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.
In 1778, war may be men’s business, but that doesn’t stop Anna Stone from getting involved in the fight for liberty. When her soldier husband and brothers face starvation at Valley Forge, Anna is not content to pray and worry. She gets on her horse and strikes out alone over two hundred miles of rough roads to bring them life-sustaining supplies.
Eighty miles from her destination, Anna learns of a plot to overthrow General Washington and replace him with a commander who will surrender. With the fate of the American Revolution in her hands, she agrees to carry a message of warning and races to reach Valley Forge before one of the conspirators, who is in hot pursuit, can intercept her.
Women played no formal role in the American Revolution, yet they were hardly passive observers in the conflict. They took part in public demonstrations against British policies alongside their husbands and brothers and were elemental in the most important protest of all—boycotting British manufactured goods.
The American Revolution changed these women’s lives irrevocably. With their men off to battle, many shouldered the responsibility of running family farms and businesses. They managed their homes, raised children, and mobilized on the home front.
Eschewing manufactured cloth from England, women brought their spinning wheels out of storage, and spinning bees became so popular that they drew spectators. The Boston Evening Post reported on one such event, saying, “the ladies…may vie with the men in contributing to the preservation and prosperity of their country and equally share in the honor of it.”
If honor and glory drove men to the battlefield, the fight for independence must also have ignited women’s pride, tempered thought it was by the pain of loneliness and loss.
Anna Stone, the protagonist of Answering Liberty’s Call, dislikes the long separation from her soldier husband, Benjamin, even as she shares his desire for independence. It is her faith in him, in the cause of liberty, and in the military’s leadership that bolster her sense of duty and patriotism:
I didn’t protest when Benjamin joined the Culpeper Minutemen in the fall of 1775, for it was every able-bodied man’s duty to serve in the militia. He was delighted—far more than I, to be honest—when the Virginia Assembly called the Minutemen to defend the arsenal at Williamsburg just before Christmastide. When he returned three months later, he was restless. Even though Governor Dunmore’s expulsion from the colony restored peace to Virginia, Benjamin would not be content until the unrest in all the colonies was resolved.
Though he spent long days in the fields or the orchards, he often rode off after supper to spend a few hours at Edwards’ Ordinary in nearby Fauquier Court House. There, he and his fellows followed the news of the continuing rebellion in the north and rejoiced in the daring exploits of the Sons of Liberty.
Unsure how to make him understand my worry, I settled for pointing out it did not look well when a preacher spent more time in the ordinary than in church.
Between Benjamin’s return from the Culpeper Minutemen’s triumph at the Battle of Great Bridge in December 1775 and his departure with the Third Virginia in October 1776, the focus of the conflict shifted. Once the Continental Congress declared the colonies’ independence from Great Britain, a return to the status quo was no longer an option. The prospect of fighting to establish an independent new nation must have been both exhilarating and terrifying. In the novel, Anna recalls her range of emotions on the Sunday Benjamin read the Declaration of Independence aloud to his congregation:
“Brothers and sisters, surely there is more that binds us as Americans than drives us apart. I ask you, what would you be willing to sacrifice to secure a future free from Crown rule for yourselves and your children?
“It is written, in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, ‘For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.’
“In Thomas Paine’s Epistle to the Quakers, he asserts that all men dislike violence and want peace, but there comes a time when violence is inevitable.”
He unrolled the parchment. “This is a copy of our Continental Congress’s Declaration of Independence. The original is on its way to England and King George. I am privileged to be the one to share this message with you.
“‘In Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another …’”
As he read, I scanned the faces of the people in the congregation and saw the dawning excitement I experienced a few months before. But now, fear overshadowed my excitement. What would independence from England and Crown rule mean? What would it cost to gain it?
As I watched my husband stand before his congregation, I could almost see the fresh flames burst forth from the smoldering coals of his ideals.
Now, as then, a military spouse clings to a sense of patriotism to make a loved one’s service and sacrifice more tolerable. Anna journeys from her home in Virginia to Valley Forge and witnesses firsthand the disorganization and corruption within Congress and the army, forcing her to confront complex issues that threaten her sense of patriotism and her support for the cause.
In the novel, Anna sees the war from both sides. On the home front, she chafes at the lack of news and communication and worries about hers and her children’s futures should Benjamin not return.
But when she hears of the privations at Valley Forge, and then receives word that her brothers are ill–possibly with smallpox–she cannot remain at home.
Anna’s actions have been immortalized in Stone family lore–and though we know her name, she represents the countless unsung women who took action in defense of their country during the fight for American independence.
Anna Asbury Stone, my 6x-great grandmother, is counted among Ohio women because her family moved west from Virginia after the American Revolution, eventually settling in Harrison County. A Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in Cambridge, Ohio is named in her honor.
Think you might be a descendant of Anna and Benjamin? It’s highly possible! They had eleven children, and many of them settled in Ohio. My research, both genealogical and historical, is available on my website.
I copied the below information on Mabel from the Alliance Historical Society Website. Take some time to peruse their website and learn more about this family, the home and the city. I don’t see any other information about her online but you might reach out the historical society to see what more they have to offer.
Biography of Mabel Hartzell
Mabel Hartzell was born in Saginaw, Michigan on January 1, 1875 and died in Alliance, Ohio on December 2, 1954.
She came to Alliance with her family when she was eight years old. Her mother died when Mabel was just nine years old. The family was divided and she was adopted by Matthew and Mary Earley, who were friends of the family. The Earleys allowed Mabel to keep the Hartzell name.
Mabel Hartzell was a very well-educated woman and was extremely active in activities in and for the Alliance community.
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!!
Sojourner Truth was born Isabella “Belle” Baumfree sometime in 1797 in Swartekill, NY (died 11/26/1883 at 86). She was an abolitionist, an author and a human rights activist. She escaped slavery in 1826 with her infant daughter. She was the first black woman to get her son back in court two years later. Ms. Truth helped bring black troops to the Union for the Civil War and she also helped freed blacks to receive land grants. In the latter she was unsuccessful. She also narrated several pieces that have been published, her talk in Akron was not want of them. Today there are quite a number of memorials in her name around the country.
We’re honored to let you know that Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story has won 2nd place in the short documentary category of the International Indie Gathering! (http://www.theindiegathering.com/home.html) The film will also be screened at the upcoming festival. Details will be announced as soon as they are received, so check in often. We thank the festival committee for helping us share Emma’s story!
Ms. Helen Beatrice Jenkins was born July 28, 1894, in Columbus, Ohio, the 12th of 13 children of Sallie and William George (Billy) Jenkins. Helen’s father was born into slavery in 1849. After the end of the civil war and slavery, William Jenkins moved to Jamestown, Ohio where he met and married Sallie.
Ms. Jenkins grew up on Spring Street, in an area that is presently part of Martin Luther King Drive. Helen graduated from the Columbus Normal School, in the top five percent of her class; and continued her education at Ohio State and Capital Universities. Discriminatory practices within the public educational system caused a delay of approximately two years before Davis’ appointment to a teaching position in the
Columbus Public Schools in 1918. She was among the first Black teachers, in the first integrated Columbus Public School, Spring Street Elementary. Helen B. Jenkins Davis’ teaching career spanned over 37 years; and she retired in 1954.
In January of 1932, Helen married Raymond Davis, a Physical Therapist. They built one of the early homes in the Lucy Depp addition, north of O’Shaughnessy Dam, on land that belonged to the freed slave Abraham Depp for over one hundred years. Their marriage ended in divorce after twenty-three years.
In 1976, Mrs. Davis was a star witness who testified in Judge Robert Duncan’s Federal District Court, in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the Columbus Public Schools. She spoke of the inequality of teacher assignments and the unequal distribution of books and supplies in predominantly Black Columbus schools.
Mrs. Davis was an extremely well traveled woman who believed in the possibilities of education and exposure. Helen regularly shared memories and her travels through photos, books and stories. A perseverant and spiritually uplifting woman, who appreciated and recognized the hard work of others, Helen was active member of the
Second Baptist Church, until her death. She was also responsible for organizing senior citizens to help stuff more than two thousand envelopes supporting a Columbus School levy.
Mrs. Davis is remembered for her love of children, keen sense of competition, strict discipline, and delightful sense of humor. There are those who knew her as their sphere of influence, encouraging them to complete their education and contribute to that making lives worthwhile. Helen Jenkins Davis encouraged young people to “Strive for Super
Mrs. Davis lived an extremely healthy lifestyle, eating healthy, growing many of her own vegetables and entering them into Ohio State Fair competition, and studying the benefits of vitamins and herbs. Helen Beatrice Jenkins Davis’ healthy living served her well, as she
lived to be 93 years old. Mrs. Davis died on June 28, 1987.
Gwendolyn C. Williams-Wade, B.Ed., M.Ed.
Project: Education Access
For more information about the scholarship or the organization contact Gwendolyn here.