Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

More on Lucy Vance

After posting the entry last time about the rape of Lucy Vance during the Civil War, I did a little more research on Lucy and came up with some additional information that I thought readers might find interesting as a follow-up to the previous post. Apparently she was a strong, pioneer woman, as last week's story would attest. Not every woman who was raped by Union soldiers would have had the strength and spunk to file a complaint about it to Union authorities.
Lucy was born in 1840 to J.S. and Martha (Noe) Huddlestone in Greene County, Missouri, near the James River bridge. The family moved to Taney County shortly afterwards and was living in Linn Township of Taney at the time of the 1850 census. Lucy's older brother was a merchant at Forsyth in the years just prior to the Civil War. Lucy married Calvin Vance around 1858, and at the time of the 1860 census, the couple was living in Ozark, Missouri, with a one-year-old-boy named John and an infant daughter named Viola who was less than a year old. Viola was probably the child who was in the house with Lucy when she was raped.
Calvin Vance apparently left home at or shortly after the outset of the Civil War, but whether he joined the Confederacy or the Union or simply took to the bush as a guerrilla is not known. In October of 1864, over a year and a half after his wife was raped by the Federal soldier, Calvin did join the Union Army at Springfield, but that doesn't necessarily mean he didn't also serve in the Confederacy early in the war. Switching sides late in the war, especially Southerners switching to the North as the tide turned toward the Union, was not unusual. Regardless, at some point near the beginning of the war, with her husband away from home, Lucy moved back to Taney County to be near her relatives, and it was during her sojourn in Taney County that she was violated by the brutish Union soldier.
Apparently, Calvin did not hold his wife's rape against her, which, of course, is only right, but some men might have. That's unfortunately probably still the case today. It's certainly still the case in many Middle Eastern countries. At any rate, Calvin and Lucy were living near Quincy, Missouri, in Fristoe Township of Benton County at the time of the 1870 census. They had two additional kids, younger siblings of John and Viola.
By the time of the 1880 census, the Vances were living in Sugar Loaf Township of Boone County, Arkansas, and they were still there twenty years later. Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, Silas Turnbo, a folklorist and storyteller who gathered stories from early-day settlers in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, interviewed Lucy about an incident involving a woman who lived on Bear Creek ten miles north of Forsyth when Lucy was growing up in Taney County. When Lucy was about twelve years old, the woman, the wife of Hiram Collier, killed a bear one day after she and her nearly grown daughter went out into their cornfield and, out of curiosity, looked into an abandoned cabin that sat in the middle of the cornfield. According to Lucy's story, they were surprised to see a bear perched on a ceiling joist. The bear was unalarmed, and Mrs. Collier and her daughter slipped out. The daughter ran back to the family's home and brought back a rifle. Mrs. Collier calmly loaded the weapon, stepped into the cabin, and shot the bear dead with a single shot. So, I guess Lucy wasn't the only strong, pioneer woman around in those days.
By 1910, Lucy was a widow and was living with her grandson in Sugar Loaf Township. She herself apparently died sometime before 1920.
Turnbo published some of his stories in two volumes printed in 1904 and 1907 but not nearly all of them. The entire collection is held at the Springfield-Greene County Library and is available on the library's website.

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