Tag Archives | Bettises

Uncle Billy: The Evolution of a Legend, Part One

William Wiley Rubottom, a California innkeeper and entrepreneur known to everyone as “Uncle Billy,” provided the inspiration for some serious storytelling.  Conflicting versions of two of these stories, set down twenty years apart,  offer a glimpse of the way in which stories can be used to reinforce the values of a place and time, and […]

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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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A Birthday in Pocahontas

No one in Pocahontas, Arkansas, seems to know why its 150th birthday was celebrated in 2006, when the town, as everyone knows, was given its current name, and chosen as the county seat for Randolph County, in 1835.  Nor does anyone know for sure why it was named “Pocahontas,” although it may be because it […]

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Moving West

Two of my ancestors moved west over the mountains, one from Virginia and the other from North Carolina, within eight years of each other.  They were part of the “second wave” of settlement, yeoman farmers who supplanted the earlier hunters and Indian traders.  Both were moderately prosperous citizens, with standing in their communities.  Newit Drew, […]

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The Seven Slave Daughters of Elijah Bettis III

The descendants of Drew Bettis, the mixed-race grandson of Elijah Bettis III, have passed down the tradition for nearly 200 years: Elijah had seven enslaved daughters, by seven different enslaved women. All of them were close to each other and considered each other sisters. Some of their names persisted in the family for generations: Martha, […]

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Frontier Aspirations: Cinderella, Charnelcy, Narcissa – and “Harriethusie”?

When the large family of Elijah Bettis Jr. decided to move west in 1805, they were among the richest residents of Moore County, North Carolina.  Elijah Jr. was recognized as a “trained medical doctor” (more on that later,) and either he or his son Elijah III was keeping company with the elite of Moore County […]

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Freemasonry, Theft, and Lawsuits on the Missouri Frontier

In 1825, in the small frontier town of Greenville in southeast Missouri, a quarrel erupted over a book.  The quarrel led to no fewer than four lawsuits, which nearly tore the county apart.  David Logan, who admitted having stolen and concealed the book, knowing it belonged to Elijah Bettis, sued Bettis for slander for calling […]

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