Tennessee History for Kids

As this item in the Aug. 15, 1821, Nashville Whig reflects, sometimes quite a bit of personal detail came out in these “Runaway Wife” ads.

I’ve heard it said that families were happier “in the old days.” However, newspapers prove that not every household was blissful. They also remind us that, when it comes to legal status, women have come a long way.

There are several types of runaway ads published during Tennessee’s antebellum era. There were runaway horse ads. During periods of military activity (such as the early wars against Native Americans) there were deserter ads, offering a reward for the return of a soldier who abandoned his military unit. At a time when it was a big part of Tennessee’s economy, there were runaway indentured servant ads. There were, I’m sorry to say, runaway slave ads (in fact, I wrote an entire book about Tennessee’s runaway slave ads called Runaways, Coffles and Fancy Girls.)