Right History

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People that love history and are involved in it on some level, are factual people. Whether it is the Renaissance Festival, where they are dressing up in authentic costumes or movie directors/costume designers/set artists, that are paying attention to detail or writers who write either historical non-fiction or fiction. The most important part is to get it right.

The first thing a person who loves history will do, is look for the mistakes. Not intentionally but unintentionally. When I watch a movie, if I see something that is glaring – such as a minority who is a foreigner to that country and would not have been there in that time period – it throws me off. I can’t watch it anymore because if this is wrong, so is everything else. It would be like putting a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Why would you? It would look ridiculous.

The most important thing about historical writing, movies, etc… is to allow the viewer to feel as if they are in another time period. Escapism, naturally, because the viewer is so passionate about this time period, they want to feel they are there. You can’t do that with a dinosaur on Downton Abbey. Not unless you are selling your craft as a fantasy/sci-fi period piece. Then of course you have a whole different genre of people watching it and it, most likely, won’t be history lovers.

The same thing goes for people who are writing about someone’s life and then project their politically correct opinions into the story line. Taking us out of the story for a moment so the author can bash the person for wearing fur, for example. Recently, when I read a book on Florence Harding, the author had to point out the fact that Florence was really big on animal right philanthropy and yet she wore fur stoles and coats. In my opinion, the book should have something on the cover that states “this is a politically driven book by the author.” I wouldn’t have cared to purchase it if I had known this because she took me out of the story for a moment to hear her opinion. Animal rights in Florence’s time period meant domestic animals. She was concerned about the rights of pets because she had a love for these furry creatures. In that time period, it was very normal for middle to upper class women to wear fur. This showed other people that you had achieved a certain financial status. We have been concerned about fashion and the way we look since time began. It wasn’t until PETA formed in 1980 that people began to turn their noses up at fur. Anything prior to 1980, should not be discussing politically correct opinions because it is not a fact during that time period, it is just an opinion. No one cares about peoples modern opinions about a time period, they only care about the time period.

This sounds terribly mean but if you want to talk or write or show history, than do that. If you want to do politically correct than write a book that bashes women in history or their fashions. Two different audience mindsets and genres. You could also write a thesis or dissertation for a class – or blog it.

There is nothing to be ashamed of when you are portraying history or researching it. It has happened, you can’t go back. You can learn from it though and gain knowledge, this is why history lovers enjoy this. It is also because there are certain aspects of history that we adore and wish were still present now.

When you hear someone say “I miss the old days” many people will say “Oh yeah, when it was racist, they smoke cigarettes and drank, etc…” It really has nothing to do with that. We miss the old days because at that time people had more respect for the way they dressed. They had work ethics and overall, were decent people. You knew where you stood in life. We didn’t have the word “terrorist” in our repertoire or “arsenal of weapons.” We sat on our porches and drank lemonade. We didn’t worry about going to a spiritual building or a shopping mall or a restaurant or a tall building. Missing the old days doesn’t mean we are gullible and we are unaware of the context of that time period. We are amateur historians, after all, and this is the most important thing to us is understanding the whole picture. Sometimes people are just into the fashion, or the cars, or the homes or the mannerisms. No one who loves a time period is saying “I loved the 40’s because it would have been fun to be in a German occupied village.”

History is rich and so exciting to be a viewer of when it is done accurately and with characters who look like the originals. Unfortunately, this accuracy is falling by the wayside with plays like “Hamilton” and books that insert their 21st Century mindset. It is depressing because children are being misinformed and given an image of a time period that never existed. It also means that I have to review information I am hoping to look at by watching trailers or checking the authors background to make sure they are focused on authenticity rather than comedy or political beliefs. It is faux history, I think, not the right history.

Victoria Woodhull Documentary

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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.

Senate Bill 30 – Suffrage Centennial Commission

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When I went to Ohio’s Statehood Day in February, I learned that they were putting together a bill for an Ohio Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The good news is that it was passed on April 11th and is now awaiting Governor DeWine’s signature. This bill was sponsored by both a Republican (Stephanie Kunze – Hilliard) and a Democrat (Sandra Williams – Cleveland), which is a good thing in and of itself. I say this because it is nice to bring back some balance in politics which is how the journey for women’s suffrage began. Women from all different backgrounds came together in support of this cause. Unfortunately, there was a lot of drama between these women which caused the groups to split up into different factions as well. This would result in our suffrage taking much longer (approximately 70 years) before being ratified in 1920. Now, we have had 100 years of being able to vote in the elections and create an impact on who will serve in office.

The established date is 1848, at Seneca Falls, New York, for when women’s suffrage “began.” However, in order for them to get to New York and have this convention, there were many more years of going door to door and speaking to women locally. Women met in their homes or other local establishments that might allow them to hold a public meeting. Women’s suffrage meetings were going on all over the United States and the United Kingdom prior to Seneca Falls.

The main suffrage group established, in the United States, was (NAWSA) National American Women’s Suffrage Association. NAWSA became the League of Women Voter’s after women gained the right to vote in 1920. Alice Paul had created the National Women’s Party. Victoria Woodhull had formed the Equal Rights Party, as her short lived party when she ran for president in 1872.She also spoke to the House Judiciary Committee, a year prior to argue that women already had the right to vote (the Constitution did not say women could not). This was trumped by a lot of drama within the women’s suffrage factions that did not want Ms. Woodhull to go down in history for bringing us the right to vote. She had a lot of controversy surrounding her. One of the issues of concern was outing an affair, in her newspaper, of a highly revered minister; who was the brother of one of the top women in NAWSA.

President Woodrow Wilson is the leader who finally gave in, under duress from his wife and signed this bill once it was approved in the House and Senate. He was no more in favor of suffrage than President Lincoln originally was of ending slavery. In the end, they were swayed by a majority of their constituents and realizing it was the popular thing to do.

Thusly, a century later, our state is forming a commission to hold events and raise awareness about the importance and historical significance of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Stay tuned to learn more!

Statehood Day 2019 – What I learned

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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.

Adelaide Sterling Ott

Lulu Thomas Gleeson

Mary Martin Van Wye

Nettie MacKenzie Clapp

Maude Comstock Waitt

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 K Harding – Marion, OH

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Her favorite painting of herself

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.

Émile Coué

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.

Women’s History Puzzles

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Original Photo for the Puzzle

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.

Original photo used for the puzzle.

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.

Original photo used for the puzzle.

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.

Pioneer Women of the Ohio Valley

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This photo is the inset of the book, “American Grit” Edited by Emily Foster – University Press of Kentucky

Women’s rights were of little importance to early settlers of the Ohio Valley. Survival in a territory inhabited solely by Native Americans, who’s land they had “purchased” (approved for passage by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787). Women were given the task of “dealing with them,” while their husbands were off clearing the land, building homes or foraging food.  Of course missionaries were in the territory shortly before purchasing land was allowed and so the first “white” child to be born in the Ohio Valley was a German girl. Her name was Johanna Marie Heckewelder, born in Salem, near the Muskingum River on April 16, 1781.

Much like what I had read in the book “They Saw the Elephant,” about women travelling cross country to California for the Gold Rush – 1849, women made their living the best they could. In the case of Ohio settlers though, women and men were working together – for the most part – as a team. Unfortunately the division of labor meant that women would do anything that was needed but not so for the men. This means that men did not step over into “women’s” roles so it was not entirely equal. Early pioneer women might be called upon to “fell trees,” or build homes, or clear a path to their homes but they still had to cook the meals, give birth, and tend to the children at the same time. How they compared to the California women is that they figured out how to make money or barter for goods so that they could have food to put on the table for their children. The California women might not see their husbands for months on end (while they hoped to win the “lottery” at that time which was a chunk of gold). The Ohio women had their husbands nearby, though not always.

Constructing a Lean-to

It was interesting to note, but not surprising, that Depression was a big issue in this time period. Many times these settlers had purchased land in lots that might include 120 acres. This meant being close to town was not always the case. And, as such, these folks would become very isolated from a social life. They lived in fear of the Natives due to an inability to communicate and, after British soldiers left the valley in 1812, a wave of kidnappings and raids began (between 1812-1825), leading to the “Indian Wars.” If this weren’t enough to worry about, until their home was built, living in a lean-to meant being in fear of wildlife. Sometimes men deserted their families and women were left to figure it all out, on their own, with their children. In other cases, women had to become nurses or healers and had the additional task of figuring out which herbs would work best to cure what ailed their spouses.

A more formal lean-to

American Grit, is a book edited by Emily Foster (University Press of Kentucky), which is based on the letters and journals of Anna Briggs Bentley. Anna was a woman who came from Maryland and was raised in a somewhat affluent household. I say somewhat because her father, Isaac Briggs – a friend of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, just didn’t seem to be very good with money management or good ideas. When he died, he left the family deep in debt. Anna, the oldest child, and her husband left Maryland to try and establish a life in Ohio.

Anna and her husband, quickly learned how to establish roots in Ohio – which would have been hard for a woman used to servants. In their case, they were nearer to other people and she seemed to be very good at petitioning family or guests travelling in her direction to bring her things. She, like other women, also became handy in the art of bartering.

Anna’s family was of the Quaker faith and so, on top of building a homestead, she was eager to get this community going as well. What is interesting about this book is that while she was properly educated, she is poor at spelling and grammar which the editor, Ms. Foster, chose to leave in. Therefore, I found it quite humorous that Anna was chosen to be a schoolmarm for the children of their village. I imagine if any of her students went off to college, they would have been prepared for a rude awakening.

Geauga County couple

If you would like to read learn more about early pioneer life in Ohio or many other states around the country, there are a lot of books written about this. The Ohio History Museum, in Columbus, features many artifacts from this time period as well. The first chapter of the book “The History of Ohio’s Daughters” subtitled “Buckeye Women,” by Stephane Elise Booth gave a very good account of this time period. She mentions several women in this chapter and what they were able to accomplish as a Pioneer Woman in the Ohio Valley.

Honor the Ladies!

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I felt it was important to put something together, as a memorial for women in Ohio’s history. I have been working on this for the last couple of months and then met up with a graphics artist that I was referred to. Samantha Vickers is in Cleveland and runs a company called Intentions Studio Design. We spoke on the phone and I explained how I wanted the emblem to look. I wanted something that would be formal and elegant as this was the style in our history when these women would have been around. It was important to get a design that these women would be proud of. She had it in one take and I was really surprised. You never really know if you are explaining yourself correctly until you see the finished product.

The women on this design have all passed. They are not ALL of the women in history in Ohio because you wouldn’t have been able to read the names if we did this. These are not even ALL of the women who have passed. This sample is based on women that I have written about or are preparing to do so. The names that are highlighted are women were “First” to achieve in the state of Ohio or wherever they became famous. The women that are considered for an Ohio Women’s History list are women who were either born in Ohio or those who made history here. For example, Mildred Wirt Benson (aka Carolyn Keene) was born in Ladora, Iowa and grew up there until she graduated college. When she came to Ohio, she began to write and eventually penned the “Nancy Drew Series,” or at least the majority of the stories. There are other women, like Natalie Clifford Barney who born here and lived here only 10 years. However, she went to boarding school in France and eventually stayed in Paris and ran a “Salon,” which was an intellectual gathering place for forty years. (She is not on the emblem but written about here on my blogposts).

If you click on Women’s History Store, above, you will see this emblem featured on products for men, women, youth and toddlers. This online store is based in Ohio. When you click on the products in the store, it will take you to the “EnlightenedGal” store that I created and this is through the manufacturer (CustomizedGirl). Whatever you purchase, Ohio Women’s History gets a commission from this. This is going to be set aside to pay for setting up Ohio Women’s History Project. This will be a non-profit geared toward educating and bringing awareness to our young people but also to adults. I have already given a lecture for the Westerville Kiwanis on four of the women in Ohio’s History. I would like to have contests for students, that we can feature here on the blog and will be an assignment for their history classes (If you are a teacher, please get in contact with me at ladyjatbay @ gmail.com to discuss). My way of educating will be focused on writing and lectures. The direction of this business will be based on what funds are able to be collected from the sales of these shirts in the store here.

Thank you for taking the time to peruse Ohiowomenshistory.com. Feel free to contact me about contributing an article or telling me a story about an Ohio Women in your history. They don’t need to be famous, just a remarkable person who transformed the people around her.

Jeannine Vegh, Founder of Ohio Women’s History Project

98th Anniversary of Women’s Equality Day

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On this day, August 20, 1920, The right to vote, 19th Amendment was ratified. Here are photos of newspapers and women celebrating this major life-changing event!!!

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Universal History Archive/REX/Shutterstock (3875386a)
Alice Paul and other women celebrating
VARIOUS

Washington Evening Post

New York Daily Mirror

The Missourian

 

Jerrie Mock – Newark, Ohio

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(November 22, 1925 – September 30, 2014: Sagittarius/Artemis)

Forget Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly solo across the ocean, Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo AROUND THE WORLD! Yet no one really knows about her, save for flying enthusiasts. In fact, I wonder if we would even know about Amelia, had she not died in mysterious circumstances and become a legend.  And as the author Nancy Roe Pimm points out, in the book “The Jerrie Mock Story,” when Jerrie made this harrowing journey, fraught with many obstacles along the way, too many other important events overshadowed a first for women. Would this have happened in today’s society? Probably not. Women who were the first to do things in the past, were heroines but it was not quite as fascinating then as it is now. Books were rarely written about them and when they were, they faded into the back of the shelf, until now, when so many women are trying to dust off their jackets or create them from scratch.

Nancy’s book did justice to Jerrie’s flight because she really makes it exciting for a person to read and feel that they are a part of the journey. While it is a biography for young readers, I didn’t get the sense that it was for a kid. I mean I didn’t feel like one reading it. It actually reminds me a little bit of a Nancy Drew story, except the heroine isn’t fictional and there is no mystery, just a lot of complications which create suspense. The latter is what captivated me about Jerrie’s story. I had to keep telling myself “She makes it, don’t worry.” I was able to read the story in one day which is the nice thing about a 113 page book for young readers. It reads like a short story. Nancy also puts little snippets of information in the book, right when Jerrie is in that part of the world, so you can learn additional information. I had no idea that there were once seven wonders of the “Ancient World.” Only one is still in existence. I knew there was “seven wonders of the world,” but not an ancient world. She also provides a timeline at the end of the book, which is helpful for someone wanting to write a blog article and not wanting to search through the book all over again for dates.

It is also interesting because Nancy wasn’t shy about telling us about the disgruntled relationship between Jerrie and her husband Russ. You can imagine that whenever a woman is in the limelight, it is going to frustrate their partnership on some level, especially in 1964. I wondered where this was going and the author was careful with this by noting that while Jerrie was upset, she pointed out that she also missed her husband. I can empathize with the situation. If it weren’t for Russ pushing Jerrie and remaining focused on her journey, she might not have been the first woman to fly solo around the world. Many times when people are on a long trek to become a first at something, they often have coaches to keep them on track. This generally causes a lot of friction. While I have never been a pilot, I have ridden up to sixty miles on a bike and with a lot of people. I know how you can get upset with your coach when you are tired, cranky, hungry, physically exhausted; naturally you want to slap them sometimes. It can be a testimony of a really good relationship when it can withstand such pressures as she went through like this with her husband. When I looked at the timeline in the back of the book however, Jerrie and Russ would end up divorcing fifteen years later. Since her daughter would have been around 18 years old at that time, she obviously waited until all her children were adults, which was the “right” thing to do at that time.

Her husband Russ was apparently more competitive about this journey than Jerrie. As you read the story, you find that Jerrie would have liked to have spent a lot more time in some of the places where she landed. It was her first time to be around the world (which also makes this solo flight all the more spectacular in that she didn’t practice) and she really wanted to take in a lot more scenery than she was able to. Had Russ not pushed her, she may not have won the race. I have not mentioned before but at the same time she was in the air, a woman from California was also doing the same thing. She was Joan Merriam Smith who was 27 years old to Jerrie’s 39. Joan was taking the exact same flight that Amelia Earhart took and she did succeed but only returned to California a few days after Jerrie. Unfortunately, Joan died in an airplane crash one year later.

So what kind of obstacles did our heroine endure? At the onset of her flight, just as she went into the air from Port Columbus, she hears the traffic controller state that this will be the last we ever hear of her. What a terrible thing for him to say but thank goodness, she had a strong constitution and didn’t let this sway her. If that weren’t bad enough, every leg of the journey, some idiot journalist was asking her stupid questions about Amelia Earhart – even wondering if she were afraid she would die too. Just like today, the poor woman had to suffer the endless throngs of insensitive reporters who have never learned tact and decency among celebrities. In Cairo, she was stalled by a ticket agent who didn’t believe she had her own plane and wouldn’t let her through. Naturally, this would be straightened out after a couple of phone calls.

The technical issues began immediately. First there was a radio transmission failure as well as brakes that didn’t work. Unfortunately, it sounds as if the latter were probably sabotaged. I thought it was quite funny to realize that the radio transmission for long distance was a cable of 100’ which Jerrie had to drop from the plane, allowing it to hang, in order for it to work. Another obstacle was assuming she was landing in Cairo, and as her wheels touched the ground she was greeted by the military who weren’t too excited to see her. This was because she flew into a secret Air Force base accidentally.  Mid-way over the South China Sea; there was the smell of gas. This required switching gas lines and it sounded like turning the engine off for a bit, which was a very risky undertaking. I kept wondering why things kept going wrong, though I also realized this was 1964 and planes were different than.

The nice thing about every stop along her journey was how wonderfully she was treated in each of the countries she would land in. I was the most surprised about this as I couldn’t imagine this going so well in today’s difficult world. Of course, each stop included ambassadors, statesmen, people who had been alerted long before she left home and who had already approved her stop over. Her journey was charted out by a retired military general and between him and the other people, including her husband, who were anxious to have a successful voyage; the trip seemed as if it was meant to be.

The funny thing about choosing to write about Jerrie for this blog is that I am afraid of flying. It is no accident that I purchased this book, well over a year ago, while meeting the author at Ohioana book festival. I had put off reading it because I was afraid I would be sick as I usually am when I am anywhere near an airport. I haven’t even flown since 9/11, which I never make a secret about, though I began getting sick on flights way before that. Fortunately, as I read this book, I felt very calmed by her spirit, which I felt was captured in this book. It reminds me of a couple of flights I have been on in the past, where the pilot was very re-assuring and as a result made the journey very enjoyable. I know if I had been in Jerrie’s shoes, hearing all that stuff about Amelia Earhart would have grounded me for sure. I would have panicked and seen it as an omen – that the topic kept being brought up. That kind of negative talk can cause many people to self-sabotage but Jerrie Mock was undeterred because she was that kind of woman. She was strong, brave, and yet modest and confident. Unlike Amelia, she didn’t have that egotistical side to her nature. While she relished the limelight, she wasn’t caught up in it. I don’t see this as a coincidence. Jerrie was very careful along this journey and did not take any risks with weather. She trusted her instincts, which is pointed out a couple of times in the book. On one such occasion, pre-solo flight, the trip she turned down with other pilots ended in a disaster.

What I see that appears to compare quite frequently with the Ohio women that I write about, is the spiritual side of their natures. When I think of all the women I have read about, from around the world, until I took on the task of writing about the Ohio Women’s History, I didn’t even think about the spiritual component as I read their stories. Yet, time and time again, I continue to read and to have the sense that the Gods were working in sync with them. Perhaps it is our culture, here in Ohio, or the authors of the books or a little of both. Grandma Gatewood, Jerrie Mock, Sarah Worthington, and others, I feel as if their journey was guided by a higher power. Was it them or were they chosen to do what they did?

 

Post-script: There are plenty of YouTube videos about Jerrie Mock and even another book that I learned about while watching a video. “Three-Eight Charlie,” was written by Jerrie Mock and more recently was enhanced as a special 50th anniversary commemorative edition. The newer version is thanks to graphic designer Wendy Hollinger and artist Dale Radcliff who along with publishers Phoenix Graphix included maps, weather charts and additional photos.

I am including this video below which is an interview with Jerrie Mock by Carol Ann Garratt for Women of Aviation Week 2014. Jerrie died later that year on September 30th in her home in Florida; at the age of 89. She was survived only by her daughter Valerie, the last of her three children (I assume there were grandchildren as well but I am thinking of those who were alive when she took this voyage).