Archive | women’s lives on the southern border

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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Imagining Cinderella Bettis Drew

The story told here is only partly imagined.  Something very much like it actually happened, a century later.  The coffee drinker was Saidee’s daughter—my grandmother, Margaret Bennett Barringer— whose life paralleled Cinderella’s in a number of respects. It is 1858. In the dining room of the rented house in Fort Smith, Cinderella and her daughter […]

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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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