Congratulations to Emma!!
Congratulations to Emma!!
Hello fellow women’s history lovers. I just opened up a store on Etsy where you can buy these wonderful history t-shirts for yourself, your friends and family. The shop is under OhioWomensHistory or https://www.etsy.com/shop/OhioWomensHistory
This is my first time working with Etsy so I hope it will be a successful adventure. Thank you in advance for being a part of the Ohio Women’s History Project by following us here and/or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You box won’t be bombarded with emails so don’t worry about that!!
Also, Friday, October 2nd, 2020; 9 am to 9:50, I will be speaking about Ohio Women at the Ohio History Alliance Conference here in Columbus, Ohio. The title of my presentation will be “Transformative Women Who Brought Us to Where We Are Today” and the Session Description: Join the Ohio Women’s History Project to learn to learn about women who have transformed Ohio and the county. We will highlight women’s contributions beyond the vote while recognizing the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage. If you love history you might like to be a part of this amazing conference!
I have put off writing about Annie Oakley (born August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926 Leo/Artemis) for some time now because I wanted to feature other Ohio Women in History that most people did not know about. Annie was one of the first superstars or famous actresses of her time. I read about her in a short biography by Chuck Wills for DK Biographies, so that it is more of a children’s reader. I’d love to find something more about her life but it appears that this was not her priority until after retirement and writing just wasn’t in her. She was only able to pen a few pages. Also, being a celebrity, more fiction was written about her than non-fiction.
In fact, I grew up watching a couple of movies about her life but now I have learned they were so far from the truth. The movies are simply movies with her name added to it. In reality, Annie was a down to earth rural Ohio woman. She was an elegant woman with good homespun values. She was a Quaker and they did not believe in killing but understood that people out on a farm had to do such things to survive.
Her father died when she was five and a half years old and by this time had only taught her trapping of small animals. When she was about 7 or 8, she took his gun down from the fireplace and it would seem she began to teach herself with a .40 or .50 caliber rifle. She was never higher than 5′ tall and weighed 110 lbs. as an adult. These guns were much bigger than she was and yet she learned to maneuver them. Her mother did not enjoy the fact that her young daughter was out in a man’s world but soon began to realize the necessity of this. After all, Susan Moses, her mother, was left with seven mouths to feed. The following advice is what she would later tell her students.
You must have your mind, your nerve, and everything in harmony. Don’t look at your gun, simply follow [the target] with the end of it, as if the tip of the barrel was the point of your finger.
Unfortunately, Annie faced a second early tragedy as her mother would have to send her and a brother to an orphanage (a poor house from that time). She would immediately be shipped off to a home known as “The Wolves,” which was not the families name but what she called them. They treated her like a slave and beat her and even tossed her out in the snow one evening for punishment. She escaped this plight one day by the kindness of a stranger who paid her train fare. Annie would have to return to the orphanage where the family who ran it, took her in. There she learned embroidery and this would serve her well with her costumes. Her second talent to shooting was that of the needle.
Annie continued to hunt and shoot and was able to earn her keep by bringing in game for a general store – who also supplied her with the gun and ammunition. She shot in competitions as well. She met her husband in one of these competitions and his name was Frank Butler who had come to her home town now called Greenville. Frank and Annie fell in love and were married and began to tour together. They were a vaudeville act. Both had deep respect and appreciation for the other. Frank soon began to willingly take a back stage to his wife; knowing she was the better shooter. They would go on to join the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show (which took on several names over the years) and traveled around the world for several decades.
No matter where Annie went, she delighted the audiences of all ages and classes. She would go on to meet many members of royal families from various countries. She was a very good friend, in the US, to Chief Sitting Bull. Annie had such depth to her personality and it was her ability to assert herself and set boundaries with people that endeared her to them. Rather than wearing revealing costumes; she made her own signature line. She did not wear make-up. Annie was not a “modern woman” per se, and yet she was not living the typical woman’s lifestyle of that era. Oddly, she did not believe in women’s rights to vote, which was occurring during her lifetime. I think I can understand this though as this was a new way of thinking for women at that time. The average woman was not as carefree and independent thinking as she was. She felt that only “good” women should vote. I would assume this to mean intelligent women who knew what they were doing. Another risky choice that Annie made was to not shake Prince Edwards hand, first, when she met him. She shook the hand of his wife, Princess Alexandria instead. The reason for this is that the Prince was known for his philandering which Annie did not believe in. She felt more respect for the Princess. The way Annie handled this was by explaining that in America, ladies come first.
Interestingly, Annie would die of Anemia in 1926, in her 60’s. Frank died 18 days later and it was said that he stopped eating (but he was also very sickly then as well). I say interestingly because I hadn’t know people could die of Anemia. However, it is reported that her death may have been more related to lead poisoning from all the buckshot and bullets she handled over the years shooting. She could also be remembered as a philanthropist throughout her life. She gave her money to women and children; who were as destitute as she once was.
Needless to say, I have been moved by her story and I began to feel a different level of respect by learning about her. Prior to writing about her, I have personally always been a pacifist and an anti-gun person. Not against the 2nd Amendment, but against my own personal handling of these weapons or using them. A friend of mine turned me onto these and I was fascinated with how quickly I became attached to using them on a range. Just yesterday, I went to a gun show here in Columbus for the first time in my life. I found myself amassed by gun enthusiasts and small time gun sellers. There were even some historical pieces that were on display and for sale, filled with the energy of times past. One particular rifle I saw was 200 years old and came complete with the initials and art work of the owners who once carried it. Like with Annie, I was moved to see this part of American life that for years I had assumed was something completely different (thanks to the negative stereotypes in documentaries). I think that it has been this new awakening that helped me to become more enthusiastic about reading her story. When I began to understand the woman behind the gun, I saw how she was able to keep her femininity and good ethics in tact.
The world of guns and gun ownership has been seriously injured by our society and horrible people (i.e., domestic and international terrorists) who have caused the country to be in an uproar. However, as I talk to responsible gun owners I learn more and more about their good values and the ethics necessary to have a concealed carry permit. It is interesting how serious these gun owners are to safety and responsibility.
Most people fear the level of power that comes with owning a gun. I think it is important to have this level of fear but to have knowledge and education to understand. As with all things, if you don’t have some humility toward a position of power, than you are lost as a person. We can’t depend on someone in power or with this power to have a level of humility. Therefore, we cannot control it either. I have always felt there are some guns that probably should not be considered legal though, I know that anything that is illegal can be purchased for a price nonetheless. As our society has become dangerously divided, similar to that of the Civil War and our nation is plagued with more and more domestic terrorists, the idea of being taught how to responsibly carry and use a gun makes a lot more sense.
Annie did not use her gun for harm but for sport and for the dining room table. She was once offered a position in the military, while travelling in Europe but declined the offer. Whatever the choice for using a gun, as long as it is with good and legitimate intentions and not intended to harm others (except in battle or for self-defense), we need to re-think the fear that we have about gun ownership and respect those who are a part of this lifestyle. This is a part of our country’s history and our culture.
Recently, I met with Sandra Jamison who is a member of Second Baptist Church and part (board member?) of the James Preston Poindexter Foundation. Second Baptist Church is the oldest Black Baptist Church in Columbus and Reverend Poindexter was a very outspoken and prominent leader for this parish and community. Ms. Jamison and I met at the Ohio Local History Alliance Conference last weekend and shared with me a list of these wonderful women who once attended her church. The list was created by another woman in her church and she handed me a copy of it. I am listing these women here and sharing photos and notes if I can find them. If you are aware of any information on these women, I invite you to contact me with more information. Also, don’t hesitate to post on my FB group Ohio Women in History.
Blanche M. Van Hook – She was a society columnist featuring black women as well as working for the city. She was also known for writing about the Lucy Depp Park neighborhood. She was born in approximately 1896 in Ohio and died here in 1970.
Helen Carter Moses – She was a composer, organist and teacher (Sandra said that she learned to play piano from her).
Daisy Hall Rice – Beautician
Helen Jenkins Davis- She was born in the 1880’s and lived until the 1980’s. She was one of the first black teachers in Columbus. She graduated from her teaching college in 1916 but it would not be until 1921 that she was able to find a position because of her race. In 1976, she was the first witness to be called in regard to a school segregation case that would eventually lead to the Supreme Court making a decision on this once again. She is mentioned in the book Beyond Busing: Reflections on Urban Segregation, the Courts and Equality. There is now a scholarship in her memory and a FB group.
Jessie Stephens Glover – Is the first black female to graduate from the Ohio State University in 1905 with a B.A. in Modern Languages. For awhile she lived in Florida and taught German and English at what is now Florida A&M University. She later moved to Virginia to teach at what is now Virginia State University before moving back to Ohio for marriage and to raise their two daughters. She became an activist and volunteered to be a probation officer for the Domestic Relations court. She was born in 1882, in Ohio, the daughter of former slaves and lived until 1966. Her biography is featured in Profiles of Ohio Women 1803-2003.
Edna Bryce – She was a club woman and entrepreneur who owned a flower shop.
Isabella Ridgway – Founder of an “old folks” home for blacks, in the early 1900’s. It is named after her and continues to this day. There is also a foundation in her name which began in 2016.
Constance Jean Nichols – Born in Marietta, Ohio and a graduate of the Ohio State University. She was a devoted activist, was one of the founders of the Vanguard League— an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against African Americans in Columbus. She was also responsible for helping to get the Ohio Theater integrated.
E. Carrie Coles – Was a member of the Housewives League.
Nell Moffett – Was once a Principal at Mt. Vernon Avenue Elementary School.
Cora Jordan White – Executive Secretary at the Blue Triangle Branch Y.W.C.A.
Anna Hughes – Administrator, Ohio Avenue Day Nursery
Belle Carter – She was a Pioneer Teacher, Social Worker, and a Probation Officer in the Court of Domestic Relations.
Mayme Artis – Piano Teacher
Anna B. Jones – She was born in about 1871 and became a Philanthropist and Community Activist
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Ohio Women’s History Project T-shirts
Available at https://ohiowomenshistory.com/womens-history-store/
I want to be clear that this is just a sample of the names of women in Ohio History, it is not all of them. These are names that I could fit on a t-shirt and names of women I have begun to write about on this website, plus a few more. I made sure to get names of women that were “firsts” at something. I also tried to only get one name in different categories, and this is why all the first ladies from Ohio are not on here. If you haven’t bought your t-shirt yet, click on the link above and see the different items which are featured. Let’s educate others about Ohio Women’s History, ONE T-SHIRT AT A TIME!
Agnes May Driscoll – Coder/Mathmetician
Annie Oakley – Sharp shooter
Belle Sherwin – Activist
Berenice Abbott – Photographer
Bernice Pyke – First woman to be a delegate for the Democratic Nat’l Convention
Betsy Mix Cowles – Activist Abolition
Betty Zane – American Revolution Heroine
Charity Edna Earley – First AA woman to be an Army Officer
Dorothy Fuldheim – Journalist
Eliza Bryant – Humanitarian
Ella P. Stewart – First AA woman Pharmacist
Emma “Grandma” Gatewood – First woman to walk the Appalachian Trail
Erma Bombeck – Comedian
Evelyn Ryan – Prize winner of Defiance, Ohio (movie made about her life)
Florence Harding – First Lady
Florence Ellinwood Allen – First woman on the state Supreme Court
Florence Z. Melton – Shoe Manufacturer
Frances Jennings Casement – Suffragist
Frances Bolton – First woman to Congress/House of Rep.
Hallie Brown – Educator/Activist
Harriet Beecher Stowe – Writer
Henrietta Buckler Seiberling – Founder of AA/Oxford Group
Jane Scott – Journalist/Musicians
Jerrie Mock – First woman to fly solo around the world
Judith Resnik – Astronaut
Lillian Wald – Nurse
Lillian Gish – Silent film star
Lucy Stone – Suffragist
Lucy Webb Hayes – First Lady
Maude C. Waitt – One of the First women to the state Senate
Mildred Wirt Benson – aka Carolyn Keene (or Nancy Drew’s writer)
Nettie Cronise Lutes – First woman admitted to state bar as a Lawyer
Phyllis Diller – Comedian
Ruby Dee – Actress
Ruth Lyons – Radio/TV
Sarah Worthington – Philanthropist and daughter of Governor
Sharon Ann Lane – Vietnam Nurse
Sojourner Truth – Suffragist/Activist
Victoria Woodhull – First woman to run for President of the US
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Thank you to everyone who came out and supported Ohio Women’s History Project this year at the conference! If you wished to have a receipt, don’t forget to email me at email@example.com and let me know your name and how many shirts or prints that you paid for and I can send this back to you. If you still wanted to purchase a shirt, you can click on the store at the top of this page.
Ohio Local History Alliance held an amazing conference and I think we all learned a great deal from these presentations. We now have good ideas about how to take our museums, non-profits and new businesses forward in the years ahead. Below are some of the workshops I attended and information that I learned. I have included some links so that you might be able to research this more on your own.
The first workshop that I attended was given by Megan Woods, Cultural Resources
Division Director at the Ohio History Connection. Her workshop was “Ohio Women’s Suffrage Centennial.” Megan discussed how to be included on their event page on the Ohio Suffrage Centennial website. The Ohio Suffrage Centennial Commission was passed on May 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine. There is currently a travelling exhibit of banners and a trading card project going on in Northwest Ohio by the Trumbull County Historical Society. There are also book discussion groups and you can get a list of books to read for your own groups through the Ohio League of Women Voters. In August of 2020 there will be a huge celebration that is in the planning stages at this time. Akron is working on a statue to honor Sojourner Truth. Case Western Reserve is hoping to get a play produced entitled the “Taming of the Anti.” All these and more can be found on their website above.
She spoke about three women in particular from Ohio, Harriett Taylor Upton who started in Ravenna and ended up in Warren. She brought the National Women’s Suffrage Association to Warren. She became the Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee and was a part of the D.A.R. (Daughter’s of the American Revolution).
She also shared about Florence Allen who was the first female judge in Ohio but began her career first as a musician and journalist. She had left Ohio for New York to study law and then returned to eventually receive a nomination to the Ohio Supreme Court. Later she would be nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Federal Supreme Court. Florence also wrote several books about the law.
The third woman was Haley Quinn Brown who was a black woman that eventually came to Wilberforce, Ohio. She was the Dean of Tuskeegee Institute, an International Public Speaker and the President of the Colored Women’s League. She was very involved in the temperance movement as well.
We listened to various people in the audience talk about their projects. One of which is that the Girl Scouts of Ohio are working on a badge to commemorate being a good citizen and learning about the voting process.
I then attended a Grant Management Basics workshop with Jennifer Souers-Chevraux who is the owner of Illumine Creative Solutions, LLC. Jennifer taught us about ways to be organized in a fashion that would help guarantee success with the grant already received. She also gave us several non-profit organizations to help with your business.
Tracy Lawson, the author of a historical book entitled “Pride of the Valley,” engaged
with Mt. Healthy school in Springfield, to help kids become interested in their ancestry through family trees. Two young ladies came to report on their findings. These future female historians were Savannah Homa and Keilah Israel. There were a total of eight boys and girls involved in this project.
These young girls were very bright and had amazing insight into what they had discovered on this project. I was very impressed with their advanced level of thinking.
At lunch time, on Friday, we listened to Nekole Alligood from the Delaware Nation speak on re-patriating native American remains that might be found in a family member’s home. There is an organization called NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) which handles this type of service in a culturally appropriate way so as to bring peace to the departed. When such an event occurs it needs to be a sacred event with no press invited to the ceremony. Nekole also made us aware of the fact that there are 44 federally recognized tribes that stem from Ohio. I wondered how many there were that were not recognized. We also learned that native American’s were not recognized or given U.S. citizenship until 1924. Even today, the issue of young women kidnapped from reservations, (which are often isolated locations with people living far from others) for purposes of human trafficking. The issue of rape was brought up many years ago in an article written for Amnesty International that I recall reading. I believe this took place in Alaska. It is interesting to note that girls are kidnapped from reservations but not outside of the reservation (i.e., non-natives). This is a huge concern because the reservations are meant to be protected lands – so why are the people on them not protected?
Another workshop I attended was on the “Women of King Records.” King Records was a recording studio, manufacturer and shipping warehouse run by Syd Nathan between 1943-1971, in the Cincinnati area. Christine Anderson, a professor from Xavier University in Cincinnati and Sue Plummer an Ohio History Service Corps Alumni, have been conducting research to uncover the women who produced music during that time. They shared a spreadsheet with their findings which held 2,054 recordings of various genres including hillbilly, Doo-Wop, funk and soul. They gave us access to this spreadsheet which includes links to YouTube videos if they were available. I am not sure whether or not it is acceptable to share this link so I will keep that to myself. You can however access this website which appears to be linked to Xavier University.
As you can imagined I had a wonderful time at this conference but I feel safe in saying most people seemed to be having a good time. There were smiles on these eager faces, as they walked about and the people I talked with all agreed that they enjoyed attending.
Remember #olhaempowers to follow on Instagram or Twitter.
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Eden Valley Enterprises is seeking donations for their documentary on Victoria Woodhull. As you can see by this trailer, it is going to be a great success! They have already created a wonderful documentary on Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, which I got a chance to see at a screening at the Ohio History Connection. The film entitled “Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story,” was nominated for an Emmy! So you know your donations are in good hands. Both Grandma Gatewood and Victoria Woodhull’s stories are available in a storytelling program for presentations.
Happy 216th Birthday Ohio! We celebrated today at the Capital Building in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Part of the building was built in 1861 and then an addition was added in the early 1900’s. I took a tour of some of the building and later went back to get a look at the museum after the Statehood Day events were over with. There is a “Ladies Gallery” room on the first floor that is not part of the museum. There isn’t much in there for the moment but a lot to learn in a short amount of time. It is mainly focused on the first six women elected to the Ohio Senate and State Representatives in 1920 when Women’s Suffrage was ratified. These women were: State Representatives -Nettie Mackenzie Clapp, Lulu Thomas Gleason, Adelaide Sterling Ott, Mary Martin Van Wye and then State Senate – Maude Comstock Waitt and Nettie Bromley Loughead.
Sorry the photo spread looks horrible – this is WordPress for you. Here are some of the other interesting tidbits that I learned as well today:
Jo Ann Davidson, above, was the First Woman to be the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1995-2000.
in 2020 six women will be featured at the Delaware Country Historical Society Museum. They featured six women a year ago and they are doing this every two years it sounds like.
Prior to the 19th Amendment being ratified, Ohio had 30 Suffrage Organizations. Tennessee was the late state to ratify this Amendment. They were worried about black women having the right to vote.
Ohio has more sites on the National Historic Register than any other state (with the exception of two other states).
National History Day began in Ohio in 1974.
Kirby’s Mill in Richfield, Ohio is a popular Girl Scout retreat, as well as being used for other things.
Indian Burial grounds are ripe for poachers in Ohio and for some reason, even though the Ohio History Connection is loaded with artifacts from the native people’s who once lived here, there has never been a law passed in respect to this. There is now a request to support legislation sponsored by Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) to protect unmarked burial places and abandoned cemeteries.
Overall, the day went very well. I thought I had brought my camera home and it turns out the box was empty, so now I have to figure out where it is at my office! My intention is to go back and get lots of photos, which I will have to put on Instagram since WordPress is just not set up to properly display photos (not unless you want to read a bunch of stuff online about it and are a software designer or graphics artist which I am not).
This is my second time to attend Statehood Day and each time I find it very educational. I forgot to mention that there was a group of people in costume, who serenaded us at the beginning of the day with their rendition of Beautiful Ohio, which is a very lovely tune!
Florence Mabel Kling – Harding (August 15, 1860 – November 21, 1924 Leo/Hera) was the 29th First Lady of the United States. When searching for a book to read about her, my first First Lady to do an article on, I chose the book by Katherine A.S. Sibley. The reason being that there was a lot of controversy associated with the Warren Harding presidency (posthumously) and this book came from a more positive angle. I wanted to find out more about Mrs. Harding as a woman. As I began to read her story, I realized I had so many things in common with her. I was able to identify with her life (pre-White House years) and could empathize with some of the ways in which she behaved as a mother and grandmother; in her time period.
Florence was not a stranger to controversy, it met her every step of the way from the moment she was a frisky young adult of 19 and married the wrong guy. She was meant to become a concert pianist and study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Instead, she eloped (they could never find records of a marriage certificate) to Henry Atherton De Wolfe. He was a drunk and this lasted six years. In the meantime, however, she gave birth to her only child Marshall Eugene. Being a divorced woman in 1886 and a single mother at that, her father decided that it was in her best interests to let he and her mother raise the child. They took over and allowed her to spend time with her son but he made the decisions as to how the child would be raised. Florence lived alone and made a living off of giving piano lessons.
She met Warren G. Harding four years later and he was five years younger than she. He owned the “Marion Star,” when they met. They married a year later and Florence immediately went to task in becoming, not just his wife, but his business partner as well. This would continue throughout their marriage. Mr. Harding tried to take an interest in her son, who continued to be raised by her father and it made somewhat of an impression on Marshall.
Marshall would go on to Michigan State to study journalism and played football there as well. He made some attempts at going into business but eventually became like his own father instead. At 34 years old, he died of alcoholism an tuberculosis. His own father had died by this point as well. At his death he left a widow (Esther Naomi Neely) with a young boy, (George) and girl, (Eugenie) to raise. Mrs. Harding would keep in touch with this family (Esther eventually re-married) and she gave monthly checks to Esther for child support.
In this time period, people did not divorce and the gossip columns and social media outlets of today were, thankfully, unavailable at that time. When Warren G. Harding became the 29th president in 1921, Mrs. Harding circumvented any knowledge of her previous family from getting into the press. As she was a newspaper woman herself, she played to the journalists by becoming their friends and gave them information but refused to do interviews. In return, they respected her anonymity. Mrs. Hardings grandchildren were never at the White House. She did not visit them, during the time they were in office but she did maintain correspondence with their mother.
This is an interesting point about Mrs. Harding. A lot can be said about her pushiness toward her daughter-in-law; giving advice on how to raise the children. She was frugal with her child support (it was a lot in those days but she could have afforded more than she did). Florence would also send hand-me-down dresses (of her own) to be used as fabric to make Eugenie’s clothes. I am sure Esther did not appreciate all the meddling but we don’t really know because only Mrs. Harding’s letters were preserved. We do know though that Mrs. Harding began to regard Esther in more of a confidante type of way, telling her more intimate details about her life. I see this as a bit narcissistic though, and while I am empathic toward Mrs. Harding, I can still imagine this might be the case. She had no real relationship with Esther, other than her letters and money. They rarely saw each other from what I can detect in this book. So, for her to be so forward, appears a bit narcissistic or entitled to do so. In the end however, Mrs. Harding left a great fortune to her grandchildren and they were only in their mid-20’s at this time.
With regard to her marriage to Mr. Harding, Florence faced many struggles. He was a philanderer, like many presidents before and after him. Still, she remained strong and stalwart and it appears he did appreciate this. While he was not faithful, it does seem that he respected his wife very much and took her opinions. He nicknamed her “The Ducchess,” which she evidently enjoyed hearing. While Mrs. Harding is not given the credit that Eleanor Roosevelt would receive (she was only in office for two and a half years); she was just as involved in politics and in advising her husband. Meanwhile, Mr. Harding, had two major affairs – one to a woman who was married herself and best friends with the Hardings. The other woman was more clandestine and produced a child. However, the only child of Warren G. Harding, (Elizabeth Britton) was not proven with DNA results, and published in the New York Times, until 2015 (using Ancestry.com). So in the book I read, written by Ms. Sibley and published in 2009, she continues to state that it was highly unlikely (since the Hardings were married for 32 years and never had a child). This was an affirmed belief by all of the doctors involved with the Hardings at that time as well. Nonetheless it was true but the DNA was done posthumously as Ms. Britton did not wish to clear it up for herself. Ah, secrets and lies!!
The Daily Star’s thoughts on the First Lady:
Mrs. Harding is far better looking than her pictures…her smile is the essence of sweetness and graciousness, while her photographs often give her the appearance of sternness
It appears that President Hardings time in office was somewhat similar to that of President Trump now. He brought a lot of friends with him to the White House who assumed a great many roles. Some of them did take advantage of their positions but it seems as if they kept the President in the clear. How this would be handled now, since President Harding was a Republican, I would assume he would get the same treatment as President Trump. President Harding differed though because he was well-liked by the public at that time and this was in great part to his wife’s role in orchestrating public events. Mrs. Harding, began inviting the public to the White House and in fact this became the precedent that has continued to this day. Of course at that time, the fear of terrorists was unheard of. The Hardings actually went out and met with the public – and shook all of their hands – when they were present for these occasions. The public were also offered food and drink. Large soiree’s occurred during the Hardings time in office as well. People who throw good parties, have great numbers of friends. Especially when you are making them feel welcome in the highest office of this country.
Florence took her role to heart and was not just involved in planning parties and decorating the house. Suffrage was ratified right before they went into office and so Mrs. Harding was the very first wife to vote for her own husband. She was very involved in helping Warren choose cabinet members (some of their friends) and writing the speeches he would present. She was involved with women’s concerns and took part in the conditions faced by female criminals and creating a Women’s Prison. She had gatherings with women journalists at the White House. She invited notable women to the White House such as Madam Curie. Not only was she involved with raising awareness toward women and their issues, she was also passionate about war veterans. She toured many hospitals and gave public functions for soldiers and their families. Florence and Warren Harding had a great love for animals. While their family did not include children of their own, they did have several dogs and a horse. As a result, philanthropy toward animal rights was another great cause they both shared. Ms. Sibley took offense to this though, in writing that Florence had no problems with wearing a fur coat. In that time period, it was normal to wear furs and being “Politically Correct” was unheard of. While people enjoyed pets and wanted to protect them, the issue of non-pet animals was really not a concept at that time. I don’t feel confused by this at all.
A journalist asked First Lady Mrs. Harding about women in politics and this is her short but typical response to the press:
What do you think of women in politics?” “I believe it is a good thing under certain circumstances
A separate item of interest I noted from reading this book, was the support and affiliation with the Native American tribes during their travels in office. I thought to myself, “When was the last time we heard of a President smoking a peace pipe?” For that matter, when was the last time we saw photo ops with the Native American people? Presidents don’t attend Pow Wow’s or even talk about these people, not unless there is a protest. I hadn’t thought of that until I saw a photo in this book and read about the time the Hardings spent with the Native Americans.
Unfortunately, another struggle with the Hardings marriage was the health and wellness of both of them. Florence almost died in office and Warren did die. Mrs. Hardings health was an issue throughout their entire marriage but came to an almost fatal blow within the first year of the presidency. The top doctors were called in and lived there for many months. One of them was Dr. Boone (an ancestor of Daniel). She was a great fan of a French motivational health speaker at that time, Émile Coué and would use his mantra: Every day, in every way I am getting better and better. This worked and she would eventually heal, though the sickness would continue to come and go. By the time her husband died, she began to lose interest in remaining and she followed him a year and three months later.
Warren’s death would even become a controversy as well, much later. It was surmised that she orchestrated this by poisoning him. The theory is based on the fact that she did not want an autopsy. Many family members do not do this when they are assured by their doctors as to the cause. I find this reasoning hard to believe as there were nurses in the room when he died and a doctor was by his side up until the last half hour. I also find this hard to believe when you look at the emotional toll it took on Florence and how quickly she would follow him. Doctor’s today, attribute his death to being a mistake of his doctor’s who assumed it was one thing and ignored other signs (but also as they were not as knowledgeable at that time). My feeling is that Florence died of a broken heart, loneliness, and giving up her will to live.
We often want to search for posthumous theories, to try and understand or to make history fit with our own concerns in modern day times. Sometimes this makes good sense but many more times, it is best to let a “cigar just be a cigar,” to rephrase a Freudian quote.
What I also enjoyed, in reading about Florence K. Harding, is that she was a follower of the occult and enjoyed talking to psychics and astrologers. She was very well aware that Warren would win the presidency but also that he would die in office. Yet, even though people do believe in metaphysics and the supernatural, it doesn’t take away the excitement when it is proven and he is announced as the next President. Nor, does it eliminate the pain when the person does die as predicted.
I love putting together puzzles. This is a great form of meditation and a great way to really put some thought into the person that is being revealed as you put the pieces together. While working on this particular puzzle above, I couldn’t get the song “Sister Suffragette” out of my head from Mary Poppins. That is because this puzzle is from the UK and made by Gibson, so these images are British Suffragettes. I also began to think of the statements shown in this puzzle and the context in which they were made back in that time period. For example, “I rather be a rebel than a slave,” stated by Emmeline Pankhurst. Some people take offense to this now because they aren’t capable of taking in the the deeper meaning and the context. Obviously, around the time of the Civil War, a woman would not want to be a slave. Even today, with all the Human Trafficking that exists world wide, I would expect a woman to continue to make this statement if they were in a country that can be considered vulnerable to exporting women for prostitution. It meant that these women were fighting back against their “oppressors” which in that time meant men: husbands and fathers; politicians, who wouldn’t allow them to speak out. These people who wouldn’t recognize the need for women to have rights. Women felt that they were slaves to these men. Anyone who is being oppressed feels like a slave to the oppressor. History is not something to be ashamed of but to learn from and respect the lessons. Likewise, to think about how it could be applied in today’s society.
The other point of interest in this puzzle is the Derby Tragedy, which you can see in the middle of the poster. This actually shows the woman under the horse, rather you can see her hat that she was wearing and understand that this is what you are looking at. This is Emily Davison who martyred herself by running out in front of the King’s horse. To imagine that a woman felt so strongly about suffrage that she would give up her life for the cause. I doubt very many women would do such a thing today. I can’t imagine having this amount of passion myself even. You generally see people blaming rather than doing. Women weren’t blaming during suffrage. They were pointing out the importance of women having rights. They were educating other women and encouraging them to have a voice. This was a life changing moment in history. If they had merely went to lecture halls and focused on blaming their husbands and fathers, no one would have listened as this was too threatening to someone. It would be nice to see women taking this approach today, they might get more accomplished than they do.
Another puzzle I have finished in the past is one of my favorite artists from Mexico – Frida Kahlo. This puzzle was created by Tino Rodgriquez for Pomegranate puzzles. I have several books about Frida, including one that shows a collection of her paintings. She is someone I admire because of the amount of pain she lived with during her life and her persistence to accomplish her dreams. While she did not have success with everything she wanted (and who does), she kept trying. Her paintings to me show a woman journaling her life story. Most people today do this by writing in a book. She took it a step forward, when journaling was not a popular self-awareness exercise. She gave us her inner feelings, the pain she suffered, the trials she faced, her political beliefs, all through her art work. Now, she is honored in Mexico almost as if she were a Saint (you will often see “Our Lady of Guadalupe” in the same places). When you go along streets in various villages it is hard to not find a shop or a restaurant that does not pay homage to this courageous woman. Even immigrants to America will do so in their restaurants and stores.
This puzzle by Master Pieces is of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122/24-1201). She was the Queen Consort to France and England and the Duchess of Aquitaine. Katherine Hepburn portrayed her in the movie “The Lion in the Winter.” I saw the movie which seemed to focus more on her sons then herself. I have not read her biography yet so I don’t really know a lot to say about her. It is on my list of women to learn about. The image itself, as you see here, was quite magnificent to behold as I was putting this puzzle together. She seemed more of a Goddess rather than an actual live human being. This photo is reminiscent of Artemis who was generally seen with hounds by her side as she was a Huntress. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of the puzzle, when I finished it, so I am showing the image used for the puzzle. The colors were equally rich but I seem to recall a lot of glitter used on this image which I don’t find very amusing.
I think it would be wonderful if we could see more puzzles created that depict Women’s History. I find that I have to work hard to look for them online. There are a lot of Goddess type puzzles. I finished one puzzle that was from a Tennis Club in Rhode Island (circa 1920’s). I only picked it up prior to a winter storm. I was at Wal-mart to get an online purchase and thought I might as well see what they had in the toy department. Much to my surprise, there was actually one thing there dedicated to women. I actually thought it was a suffragette puzzle (due to one woman in the left corner having the red sash on, which caught my eye). Though it is interesting that she is featured there and dressed differently than the other ladies in the picture. Perhaps she was returning from a meeting and planned to change into her tennis clothes at the club. By the way she is dressed, that would mean that this puzzle is not exactly 1920 as this was when suffrage was ratified.
At this point, I haven’t found one single puzzle dedicated to Ohio Women’s History. Unfortunately, I am not a painter but I do have many ideas for puzzles that could be created in a way that would delight the avid puzzle collector. When I work on a puzzle, I like to see a variety of colors and images and yet not too busy that it is overdoing it. You don’t want one that is all sky or ground or too much of one thing (for example a photograph). It is more exciting to see characters in action, as they would have been, with much detail. While I am working I feel almost like an artist, creating the scene that was chopped up for me. Building homes, train stations, plants, buildings, figures, it is exciting to try and put together a mess of pieces.
If you have a daughter that enjoys puzzles, introduce her to a few of these ladies depicted here or that you are able to find online. It will help introduce her to someone new that she wasn’t aware of. There are too many modern women online who are not exactly great role models. Reaching back into our past, in a more elegant time with very intelligent and fashionable role models – there are stories begging to be heard.
P.S. I am going to add some other Women’s History puzzles here as I find them. MasterPieces has a puzzle out of Norman Rockwell’s version of Rosie the Riverter. Eurographics has a puzzle with the actual poster that more people are familiar with today, from the artist Howard Miller.
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