was such a shock to his wife that she went deranged and kept so all winter. In the spring she was all right in her mind, and this kept up all the rest of her life, she being deranged in winter and sane in summer. When she was herself she was a very pious woman.”
It would have been tough for Phebe to be raised by a mother who was deranged in the winter and sane in the summer. But Phebe had more than enough younger brothers and sisters who would have been there for her. Before John was dragged out of his farm field, he and Martha had eight children:
- Elizabeth, born 1749, married Benjamin Price
- Samuel, born 1753, married Mary Wright
- Abraham, born 1757, went to Elmira, N.Y.
- John Jr., born 1761, went to Elmira, N.Y.
- Edward, born 1765, he took the horse the John sent to his mother
- Hannah, born, 1769, married a Hand and then Anthony Zeke
- Sally, born 1773, married John Daniels
- Phebe, born 1776, married Peter Card
It is unclear whether John Angle ever made it back home to New Jersey and his death occurred sometime after 01 May 1887. Whether he died in the war or died shortly after at home, a young Phebe was left quite early without a father.
Phebe was married early at only 16 years of age, “a mere child yet in feeling,” to Peter Card (then 24 years old) on 12 November 1792. They lived in a little log house where James Woods used to live.
She was a head-strong young woman and promptly stood her ground on the subject of going out and dancing. Her granddaughter tells of one instance that caused Phebe’s husband to take a two year walkabout!
“A man by the name of Michael Stagg got up a dance in a house called the County House, since burned down. Phebe wanted to go to the dance, but her husband (my grandfather) did not want to go. She said she would go, if the Devil stood at the door, so she went, and when they got pretty well warmed up in dancing, why the old fellow did appear. He ground and rattled his chains and nearly scared the people out of their wits, but it broke up the dance. When Phebe got home, her husband was abed and, to all appearance, asleep. In the morning he got up and said he would go and hunt the cow, as she had laid out all night. He told Phebe not to wait breakfast for him, as he could not tell when he would be back. He took his gun along – and it was two years before she saw him again. He could hear from her, but she did not hear from him. During his absence she went to live with Lydia Winans (every one called her Granny Winans). When her husband came back, he told her what he had done and said if she would settle down and not go to dances and sprees, he would stay. She did settle down and got to be a very pious woman.”
I suspect this incident made Peter Card realize just how young Phebe was and the two year walkabout gave her time to mature before they started building a family in ernest. Being 24 when they married, he was ready to settle down but Phebe was ready to dance.
The physical description of Phebe by granddaughter Martha says that “she was quite a tall woman and had brown eyes.” I have to wonder just how tall “tall” was back then. I’m considered tall at 5′ 8″ in this day and age but people back in the 1790s were considerably smaller.
Phebe and Peter Card eventually settled down to start their family and had eight children born between 1795 and 1816:
- Martha (called Patty), born 15 October 1795
- Sarah, born 04 July 1799
- Elizabeth, born 10 April 1802
- Andrew, born 04 April 1804
- Sylvester, born 11 April 1807
- John, born 02 April 1811
- Emeline, born 24 June 1815
- Julia, born 08 March 1816 (this is my 4th great-grandmother)
Phebe wasn’t afraid to discipline her children; so much so that she caused daughter Sarah to strike out on her own about 1811 and leave Peter and Phebe’s household for four years. Again according to Martha Strait’s recollection of her mother:
“When Mother [Sarah Card] was twelve years old, her mother [Phebe Card] gave her a whipping which streaked her back and made the blood come. This was the cause of the whipping: Grandmother had company and my mother was getting supper and the two boys kept snatching the food off the table. She asked Grandmother to make them quit, and she would not, so Mother cuffed Andrew’s ears to make him behave, and the Grandmother took a whip to Mother and whipped her until she was tired. Then Mother said, “You might as well give me my freedom suit while you are at it”, which she did. The next morning Mother put on all the extra clothes she dared and went to see Aunt Betsey, who lived with Granny Hulmes. … She did not go home until her sister Emeline came to town [most likely meaning was born looking at the timeline of events], when her father [Peter Card] coaxed her up, and for his sake she went. She was sixteen years old then.”
Since this incident occurred before the Civil War, a freedom suit refers to the customary new suit of clothes that indentured servants were given upon completion of their servitude. Sarah wasn’t indentured but given the whooping she had just received she must have felt like one and wanted her mother Phebe to know it. (Later in the 1860s, just before the Civil War, freedom suits came to mean the legal petitions slaves filed in court suing for their freedom.)
Peter Card passed away 14 February 1818. Given that Phebe had some very young children, it was not unexpected that would find another husband to help support the family. She didn’t have to look very far. Around 1819, she married Peter’s brother Henry Card Jr. Phebe and Henry had one son together, born 18 February 1820, and they named the child in honor of Peter.
A church was built in the community around 1827 and Phebe became the “twelfth one who joined the class. She must have been 51 years old then. She may have been a Christian longer, but there was no church to join.”
Phebe Angle lived to be 78 years old. She passed away 24 May 1854.
 Martha F. Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History: Recollections of my Mother, Sarah Card Strait” (14 January 1909), p. 1; folder: “Strait Family File”, vertical files; Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
 Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History,” p. 1.
 Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History,” p. 1-2.
 Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History,” p. 2.
 Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History,” p. 4.
 Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History,” p. 2.