The Hanging of Betsey Reed

The Hanging of Betsey Reed: A Wabash River Tragedy on the Illinois Frontier - Rick Kelsheimer

Was she really a witch or did she have a gift? Some believed she was a witch and other believed she had the gift of healing, sometimes it depended on if you were sick and needed her services. It’s believed that her father passed onto Betsy his gift of blowing fire and with her knowledge of herbs and roots which she learned while he was alive; Betsy was taking on the role her father left behind. Doctors were in short demand in 1843 but the issue facing this community was that most individuals were not accepting Betsey.   Betsey was a unique individual for she was vocal, determined and a competitive person who didn’t have very many friends. Betsey tries to manipulate other individuals in this novel and sometimes her antics work while other times people see right through her. There was never a dull moment in this novel beginning from the opening pages of the hanging of Will Davis to the closing pages of Betsey’s letter, the novel races forward. The novel follows the story of Betsey from a young child until her final days. Is she really guilty or is her past coming into play now and marking her future? I felt that Betsey was a relentless woman as she never quits, her brain must be running continuously to have done all that she had done and then to live a life where she has no one to really count on and she rejoices in that openly. How sad a life is that? Reflecting back in the reading, she affects the lives of many individuals positively and negatively and in her death, now what? What legacy has she left?  Based on actual events, I recall some of these areas in Illinois as we travel but not as many as my sister-in-law Margaret who grew up and continues to live in Wabash County. Thanks Margaret for sharing your book with me.