Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey (1742-1825) was a scout and messenger during the Revolutionary War. Known as “Mad Anne,” she is an important figure and legend of the early years of white settlement in the Kanawha Valley. Anne’s acts of bravery and heroism were unusual of women at the time. While the truth of Anne Bailey’s most famous exploits are disputed, her services to the western Virginia frontier were invaluable.
Anne Hennis was born in Liverpool England in 1742. She
learned how to read and write from her formal education in England. Both of her
parents died by the time she was 18, and so she journeyed to America at age 19.
The story of her journey is disputed. Some say she came to America to live with
relatives, while others believe she came as an indentured servant to pay for
her trip (1). In 1765 Anne married Richard Trotter, who was later killed in the
Battle of Point Pleasant that took place on October 10, 1774. Many believe her
first husband’s death is what turned Anne Bailey “Mad” because afterward she
taught herself how to shoot a gun and began to wear men’s clothing (2). Bailey also
volunteered to be a scout and messenger for the Revolutionary War, and was
determined to help the cause in any way she could. She rode up and down the
western Virginia frontier, delivering messages and encouraging young men to
join the militia.
Part of the legend of “Mad Anne” is that the Native
Americans feared her. She commonly came across groups of Shawnee Indians during
her rides. In one fateful encounter while being chased by the Indians, Bailey
jumped from her horse and hid in a log. After being unable to find her, the
Indians stole her horse and returned to their camp. Anne then went to their
camp in the night and stole her horse back. As she was riding off she began
screaming loudly, making the Indians believe she was possessed and could not be
hurt by their weapons. After this, Bailey did not need to fear being attacked and
was relatively safe in the woods (3).
Anne married John Bailey in 1785, a fellow frontier scout.
In 1788, she and John Bailey moved to Fort Lee at Clendenin’s Settlement,
located in present-day Charleston, West Virginia. In 1791, Fort Lee heard
rumors of an impending Native American attack and realized they did not have
enough gun powder. In her most famous ride, Bailey journeyed over 100 miles to
bring the needed gun powder from Lewisburg, which stopped the siege. Many
debate whether or not this story is true, but Anne Bailey remains an important
pioneer figure as she continued to deliver mail and messages along the western
Virginia frontier until her death.
After John Bailey’s death in 1802, Anne began to live in the
wilderness for almost 20 years. Her last trip to Charleston was in 1817, at age
75. Her final years were spent living in a cabin built by her son on his
property in Ohio. Anne Bailey died on November 22, 1825 and was buried in
Gallipolis. Her remains were later reinterred in Point Pleasant, where they
Anne Bailey Elementary is on Winfield Road in St. Albans,
WV, which is on the Midland Trail.