Defiant Ozark Women

Sarah “Pauline” (White) Dalton

The following information came from an administrator of the Historical Wayne County Missouri Facebook group.

Though the author did not provide their name this is an excellent article that not only highlights war crimes committed by Captain William T. Leeper of the local Union militia, it also gives the reader a glimpse of what it was like to be living under occupational rule…

I recently had my great great grandmothers photo restored. She had a remarkable life. Here is an article I wrote about her a few years ago.

“One of the most fascinating local stories surrounding the Civil War, is not of a soldier fighting for the blue or the grey. It is of a woman, Sarah “Pauline” (White) Dalton. This is her story of how she became one of the most respected and nostalgic residents in the bicentennial history of Wayne County.

She was born in Hardin County, Tennessee on July 8, 1844, the third of nine children born to Dr. Terrel C. & Sarah Elizabeth (McSwain) White. On January 3, 1856, Dr. T.C. White secured 160 acres of land at rural Greenville from the U.S. Land office at Jackson, Missouri. Dr. White was a nephew of Wayne County pioneer, Rev. Ezekiel C. Rubottom; thus the reasoning of the journey to Wayne County.

When the White family arrived at rural Greenville, Pauline was eleven. The family arrived from a county in the deep part of Tennessee, that bordered both Mississippi and Alabama. They brought with them southern customs, religious beliefs and politics. But unlike other southerners, they did not own slaves. The family settled on the banks of Lake Creek, near their Rubottom relatives. They established themselves in their new community as esteemed citizens. Dr. White erected a medical facility in Greenville, near what today is known as the Hickman Cemetery.

By the break out of the Civil War there was much local persecution toward those who was believed to hold ties to the Confederacy. The White family was no exception. On the occasion of Captain William T. Leeper’s raid on Greenville and its nearby farms, in February of 1862, Dr. White escaped capture and possible death by hiding in a chimney in a nearby abandoned home. This and several local killings of neighbors and destroying of homes, barns and churches, no doubt lit the fires of bigger support for the cause of the Confederacy.

In early October of 1863 a group of Union troops were making their way through Greenville. Crowds had gathered to watch the march through town. Pauline White and her sisters Evaline and Arabella were publicly mocking the Union soldiers. Even more livid for the Union Troops was the “hurrahing” for the Confederacy the three sisters were blaring. What seem to be a jovial thing to the young ladies, turned out to be much more serious. Family tradition gives credit for the incident to the eldest sister, Evaline, as being the instigator of the scene.On October 15, 1863 orders were given to Captain Pinckney L. Powers from General C.B. Fisk, the commander at Pilot Knob, to arrest the White sisters. The orders read; “You will immediately arrest and send to me in the daughters of Dr. T.C. White. Their names are Evaline, Pauline and Arabella. Tell them to prepare their clothing and baggage for a journey southward by way of the Mississippi River. Let them think they are being sent to the people and region they hurrah for. Let there be no delay. Let them be well treated.”

The false orders were obeyed and their father accompanied them. On October 19, 1863, Pauline White, her father and two sisters made an appearance at Pilot Knob at Fort Davidson (not southward as the orders conferred).

The father was charged with disloyalty to the Union and daughters charge with “cheering for the Confederacy in a public place”. They were asked to take an oath of allegiance to the United States, posted a $1000 bond, and where then released. Dr. White was asked to “split up” his trouble making daughters. Evaline was sent to live with relatives in Randolph County, Arkansas and Arabella sent to relatives at Chester, Illinois. Pauline returned home with her father to Greenville, to clerk in his medical practice.

In February of 1864 the White family had received word from Lt. Benjamin Hughes, (a friend and neighbor of Dr. White), that their oldest son and brother, 1st Sgt. Charles DeKalb White, had died a prisoner of war at the Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis. Pauline composed a letter addressed to Pvt. Drury Poston (of Brunot), a member of Col. Timothy Reeves’s CSA CO A 15th MO Calvary. The letter was to inform of the death of 1st Sgt. White to his comrades. She placed the letter in care of a post rider at Pleasant Valley and sent it to Doniphan where the wife of Col. Reeves resided. The letter got as far as Cherokee Bay, Arkansas were it was discovered by Union troops. Had the letter only contained the death notice of 1st Sgt. White, it may have been overlooked. The last paragraph could not be overlooked. It read:

“Lieutenant P.T. White and Dr. Putnam send there compliments to you and Captain Reeves and all the rest of the boys. Ben {Lt. Hughes} says may God bless you all is the prayer of one sinner. All the Privates were sent to Rock Island. We have heard from some of them also. Eva and Belle say for me to tell you they would like to see you very much. I will close with the expectation of hearing from you soon. Give our complements to all of our acquaintances. Long live the Rebels! Peace and comfort rest upon their heads. Forget me not, for, alas, we may never meet again. Your Friend Pauline White”

In the eyes of the Union Army the oath was broken. Pauline White was arrested on May 28, 1864 at Greenville, for breaking her oath of allegiance. It is clear that the Union army used Pauline White as an example. The Union forces issued a Confederate “watch list” of Wayne County families that were believed to be unloyalists and spies. Several women were listed and the documents are quoted as saying; “these women are doing more mischief then they could if they were men”. Pauline White was quickly tried, convicted of treason and sentenced to hard labor.

After the Civil War was over Pauline White was one of only fourteen Confederate prisoners in Missouri that were not released. These fourteen were “excepted” cases. Pauline was the only female. Instead of being issued a direct pardon she was being forced to “beg” for one; Which she eventually did. Her release date has been lost to time, but it was several months after the war had ended. She returned home to Greenville.

The oldest daughter of Dr. T.C. White, Evaline, married on November 20, 1866 to local Greenville merchant Oliver D. Dalton. Dr. White, in turn, sold his Wayne County property to the newlyweds and relocated to Randolph County, Arkansas. Evaline Dalton died from childbirth complications on March 26, 1873, leaving Oliver alone with their three year old daughter, Laura Bell. Needing help raising Laura, Oliver married the younger sister Pauline White on Christmas Day in 1873 in Randolph County, Arkansas. They returned to Greenville and the family farm. Dr. T.C. White accompanied them. Pauline Dalton would be the only mother that little Laura Bell would ever remember

Beginning in the 1870’s, Pauline Dalton established herself as one of the most esteemed women in her community. Her correspondences during the Civil War proved she was already very educated for a lady of the time period. Her passion for more education only grew in adulthood. In the 1880’s she attended and graduated from two years of subscription courses at Hale’s College on Otter Creek. She became fluent in Greek and Latin and excelled in theology. Her library was her prized possession. In addition she was an accomplished musician. She was preeminent in playing the piano, organ, violin, guitar, banjo and harmonica. Throughout the next many years the Dalton home became a local place where young ladies received organ and piano lessons.

In 1866 Pauline was one of the many converts that joined the Greenville Methodist Church under the pastorship of the Rev. S.A. Blakey. Upon her conversion she dedicated herself to the work of Christianity. When the local Methodist congregations were slowly leaving the Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and joining the conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC), Mrs. Dalton became vocally dissatisfied with her denomination. She believed the proper mode of baptism was by immersion, something the MEC did not hold as an ordinance. The last forty years of her life she attended the services of the local Little Lake Baptist Church and New Prospect Baptist Church. She went as far as telling her own grandchildren to join the Baptist Church as it more closely match New Testament doctrine than any other local congregation.

Mrs. Dalton herself, however, would not unite with the Baptist congregations in membership. She held that her original 1866 immersion baptism was genuine and would not agree to be baptized a second time to satisfy the doctrine of any other denomination. Her husband, O.D. Dalton, was an ordained Elder in the Christian Church. Mrs. Dalton apparently never expressed a desire to join with this faith at all. Her name is not found among the roll of members.

After the death of O.D. Dalton in 1898, Pauline turned her residence into a boarding house for young ladies attending subscription schools at Greenville. Two of the ladies, the late Mrs. Hattie (Twidwell) Cobb and Mrs. Stone (Twidwell) Blackwell, relayed that they would often try to “trap” Mrs. Dalton with a random word from the dictionary. Without fail, Mrs. Dalton could always relay a definition.

By the dawn of the early 1900’s the women’s suffrage movement was rising tremendously in Wayne County. With her mistreatment and imprisonment during the Civil War, Pauline Dalton should have been an extreme supporter of the movement. This was far from the case. She protested and wrote letters and pamphlets against such an amendment that would give women the right to vote. In quoting the Apostle Paul’s New Testament writings, she warned readers; ” the passage of such an amendment would be the beginning of the downfall of our Nation”. Her opposition was great. The strongest locally was from Mrs. Alice J. (Curtice) Moyer-Wing of Wills, in the Crossroads community, near Lowndes. Mrs. Wing was the lead local supporter of women’s suffrage. Today, Mrs. Wing seems to be the celebrated local victor, with plaques and memorials dedicated to her. Mrs. Dalton however did not play the role in hypocrisy. She had many opportunities to vote the last seventeen years of her life, and never once took the liberty

While her views on women’s suffrage may not have been well looked upon by many, Mrs. Dalton was far from prudish. She was well known for her fashion and her crafty abilities. She made and trimmed hats, not only for herself, but for many other ladies in the Greenville communities. She weaved baskets and sold them in local stores. Her basket entry in the ‪1904 World’s Fair in St.‬ Louis was a 1st prize winner in the division it was entered. Mrs. Dalton and her family attended the now historic festivities at St. Louis, by way of train.

In November of 1916 she moved into a modest home on Timmons Street at Greenville. The home was the same structure that lumber king and railroad man Hiram Holladay had been murdered in seventeen years prior. Her appearances at Greenville in her elderly years were joyous to the community. An excerpt from a 1916, “Greenville Sun” is quoted; “The town had the pleasure of visiting with Mrs. O.D. Dalton last week at the Smith-Rhodes mercantile. Her family was running errands in town and to our advantage this elder of our community decided to socialize near the warmth of the stove for more than two hours. Many greeted her and she recalled to many of old days around Greenville”.

The last ten years of her life, the biggest role she played was of a loving grandmother and great-grandmother. She made her home with her step-daughter (and blood niece) she raised, Laura Bell (Dalton) Bollinger, wife of Lafayette A. “Bud” Bollinger. Up near the advanced age of 90 years old, Mrs. Dalton taught one granddaughter to read by the age of four. She often would hide sugar cubes in her apron for her grandsons (who were not allowed to have them); And she would recall her Civil War imprisonment to younger generations who may have never heard it. The late Frank Street of Patterson, recalled as a young postal rider, delivering the mail by horseback, he would have to wait at Mrs. Dalton’s front gate until she had read and discussed the headlines in the weekly paper with him. The late Grace Westmoreland of Patterson, recalled to this writer in 2013, that in her youth on Sunday mornings, attending services at the Little Lake Baptist Church, Mrs. Dalton would be seen in the back of the family wagon with the little children, rather than upfront. Her large bonnet hanging down, almost covering her entire face. The late Gertrude Cato, a granddaughter of Mrs. Dalton, wrote notes to Professor Barrett Bryant of the University of Alabama in 1984 regarding her grandmother. Cato indicated that in church services Mrs. Dalton would become “happy” and wave her bonnet around, shouting “Glory hallelujah, I’m Saved!”

She died December 29, 1936 at the age of 92. Baptist minister Rev. Noel Twidwell,of Clubb, and Greenville Methodist Pastor, Rev. S.D. Bohnencamp, conducted the services at the Greenville Methodist Church on New Year’s Eve and she was buried in the Dalton-White cemetery on Lake Creek at rural Greenville. This was the same site of her arrest by Union forces some 72 years prior. Her late great grandson, Roy Bollinger of Piedmont, recalled the funeral possession crossing over, what he called, the “rickety and shaky” lower bridge at Old Greenville to Lake Creek. Mrs. Dalton was the last burial in the Dalton-White cemetery on Lake Creek. The local “Greenville Sun” paid tribute to Mrs. Dalton the week following her death.

Though many today would not agree with her politically, Sarah Pauline (White) Dalton was a pioneer of her time. She had her beliefs and stood firm on them. Her story has been published in 2006 in “Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Justice”, by Thomas P. Lowry; in 2010 in “Old Wayne: A Brit’s Memoir”, by Cletis Ellinghouse; and in a 2012 edition of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, magazine

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