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All Things Historical

"HE DONE HER WRONG:

THE SAD CASE OF MRS. HARRIET MOORE PAGE POTTER AMES"


by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

Well. One might say a whole lot of men did Harriet wrong. After growing up in New Orleans, Harriet Moore left a prosperous retail store and traveled to the wilds of colonial Texas with what turned out to be only her first husband, Solomon C. Page. Prosperity stayed behind in Louisiana.

Page abandoned Harriet and their two children on a prairie farm without provisions or protection to join the Texas Revolution. Harriet and her brood made it to Brazoria, then got caught up in the Runaway Scrape, the mad flight of civilians eastward to safety lest they be overrun by Santa Anna's soldiers and share the fate of victims of the Alamo and Goliad.

Enter now the handsome Robert Potter — Clark Gable could have played the role — to the rescue. He befriended, then wooed, the winsome Mrs. Page, first offering her his protection and then to escort her to safety in Kentucky, all the while leading her to his land grant at Potter's Point, on Caddo Lake.

By now romance had won, and Potter convinced Harriet — which may not have been difficult — that her marriage to Page, performed in Louisiana, was not valid in Texas, so they were married by bond, not an unusual arrangement on the frontier where hormones were high and pastors or priests were few.

The Potters apparently had a happy "marriage," although Potter was often in Austin, serving in the Texas Congress. Then he ran afoul of William P. Rose during the Regulator-Moderator War in 1842, and Rose shot Potter in the head as he attempted to swim to safety. Then the hammer fell.

Upon probate, Harriet learned that handsome Robert had left his land to Sophia Mayfield, with whom he was not lonely while in Austin. Mayfield never tried to claim the estate, and Harriet, who married Charles Ames, continued to live there — until Mayfield died. Then HER executors sued for possession, and after lengthy court proceedings, won because Robert and Harriet were not considered to have been legally husband and wife. Harriet lived out her days in New Orleans, doubtless convinced, along with the celebrated Frankie, that there ain't no good in men, whether or not they are handsome.

Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical
January 1, 2007column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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