Notable Women of Henderson County: Polly Mills Stepp

By: Dan Gibbs

In the late 18th century there was a pioneer woman that lived in Henderson County named Polly Stepp. Her story as a frontier woman was part fact but mostly legend but it is a great story. She was born in 1754 in Orange County, Virginia. 

Polly Mills Stepp first appeared in the annals of history when a British Lieutenant, Anthony Allaire, wrote of her hardships in his journal when he passed through the Green River area of Polk County with Major Patrick Ferguson of the British Army in the fall of 1780. They stopped at James Stepp’s plantation on the Green River when Allaire wrote of an encounter that Polly had with a roving band of Chickasaw Indians. 

He reported that the Indians had “scalped and tomahawked her several times in the head.” The Indians also attacked her infant son “in a most inhuman and savage manner.” Polly and her infant son survived that attack. Allaire also reported that her oldest son was kidnapped in that attack and she had not heard from him since.

Frank L. FitzSimons wrote of a tremendous battle between the Chickasaw and the settlers at Point Lookout in the Edneyville section of Henderson County in which Polly Mills Stepp emerged as the hero of the battle when she felled the Chief of the attacking band of Chickasaw Indians with one shot from a musket. Killing the Chief of the tribe broke the will of the other attackers and they fled shortly thereafter. 

Polly Mills Stepp lived until 1835 and is buried in the Red Hill Stepp Cemetery in the Dana section of Henderson County.

One of the best records of Polly Mills Stepp can be found on the website in the “Sketches of Henderson County” section as well as Find A Grave, and of the Frank L. FitzSimon book From the Banks of the Oklawaha.