Purses were originally made for Egyptian men thousands of years ago and they have evolved throughout history. In the 19th century, purses were made more durable for women to carry their essentials. This small leather and metal handbag (circa 1880) belonged to Ann Eliza Smith Bigler (1847-1928). She was married to Mark Bigler IV and they had five children. They lived on a Botetourt farm where the roads were often impassable. Eliza would travel with herbs, linen strips, mutton tallow and her faith to treat the sick and even set broken bones. She died after a protracted illness and many relatives and friends attended her funeral, which was published in the January 19,1928, “Buchanan News.” Her daughters, Ruth and Irene Bigler, donated Eliza’s purse to the Botetourt History Museum to honor their mother.
~ Botetourt County Museum of History & Culture