Elizabeth Van Lew was born in Richmond, Virginia back in 1818 to John and Eliza. She was sent to a Quaker school in Philadelphia. Her father was a slave owner and when he died Elizabeth and her mother freed them. During the depression of 1837-44 she used her entire inheritance to purchase and free some of their former slaves’ relatives.
When the American Civil War started she and her mother started taking care of wounded soldiers. Not only did she care for the Confederate deserters she also cared for the Union soldiers. She died in 1900, she was 81.
What you may not know about Elizabeth is that she convinced Varina Davis to hire Mary Bowser (a union spy) to work at the White House of the Confederacy. Her spy ring was unknown until after the war. She was allowed to bring in food, clothing and writing paper. during her visits recently captured Union soldiers would pass on Confederate troop movements which she gave to the Union commanders. For her contributions she was given $15,000.00 and appointed the Postmaster General of Richmond.
NW Arkansas, come for a visit, stay for a lifetime.