The only daughter of Joseph James Barbee and his wife Mary Jane, she was born in Boyle County Kentucky. A transcription of marriages in Boyle gives her mother's maiden name as Orkiess but that may not be an accurate spelling. Her father was a Junior Editor of "The Kentucky Tribune" and died in 1851. Nannie, as she was called, married the Rev. Samuel B. Alderson and was the mother of 6 children, 3 sons and 3 daughters.