Washington Crossing, PA

Family Donates Revolutionary War Sword

Gregory Vellner

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The "Thorndike sword."Courtesy Lisa Thorndike

WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. -- A more than 260-year-old sword seen as a “tangible connection” to America’s struggles during the Revolutionary War has been donated by its handlers to Washington Crossing Historic Park hrtr.

Named the “Thorndike sword” -- originally in the possession of Lt. Paul Thorndike (1742-1826) – the small sword was presented July 4 to the Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park by Lisa Thorndike of Pennington, NJ, who along with sons Alden and Michael housed the sword that dates to between 1730 and 1760.

Lisa Thorndike said her sons are seventh generation descendants of the lieutenant, who, she said, “fought in the Revolutionary War at age 34.”

“We all decided earlier this year that it should go to the Friends of Washington Crossing museum,” said Lisa Thorndike. “”My sons grew up in Pennington, NJ and had seen the crossing reenactment many time including when Jack Kelly portrayed George Washington in 1982.”

George Washington is portrayed now by John Godzieba, 63, of Langhorne, Pa., president of Friends, and he does so at many historic events including the annual reenactment of the Christmas night 1776 crossing of the Delaware River.

Thousands gather on the banks of the river to watch several hundred reenactors in Continental military dress listen to an inspiring speech by General Washington and then see them row across the river in replica Durham boats.

“Artifacts, such as this sword, are tangible connections to this country’s struggles during The Revolutionary War and conserving these valuable objects for future generations is an important responsibility,” he said.

Godzieba said the Friends organization was thrilled to receive possession of the sword.

“We’re honored that the Thorndike family has chosen us to take possession of their family’s heirloom for a future exhibit,” said Godzieba. “We also extend our gratitude to Lisa Thorndike for her continued support of our organization as a member and a donor.”

The Thorndike sword, h said, was not used for fighting.

“It’s more of a dress item,” he said. “Officers would carry a sword and be identified as an officer. It’s about 36 inches long and has a very thin blade with some floral engraving on it. It has a wooden grip that is still fairly intact.”

The non-profit Friends organization shares the story of General George Washington’s daring crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and “interprets its ongoing impact on world history for both today’s citizens and future generations,” according to Jennifer Martin, executive director, Friends of Washington Crossing Park.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA
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