|Birth: ||Mar. 2, 1779|
|Death: ||Dec. 20, 1835|
Sally Spillman was born in Westmoreland, Virginia, A. D. 1779 and died at Dover, Kentucky, Mason County, Kentucky 1835. Henry Clay was two years old when she was born, and the greatest government the world ever saw was in the throws of labor in the third year of the American Revolution. Her father, a neighbor of the father of George Washington, was at the time her birth was in the facts struggling under George to secure political and religious freedoms for the infant colonies, for which George gave him a grant of most valuable land in Kentucky, then a county of his native state. He was an officer of the Revolution and possessed a fine estate on tide water in Virginia. He had three children and among them an only daughter, the subject of this sketch. He died shortly after the acknowledgement of independence, leaving his wife and children well provided for, the earliest recollections of Sally were of the happiest possible description. She was a beautiful child and the pet of her doting mother and affectionate brothers. The mother was an excellent manager and her wealth grew and genial prosperity smiled upon her broad well-tilled acres, Sally's every wish was anticipated. Upon the death of her father and that of her two brothers, which followed shortly, she succeeded to an estate of 100 thousand dollars value -- just the amount of Mrs. Custis' fortune who married George Washington. At 15 she married, and lived 41 years longer and became the mother of ten children, all of whom she lived to see grown. In our biographical sketch of her husband we of necessity included much of her own narrative omitting, of course, many of its more delicate lights and shadows, all the more interesting because of their delicacy. If she were ever herself doubtful of a misstep in marriage, she never gave utterance to it. She seems to have had an exalted appreciation of the claims of duty, but as is the case of meek woman she never made it a text for her eloquence or excuse for barbarity, for her brain would dictate a contempt for one and her generous heart recoil at the bare contemplation of the other. She neither beat nor scolded her children. As a mistress she was to the last degree kind and the writer is sure she never punished a grown one nor does he remember but upon a single occasion the she ever corrected the small house servants. When they were sold from her after her long training no one ever heard her complain. This is not the result of a negative organization for when anyone
outside her domestic supervision crossed her she would instantly fire up. Just after arriving at Lexington and renting a house the owner insolently and in disparaging tones said, "you must remember madam, you are my tenant." She said, "I will not be tomorrow." And ordered her servants to start packing and no apology or explanation of the landlord could stop her, and when it was suggested that a house could not be procured in an hour, she replied, that one could be emptied in half that time and went on packing and went out. When her first daughter was to be given away in marriage she objected and if we have wondered that the event might not have recalled recollection of her own "giving away" with associated regrets, it is very certain that she gave utterance to nothing of the kind, but passionately said when borne down by the _____ that "he had a good many ___ and was of good stock," "share it among you," and left the room in high _augeon. She was always in good humor and treated the uncongenial guests of her inconsiderate husband with kind an most hospitable consideration. She seemed glad to entertain his uncouth and uneducated kinspeople. Her house had always an intelligent aspect and at home, at least, she was accustomed to good society, nay, so contagious was this feature that it absolutely seized the head of the family who applied himself to books with such earnest determination of purposes as to make such strides in history and biography that his household of critics had to look to their laurels. A good circulating library in the neighborhood supplied the family with an abundance of books, the subject of which suggested the conversation. Nicholson's encyclopedia was in the house and reference made to it by the hour by the father as well as the children. In all this Sally took
greatest possible interest, but was too busy seeing about meals for this multitude to have time to turn anybody down by the encyclopedia. The father, indeed, at the time was a sober industrious man, having no longer the strength to fight nor the money to engage in law suits. For ten years in Gallatin County (now Owen County) she was never known to go off the place but twice -- once she went to a store in a neighboring village and once rode out in a sleigh with one of her sons. Never was a woman so free of superstition. The knowledge of the fanatics in the commencement of this century in the west among whom she was thrown, had not the slightest effect on her. It is to me the strangest conclusion imaginable but it almost forces itself upon my convictions that this singularly good woman soul enjoyed prophetic glimpses of the then coming era of Darwin, Spencer, and Huxley. She had a horror of "priest craft," as she called it and believed then what few believed, and what the whole educated world now believes except theologists, that nine tenths of what the world calls religion, our own included, is a sheer contrivance to make a lazy multitude to live high up on the labor of other people. The poor, dear good woman believed this with all of her religious education and upbringing in which no one could surpass her -- I can in memory hear her rich, melodious voice now, ringing out: "In the house of King David a fountain did spring." I believe this remarkable woman, except in childbirth, never felt a pain; she was never sick and I believe no physician ever prescribed for her. She was a good curer herself and with her scales and barks and tartar emetics and calomel and julep, she had as little use for doctors as for preachers. She died instantly without a sigh in 1835 in her 56th year and sleeps with her husband at Dover, Ky.
An 1883 sketch written by her son, Dr. William K. Bowling, a prominent Nashville physician and educator.
William Kendall Bowling (1808 - 1885)*
Old Dover Cemetery
Created by: Bill Davis
Record added: Nov 13, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80367308