Martha Bell by Raeyan
Although her reasons for being a spy were rooted in revenge, Martha Bell's important role in the Revolution cannot be denied.
Before the American Revolution, little is known about Martha Bell's childhood. Martha
McFarland was born in 1735 in present-day Alamance County. Her maiden name, McFarland, indicates that she has Scottish-Irish ancestry. McFarland got married to Colonel John McGee in 1759, a widower with two children, Samuel and Elizabeth. They had five children named John, Andrew, William, Jane or Jean, and Susannah. Colonel McGee died in 1773. Martha McGee became the richest widow in her county. She married William Bell on May 6, 1779 and became Martha Bell. Bell would travel day and night serving as a nurse and a midwife to people in the countryside.
Martha Bell contributed to the American Revolution by being a spy for the Patriots with
clever excuses for coming to the Loyalists camps. In addition to being a spy, Bell let General
Cornwallis's troops stay at her mill, as long as General Cornwallis didn't burn her mill. Two days
after General Cornwallis's troops left, some Patriots asked Bell to be a spy. The Patriots needed
to know how many soldiers General Cornwallis had and if more soldiers were coming. She was
happy to help. Bell would complain to the generals that the soldiers "stole" items from her mill
while they were there. While the generals questioned the soldiers, Bell would record how many
weapons the British had, how many people are injured, how many more soldiers are coming,
and what kind weapons the British had. This information was given to the Patriots to help plan
their next attack. After that, Bell continued to be a spy. Whenever Bell was stopped by a Loyalist,
she lied and said she was a midwife on her way to deliver a baby.
Martha Bell lived for forty more years after the American Revolution ended. Not much is
known about what happened in those forty years. Bell died peacefully a year before her husband
on September 9, 1820 at the age of eighty-five.
To conclude, Martha Bell may have been a heroine to seek revenge, but Martha Bell's
role in the American Revolution deserves to be recognized.