Meet Lydia

Take a walk through the Paint Creek cemetery to see the quaint countryside cemetery. Images courtesy of our webmaster, Linda I. Royse. 

Lydia's world

Lydia Barnes was born on April 17, 1756, in Bristol, Connecticut.
At the age of 19, she began making clothes for the soldiers on the front lines. She worked so unremittingly at her task, standing so continuously in a half bent position over her cutting table that, in her later years, she was never able to stand upright.
While engaged in this work she met her future husband, Lemuel Potter. Lemuel was a corporal. He was sent home to gather provisions and clothing for the starving soldiers at Valley Forge. They were married in February 1779.
After the death of her husband in 1826, Lydia moved from New York to Paint Creek, Oakland County, Michigan. She resided with her daughter, Merrilla Hemingway, until her death ten years later. She died August 28, 1836 at the age of 79 years 4 months. She is buried at Paint Creek Cemetery in Goodison, Oakland County, Michigan.
The marker for Lydia Barnes Potter is the oldest marker in the cemetery. Paint Creek Cemetery has been designated as a Michigan Historic Site. The marker, reads, in part, “In 1911 the Daughters of the American Revolution put a plaque at Potter’s marker in honor of her work making uniforms during the Revolutionary War. In 2002 they named a chapter in her honor.”

Restoring Lydia's Tombstone

Our members inquired about restoring and refurbishing Lydia’s tombstone. In 2017, it laid on the ground cracked in two parts. Watch the slide show to see the lifecycle of the restoring and refurbishing Lydia’s tombstone. After the repair of Lydia’s tombstone, our chapter contributed toward restoration expenses. 
Following the refurbishment we went to the Paint Creek Cemetery and cleaned and scrubbed the tombstone.  

Watch the slide show. It shows six separate photos of the Lydia Potter tombstone.

  • Tombstone laid flat on the ground cracked diagonally in two places.
  • Top of tombstone separated for restoration.
  • Braced the back of the tombstone.
  • Braced the front side of the tombstone.
  • Fully upright and restoration complete.
  • Our chapter cleaned the tombstone. 

An Affidavit about Lydia Barnes Potter

There is an affidavit from Lydia and Lemuel Potter’s grandaughter, Mrs. Abigail H. McArthur signed on August 19, 1911.  

You can find all the details within Michigan Historical Commission book, on page 456. She notes she heard the stories directly from her grandmother Lydia Barnes Potter. Her grandfather was honored for the engagement known as the storming of Stony Point and by his bravery. He was awarded a cane by his major for meritorious conduct. Mrs. Abigail H. McArthur had that cane in her possession at the time of this affidavit. 

While Lemuel was defending our country, his wife Lydia was busy at home sewing uniforms or repairing uniforms both day and night for soldiers. She states of her grandmother Lydia “she spun and wove the wool and cut and made the garments, learning the tailor’s trade that she might expeditiously supply the soldiers needs. She worked so unremittingly at her task, standing continuously in a half bent position over her cutting table that she was never after able to stand upright.” 

Finney, B. A. (1915) Michigan Historical Collections. Lansing, Michigan: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co. State Printers.