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Kings Mountain herald. (Kings Mountain, N.C.) 1979-current, October 07, 1980, Image 20

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rag> IB-HNOS MOUMTAm HERALD-TuMdoy. Octobw 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 BeJl, nurse, midwife, lifesaver, spy. Bom in 1735 in Orange County, now Alamance, she married Cd. John McGee m 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 Ran(M>lDh Countv. 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. I don’t know if Mattie Bell >vas 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 story. Frmn the earliest, Mattie supported the Patriot cause. Her hermsm and acts of oravery were not merely brief incidents, but covered the entire Revolution “from the day of <^en hostilities until peace settled on the ramparts of Yorictown.’’ It was said that Mattie ^‘feared her Maker and nothing on earth’’ so it was not unexpected that she took an active part throu^out her life in at tending to the needs of the sick and needy, going ^en great distances when called. When war came she dm 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 Toriesfor her Patriot activities, and her deatn 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{>istol and threatened to shoot him dead if he advanced an inch. She to(^ the man prisoner and drove him home at gunpoint, but he later escaped. 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 idantation for headquarters and idanned to use her mill for finding com for his army. As he set forth his demands, Mattie a^ed if he intended to bum her house and mill after he no longer had use fiN- them. The Womans LIB By . Elizabeth Stewart / le ger ‘‘Just answer, and then riTexplain,” the defiant Martha continued. When Cornwallis assured her he did not intend to apply the torch to her prc^rty, 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 miiHites later her wish came tme 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. Riding boldly into their camp, wearing her hus band’s uniform, she ccxnplamed bitterly of the depredations of the soldiers at ho* 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 G&i. Nathanael Greene. Another time, she rode all night with a Whig to ^riLute 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 bam and its con tents, wounded one son and threatened to shoot another because they complained. Tories (Mice threatened the life of Martha’s aged father, then visiting. As thev approached the elderlv man with drawn swords, Martha quickly seized a broadaxe, raised it over her head and de clared angrily, “If one of you touches him. I’ll ^^^^ou down with this axe. Touch him if you Overawed by her braveiy and defiance, the sol diers fled the house, and left her father unharmed. In the fall of 1781, BeU, returning from a trip, attempted to sleep under his own roof. Watching Tories, aware «' his movements, appeared ixomptly to hang him. Ihoy arrived, ^nd the house securely closed, and decided to bum 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 tro(^ of men at his com mand, but Mrs. Bell was completely ignorant of (heir 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. I li re iiiron lliis liint'K Ih'ikIu liiirn ill still Ml .mil hri il in stnlc N'liisi'il 111 n.itiiri's Miri't mi«hl I rivilom lias the Ihkhi nl lili' Sunt; iil biril and lall cil pmi I liittiTiiiK lial on Ill'll tri'i'. biiTi imirimir ol the iiind liTi|nilsi' K.iii' to lilx'itil! lilllllc Ilf KlllliS Mtllllllillll. I lu ll sill' lili'ii a btiiili' blast. Siiinmoiu'il ,ill bir iionun lial. I rli'iiils' till' dis|xit's hour Is pas I ft biin non oiii ifn>;fanif IffI' llosi- tiu'i in bfroif mijibt - I’londsinfn latfil to bi- Iri'f. Drfii tbf siioitl ol bonoi bnybt Striifk In I.ikI and I ilxrtv! C onii'. ii' sons ol patriot siri's W'lio llu lirants |«iiifr in tbiii I leri'. iibfii' btirni'il ibiir Ixaion liris, I it;bl loni loifIll's .ill .nun' I ill tills inoiinl.nil's yIon inn fifsl Sinn.iliiin Iroiii sia to si'.i Sli.ill priKi.iini Ironi I <ist to W ist llmiiii. IV'.iif .111(1 I ilx'iti' FIRST FEDERAL SA VINGS & LOAIS ASSOCIATION OF KINGS MOUNTAIN , st-f' - ■ 80 2nDtl[ Anmtierji^i Battle ‘ lun: While we are celebrating The 200th ANNIVERSAR Y OfThe Battle Of Kings Mountain LET US NOT 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 IT IS TODAY FIRST FEDERAL SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION Of Kings Mountain 300 West Mountain Street (§ Mrs. ( Inn’ l)nri>iiH Mini tun/ KINGS MOUNTAIN BATTLEGROUND ,,„i s, ■ / he lf//htit inLi tnlc irtis first reiui nl ihc tSS(l (.clchrntit/ii </( the » •

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