The Confederate's Paul Revere

Sophia Porter was born in Fort Wayne Indiana, on December 3, 1813, the second child of Laura and William Suttonfield. Sophia’s father, William, after being discharged from the Army in 1816, became Fort Wayne’s sutler, an Indian trader, and dabbled in various other jobs, including tavern and innkeeper and mail carrier before he passed away in 1836. William’s daughter Sophia ultimately became the Confederacy’s Paul Revere.

We trust you will enjoy this image of Sophia-Suttonfield-Aughinbaugh-Coffee-Butt-Porter, taken around 1870. 

Sophia eventually met a local school teacher Jesse Augustine Aughinbaugh, they married in 1833 when she was twenty years old. The couple moved to Texas two years later, where Jesse had received a grant of over 4,400 acres in what is now Houston County, east of the Trinity River. Jesse then disappeared from the annuals of history as well as Sophia's life.

In 1836, Texas was at war with Mexico, and Sophia boasted she was the first woman in the field after the capture of Santa Ana, at the Battle of San Jacinto. She also claimed to have nursed General Sam Houston back to health  after that battle and that this was the beginning of a long friendship between them.

After the battle at San Jacinto, General Houston placed Sophia in the care of his friends, Sam and America Lusk In 1839, Sophia married America’s younger brother Holland Coffee. A bit of trouble in this marriage erupted due to the fact that she had never bothered to divorce her first husband. Throughout their early years of marriage, Holland accumulated land at an hectic pace. By 1840 he already owned 3,000 acres of land and three slaves.

As time went on, Holland continued to accumulate wealth, gained political power, and helped coordinate the signing of the Treaty of Comanche Peak in 1846. Later that year, Holland was killed is a street brawl with Charles Galloway. He left his entire estate to Sophia which included by this time more than 5,000 acres of land, nineteen slaves, herds of horses and cattle, and at least two businesses.

In 1847 Sophia claimed to have married George Butt (Butts) of Virginia, but no marriage record has been found verifying the event in either Texas or New Orleans. Whatever the relationship between the couple may have been, it was a profitable one. The 1850 census listed their combined wealth at more than $18,000, equivalent to a quarter of a million dollars today, and their wealth continued to rise over the next decade.

In the decade before the Civil War, Sophia and George entertained many famous and soon to be famous figures at their plantation named Glen Eden, including Albert Sidney Johnston, Kirby Smith, John B. Hood, J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee,  even U.S. Grant.

After the war broke out in North Texas, it was a dangerous place to live. Confederates and Unionists were at odds with each other, and bloodshed between them was common. In early 1863, Sophia’s husband George, a Confederate sympathizer, one day failed to return from his daily routine of work. Two weeks later, his body was discovered. It was believed that he had been slain by a band of Yankee deserters.  

On December 21, 1863, Sophia Butt saw Union cavalry ride up the road to her plantation. She soon learned they were an advance party of a larger force of Jayhawkers under the command of General James Blunt, intent upon attacking Quantrill and annihilating his command.

"Sophia graciously invited the Yankees in for a home-cooked dinner, and then gave them the keys to the wine cellar. When they were all sufficiently drunk, she locked them in and went looking for a mount." Choosing to cross an icy swollen river rather than go down the main road and risk raising an alarm, she made her way to the home of a loyal friend.

From the friend’s home, messengers were sent to General McCullough at Bentham, the Texas militia at McKinney, and Quantrill's camp near Sherman warning of a Union attack. Then, she returned home and freed the Yankees before they even knew they were captives. From that point forward, because of her bravery and daring, Sophia was dubbed "The Confederate Paul Revere."

Because of her warning, Quantrill's command was able to quickly rally and successfully repel the Union invasion of North Texas. Now, thanks to new information published for the first time in "Quantrill in Texas; The Forgotten Campaign," by Paul Petersen, we now know more about this earlier unreported battle.

Because of this decisive victory, combined with the fact it was days before Christmas week, a massive week-long victory celebration ensued. The peaceful celebration soon deteriorated into reckless abandon. Numerous accounts of the celebration were recorded, including a mention of it in at least one volume of memoirs written by Quantrill veteran, John McCorkle.

According to local lore, after visiting the three local saloons in Sherman, Texas, the guerrillas soon scattered in every direction. Before they left, however, reckless gunplay erupted outside the bars as the Missourians shot at doorknobs and streetlights. Some of the guerrillas rode their horses on the wooden sidewalks, up to the storefronts, even into the hotel were a ball was being held.

At the victory ball, Sophia Butt had been the center of attention, as she was lauded for her daring warning. Soon she would be the center of attention for another reason.

"Someone was dancing a waltz with her, when suddenly two shots reverberated through the hall, which were simultaneous with the falling of two tassels that adorned Sophia's hat. She never missed a step, though, and the dance went on. Dick Hopkins later noted that one guerrilla had bet another he could shoot the tassels off Sophia's hat while she was dancing."

Sometime during week long ruckus, Archibald "Little Archie" Clements, Dave Poole and  Bill Hendricks made their way to "Gabe's Picture Gallery." There they had their image taken. According to local lore, Gabe was so scared he could hardly complete the task at hand. This image became one of the best-known images of Missouri guerrillas, which we share here. "Little Archie" Clements, Dave Poole and  Bill Hendricks.                                                                                                                                                                    

Apparently the trio decided the finished product was unacceptable, so they tore up Gabe's shop and tossed the photographer out of his front window upstairs, causing him to break through the awing below and onto the street.The awning was never repaired and was featured in town photos for years to come.

The following day, no doubt suffering from "John Barleycorn’s Revenge" perhaps the trio thought better of their actions, or it is possible Quantrill ordered them to make things right.

Either way, the guerrillas cleaned themselves up returned to Gabe's Picture Gallery. A second image was taken then, which the guerrillas found more acceptable, and they apologized and paid for their previous indiscretions.

On August 2, 1865, Sophia married James S. Porter, former Jackson county judge and confederate officer. Together they were able to build Glen Eden back into a profitable operation of cotton and cattle.

Sophia Suttonfield Aughinbaugh Coffee Butt Porter passed way in her sleep, on August 27, 1897, and was buried near Glen Eden. When the area was to be inundated to form Lake Texoma, her home was dismantled with the intention that it be reassembled as a museum of Grayson County history, but the wood was mistakenly burned.

Despite being recoginzed as "The Confederate Paul Revere" during thw War, the legend of Sophia Porter has been negatively impacted by the campaign to discredit Colonel William Clarke Quantrill and his accomplishments.

A few years back, one of our members acquired a vintage war tintype from a family living in Harrisonville Missouri. The family history stated the photo was of three Quantrill men taken in Texas, however the names of the trio were not known by the distant relative who was the owner of the image at the time. All three men are armed. Photos of more than one guerrilla per setting are rare, and images of multiple, armed Missouri guerrillas can be counted on one hand.

After comparing this new photo with every known photo of the trio, it is apparent that this photo also features Bill Hendricks, “Little Archie” Clements, and Dave Poole. Notice "Little Archie" has a Yankee officer sash draped across his neck. Bill Hendricks also has some kind of winter scarf draped over his neck. This image is being published for the first time on our website. Please take a second to compare this image to the other image above.                     

We hope you enjoy these historic discover as much as we enjoy sharing them.
Information used in this story, especially the quotations, were obtained from: Quantrill In Texas, the Forgotten Campaign, by. Paul Petersen, Cumberland Publishing Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 2007.

The Mistress of Glen Eden, by Sherrie S. McLeRoy, White Stone Publishing Group, Sherman, TX, 1990

©Patrick R Marquis quantrillsguerrillas.com "Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and or any image."

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