Rhoda is just eighteen when her family arranges for her to marry a wealthy and powerful plantation owner from Quincy, Florida, in 1853. Rhoda quickly adjusts to life on a plantation with 160 slaves, but it takes more time getting used to her husband, William.
The couple grows closer with time, and William promises Rhoda she “can have the moon” if she gives him a son. On Jan. 15, 1858, she gives birth to Albert Waller Gilchrist, who will eventually become Florida’s governor. Mary Elizabeth is born the next year. Not long after, however, Rhoda finds herself a young widow. While she is still coping with William’s death, another tragedy strikes; Rhoda’s daughter dies of illness two years after her husband.
In the fall of 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, she discovers a new love when she meets Captain James Barrow, who is fighting for the Southern cause. When he asks her to marry him, she stalls, but she already knows the answer will be “yes.” Throughout her life, she never loses her fighting spirit, remembering where she comes from and stays true to her ideals.
Based on the true story of Rhoda Elizabeth Waller Kilcrease Gibbes, this biographical narrative describes how her life in and around Quincy, Florida, took her indomitable spirit to the heights of leadership in Florida society.