Won't You Come Home, Anne Bailey?
A fearless pioneer woman risked her life
as a Revolutionary War scout
Anne Bailey raced her horse across the jagged rocks of the Allegheny Mountains on a journey between Charleston, West
Virginia, and Lewisburg, Virginia. She had made this journey safely many times before, delivering food and supplies to pioneer settlers along the way. But on
this particular trip, Anne was not so fortunate. She came face-to-face with a band of Shawnee warriors who chased her across the treacherous landscape. Anne
rode like a woman possessed, but her pursuers were undaunted. Just as they were about to overtake her, Anne jumped from her horse and escaped into the
underbrush, hiding in a hollow sycamore log.
The Shawnee made a thorough search of the area but were unable to locate the elusive Anne. They stopped
to rest on the same log in which Anne was tucked away, then returned to their camp, taking Anne's horse with them. Later that evening, protected by
darkness, she crawled from the underbrush and followed the Shawnee's trail. Quickly stealing into their camp, Anne found her horse, sprang onto his back,
and made her escape. As she rode away, she let out a defiant whoop and continued on to Charleston.
Native Americans and pioneer settlers spun such
stories of “Mad” Anne Bailey, a short, stout, whiskey-loving woman who swung a tomahawk and chewed tobacco. After a career as a Revolutionary War scout, Anne
spent the latter part of her life roaming the frontier between Gallipolis, Ohio, and Charleston. As her age increased, so did her eccentricities, and she
became known throughout the area a “Mad” Anne, though no one dared say so in her presence.
But Vicky Trotter, Anne's great-great-great-great
granddaughter, does not believe her unusual behavior was a sign of insanity. “I think it was more of her personality and what she went through,” says Vicky.
“You had to be strong to survive.”
Vicky, who lives in Ashville, Ohio, has worked for years researching her family history with her father, Carl
Trotter, also of Ashville. Through their research, they have discovered a great deal about the life of Anne Bailey, most of which is based on stories passed
down through the generations. These stories have grown and taken shape for nearly 200 years.
Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey was born in Liverpool,
England, in 1742. She was fortunate enough to receive formal schooling from a young age, learning how to read and write. But by the time Anne was an adult,
both her parents had died, leaving her with little money. Hoping to find a better life, Anne sailed to America when she was just 19 years old. Some say she
settled with relatives in Virginia, while others believe she lived as an indentured servant for a short time, in order to defray the cost of her voyage
across the Atlantic.
Soon after her arrival, Anne met a young frontiersman named Richard Trotter, whom she married in 1765. The newlyweds moved to
Staunton in the Kanawha Valley, where Richard cleared a few acres of forest and built a small log cabin for his bride. In 1767, the couple had their only
child, a son they named William.
As Anne and Richard began their new life together, other settlers also moved westward, pouring into the Alleghenies.
This pioneer invasion disrupted the Native Americans living in the area, and clashes frequently broke out between the two groups. In an attempt to subdue the
fighting, Virginia Governor Lord Dunmore organized a border militia, which Richard Trotter joined.
Starting from Virginia, the militia traveled 160
miles to the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers – Point Pleasant, West Virginia. On October 10, 1774, on what is now the sight of Tu-Endi-Wei Park, a
bloody fight erupted. Sometimes referred to as the first battle of the American Revolution, the battle of Point Pleasant successfully subdued fighting on the
frontier. It also prevented a Native American alliance with the British. But the battle had been brutal; both Virginians and Native Americans suffered huge
losses. Richard Trotter was among the dead.
After hearing of her husband's death, the 32-year-old Anne Trotter became possessed by what local
settlers called a “wild spirit.” Donning a hunting shirt, men's shoes and a pair of buckskin breeches under her petticoat, Anne took up a rifle and taught
herself how to shoot. Swearing to avenge her husband's death, she volunteered to act as a scout or messenger – anything to aid the cause of the American
Revolution. To Anne, the Revolution was not only a war for liberty, but for existence, and she felt her voice was needed in the rallying cry.
her son William, then seven years old, in the care of a neighbor, Anne set out to drum up volunteer support for the American army. She rode from one
recruiting station to another along the border, from the Potomac to the Roanoke, making appeals on behalf of the women and children of the border who were
constantly exposed to attacks. She often rode alone, and apparently did not fear the treachery of the frontier wilderness. “I always carried an ax and auger,
and I could chop as well as any man,” Anne boasted in an 1823 interview with journalist Anne Royall.
She frequently traveled the 160-mile route
between Fort Savannah (now Lewisburg) to Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant, the westernmost outpost in America at the time. Anne began scouting for the
American forts and relaying messages between them. Familiar with every path along this route, she became a valued messenger. Soon, everyone living along the
border knew the name of Anne Trotter, including a soldier named John Bailey.
John was a border leader and member of the “Rangers,” a famous band of
frontier scouts. Apparently he didn't mine Anne's tobacco chewing and swearing. He and Anne fell in love, and in 1785 they were married in Lewisburg,
Virginia (now West Virginia). But for Anne, now 43 years old, marriage did not mean settling down. In fact, her most famous adventures were about to begin.
In 1788, Anne's second husband went on duty at Fort Clenendin, where Charleston now stands. Thrust into more settler-Indian conflict, Anne became as
much as part of the garrison at Fort Clenendin as her husband. She took it upon herself to act as a scout and messenger for the fort, warning soldiers and
settlers of approaching danger.
Anne herself was fearless. “I trusted in the Almighty,” she later told Anne Royall. “I knew I could only be killed
once, and I had to die sometime.”
One night in 1791, a sentry on duty sounded the alarm that a large body of Native Americans was camped nearby.
Bracing themselves for an attack, the soldiers soon discovered their supply of gunpowder was low. With attack imminent, Colonel Clenendin, commander of the
garrison, feared his men would be slaughtered. He asked for a volunteer to ride to the fort at Lewisburg, the nearest source for gunpowder. Because 100 miles
of dangerous, unbroken land separated the two forts, not one man was willing to make the ride. Fortunately for them, one woman was. Anne stepped forward and
said, “I will go.” The men provided Anne with their fastest horse, and she set out for Lewisburg.
Anne rode day and night, racing up the Kanawha
through the voiceless forest to the Greenbriar Mountains. According to legend, she stopped for rest only when she reached the walls of Fort Savannah. Anne
explained the situation to the commanding officer, who provided her with an additional horse to carry the gunpowder. He also offered her an escort for the
return trip. Clearly this man did not know Anne Bailey very well. With true frontier gumption, the gun-toting, tomahawk-swinging woman refused assistance,
certain she could make the 100-mile journey on her own.
Which she did. Anne arrived at Fort Clenendin safely amid shouts and cheers, her valuable
cargo intact – as was her taste for whiskey. When asked later how she was received by the garrison, Anne replied, “The general said, `You're a brave
soldier, Anne' and told the man to give me a dram. God, I love a dram.”
With the new supply of gunpowder, the soldiers were able to drive away their
attackers the following morning. Anne is credited with saving the lives of the entire garrison of men. In appreciation of her bravery, the soldiers gave her
the swift black horse on which she made the trip. Anne named the horse Liverpool in honor of her birthplace. She was 49 years old.
Anne's ride to Lewisburg was the most daring feat recorded in the annals of the West. Her deed has been commemorated in song as well as story. Charles
Robb, a soldier in the United States Army, wrote a poem about Anne that appeared in the Clermont (Ohio) Courier in 1861.
“She heeded not the danger
But rode as one who rides for life;
Still onward in her course she bore,
Along the dark Kanawha's shore,
tangled wood and rocky way,
Nor paused to rest at close of day.”
A few years after Anne's famous ride, the hostilities in the Kanawha Valley
ended with the Treaty of Granville. More settlers began moving into the area. Many soldiers who had been stationed at Fort Clenendin began building homes
around Point Pleasant. For years Anne lived among these pioneers and grew old with them. Everywhere she went she was a welcome guest, and she found a home
wherever she stopped.
With her second husband's death is 1802, Anne seemed to have abandoned all thoughts of permanent home. She spent her time
roaming the Western frontier with her horse Liverpool. She lived in the wilderness for more than 20 years after John's death, ranging the country from Point
Pleasant to Staunton. Some nights she visited with old friends, always ready with a story or two, but most nights she just stayed outside in the frontier
One of her favorite resting points en route from Charleston to Point Pleasant was a cave near Thirteen-Mile Creek along the Kanawha
River. So often did she spend the night there that area settlers, wordsmiths that they were, began referring to it as “Anne Bailey's Cave.” Unfortunately,
workers destroyed the cave while quarrying the rock there in later years.
The Shawnee Indians living along Anne's route encountered her seemingly
everywhere. They came to believe she was a charmed being, and that no bullet or arrow could touch her. Fearing this strange phantom rider, they watched from
afar as she glided through the dark foliage on the plains of Kanawha, but no one would do her any harm. To this fact, Anne probably owed her life.
Anne also became a familiar figure on the streets of what is now Gallipolis. She frequently visited the French settlers there, delivering goods that
were scarce on the frontier. Anne became a regular one-woman express, service filling orders for much-needed goods like coffee, drugs, gunpowder, and cooking
utensils. If it were hogs or cattle that they wanted, she drove them through, even if it meant riding to the banks of the Shenandoah. Anne went so far as to
walk her delivery route when her horse was too weighed down with supplies. She made her last trip to Charleston in 1817, walking the whole way at age 75.
In 1814, Anne's son William bought 246 acres of land along the south bank of the Kanawha River, about three miles from the river's mouth. He built
a house there where Anne lived for three years. William sold the land in 1817 and bought 160 acres in Gallia County, where he moved in 1818.
strongly protested moving to Ohio. She had wandered through the wilderness of Virginia for most of her life and was reluctant to leave at age 76. The land
itself had become important to her and she hated to leave her lifelong friends in the valley. In the end, though, she agreed to follow her son.
built a log cabin for herself just south of Gallipolis, where she lived until her son finally persuaded her to move closer to him. He built her another cabin
near his house where she could still enjoy her independence.
It was in that cabin that Anne died on November 22, 1825. She was buried behind Bailey
Chapel, which still stands on a hill in Gallipolis. Years later, her remains were moved to Point Pleasant at Tu-Endi-Wei Park, where a small monument was
placed in her honor.
Anne has numerous descendents, many of whom made their own contributions to the history of Southeast Ohio and West Virginia.
Vicky and Carl Trotter discovered that piecing together this family's history was no easy task. They encountered conflicting stories, dead ends and lost
relatives. But the excitement of discovering answers to questions about their ancestry motivated them to continue their research.
“It was just like a
puzzle,” says Vicky. “You start asking, `Why did somebody do this at a particular time?' and `What happened to this person?' You just get going and you
An ancestor as well known and colorful as Anne Bailey posed a special problem for the Trotters. Because her life story had been
embellished so much over the years, it was difficult for them to tell what was accurate.
“Everybody wants to know somebody famous,” says Vicky.
“Every time someone tells her story, they add something new.”
This includes stories of Anne's early, less glamorous life. One popular tale claims
she was born to wealthy parents in 1700, was kidnapped for ransom and later brought to America. But if this story were true, Anne would have been 67 years
old when she gave birth to her son and 85 when she made her famous ride from Fort Clenendin to Lewisburg.
Despite the inconsistencies, Carl Trotter
does credit Anne with one equally unusual feat – bringing the first geese to the Kanawha Valley. The story appears in The Life and Times of Anne Bailey, a
book written by Virgil A. Lewis. He writes that Colonel William Clenendin entered into a contract with Anne to bring him 20 geese from the Greenbriar Valley.
The contract specified that the number should be just twenty, or he would not pay for them.
Anne traveled to Greenbriar and collected the required
number of geese. But on her return trip one of the geese died. She put it in a bag and continued on to Colonel Clenendin's home. Upon her arrival, the
Colonel counted the geese. Finding there were only 19, he told Anne he could not pay for them. With that, Anne took the dead goose from her bag, threw it on
the ground and said, “There's your 20.” He promptly paid the bill.
“She must have been a strong-willed woman,” Carl says, laughing.
like this reveal the personality of a woman who knew how to take care of herself. Maybe Anne wasn't “mad” after all, but simply a woman with a generous
heart and a strong will to survive.
Mad Anne's ridge in Alleghany New York is named after her and she is remembered in song and in monuments.