Legendary Ladies of Texas Page: 107
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Texas Foundation for Women's Resources
Mollie Bailey was born in 1844 on an Alabama plantation, her con-
ventional destiny that of southern lady, wife and helpmeet to some
aristocratic scion. Instead, she ran away from home at the age of four-
teen to marry the son of a circus owner. During the course of a long
and eventful career, which ended only with her death in 1918, Mollie
Bailey was show boat entertainer, Civil War nurse, Civil War spy,
mother of nine children, benefactor of charitable causes, and one of the
few female entrepreneurs in circus history.
The bare facts of Mollie Bailey's life would qualify her to be an
extraordinary woman, but she attained an even higher status. She be-
came an institution among Texas people, respected and beloved. "Aunt
Mollie Bailey" brought the magic of the circus, one of the oldest of folk
events, to rural Texans whose lives were dominated by crops, livestock
and the seasons. She helped Texans celebrate one of the most important
occasions of the time-Old Soldier's Day. And by purchasing town lots
and donating money to charitable causes, she became a part of every
community where her circus stopped. Many stories were told of her
exploits, some factual, some apochryphal. During her lifetime, Mollie
Bailey achieved the stature of female folk hero.
Mollie Arline Kirkland was born in the autumn of 1844, on a planta-
tion in Sumpter County, Alabama, near Mobile. Her father, William
Kirkland, and her mother, Mary Arline, doubtless assumed that Mollie
would live up to the rigid ideal of perfection expected of Southern
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Legendary Ladies of Texas (Book)
Collection of historical anecdotes providing "a study of Texas women and the conflicting images and myths that have grown up about them" (back cover). The index begins on page 225.
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Abernethy, Francis Edward. Legendary Ladies of Texas, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38860/m1/121/?q=mollie%20bailey%20circus%20image: accessed February 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.