Archive | August, 2016

Women of the Border: Roddé Christie Viriat Labbé

Rhoda Christie was 21 years old in 1797, a mulatto slave in Davidson County, Tennessee, when she and her two children were sent to Missouri to be sold.  Her daughter Mary was only six weeks old, and her son Orange 18 months, when they made the 300-mile journey.  Frances Baggett, one of her descendants, has […]

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Women of the Border: Mary Kelly Bettis

The life of my great-great-great grandmother, Mary Kelly Bettis, spanned three stages in the evolution of the southern border.  She was born into a family of hunters, trappers and Indian traders, who settled on the St. Francis River, in the remote southeast corner of Missouri, in the first years of the 19th century.  Isaac Kelly, […]

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The Methodist Conquest

“If you hear something lumberin’ through the canebrake,” said the Arkansas borderers, “it’s either a bear or a Methodist preacher, and either one’s bound to be hungry.” In the 1820s, the “second Great Awakening” was underway,  and Methodist, Baptist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian preachers were fanning out across the western states to bring religion to the […]

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Fanny Trollope Disapproves Again

One of the first things that de Tocqueville noticed on his arrival in America was the extraordinarily high level of religious activity.  On interrogating American clergymen of various denominations about this phenomenon, he was surprised to find that “all attributed the peaceful domination that religion exercises in their country principally to the complete separation of […]

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