About Arabella Loomis Reynolds (Macomber)
Belle Reynolds of Peoria, Illinois was born on October 20, 1840. Reynolds joined her husband who was enlisted with the Seventeenth Illinois Volunteer Army and traveled with him to battle during the American Civil War. She became a heroine because of her involvement in the Battle of Shiloh, where Belle helped the wounded soldiers. Her obituary was published in the New York Times on July 30, 1937; she had died at 96 of a short illness.
before long Belle would outrank her husband, having been granted a Major’s commission by the Illinois governor — only woman to be officially given rank in the Union army during the Civil War
After the war, Belle Reynolds studied to be a doctor and practiced medicine for many years in Santa Barbara, California. She was a popular speaker at meetings of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was reported that, “When President Harrison was in Santa Barbara in 1891, he paid more attention to Major Belle Reynolds than to any of the hundreds of political leaders and rich men of California who gathered around him.”
Belle and William Reynolds never had children and they divorced in 1884, but she continued to practice medicine and travel widely. For one year, beginning in October of 1871, she lived in Hong Kong, China. Then in 1899, she traveled to Manila during the Philippine-American War to serve with the occupying army. There, she instituted many reforms and promoted public health regulations benefiting Filipino women and children. In 1917, at the age of 77, she traveled to Santiago, Chile and to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1924, at the age of 84, she traveled to Italy, Spain, and France “for pleasure”.
“Major Belle” Reynolds passed away at the Hotel Gregson in Santa Barbara as she was preparing to celebrate her 97th birthday.