Anne Bailey (1742 – November 22, 1825) was a British-born American story teller and frontier scout who served in the fights of the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War.
Born Anne Hennis in Liverpool, England, she came to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when she was about 19, after both of her parents died in 1760. In 1765 married Richard Trotter, a local settler.
When Lord Dunmore called for militia to fight the Indians of the western border in 1774, Richard Trotter enlisted, but was killed on Oct. 10, 1774 at the Battle of Point Pleasant against the forces of Shawnee leader, Cornstalk. This event changed Anne’s life completely and she left her son, William Trotter, to the care of others and became a skilled frontier scout, horsewoman, hunter, messenger and storyteller, wearing buckskins, carrying hatchet, knife and long rifle.
She married again in 1785 to John Bailey, another frontiersman and army ranger, the forerunners of today’s special forces. They moved to Clendenin’s Settlement in the Great Kanawha Valley where she would make her famous ride. Her career continued until 1795 and the signing of the Greenville Treaty to end the Indians Wars.
Her single-person ride in search of an urgently needed powder supply for the endangered Clendenin’s Settlement (present-day Charleston, West Virginia) was used as the template for Charles Robb’s 1861 poem “Anne Bailey’s Ride”. She is known as the Heroine of the Kanawha Valley.
After John Bailey died in 1802, she went to live with her son William and became a storyteller and trader. In 1817, they moved across the Ohio River to Gallia County, Ohio. Instead of asking her to stay with his family, William built her a cabin nearby so she would still feel independent.
In 1823, Ann Bailey was interviewed by Anne Royall, a local reporter. When speaking of her adventures and bravery she said, “I always carried an ax and auger, and I could chop as well as any man… I trusted in the Almighty… I knew I could only be killed once, and I had to die sometime.” (Excerpts below.)
Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the United States by a Traveler
Published in 1826 by Anne Royall
And more than all this, I have seen the celebrated heroine, Ann Bailey, who richly deserves more of her country, than a name in its history.
This female is a Welch woman, and is now very old. At the time Gen. Lewis’s army lay at the Point, a station on Kenhawa river, Ann would shoulder her rifle, hang her shot-pouch over her should, and lead a horse laden with ammunition to the army, two hundred miles distant, when not a man could be found to undertake the perilous task – the way thither being a perfect wilderness, and infested with Indians. I asked her if she was not afraid – she replied, “No, she was not; she trusted in the Almighty – she knew she could only be killed, and she had to die some time.” I asked her is she never met with the Indians in her various journies, (for she went several times.) “Yes, she once met with two, and one of them said to the other let us kill her, (as she supposed, from the answer of the other,) no, said his companion, ___ dam, too good a soger, and let her pass:” but how, said I, did you find the way, – “Steered by the trace of Lewis’s army, and I had a pocket compass too.” “Well, but how did you get over the water courses?” Some she forded, and some she swam, on others she made a raft; she “halways carried a hax and a hauger, and she could chop as well has hany man;” such was her dialect. This is a fact that hundreds can attest. A gentleman informed, that while the army was stationed near the mouth of Elk, he walked down that river to where it intersects with Kenhawa, for the purpose of fishing; he had not remained long there before he heard a plunge in the water, and upon looking up, he discovered Ann on horseback swimming toward him; when the horse gained the landing, she observed, “cod, I’d like to a swum.” She was quite a low woman in height, but very strongly made, and had the most pleasing countenance I ever saw, and for her, very affable. “And what would the General say to you, when you used to get safe to camp with your ammunition.” “Why he’d say, you’re a brave soldier, Ann, and tell some of the men to give me a dram.” She was fond of a dram. When I saw the poor creature, she was almost naked; she begged a dram, which I gave to her, and also some other trifle. I never shall forget Ann Bailey. The people here repeat many sayings of hers, such as “the howl upon the helm on the bank of the helk” – that is, an owl on an elm upon the bank of Elk river.
Anne died peacefully on November 22, 1825. She was buried in the Trotter Graveyard near her son’s home, and her remains rested there for seventy-six years. On October 10, 1901, her remains were re-interred in Monument Park in Point Pleasant, under the auspices of the Colonel Charles Lewis, Jr. Chapter of the D. A. R.
On New Year’s Day this year, I took a walk along Point Pleasant, WV Riverfront Park and through the adjacent Tu Endie Wei State Park. It is an easy walk to do: less than two miles, flat surface, either paved or graveled. The murals are stunning in their vibrant colors and they tell the history of the Battle of Pt Pleasant, the first battle in the American Revolution.
Details of the battle can be found here: https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1889
This is one of a handful of blogs I will do on the murals, statues, artists and history of these two parks. I highly recommend a visit if you are able.
Below are a few clippings from newspaper archives on Anne Bailey.
I hope you enjoyed the read. Thanks for stopping by.
Mad Anne Bailey Became Part Of Ohio’s Heritage
By The Associated Press
She did her own thing, this pioneer women’s libber of the old Ohio frontier, and men–for the West was a man’s world then–called her mad.
Actually, Mad Anne Bailey was just one of a long column of rugged individualists who marched across the pages of Ohio’s early history A few, like Anne, became legends
It is difficult to separate truth and legend in Anne’s story, but it is certain she was one of the strangest figures ever to ride the Ohio wilderness trails She lived out the last of her 83 years crude cabin she built in the hills above Gallipolis.
Born in England, before 1745, her first husband was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant. A second husband, a soldier named John Bailey, also died a violent death.
Called by the Indians “The White Squaw of the Kanawha,” she once rode 100 miles over the mountains and back with a cargo of gunpowder needed by a beleaguered fort.
A short burly woman, Anne dressed as the Indian scout she was, carrying rifle, shot pouch, powder horn, scalping knife and tomahawk. She chewed tobacco, drank and swore and day or night might suddenly appear at a lonely frontier station to become a living storybook to river squatters and mountaineers.
Apart from her wild life on the frontier she found time to teach a Sunday School class at Gallipolis, but aside from this one social duty she declined to mingle with community life. The Gallipolis Free Press reported her death on Dec 3, 1825. She is buried in a park across the Ohio River, overlooking the battlefield of Point Pleasant