Archive | steamboats

Leaving Arkansas: Martha Bettis Cooper

When Arkansas’ free people of color were forced to leave the state in 1859, Martha Bettis Cooper  and her son Drew Bettis sold the properties they had acquired in Jacksonport and boarded a steamboat heading north.  With them came a 10-year-old named John Bettis, who was probably a nephew.  They traveled up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers […]

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Rivers and Freedom: A Child’s Escape

When Patsie Bettis was freed in 1837, a year after the death of her father Elijah Bettis III, she was the mother of two young sons, Drew, age 7, and Martin, age 2.  Drew was the son of Thomas Stevenson Drew, who was married to Patsie’s white cousin Cinderella Bettis.  Martin’s father is unknown, although […]

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Fanny Trollope Disapproves

Frances Trollope, an English novelist and the mother of a more famous one, had only just arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi in November of 1827, and already she disapproved.  Looking around her, all she could see was “desolation,” “degradation,”  “mud banks, monstrous bulrushes, and now and then a huge crocodile luxuriating in the […]

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Everything Changes: the Arrival of the Steamboats

“It is  now refreshing, and imparts a feeling of energy and power to the beholder,  to see the large and beautiful steamboats scudding up the eddies, as though on the wing; and when they have run out the eddy, strike the current.  The foam bursts in a sheet quite over the deck.  She quivers for […]

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