Monday, April 25, 2011

A Pioneer Gallant

When Betsy Biggs moved from Kentucky in 1817 with her husband, Wm. Biggs, she bought courage and character and a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost along with slaves and gold and furniture and a brood of incipient citizens...When one of her sons was married he and also his bride were dressed in fine white linen from head to foot, even wearing moccasins of deer skin tanned to a gleaming white. It is related that one of the guests, a pioneer gallant, slipped while playing ball and had the misfortune to get his pants so stained with grass that he disappeared in mortification from the company.
-A History of Northeast Missouri, Volume 1

Betsy Biggs was born Elizabeth Lamberson in Kentucky around 1795. According to the 1850 census, she was living in Pike County, Missouri, with her husband and one child, Susan Biggs (born around 1822). Therefore, one has to assume that her other children were already married and living elsewhere.

It's really difficult to date this reference but it's obvious that the wedding mentioned took place prior to 1850. However, some of the Briggs children, according to the reference, were born in Kentucky prior to 1817 and could have been of age to marry by the early 1830s. So, like the Fox reference that I posted yesterday, this may be evidence of ball playing in northeast Missouri in the 1830s. While it's tough to say, it's certain that this is a reference to ball playing prior to advent of the New York game in the area.


David Ball said...

"Oh, do you remember
Sweet Betsy from Pike..."

This Betsy remained in Pike County, rather than heading farther west, though. She probably could not have imagined in 1817 that some of the slaves she was bringing to Missouri along with her courage and character would turn out also to be among the number of the incipient citizens.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Very nice. I went to YouTube to look for the Eddie Arnold version but they didn't have it so I listened to Make The World Go Away. They do have a Rex Allen version.

I'm fascinated by these pioneer folk and have been reading a ton of Illinois and Missouri pioneer history. It's amazing stuff. Betsy Pike was born when George Washington was president and married, had kids and moved to the frontier before Andrew Jackson was President. While she likely died sometime in the 1850s, it's possible that she lived to see the Civil War. That's an incredible life.