Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Ann Hennis Bailey 

 

The Scioto Company early in 1786 sent out a prospectus of their lands in the Northwest Territory. A glowing account was given of the opportunities for settlers, and an office for the sale of these lands was opened in Paris, France. Many of the French families had been driven out of their native country by the Revolution and this seemed to offer them an opportunity of regaining their fortune. Some five or six hundred emigrants including men of all professions who had purchased lands through the agent in Paris, sailed in February, 1790, from Havre de Grace for Alexandria, Virginia. Here they were received with a warm welcome, but soon discovered that the company had failed in their requirements by the United States Government, and that the lands had reverted to the Treasury Board and had been sold in 1787 pursuant to an act of Congress passed the July preceding. Realizing their situation, a meeting was called and a committee appointed to go to New York and demand indemnification from the acting agents of the Scioto Company, and another committee was appointed to appeal personally to General Washington to right their wrongs. Finally an agreement was reached that other lands should be secured to them and that the site of Gallipolis should be surveyed and parceled out in lots, houses erected, and wagons and supplies furnished to convey the colonists to Ohio. But many had lost their faith in the company, and they removed to New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.

 The few who still held on to the hope of obtaining some foothold in the new country set out as soon as the wagons and necessary supplies could be secured, reaching their destination in October, 1790. Here they found cabins erected, block houses for the protection against an attack, and many other things for their comfort. They set to work at once clearing the land, and in 1791 a party started out to explore the country adjoining and they hoped that on their return the Scioto Company would put them in possession of the lands which they had purchased, but being convinced of the hopelessness of this, they petitioned Congress for an appropriation of land, which resulted in twenty thousand acres being turned over to be equally divided among the French emigrants living at Gallipolis at a certain time under condition of their remaining there a certain number of years. Other grants were afterwards given to these colonists in Kentucky.

In the history of this settlement we find the account of a most remarkable woman who received from the settlers the name of "Mad Ann." Her maiden name was Hennis. She was born at Liverpool, and married a man by the name of Richard Trotter. Richard Trotter volunteered as one of the men under General Lewis, who went out at the order of Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, in 1774, against the Indian towns on the Scioto, and while waiting for news from the commander-in-chief at Point Pleasant an engagement between the Indians and these troops took place in which the Virginians suffered great loss. Among those engaged in this battle were the well-known names of Shelby, Sevier, and James Robertson, spoken of in former accounts. Trotter was killed in this battle.

From the time of the news of her husband's death, Ann Bailey seemed possessed of a wild spirit of revenge. She abandoned all female employment and even gave up female attire, clad herself in hunting shirt, moccasins, wore a knife and tomahawk, and carried a gun. Notwithstanding her strange conduct and the assumption of manly habits, she made a second alliance. She went with a body of soldiers which were to form a garrison at a fort on the great Kanawha where Charlestown is now located, and we find in many of the historical sketches she is spoken of as handling firearms with such expertness that she frequently carried off the prize. She became a trusted messenger, taking long journeys on horseback entirely alone. One incident is told of how, when information of a supposed attack on a fort at Charlestown was threatened, and the commandant found it necessary to send to Camp Union near Lewisburg for supplies, as they were without ammunition, Ann Bailey offered to make this journey of one hundred miles through a trackless forest alone. Her offer was accepted and she reached Camp Union in safety, delivered her orders and returned as she had come, alone, laden with the ammunition. It is said that the commandant stated that the fort would not have been saved except for this act of heroism on the part of Mrs. Bailey, which hardly has a parallel.

The services she rendered during the war endeared her to the people who overlooked her eccentricities and were ever ready to extend to her every kindness which their gratitude suggested. When her son settled in Gallipolis, she came with him and spent the remainder of her life wandering about the country, fishing and hunting. Her death took place in 1825.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.

 

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