GALLIPOLIS — Scholar and Living Historian Suzanne Thomson brought to life “Mad” Anne Bailey, a courageous woman who played a prominent role in Ohio Valley history during the conclusion of Living History Nights on Saturday at the Bossard Memorial Library in Gallipolis.
Over 200 guests were in attendance each night of the program sponsored by the Gallipolis Chautauqua Committee and chaired by Bossard Memorial Library Director Debbie Saunders. Re-branded as Living History Nights from the original Chautauqua name, the Committee felt the change better described the event. The decision was made to focus on three people from Ohio who represented different aspects and times of history: Union Cavalry Officer George Armstrong Custer, OSU Football Coach Woody Hayes, and pioneer scout, spy, messenger, and fighter Anne Bailey.
“On behalf of the local committee, I want to express my appreciation for the wonderful response we received for this event,” Saunders said.
She shared that the committee would meet soon to discuss the feedback received from attendees, and the potential for planning another Living History Nights event in the future.
General Custer and Woody Hayes who took the stage on the two preceding nights are certainly a part of Ohio history, but Anne Bailey has a strong connection to the Ohio Valley.
According to Chris Rizer, president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, “Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey was born in England, immigrated to America at a young age, and married Richard Trotter, who would die at the Battle of Point Pleasant. Following his death, she joined the militia and carried messages between the frontier forts. Her favorite route from Fort Savannah (Lewisburg) to Fort Lee (Charleston) and on to Fort Randolph. It was while she was at Fort Lee that she met her second husband, John Bailey, and her story was written into legend. In 1791, the fort was besieged by the Shawnee and running out of gunpowder. The closest supply was 100 miles away at Lewisburg. None of the men would volunteer to make the daring raid through the Shawnee army, but Anne stood and said, “I’ll go.” And out she went! Bursting through the gates on horseback, she made the 200-mile trip in three days, saving the fort, and her husband, from certain death. After the Northwest Indian War ended, she retired to Mason County, though she continued to travel and visit friends. It’s said that there wasn’t a single home in the Ohio or Kanawha Valley where she wasn’t welcome.”
After her husband, John Bailey, died, she went to live with her son, William, along the Kanawha River in Ohio. She died there on November 22, 1825, at age 83 and was buried in the Trotter Graveyard near her son’s home. In October 1901, her remains were re-interred in Monument Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Her exploits have been chronicled in documents and books. She was given the name “Mad Anne” possibly because of her temper, or by Shawnee Native Americans because of her ferocity in battle. Often attired in men’s clothing, and carrying a hatchet and knife, her ventures did not represent the traditional norms for a woman during this time. A memorial to her can be found in Point Pleasant’s Riverfront Park.
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Lorna Hart is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.