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
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
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 thereuntil 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.
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.