Friday, October 21, 2016

More Cross-Grained Woman Stories

I first introduced you to Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart, a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) patriot, last week. Today, I'd like to relate a few more stories about Nancy during the war, which I found in a book entitled Historical Collections of Georgia by Rev. George White and published in 1855.

"The compiler of this work, during a visit to Elbert, was introduced to Mrs. Wyche, a lady far advanced in years, who was on terms of intimacy with Mrs. Hart. From her he received many anecdotes, among which are the following:

On one occasion, when information as to what was transpiring on the 'Carolina side of the river was anxiously desired by the troups on the Georgia side, no one could be induced to cross the river to obtain it. Nancy promptly offered to discharge the perilous duty. Alone, the dauntless heroine made her way to the Savannah River; but finding no mode of transport across, she procured a few logs, and , tying them together with a grape-vine, constructed a raft, upon which she crossed, obtained the desired intelligence, returned, and communicated it to the George troops.

Replica of the Hart cabin with chimney stones from the original cabin;
image courtesy of New Georgia Encyclopedia

On another occasion, having met a Tory on the road, and entering into conversation with him, so as to divert his attention, she seized his gun, and declared that unless he immediately took up the line of march for a fort not far distant, she would shoot him. The dastard was so intimidated, that he actually walked before the brave woman, who delivered him to the commander of the American fort.

Nancy, with several other women and a number of small children, were once left in a fort, the men having gone some distance, probably for provisions, when the fort was attacked by a party of Tories and savages. At this critical period, when fear had seized the women and children, to such an extent as to produce an exhibition of indescribable confusion, Mrs. Hart called into action all the energies of her nature. In the fort there was one cannon, and our heroine, after endeavoring in vain to place it in a position so that its fire could reach the enemy, looked about for aid, and discovered a young man hid under a cow-hide; she immediately drew him from his retreat, and threatened him with immediate death unless he instantly assisted her with the cannon. The young man, who well knew that Nancy would carry her threats into execution unless he obeyed, gave her his assistance, and she fired the cannon, which so frightened the enemy that they took to their heels.

Once more, when Augusta was in possession of the British, the American troops in Wilkes, then under the command of Colonel Elijah Clarke, were very anxious to know something of the intentions of the British. Nancy assumed the garments of a man, pushed on to Augusta, went boldly into the British camp, pretending to be crazy, and by this means was enabled to obtain much useful information, which she hastened to lay before the commander, Colonel Clarke.

Nancy Ann (Morgan) Hart (1747-1840: A Cross-Grained Woman

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tragedy Strikes Daughters of Sara Woodfin

Sara Ellen (or Ella) Woodfin was born on 29 August 1902 in Chesterfield County, Virginia, to George Allen Woodfin and Nancy "Nannie" Waddell Dillon. Her father worked in the mechanical shops for a railroad. She married Carlos Scott Blankenship on 25 November 1919 in Chester, Virginia. He was a carpenter who had been born in Christian, West Virginia. During the course of their marriage, they had nine known children.

On 30 May 1940 Carlos abandoned his family and on 29 March 1943 the Chesterfield Circuit Court granted Sara an absolute divorce. Sara married again on 30 September of that same year and died on 14 November 1994 in Chesterfield County.

Two of her daughters experienced great tragedy in their lives.

Virginia Fay Blankenship was the eldest child of Carlos and Sara. She was born on 4 November 1921 in Chesterfield County. She married Ralph Vincent (or Vinson) Lewis in 1940. They were married about a year when Ralph and his brother, Ed, Ed's wife, and Ralph and Ed's mother were traveling in their car when it was struck by a speeding vehicle. Ralph was taken to Petersburg Hospital where he clung to life for five or six hours before succumbing to his injuries. Virginia and Ralph had a daughter and Virginia was pregnant with their second child when Ralph was killed.

On 10 June 1944 Virginia married Ernest Frank Mackey, a sailor in the U.S. Navy. If possible, this marriage was shorter than Virginia's first. On 27 June 1946 Virginia was granted an absolute divorce because Ernest had deserted the marriage the day after the wedding ceremony!

Ernest Frank Mackey and Virginia Fay Blankenship divorce decree; courtesy

A younger sister of Virginia's married Maxie Chaltain Martin on 2 January 1949 in Chesterfield County. They were married 10 years when Maxie went duck hunting with three other men on 25 November 1959. Their boat disappeared and Maxie's body was discovered the next day.

Death certificate of Maxie Chaltain Martin; courtesy of

I am frequently struck how often one family group will experience a cluster of tragedies.