Tag Archives: Patriots

Betty Zane– the Way Kids Used to be

Kids these days…are they really that different than previous generations? If Jerod Lee Loughner, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are examples, I’m thinkin, “Yup.” Something diabolic is destroying their minds. Perhaps it is just the conspiracy theorist in me, but it seems the more we rag on America, the more we get kicked in the gut. There was a time when the good ol’ US of A was a country worth fighting for; now she only seems good for target practice. When I think back on the patriots, especially the women patriots, who risked everything for the mere idea of America, I want to hang my head in shame…or throttle someone. There are a few patriots in our past I wish I could bring forth to chastise us.

Take, for example, Betty Zane. In September of 1872, the Zane family and their neighbors were pinned down in Fort Henry by British and American Indians sympathetic to the British. Fort Henry was a parallelogram, 356 feet long and 150 feet wide, on a hillside overlooking the Ohio River, standing at what is now Tenth and Main streets in Wheeling, [WV] surrounded by a stockade fence twelve feet high, and framed by a three-foot walkway running around the inside. It was practically impregnable so long as supplies lasted.1 When the fort commander, David Shepherd (ironically the name of my literary agent), yelled out that gunpowder was running dangerously low, three men volunteered to slip outside the fort and hunt for some. An argument quickly developed, however, as each man asserted he was more expendable than the others. Betty Zane, a mere girl of only 13, said firmly, “I will go,” and volunteered to retrieve a hidden cache of gunpowder from her brother’s home a hundred yards outside the fort. This was an amazing offer as Betty had been awake for nearly 40 hours, making lead balls. Still, she was the only person who knew where her brother had hidden the gunpowder. She further argued that the enemy outside the gate would let her pass, since a twig of a girl certainly could pose no threat to them.

She snuck outside the fort but was spotted almost immediately by Indians…who—strangely—let her pass. She went home, found the keg of powder, poured as much of it as possible into her apron (some say a tablecloth) and returned to the fort—unmolested. Thanks to Betty’s courage, the folks in the fort outlasted the attack and won the battle.

No matter upon what side of the political fence you fall, you have to admit that stunt took courage. If today’s generation can’t get their heads out of the Prozac and video games long enough to find their own courage within, I dare say America doesn’t stand a fighting chance. The kids don’t shoulder the blame alone, though. As parents, it is clearly our responsibility to shape minds, limit TV time, pull the plug on FB and Youtube, engage with our children, and get them involved in nation-building—ours! Come on, I know there’s a Betty Zane out there somewhere.

1 http://www.wvdar.org/ElizabethZane/zane-bio.htm

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Chief’s Daughter Makes Dramatic Contribution to the Revolutionary War

The following is a guest post by my friend John. He’s the descendant of a real American Hero. Gosh, you just can’t beat those clever Revolutionary women with a stick. The British found that out the hard way.

This is the story of my ancestors who played an interesting role in revolutionary history and the local history as well.

                The genealogy of this story is, in itself, interesting enough. The Poindexter family is a direct line to my mothers side of the family, the Matthews. My great grandmother was originally a Poindexter before marriage. And there have been many other cross family tree connections since the early 1700’s. The focus of my story however, begins with Betty Donnaha. She was the daughter of the Indian chief of the Donnaha tribe which was localized around the Yadkin River basin. As a side note, Wake Forest excavated their tribal site and exhumed many remains  and artifacts which are now on display, in fact, my great grandfather X10 is on display in the exhibit. His Daughter Betty Donnaha eventually married Thomas Pledge who had two children, Elizabeth Pledge and Francis Pledge. Where it gets interesting is with Elizabeth, who eventually married Thomas Poindexter.

                Elizabeth and Thomas Poindexter lived together close to their family in Yadkin county, eventually having 12 children total. And when the revolutionary war began Thomas Poindexter served the revolutionary forces as a captain in charge of a regiment of revolutionists. They were critical in the skirmishes around the Yadkin river. Especially in the battle of Shallowford. Since Thomas Poindexter was away with the revolutionary forces Elizabeth was left alone at home with the British being very close by. To aid the war effort Elizabeth began sewing secret messages and military correspondence in her daughters dresses, and then sent them on “errands” through British lines. She did this throughout the conflict and after the war was recognized for her bravery in wartime. Today she is recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they have recognized her significance in the revolutionary war in the North Carolina region.

                To be able to trace my family history back so far in North Carolina is a point of pride for much of my family. My grandfather was a historian and he went to great lengths to paint a clearer picture of the influential role that our family has played in the region. From the early family settling in the late 1600’s through my grandfather myself who was influential in establishing several state parks and even more protected land that is local to our home place. And since his passing it has become a point of interest of mine to go through these documents to get a clearer idea of our families history as well. And as a reward I get to come across stories such as the one i just told.

No, I Won’t Live in Defiance, Thank You.

Funny how authors seem to dip from the same cosmic well. They can write completely different novels, never meet each other or share information, yet similarities in the books can be staggering, even shocking. I’ve had this experience with my book, Living in Defiance. But rather than point out some spooky similarities between it and another author’s story, I want to talk about where fact and fiction meet.

Defiance is a fictional town in the San Juan mountain range of Colorado. The history of it is based loosely on the bawdy mining town of Mineral Point. In my story, three good, Christian girls roll into town and shake things up for God.

To my delight, I learned recently that the REAL town of Glenwood Springs, CO used to be named Defiance! And what happened to change the name? Why, a God-fearing, red-blooded American girl rolled into town. That’s what happened.

Sarah Cooper and her husband settled in the encampment of Defiance in 1883. A pair of no-nonsense Iowans, they weren’t thrilled with the name of the town or the behavior of the citizens and worked with the founders to incorporate the settlement into a real municipality. Law and order and churches followed and Sarah pushed to rename Defiance Glenwood Springs, after her hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.

Give an American pioneer woman an inch and she’ll take a mile every time. I love it.

Yet Another Pesky, Patriotic American Woman

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Some plants die in the shadow of a larger, more powerful plant. Others thrive. Take Sarah Franklin Bach. You might know her father, Ben. He was involved in politics. Worked on that little thing called a Constitution. Liked to fly kites in electrical storms. Yes, that Ben.

Sarah was a chip off the old block. At a time when women were barely more than wives and mothers, the war for independence called to them. And American men, being smarter than their counterparts elsewhere, recognized the value of the feminine contribution to the effort. Even Lord Cornwallis grudgingly accepted that his men weren’t fighting just farmers with pitchforks and sickles, but that they were fighting the wives as well. He didn’t say that jokingly. American women were different. They were feisty and uncontrollable. England mocked them, but always with a nervous tug at the collar.

Sarah, of course, grew up in an educated, opinionated household. Often acting as the hostess for her father’s gatherings, she picked up more than her womanly share of political information. When war finally broke out between the Colonials and their King, Sarah was one of the first women to jump into the fray. She immediately joined The Ladies Association of Philadelphia, a patriotic organization aimed at raising funds for Gen. Washington’s pitifully outfitted army. When the group’s organizer passed away, again Sarah stepped up. As the new leader of this unsung group, Sarah motivated the ladies to raise over $300,000! That’s money even politicians today wouldn’t snub. Back then, it was the equivalent of well over $3 million!

Perhaps Sarah’s greatest contribution is the fact that her group managed to sew over 2,000 shirts AND deliver them to the troops at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78.

Samuel Adams, of the Sons of Liberty, the group responsible for the Boston Tea Party, reportedly said, “With ladies on our side, we can make every Tory tremble.” Now that’s a heritage to be proud of. Jump in the fray, ladies, and make your voices heard on Tuesday, November 2!