"Mad" Anne Bailey
Anne Bailey illustration

"Mad" Anne Bailey

Heroine of the Kanawha Valley

by Jean M. Hoffman

The story of Anne Bailey's life is interwoven with local folklore, but her place as a pioneer heroine is unquestioned. In 1791 what is today West Virginia was largely unsettled wilderness in the middle of a frontier war between would-be settlers and local Indian tribes. When Fort Lee was threatened with attack and a low supply of ammunition, Anne Bailey, scout and messenger, rode alone through 100 miles of near wilderness to Fort Savannah at Lewisburg and returned with the needed powder to save the fort at Clendenin's Settlement which today is Charleston, West Virginia.

This feat was commemorated in a lengthy 1861 poem, "Anne Bailey's Ride" by Charles Robb. Named for Anne are an elementary school in St. Albans, WV, near Charleston, a chapter of the N.S.D.A.R. and a lookout tower in Watoga State Park. Her remains were moved from Ohio, where she died in 1825, to the Point Pleasant Battle Monument State Park where the museum contains memorabilia of Anne including a design made from her hair.

Born Anne Hennis in Liverpool, England, probably in 1742, she came to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when she was about 19 and in 1765 married Richard Trotter, a local settler. When Lord Dunmore called for militia to fight the Indians of the western border in 1774, Richard Trotter enlisted, but was killed on Oct. 10, 1774 at the Battle of Point Pleasant against the forces of Shawnee leader, Cornstalk. This event changed Anne's life completely and she left her son, William Trotter, to the care of others and became a skilled frontier scout, horsewoman, hunter, messenger and storyteller, wearing buckskins, carrying hatchet, knife and long rifle. She married again in 1785 to John Bailey, another frontiersman and army ranger, those forerunners of today's special forces. They moved to Clendenin's Settlement in the Great Kanawha Valley where she would make her famous ride. Her career continued until 1795 and the signing of the Greenville Treaty to end the Indians Wars.

After John Bailey's death about 1802 she made her home with her son but also traveled among her friends and was a welcome storyteller and trader. In 1817 William moved his family across to Gallia County, Ohio, and Anne reluctantly left her beloved "Virginia" to make a home near him, though she traveled still. She died on November 22, 1825 of "old age."

Many fanciful stories have been told about Anne, perhaps of her own origin. Henry Howe missed Anne's story when he wrote his first history of Ohio in the 1840s, but soon learned it in West Virginia. He corrected his oversight in his 1888 revision and retold some of these wild stories. My favorite is one I find unlikely, but which my great grandmother was certain was true. But she learned it from her grandmother, Mary (Trotter) Irion, another noted storyteller, who had it from Anne herself, Mary's grandmother. Mr. Howe recounts it thus:

". . . On one occasion, when she was pursued by Indians, she came to an impenetrable thicket where she was obliged to dismount and leave him [her fine black horse, Liverpool] for their capture. She then crawled into a hollow sycamore log. The Indians came and rested on the log, but without suspecting her concealment within. After they had gone she followed their trail, and in the darkness of night recaptured the animal, and, mounting him, when at a safe distance from being shot or taken gave a shout of defiance and bounded away."

Even without the exaggerated stories, Anne Bailey was a unique and daring woman. She was certainly considered odd or outlandish, but she was also well-liked and respected on the frontier.


Anne's cabin in Ohio as envisioned by an artist for Henry Howe
The portrait above was given to Henry Howe by James L. Newsom of Gallipolis

Genealogy of Anne Bailey

Anne Hennis1 was born about 1742 in Liverpool, England, and died November 22, 1825, in Gallia County, Ohio. She was buried in that county, but later relocated to "Tu-Endie-Wei", Point Pleasant Battle Monument State Park in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. She married Richard Trotter in Augusta County, Virginia, about 1765 and married John Bailey on November 3, 1785 in Lewisburg (since 1863 West) Virginia. Anne and Richard Trotter had one child, a son William Trotter.
Anne's memorial marker
photographed July 18, 1975

DIED 1825


Generation No. 2.

William Trotter was born April 25, 1767 in Virginia and died March 20, 1831 in Gallia County, Ohio. He is reportedly buried in the Coffman Cemetery in Clipper Mill. He married Mary Ann (Polly) Cooper on December 16, 1800, in Gallipolis, Washington County, Northwest Territory2 (though they lived across the Ohio River.) She was reportedly the daughter of Capt. Leonard Cooper of Mason Co., (since 1863 West) Virginia, another veteran of the battle of Point Pleasant. William moved his family to Harrison Township, Gallia County, Ohio, in 1817, and was the township's first Justice of the Peace. William and Mary's children were Philip, Elizabeth, John, William, Jr., Mary, Davis, Sarah, Phoebe, Jane Ann and Nancy.

Generation No. 3.

Acknowledgments and Footnotes
* information on Davis Trotter provided by Lana Chase.
Thomas Willey Gilmore added by Sheri Gilmore Culler
some information on Elizabeth Trotter's children provided by Gerald Irion.
Commemorative items about Anne and background on Leonard Cooper courtesy of Carolyn Vallance.
Additional information comes from the Trotter Family Notebooks of Carl & Vicky Trotter now at the Gallia County Historical Society office.

[1] Lewis claims Anne Hennis was named for Queen Anne of England, so I use the spelling ending in "e".

[2] Gallipolis now is in Gallia County which was formed in 1803 when Ohio became a state. Of the marriage, Lewis states: "In the year 1800, William Trotter, then in the thirty-third year of his age, took his affianced, in a canoe to Gallipolis, where they became husband and wife and a tradition states that they were the first Virginians married in the old French town." Remember it was Dec. 16. The marriage record can be found in the Washington County Courthouse in Marietta.

[3] Lewis, Virgil A. 1891. Life and Times of Anne Bailey, The Pioneer Heroine of the Great Kanawha Valley.

[4] Letter from Davis Trotter and Sarah Trotter, July 25, 1841, Spencer County, Indiana, to William Trotter and Rosannah Trotter in Gallia County, Ohio. Original in Trotter Family Notebooks, Gallia County Historical Society.

Please send additions to this information! - Updates will acknowledge authorship.
Documentation is available on request.

"Mad Ann" Bailey nickel: 1940
Gallipolis Sesqui-Centennial, 1790-1940

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Changes last made on: 4 Jun 2001


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