Elizabeth "Betsy" Roberts was born Maria Elizabeth Davidson in 1782 in North Carolina, her fathers name was John Davidson who was a signer of the Regulators Petition of 1768, which was fighting the British governor during the late 1760 an d early 1770's, she was kidnapped by 2 cousins who passed for brothers named Micajah and Wiley Harpe, at about the age of 5 years. Shortly before they kidnapped another young girl named Susan Wood, they were then taken to a Cherokee village, where they lived for 12-13 years while the Harpe brothers ran with a bunch of renegades; they arrived in Knoxville Tennessee around 1795-97
It was in Dec of 1798 when they headed for the Cumberland Gap spreading havoc all the way, the women who traveled with the Harpe's were more afraid of them than anything, and did as they were told or were beaten and abused.
Susan and Micajah were married 5 Sep 1797 in Blount, Tennessee. Elizabeth married neither Micajah nor Wiley but was considered Micajah's "supplemental wife" by him, they lived in several cabins, but mostly in the wilderness, making camp where it was convenient, they settled down for a time renting a cabin and a small track of land, leading legitimate lives, where they started buying and selling horses and cattle, this is where Wiley married Sally Rice, this life of clan living was not to last long, it was found they were stealing the animals, so the chase was on again, before the end of 1797 Elizabeth had given birth to 2 children and Susan also 2 children, all were murdered by Micajah.
More killings and robberies continued and on December 25,1798 the bunch was arrested, near the Crab Orchard and taken to Stanford the seat of justice for Lincoln county, Kentucky. On Jan 4, 1799, where they were arraigned then moved to Danville jail where they had the trial in district court on January 5 1799, during this time Elizabeth gave birth to a son on February 8 ,1799 whom she named Joseph Roberts Harpe, Susan gave birth to a daughter in march 1799, the Harpe brothers escaped on march 16, 1799 leaving the 3 women and 2 newborn children to suffer the consequences of the law, a third child was born in April to Sally. Trial was convened and Elizabeth was found not guilty of any of the charges and was released, the trail was over on april 19, 1799, the men had served 71 days in jail before their escape; and the women 103, Susan was found to be guilty and asked for a retrial, but the judge took mercy on her and let her go, Sally was acquitted of the charges. After being let go, and expressing a desire to lead respectable lives, the people of the Danville, Kentucky area took pity on the women and gave them clothes, money, and a horse for them to return to Knoxville, Tennessee and start a new life. The women took the supplies and the horse an traveled approx 30 miles reaching the Green River, they decided to trade the horse for a canoe and traveled approx 200 miles down stream to the mouth of the Green River and then on into the Ohio River to a cave which is now called "Cave in Rock" Illinois, where they waited for the Harpe brothers to join them, they stayed in the cave with several other men who were outlaws and these men took pity on the women and kept them safe. And fed for a time, but as time would serve made the women work for them, by standing on the banks of the river and call to who ever came along to come help them and when they did the people were robbed or murdered, there were other children who lived with the women some fathered by the Harpe's, others kidnapped, they would beg to be taken along with those who were let go but no none ever took them, they lived a very poor, malnourished and unclean life, the group were forced to leave Cave in Rock because of Micajah and Wiley thirst for blood , the other out law men didn't kill them because of their wives and children, they went to Henderson co, 8 miles from Red Banks where more killings occurred. Micajah Harpe was killed and beheaded on august 23,1799 in Muhlenburg co Kentucky, Wiley escaped, the 3 women were captured and taken to Henderson and later transferred to Russellville for trial on October 29-30 1799 all three women were found not guilty. The women decided to stay in Russellville and lead productive lives, it is thought Elizabeth kept the name of Roberts as she wanted to protect her real family from embarrassment, and as she really never knew her real family as she was raised by the Cherokee, Wiley wasn't heard of again until april 1803, when he was arrested and hanged, taken down and beheaded, both of the Harp's heads were put on display to serve as reminders to other outlaws,,there is a road called harpe's head that is still called that to this day, shortly after Wiley's death, Elizabeth met John Huffstutler, they married on 8 sept ,1803, they stayed in the Russellville area for a time, living as tenants and working raising chickens on a plantation owned by a Col Anthony Butler, Elizabeth's son Joe Roberts joined the army, but nothing was ever heard of him again ,Susan lived on Col Butlers plantation also, she weaved for a living to support her beautiful dark skinned dark eyes daughter "Lovey" who had her father s temper. Sally moved back to her fathers home and married again later.
Elizabeth and John moved on to Hamilton co Illinois, where they made residence in Mcleansboro, together they cared for several children, Vina who was said to be a child of Micajah's was given the Huffstutler last name, other children were, George Washington, Solomon, Nancy, Ellen, John, Edward, Martin, Sarah and Susannah.
It is said she was a very pretty beautiful blond.
According to Jon Musgrave, the Harpe women, after being freed from cohabitation with the brothers, led relatively respectable and normal lives. Upon the death of Micajah "Big" Harpe in Kentucky, the women were apprehended and taken to the Russellville, Kentucky state courthouse but later released. Sally Rice Harpe went back to Knoxville, Tennessee, to live in her father's house. ... In 1820, Sally Rice, who had remarried, traveled with her husband and father to their new home in Illinois via the Cave-In-Rock Ferry.
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