The present collection of proverbs began as an incidental by-product of a study on the life and times of Lewis the Robber, central Pennsylvania's folk-hero. Examination of newspapers and other materials published in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before 1820 revealed a wealth of proverbial material in dated occurrences prior to the starting date of Archer Taylor and Bartlett J. Whiting's Dictionary of American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, 1820-80.
The story of Molly Pitcher of Monmouth, firing her cannon at the British over the body of her husband, was (and is) a popular part of the history of the War of the Revolution, as read by Americans after 1840. After the story had been repeated in one historical account after another and depicted in several well-known prints, it became widely accepted as an accurately recounted event. The first stories called the heroine "Captain Molly"; the first print "Molly Pitcher";and thereafter writers called her "Captain," or sometimes "Major Molly," and "Molly Pitcher;" she was made to be one and the same woman.