Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Granville, Ohio for the first time. My childhood friends, Kelly and Nina were with me and wanted to go to the Avery-Downer House and Robbins Hunter Historical home. (Note: Museum link is not secure). I, of course was delighted to, not knowing about the connection to Victoria. This museum is next to the library and across the street from the Worthington Inn. We first determined to go to the writer’s store, Just Write (which also seems to be the gift shop for the home). Yes, this was an interesting journey. Just Write is run by a lovely lady, Stefanie Lauvray, who is a transplant from California, like myself. We had a great time catching up on favorite spots in Northern California. Before I got to the Just Write store though, I saw a placard outside the museum that said Victoria Woodhull. Now, this peaked my interest. I knew she was from Homer, Ohio, so what is this doing here?
There are 12 markers that have been placed, across the country, celebrating the pioneer women who, with their families, made homes. They represent the beginning of settlers in our country. The markers can be found on the national trails road “Route 40.” The sculptures were created and designed by August Leimbach. The upkeep and establishment of these statues are through the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. To learn more you can read this article in regard to our Ohio statue in Springfield.
Maria Longworth (Nichols) Storer (1849-1932) pushed social boundaries and had a lasting impact on Cincinnati. Maria was a philanthropist and a talented artist who worked in clay to form decorative pottery and tapped beautiful pictures on thin pieces of copper. She was an accomplished pianist who played solos or accompanied other musicians at concerts. She established a successful international business, the Rookwood Pottery Company, in an era when women were to be domestically rather than corporately focused. She became a celebrity because of this enterprise and helped make Cincinnati an art center of the country.
This film is made on a low budget, the director used real people vs. professional actors (except in one case) and it is filmed in Southeastern Ohio. I have put this movie here on Ohio Women’s History because I feel that it is rich in history, landscape and the Appalachian people who’s elders migrated here from what is more traditionally seen as the Appalachian region.
This film also focuses on a woman who is effected by the tale that is drawn out and displayed for us to ponder over. She represents our mother or grandmother, depending on which generation you are in. How she is treated gives us some historical context into the roles women have played for centuries. The film gives us that “Hillbilly Elegy” story but without the mental illness as an excuse for behaviors. Poverty is more the main character that is represented. Low income White families near the West Virginia border.
The people used in this film made the story come across in a very authentic way. There were times when the dialogue was a bit rough in coming out but this made the film real and deeper in understanding this culture. Having been around these people it is actually the way they do speak. A professional actor would not have been able to properly show this, even with a voice coach.
The storyline is stereotypical but not unusual or farfetched. As a psychotherapist, I was able to see immediately what was going to happen in the film much sooner than it became obvious. This is because the cameraman set up the plot through scenes rather than dialogue. It is uncanny how each of these people in the film were able to give us a sense of emotions. Jessica, the daughter, and the main female character, gives us a sense of the pain, humiliation but also the strength in dealing with what life has thrown at you. The strength of her character and the way the townspeople handle this tells us about how enmeshed these communities are and how they come together in their own ways. I was drawn to the story within minutes of watching this on Kanopy (through your local library).
The only downfall with the making of this film is the sound. As the director, Joseph L. Anderson, a professor at Ohio University, (Kanopy and some articles/reviews list the school as University of Ohio), did not have a huge budget, he probably didn’t have an ability to get the type of equipment that would have captured their voices easily. This film was actually saved so that it would be able to be shown on video as I saw it. I assume that they couldn’t do anything about the sound. Just be aware that you will need to put your volume up about as high as it can go. Some scenes are a little easier (when they are not outside), to hear. The majority of the film is outside though, so keep that volume up!
After viewing, I did look the film up online and it seems that the character Donna, went on to become a professional actress and we have seen her (under a different first name) on Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons as a character actor. The mother, in this film, went on to become a well known baker – she is a wee woman. I won’t say who the professional actor used in this film was or which character they played because I wouldn’t want you to be comparing acting styles when you watch it. It would be better to watch this, as I did, without knowing so you can focus on the film. Don’t even read about the storyline that is to come, just find out where you can watch it if you don’t have Kanopy. Let it all unfold naturally.
I would call this a historical masterpiece that you might want to put in your collection.
I believe in woman suffrage because I believe that the perfect equality of men and women is founded on Divine Wisdom.
Divine Wisdom, or, in the Greek term, Theosophy, teaches first of all the brotherhood of man without distinction of race, creed, color or sex.
The foundation for such brotherhood lies in the fact that there is but One Life, whatever we may call it, permeating and sustaining the universe. In human beings this life exists in a more highly evolved form; it has become individualized, self-conscious, and we know it as the Ego, the Thinker, the real man.
The body which the man wears is merely a garment, put on today and laid aside tomorrow, the real man is external, like the source from which he sprang, taking on new bodies life after life, for the purpose of gathering that experience which eventually shall make him “more than man.”
Since all human beings partake of this One Life, and since women must be considered human beings, it follows that men and women are the same in essence, differentiated only by the outer garments, the bodies they temporarily wear, and that therefore they have certain duties and certain responsibilities shared by all human beings alike.
Theosophy or Divine Wisdom teaches-as does science-that the purpose *[of the] is growth, evolution, and that all growth is the result of use, exercise, expression; that, in fact, without expression there can be no growth, for muscles long unused become atrophied, and faculties or powers long neglected.
In the light of this knowledge, have women been fairly treated? Has not woman’s lot been largely one of repression, while man had every opportunity for expression?
Women were constantly reminded that they were ruled by their feelings that they lacked logic and reasoning power; they were born and bred in an atmosphere of prejudice and suppression, which could not but have its influence upon them, with the result that they did not use the talents they possessed.
People say: “Women cannot succeed in certain fields.” How do we know what women can do, when we have never yet allowed them to try? No man knows what woman could do, if she were free to develop the powers latent within her, nor does she herself know as yet.
Theosophy further teaches that service is the duty and at the same time the privilege of every human being, for service to humanity is considered a short cut to perfection. Woman’s right to service has never been questioned; rather has she always been expected to serve, but the sphere of service was carefully marked out for her, and never by any chance was she allowed to step our of it.
But times have changed. New conditions have arisen. Women do not do their own milking and churning, their own spinning and weaving any more. Factories and machinery have taken much of woman’s work out of the home, and a large army of women are following their work by going out into the world. However, another army still remains, constituting today the leisure class. Shall we allow these women to become parents? Are we going to take away from them the right to labor and to serve in whatever way may be best suited to their individuality? To do so would be fatal to the race, as Olive Schreiner so forcefully points out in her book on “Woman and Labor.”
Women need today the larger vision and the wider experience which the world’s work would give them. They need that all-around development so essential in the building of character, in order that they may become better wives, better mothers and better home-makers. And the world needs them; it needs its mothers; if we are to enter upon the new era, promised by the teachers of the Divine Wisdom, and earnestly hoped for by every lover of humanity, an era of co-operation, of brotherhood, and of universal peace.
*Brackets above are because I could not see the type and was not sure what she was trying to say specifically. Personally, I would have taken it out but I wanted to give you exactly, to the best I could, what was typed in the paper. This is from a copy on microfiche of that newspaper article. No photo was added to the paper. I am enclosing below.
Pauline Steinem is Gloria Steinem’s grandmother. Born a Jewish woman in Poland on August 4, 1864 and died January 5, 1904. She lived in Toledo, Ohio and was elected to several boards during her time. She helped rescue many of her family from the holocaust.
Katherine Wright, (August 19, 1874 – March 3, 1929; Leo/Hera) was a woman who sacrificed her life for others. It wasn’t until the last few years of her life that she was finally able to have true love, her own life and this was at the cost of her brother abandoning her. Her story is one of dedication to the two famous Wright brothers, Orville and Wilber but also to their lesser known father Bishop Milton Wright.
A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, she began her work as a teacher in the classroom. Constantly having positions kept from her, as it appeared her future destiny was being prepared for her. At the same time, her brothers were creating their airplane empire, trying to prove they could make a plane fly and then trying to prove to others it did.
Visiting the Cleveland Art Museum with my boyfriend, this past September, was a real treat. Not only was it, sadly, very empty but I also learned about a new Ohio woman. Since there were small numbers, we had the luxury of touring the museum like an after hours wealthy dignitary might do, such as a Louis Tiffany in his time. Without a crowd, we did not have to rush viewing the pieces, reading the descriptions and standing and gazing as long as we wished. My boyfriend was interested in viewing the Tiffany’s collection, that I had not noticed since it was behind us walking in. To my surprise, I quickly learned that there was a woman, from Tallmadge, Ohio, who was the actual designer and creator of Tiffany lamps and eventually the jewelry as well. I found a historical fiction book about her, in the museum store, called “Noon at Tiffany’s,” by Echo Heron. I set out to read about Clara Driscoll – the real Tiffany’s, upon my return.
It began with the dream of a little girl taking her first airplane ride. In 1932, in Newark, Ohio, that little girl understood what her destiny held, even if not the details. “I will fly around the world.”
In grade school, she studied the atlases of the world and found two more dreams for her life: to ride a camel in the Sahara and to ride an elephant.In college, she was the only female in a class of 100 studying aeronautical engineering.
As the years passed, she pursued her dreams as best she could, but Jerrie Fredritz was from a small town, and a girl in the 1940s. When you’re a girl, you drop out of college – if you were lucky enough to start college – to get married. Two years later, you give birth because this is what you do.
The first time I heard these things, I was confused. My grandmother didn’t strike me as the kind of woman who would have done anything conventional and certainly didn’t seem like the sort of woman who’d drop out of college for a man, even if it was the 40s. Of course, that’s because I knew her not as Jerrie (Fredritz) Mock, small town girl from Ohio, but as Grandma Jerrie, the first woman to fly around the world.
To me, she had always been the strong, tiny woman who’d piloted her way around the globe in a single-engine Cessna 180 in 1964. To me, she had always been the storyteller with adventures of engine troubles and sandstorms and the amusing fascination with the King’s red silk pajamas in Morocco.
This woman who stood five-feet-and-no-inches-tall was the author, pilot, entrepreneur, explorer, and photographer I had always known. Yet my teachers knew nothing about her when our aviation history units came up.
“Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly around the world.”
My little hand shot up. “No, she didn’t.”
“I beg your pardon?” My fifth grade teacher expected anyone in her class to speak against her on any issue, except me.
“My grandma was the first, not Amelia. I can show you.”
The next day, I brought in newspaper clippings, a copy of my grandmother’s book, Three-Eight-Charlie, and a photo of her and Charlie, the little Cessna who took her around the world. I brought Jerrie in for show-and-tell a few weeks later.
She left from Columbus, Ohio, on March 19, 1964, heading to Bermuda for her first stopover on the way. She piloted her way from the mainland, over the ocean for her first time and into the Bermuda Triangle that day, after least hearing from the tower, “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll hear of her!”
Jerrie made it, though, and spent a week grounded in Bermuda thanks to foul weather over the Atlantic. My grandfather wasn’t too happy with her and kept urging her to take risks. After all, the sponsors were counting on her beating out the other woman – Joan Merriam Smith – in the race around the world.
Jerrie didn’t care about the race. In fact, she would have far preferred there were no sanctions and officials involved at all. She was taking this adventure to see the world, not make headlines or earn herself a title.
From Bermuda, she headed to Santa Maria in the Azores. Her second leg of the trip almost became her last as ice built up on the wings and the Santa Maria tower took ages to give clearance to adjust her flight level, after which he told her, “Don’t hit the mountains.”
“I might be awfully dumb,” Jerrie thought, “but I wasn’t going to fly into the mountains intentionally. Who’d want to do that?”
While in Santa Maria, she visited the church where Christopher Columbus and his shipmates once attended. The colonial feel of the island fascinated her – with pastoral views and pack animals instead of cars. “Almost as Alice dropped into Wonderland, I stepped into the past. The people, their clothing, their tools, their houses, all belonged in a history book.”
From the Azores, Jerrie headed to one of the places I grew up hearing the most about in all of her journeys: Casablanca. Upon her arrival, she and those who greeted her celebrated with French champagne and dinner out at a Moroccan restaurant that had once been an officer’s club before the French were asked to leave. “Outside, it was a drab building on an almost-deserted street. No neon signs or bright lights. No tourist would ever have found it. Step inside, and the Arabian Nights come to mind.”
After dinner, Jerrie and her hosts joined friends for tea. They all spoke French but somehow managed to explain to Jerrie what the beautiful building across the way was. The King’s Palace. They went to the palace grounds – the friends had received special permission to bring her by since more friends lived on the grounds. The friend was an Advisor to the King. The grounds were filled with exquisite flowers and stunning buildings.
She took a lot of pictures at the palace in Morocco – which were also later confiscated by the American government upon her return and never seen by the family. These pictures, and those of her riding a camel in Egypt fulfilling that second lifelong dream are the only pictures of which she spoke to me.
Jerrie fought sandstorms flying across Egypt and landed at a secret military base near Cairo. She gawked at the pyramids from the back of a camel and dined on delicious local foods.
There was trouble over the South China Sea when dirt blown into the engine during the sandstorms crept out and tried to cause issues, and as she flew over Wake Island, she thought she was being shot down for exiting safe air space. I could share dozens – maybe hundreds – of stories from her 21 stops over those 21 ½ days around the world.
On April 17, 1964, she landed at Port Columbus in Ohio, officially making her the first woman to fly around the world. Joan Merriam Smith landed some 26 days later.
Jerrie received keys to cities, many awards, including a presidential medal which she received from Lyndon B. Johnson on May, 4, 1964 on her daughter’s fourth birthday, and the Louis Bleriot medal from the FAI. I have a few of these medals and awards on my walls for now as we wait out the pandemic. Once it’s safe to travel again, I’ll be bringing them with me on lectures and presentations to share her incredible achievements with the world.
Jerrie continued her flying career in other ways after her plane, Charlie, was purchased by the Smithsonian Institute, where he hangs to this day. She was gifted a Cessna P206, which she loved flying for a time – but the taxes because too overwhelming for her to keep the plane.
She made her final flight as a pilot in October 1969, when she flew that plane to Papua New Guinea, where the plane was donated to the Flying Padres, a missionary group of the Sacred Hearts. On the flight, she took more world records for longest no-stop flight and others, though these titles have all passed on to others since.
Last year Jerrie was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame – and this medal is perhaps the one I am most proud of and honored by. In her stead, I attended the ceremony and gave a brief speech on her impact on women the world over. I think, perhaps, I am most proud of this achievement because not only did she not set out to make a name for herself, but in simply following her dreams, she impacted women I’ve been meeting my entire life, most of whom never themselves met her.
Pilot friends serving as missionaries around the globe know her name. Girls who did school projects on her or dressed up as her for presentations on local heroes have set their eyes on loftier goals because Jerrie did accomplished her own dreams. These women have been impacted because of my grandmother’s bravery and adventurous spirit that defied the times. The media may have dubbed her ‘the flying housewife,’ but she showed the world what a woman could do.
To learn more about Jerrie and her amazing accomplishments, please contact Rita via her website and be on the lookout for updates on Rita’s full-cast audio adaptation of The Flying Housewife, A True Story, coming soon!
Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Eliza Archard Connor, 1838-1912
By Cora B. Arney, Public History Consultant, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Women’s Rights Journalist
“Author, Traveler, Scholar.” These are the terms etched into a New Richmond, Ohio headstone to describe 19th century journalist, Eliza Archard Conner. Archard was born in 1838 in the abolitionist town of New Richmond, Ohio and died in 1912 in New York City. She was tough, highly opinionated, and a radical in her time. She seized any opportunity to prove herself as a prolific journalist, and to influence other women to live up to their full potential. These qualities were no doubt seeded by spending her formative years surrounded by people who resolutely stood up for equality. Conner’s educational background, brief teaching career, and passion as a journalist led her to develop her belief that women deserved the same opportunities as men.
Hello fellow readers. I wanted to make you aware of this meeting October 1-3 and let you know that if you sign up, you will hear Ohio Women’s History Project as one of the first presentations on October 1st from 9am – 10am.
The title of the presentation will be Transformed Women Who Brought Us to Where we are Today. There will be several other presentations and a guest speaker during these three days. I hope you will be able to attend and while it is virtual, you will be able to ask questions via Chat that I will be able to answer at the end. I look forward to seeing you!!