North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.
Page 8B-KINGS MOUNTAIN HERALD-Tuesday. October 7, 1980
Mattie Bell, Revolutionary
Not many wore uniforms. Fewer still were
found on the battlefields. Yet countless women
served valiantly during the Revolution. ;
One whose service was invaluable was Mattie
Bell, nurse, midwife, lifesaver, spy. Born in 1735
in Orange County, now Alamance, she married
Col. John McGee in 1766, a wealthy landowner and
widower with two children. McGee died about the
beginning of the Revolution, leaving Martha with
five young children and the richest widow in
William Bell, widower, won over the other
bachelors and widowers who eagerly sought
Martha McFarlene Bell’s hand, and they were
wed May 6, 1779.
Idon’t know if Mattie Bell was one of our ances-
tors or not (my mother’s maiden name is Bell) but
was interested in this heroine of the Revolution
and Grace J. Rohrer, Secretary to the Depart-
ment of Cultural Resources, supplied me with her
From the earliest, Mattie supported the Patriot
cause. Her heroism and acts of bravery were not
merely brief incidents, but covered the entire
Revolution ‘from the day of open hostilities until
peace settled on the ram of Yorktown.”
It was said that Mattie “feared her Maker and
nothing on earth” so it was not unexpected that
she took an active part throughout her life in at-
tending to the needs of the sick and needy, going
+ even great distances when called. When war came
she did not flinch at the unsettled conditions of the
area, the bad roads, or highwaymen and
renegades from the various armies. She was well
known among the Tories for her Patriot activities,
and her death or capture would have removed a
thorn from Tories’ sides.
Often she was accosted by deserters. At one
time, it is said that one of Fanning’s men blocked
her way on the narrow road, grabbed her bridle
and ordered her to dismount. At that, Mattie
pulled her pistol and threatened to shoot him dead
if he advanced an inch. She took the man prisoner
and drove him home at gunpoint, but he later
In 1781, following the Battle of Guilford Court-
house, Gen. Charles Cornwallis camped for two
days at the Bell Plantation. He demanded the use
of Martha's entire plantation for headquarters
and planned to use her mill for Shai corn for
his army. As he set forth his demands, Mattie
-asked if he intended to burn her house and mill
after he no longer had use for them.
IRST FEDERAL SAVINGS & LOAN
“Why do you ask?” the general ouestioned.
“Just answer, and then I'll explain,”’ the defiant
When Cornwallis assured her he did not intend
to apply the torch to her property, she explained
that she was fully prepared to burn it herself, then
and there, to deny him the use of it.
During their stay the soldiers plundered the
farm, seizing her grain, cattle and whatever else
they chose. Later, as one particularly insulting
fellow passed her door she wished ‘‘his horse
would throw him and break his neck.” A few
minutes later her wish came true as the horse
bolted, hurling the soldier down an embankment,
where his head was crushed on the rocks.
When the army retreated to a neighboring farm,
Martha found an excuse to follow them, asking
estions of every household along the way.
ding boldly into their camp, wearing her hus-
band’s uniform, she complained bitterly of the
depredations of the soldiers at her plantation, dis-
covered, she said, “only after they'd left.”’ The
information on troop strength and position she’d
gained on her ride was invaluable to Gen.
Another time, she rode all night with a Whig to
determine Tories’ movement, and the information
led to Col. Light Horse Harry Lee's successful
raid the following night. :
Her husband feared to stay at his home at night
and her own activities kept her in constant dan-
ger. Once, Tories burned her barn and its con-
tents, wounded one son and threatened to shoot
another because they complained.
Tories once threatened the life of Martha's aged
father, then visiting. As they approached the
man with drawn swords, Martha quickly
seized a broadaxe, raised it over her head and de-
clared arg, “If one of you touches him, I'll
split you own with this axe. Touch him if you
_Overawed by her bravery and defiance, the sol-
diers fled the house, and left her father unharmed.
In the fall of 1781, Bell, returning from a trip,
attempted to sleep under his own roof. Watchin
Tories, aware of his movements, appea
promptly to hang him.
They arrived, found the house securely closed,
and decided to burn it. Bell leaned out the window
to fire upon them and was immediately knocked
unconscious by a Tory blow to his head.
Martha aroused their teenaged sons from their
beds upstairs and told them to shoot from above,
and in a loud voice ordered a servant to rush to the
neighbor’s to summon ‘him and the light horse,
for the Tories are here.”
The neighbor had a troop of men at his com-
mand, but Mrs. Bell was completely ignorant of
their whereabouts. However, her bluff was suc-
cessful — the Tories decided retreat was the wiser
course, and once again Martha had saved her
family and her home.
After peace was declared, Martha continued
her career of helping the sick and wounded. She
died Sept. 9, 1820, confident she’d helped her coun-
try in countless ways.
KINGS MOUNTAIN BATTLEGROUND
\Irs. Clare Dargan Macl ean
I'he following ode was first read at the 1880 Celebration of the
Battle of Kings Mountain.
Here upon this lonely height Fhen she blew a bugle blast, Come, ve sons of patriot sires
Born in storm and bred in strife Summoned all her veomen eal. Who the tyrants power in thew
Nursed by nature's seeret might “Friends! the despot’s hour is past Here, where burned their beacon fires,
Freedom was the boon of lite! Let him now our vengeance feel!” Light vour torches all anew!
Song of bird and call of pine Rose they in heroic might - Lill this mountain's glowing crest
Fluttering leat on every tree. Bondsmen fated to be free. Signaling from sea to sea
Every murmur of the wind Drew the sword of honor bright Shall proclaim from East to West
Impulse gave to liberny!! Struck by God and Liberty! Union, Peace and Liberty!
OF KINGS MOUNTAIN
Of Kings Mountain
300 West Mountain Street
While we are celebrating
LET USNOT FORGET THE HARDSHIPS OUR FOREFATHERS ENDURED
IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT ENJOY THE FREEDOMS WE KNOW TODAY
FOR 73 YEARS FIRST FEDERAL SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION
HAS BEEN A PART OF THIS AREA AND WE ARE PROUD TO HAVE
HAD A PART IN SEEING IT GROW INTO THE THRIVING
COMMUNITY ITIS TODAY
SAVINGS & LOAN
Ch et Ct PN PA
eT a TA TTR