Category: Heroines

Claire Helena Ferguson – Deputy Sheriff

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Back in January I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

 

This month I want to talk about Claire H. Ferguson, another trailblazing female law enforcement officer.

Claire was the member of a well-known Utah family. In fact, the female members of the family were quite progressive for their times. Claire’s mother, Ellen, co-founded the Utah Conservatory of Music and after her husband’s death dedicated herself to practicing medicine. Ellen was also active in politics and organized the Women’s Democratic Club in 1896.  Claire’s sister Ethel was an actress. It is interesting that little is remembered of her father William, other than that he was a Scotsman and that he moved his family to Utah in 1876.

Claire herself was quite accomplished in her own right. One contemporary newspaper article, which called her the girl sheriff of Utah, described her as “young and beautiful, highly educated and prominent in society.”

Born in Provo, Utah in 1877, Claire grew up in Salt Lake City. It was there she received her commission in 1897. Prior to that she’d served as a stenographer in the sheriff’s office under Sheriff T.P. Lewis. It was Sheriff Lewis who recognized her aptitude and ambition, and made the appointment. It is reported that she viewed her new role in this manner “The prospect did not frighten me. You must remember that I was born in the grand, free West, where we breathe freedom of thought and action with the air.” She also said “Women make good sheriffs. Every sheriff’s office should have women in it.”

Her duties included taking charge of female prisoners, vandals and child truants. But she did so much more. She was trained to handle a weapon the same as any other deputy and was warned that she might at some  point be required to carry out an execution, though there is no record that she had to do so.  According to her own accounts, she served more than 200 summons, transported more than 100 women to the insane asylum, escorted 12 or more children to reform school and escorted a half dozen women back and forth  between jail and court and remained with them throughout their trial proceedings.

The Kendalville Standard Newspaper of Indiana, calling her the girl sheriff of Utah, reported some of her other accomplishments in their September 29, 1899 edition: “…she has had as many thrilling experiences as the border heroine of a dime novel. She prevented the escape of “Handsome Gray,” the most desperate criminal in Utah. She nearly lost her life at the hands of a lunatic. She is the only woman ever invited to visit “Robber’s Roost,” the rendezvous of a lawless gang of cattle thieves. She saved a woman thief from suicide.”

I read in one report that she had as many as 15 marriage proposals during her time as a Deputy Sheriff. She refused them all, believing they were more in love with her unusual role than with her.

Claire did eventually marry, though not many details are known about the groom beyond the fact that his name was William Wright and he was a salesman. By the time of their marriage she was no longer a Deputy Sheriff in Utah. Instead she was living in New York where she’d moved to be with her sister and mother and she’d taken a job once again as a stenographer.

I could find no record of what eventually happened to Claire, though there was a mention that she survived her mother who passed away in 1920.

There you have it, another very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of a brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

 

 

Updated: July 7, 2019 — 11:33 pm

Who Was Calamity Jane?

Jennifer Uhlarik

Hi everyone. I’m celebrating this month! June 1 marked the release of Cameo Courtships, a 4-in-1 novella collection which I am part of. My story in the collection is Taming Petra, and my heroine goes by the name of “Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth.” Buckskin Pete is a buckskin-wearing, gun-toting, tomahawk-throwing tomboy, loosely modeled after Old West icon Calamity Jane.

If you’re like me, you know of Calamity Jane, but only in the most general way. So who was Calamity Jane?

She was born Martha Jane Cannary, on May 1, 1852, the eldest child of a gambler father and a prostitute mother. She had two brothers and three sisters. As the family traveled from Martha Jane’s birthplace in Missouri to Virginia City, Montana, her mother fell ill with pneumonia and died. A year later, her father also succumbed to death, leaving Martha Jane, who was just fourteen years old at the time, to take charge of her five younger siblings and support her family. The six siblings settled in Piedmont, Wyoming, where Martha Jane took whatever jobs she could find—from dishwasher, to waitress, to nurse, to ox-team driver, to sometimes prostitute.

 

As her younger siblings grew up and moved on, it freed Martha Jane to strike out on her own as well. In the 1870s, she is said to have acted as scout for the Army, an Indian fighter, as well as displaying excellent aim as a sharpshooter.

Calamity in a dress

When asked how she came to be called “Calamity,” she told the following story in a short biographical pamphlet. While working with the Army near Goose Creek, Wyoming, they were sent out to subdue an Indian uprising. On the way back to the post, they were ambushed about a mile and a half out. As she charged through the fray, being fired upon, she turned in time to see Captain Egan struck and reeling in his saddle. Jane turned back to help, caught the officer before he fell, and pulled him onto her own horse in front of her. Once safely back at the post and the captain recovering, he jokingly stated that he would dub her Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains, and she proudly wore the name from that point forward.

While the story is an entertaining one, several details call its credibility into question. For one, Calamity Jane was functionally illiterate, so she would have had to dictate such a story to someone else for the pamphlet. It’s possible she did just that. But in the story itself, she claims to have singlehandedly pulled a wounded and reeling man from him horse onto her own and held him in the saddle until they reached the safety of the army post. The likelihood of such feats of strength do cause one to question the story. Another alternative for how she came to be known as Calamity Jane is that she would warn any man who crossed her that he was “courting calamity” by doing so.

She is known to have had a kind and generous side. In Deadwood, S.D., she is rumored to have nursed the sick during an outbreak of smallpox. And she was also known to have helped those in need, providing food she’d hunted herself or given money to those unable to provide for themselves.

Calamity Jane at Wild Bill Hickok’s gravesite

Rumors link Calamity Jane to another well-known Western icon—James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. Some rumors state they were friends. Others tout the pair were lovers. Calamity Jane herself stated that she and Wild Bill were married in 1873 and had a daughter, who was later adopted by another family. No marriage license has been found to support a legal union between the two characters. Of course, Wild Bill died by a shooter’s bullet in 1876, so any romance that may have existed lasted only briefly.

The later years of Calamity Jane’s life saw her become a hard-drinking alcoholic, often down on her luck, living life mostly alone. For a brief time, she performed with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show as a storyteller and sharpshooter, but otherwise, she drifted from town to town. She died of pneumonia on August 1, 1903, at the age of 51. She and Wild Bill Hickok are buried next to each other in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.

My heroine, Buckskin Pete Hollingsworth, is loosely based on Calamity Jane—in their shared propensity to wear men’s buckskin trousers, their ability to scout and track, and their soft sides that enabled both to help those in need. Do you enjoy reading fictional characters you know are based on a true person from history, or do you prefer purely fictional characters that are wholly original? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for an autographed paperback copy of Cameo Courtships.

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Check out her website and Facebook page or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.

 

 

Updated: June 13, 2019 — 8:01 pm

Ada Carnutt – U.S. Deputy Marshal

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Back in January I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent.

Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshal service.

Marie Owens – First US Female Police Officer

F.M. Miller – Female Deputy Marshal to the Indian Territory

 

This month I want to talk about Ada Carnutt, another trailblazing female Deputy U.S. Marshal.

Ada was the daughter of a Methodist minister and as such had a strong sense of ethics. Ada was 20 when the Oklahoma Territory opened to settlers and when her sister and brother-in-law moved there she joined them.

Shortly thereafter she took a job as the Clerk of the District Court in Norman, Oklahoma as well as that of Deputy Marshall to U.S. Marshal William Grimes.

The arrest for which she is best known occurred in 1893 when she was 24 years old. Marshal Grimes sent her a telegram with instructions to send a deputy to Oklahoma City to apprehend a pair of outlaws. The notorious duo, named Reagan and Dolezal, were wanted for forgery. Unfortunately all the other deputies were busy with other cases, so Ada decided to take matters in her own hands. She headed for Oklahoma City on her own and when she arrived she learned the two criminals were in a local bar. Unwilling to enter a bar unless absolutely unavoidable, she asked a passerby to go inside and ask them to step outside. She used the added incentive of asking that they be told a lady was waiting to have a word with them.

Apparently that did the trick because Reagan and Dolezal stepped out to see who this ‘lady’ might be. Ada proceeded to read the warrants and then declared them under arrest. The pair, who were well armed, thought it a joke and even allowed her to place handcuffs on them. However, their laughter soon turned to anger as they realized the joke was on them. Ada proceeded to take them in by train to the marshal’s office in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

The newspapers of the day did report the incident, noting her bravery and then ended it with a note that afterwards she went back to her favorite hobby, that of china painting.

The U.S. Marshals Service said of her “Like all deputies of her era, she had to be extremely tough and ready to face a wide range of situations.”

 

There you have it, another very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of a brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

I’m so excited about my new release that I’ve decided I’ll give a copy away to one reader who leaves a comment on this post.

THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE

Had she stepped out of the frying pan just to land in the fire?

Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for – more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.

Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?

You can find more info or get your copy HERE

 

Updated: May 5, 2019 — 8:08 pm

Welcome Guest Kari Trumbo!

When a cowgirl becomes a cow boss…

We all love reading about a fantastic hero. Sometimes, he even steals the show in romantic fiction. If you read westerns, the male lead is expected to be dashing, heroic, strong, capable, a good horseman, and he’s always good to his lady. But what about the heroine?

While the number of women who came west in the early-to-mid 1800’s was sparse (some figures claim it was as little as 10 to 1) by the late 1800’s, women were coming west for jobs and adventure. Just like their male counterparts. Women of the west were doing things that their sisters back east would swoon over.

In Along a Tangled Path, book 6 in my 7 book series, Brothers of Belle Fourche, Wilhelmina “Will” Galliger pretends to be a mute boy so, she can rope and ride her way to her own land. Her goal is her own ranch. My research tells me, though she is fictional, she was not alone. My character is very loosely based on Lucile Mulhall, from Charles Wellington’s Let ‘Er Buck: A Story of the Passing of the Old West. She is listed as the only woman to down a steer within the time limit at the Pendleton Round Up, among other things.

Women were allowed to have these roles, but they were rare. In the case of my heroine, she dresses as a man to avoid conflict. Of course, it adds a whole heaping helping when it’s discovered exactly who she is. Some women in the west hid who they were, such as Charely Parkhurst. Others, Like Lucile, did not.

 

One of the biggest freedoms women of the west enjoyed, was the ability to not only own land, but to retain it if their husband died or divorced them. This was not the case in other areas of the country. In Along a Tangled Path, Will was treated as chattel by her father as she was growing up and she associates happiness with ownership. She doesn’t want a husband, she wants land. Where she came from, land could be taken if a husband decided to divorce her. So, part of her motivation to act like a man is not only for respect, but because it suits her goal.

I love a strong heroine, but does that make the hero weak? I don’t think so. Charles was so much fun to write as Will’s foil. He’s trying to protect her secret and his heart all at once. He respects her, but it’s important he act as a traditional cowboy hero should and he must protect her above her secret.

For more information on cowgirls of the west, you can click HERE
And to find out more about Lucile you can click HERE  or HERE

Giveaway!! An autographed copy of Along a Tangled Path will be given away to one commenter. Let’s discuss: Do you love a strong female heroine or a more traditional Victorian heroine?

 

 

Kari Trumbo is a bestselling author of Christian and sweet romance. 

She writes swoony heroes and places that become characters with historical detail and heart.
She’s a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. When she isn’t writing, or editing, she home schools her children and pretends to keep up with them. 

Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one’s listening, and curling up near the wood stove when winter hits. She makes her home in central Minnesota, land of frigid toes and mosquitoes the size of compact cars, with her husband of over twenty years. They have two daughters, two sons, one cat, and one hungry wood stove.

 

You can find Kari at the following links:

Facebook      Bookbub     Website     Amazon                                   

Link to book

 

 

Updated: April 8, 2019 — 7:33 pm

F.M. Miller – Female Deputy Marshal to the Indian Territory

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Back in January I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent.

Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshal service.

Marie Owens – First US Female Police Officer

 

This month I want to talk about F. M. Miller, another very colorful Deputy U.S. Marshal.

Unfortunately, very little is known about Miller’s life outside of her role as a Deputy Marshal. In fact, in my research I found her listed as both Miss Miller and Mrs. Miller. And I couldn’t find any record of what the initials F.M. stand for or who her husband was if indeed she was married.

But despite all of that, she was obviously a force to be reckoned with. In 1891 F.M. was appointed a Deputy U.S. Marshal in Paris, Texas.

The Fort Smith Elevator reported in November of 1891:

“The woman carries a pistol buckled around her and has a Winchester strapped to her saddle. She is an expert shot and a superb horsewoman, and brave to the verge of recklessness. It is said that she aspires to win a name equal to that of Belle Starr, differing from her by exerting herself to run down criminals and in the enforcement of the law.” The same article also went on to describe her as a charming brunette who wore a sombrero.

And another newspaper, the Muskogee Phoenix, reported:

“Miss Miller is a young woman of prepossessing appearance, wears a cowboy hat and is always adorned with a pistol belt full of cartridges and a dangerous looking Colt pistol which she knows how to use. She has been in Muskogee for a few days, having come here with Deputy Marshal Cantrel, a guard with some prisoners brought from Talahina.”

Paris, Texas was the in the Southern District of the Indian Territory and during this period the Indian Territory was considered a violent place, and for good reason. It served as home to literally hundreds of the most dangerous outlaws from around the country – villains who were guilty of murder, arson, rape and robbery among other heinous acts. They flocked there because it was a place where law enforcement had no jurisdiction there.

However, the appointment of Judge Isaac Parker to the Western Judicial District changed all that. Judge Parker commanded some 200 deputy marshals to clean up this outlaw haven. It was a task easier said than done, however as the territory covered some 74,000 square miles of rugged land. And one of the few female deputy marshals to work in this territory was F.M. Miller. In fact, at the time she was commissioned she was the only female Deputy Marshal to serve in the Indian Territory. And lest you wonder how dangerous this task was, from 1872 to 1896 over 100 of these deputies lost their lives while attempting to enforce the law throughout the territory.

There are some reports that F.M. had a high arrest count and never shied away from an exchange of gunfire when called for. She had a reputation of being both fearless and a superb horsewoman.

I couldn’t find any record of either F.M.’s origins or her ultimate fate. But there is no doubt that she was a trailblazer and an exceptional law enforcement officer.

 

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of yet another brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

 

And today I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at my upcoming release, The Unexpected Bride. This is the revised version of Something More, a book that was published in 2001 and is my first foray into the Indie publishing world. It was also the first time I had free rein to work with the cover designer for one of my books – it was both a fun and a scary experience. So how do you think we did?

Stay tuned for details about release date and where to purchase.

THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE

Had she stepped out of the frying pan just to land in the fire?

Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for – more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.

Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?

 

 

Updated: April 7, 2019 — 5:58 pm

Marie Owens – First US Female Police Officer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Back in January I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. If you missed the prior posts you can find them here:

Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent.

Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshall service.

 

This month I want to talk about Marie Connolly Owens, America’s First Female Police Officer.

 

Marie was born in Ottawa (then know as Bytown) in December of 1853, to parents who had immigrated from Ireland to escape the potato famine. Little is known about her family or growing up years, but at age 26 she married Thomas Owens and the couple moved to Chicago. There they settled in and over the subsequent years their family expanded to include five children.

Then, in 1988, Marie’s husband died of typhoid fever. Suddenly, at age 35, Marie found herself widowed, with five young children to care for, and no idea how to earn a living.

However, one year later, in 1889 the city of Chicago passed an ordinance that prohibited employing children under the age of 14 unless they were required to work due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Marie was one of five women the city hired to help enforce this new ordinance. Their role was that of sanitary inspectors and their job was to monitor conditions in stores, factories and tenements. It is said the city hired women for this job because it was thought they were uniquely qualified to deal with matters involving children.

Marie dove into this role with a particular energy and passion, not only pulling children from these illegal and possibly dangerous workplaces, but even going so far as to help then find alternative means to support their families. In fact, she employed such energy and zeal in carrying out her duties, combined with a depth of diplomacy and effective moderation, that she quickly won respect and recognition for her efforts.

Just two years later, in 1891,  her exemplary performance landed her a promotion to a special police officer, known a “Sergeant No. 97”, complete with the salary, badge and rank and arrest authority that went along with that job. Because she was a member of the detective department, she was allowed to dress in “plain clothes” so there was no need to adapt the uniform to accommodate a female form.

In her new role, Marie was assigned to work with the Board of Education to enforce truancy, child labor and compulsory education laws.

But, though she worked in what was considered a man’s world, Marie Owens was not necessarily a feminist.  She put it this way.

“I like to do police work. It gives me a chance to help women and children who need help. Of course I know little about the kind of work the men do. I never go out looking for robbers or highwaymen. That is left for the men.” She further stated “My work is just a woman’s work. In my sixteen years of experience I have come across more suffering than ever is seen by any man detective. Why, it has kept me poor giving in little amounts to those in want. I have yet the time to come across a hungry family that they were not given food.”

Captain O’Brien, her superior officer, was highly complementary of her work, stating on the record

“Give me men like she is a woman, and we will have the model detective bureau of the whole world.”

Then in 1895 Chicago passed new civil service rules that made it nearly impossible for additional women to join the police force. Because Marie had an exemplary record and was so very good at her job, she was allowed to stay on.

In 1914, another female police officer, Alice Stebbins Wells (who I’ll feature in a future post) did a series of tours across the country, making the case for the need to have more female police officers. That, coupled with the numerous newspaper articles written about her, instilled the growing perception that she, in fact, was the first female police officer in the country. Though Marie Owens was still on the police force at this time, there is no indication that she did anything to change this misconception.

Marie was 70 when she finally retired in 1923. She passed away four years later in New York where she had moved to live with one of her daughters. Inexplicably, her obituary had no mention of her groundbreaking service on the police force or other contributions to the city of Chicago. And when a historian confused her with a woman named Mary Owens and described her in his book as a patrolman’s widow, her accomplishments were virtually erased from history. For decades to follow, no one remembered her story.

Then in 2007 Charles Barrett, a former federal agent and historical researcher, stumbled on a mention of Owens as a patrolman’s widow and found some inconsistencies. Digging deeper, he began sorting out the truth of Marie Owens remarkable life and accomplishments. 

“She knew about hardship and heartbreak,” Barrett said of Marie. “She was sympathetic to the people because she had walked in their shoes.” 

So forgotten was her story, that her great-grandson had never heard anything about his great-grandmother before Charles Barrett’s research brought it back to light. When contacted by telephone, he remarked “All I knew was that my grandfather was from Chicago.” 

Thanks to Charles Barrett, we now are able to remember and celebrate this remarkable woman.

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of yet another  ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my back list.

 

 

 

Updated: March 4, 2019 — 7:34 am

Phoebe Couzins – First Female U.S. Marshal

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Last month I started a series of articles about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. January’s post focused on Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Agent. (If you missed it, you can read it HERE)

This month I want to talk about Phoebe Couzins, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Marshall service.

Growing up, Phoebe’s parents taught her to view public service as something to be valued. They were a couple who truly walked the walk. For instance, when Phoebe was about six years old, St. Louis was devastated by a terrible cholera epidemic where thousands of residents perished. John and Adaline Couzins stepped forward and headed up the local relief organization that was responsible for helping the victims.

And that was only one instance of many. Among other things, John Couzins, was an architect and builder, served as a Union Major during the Civil War, and became Chief of Police in St. Louis. Adaline Couzins, was also quite active. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, tending soldiers on the battlefield at Wilson Creek, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. During the course of this, she herself was actually wounded at Vicksburg.

Which may be why, as she grew, Phoebe pushed against the boundaries imposed on nineteenth century women in a BIG way.

In 1869, she became a delegate to the American Equal Rights Association Convention in N.Y. That same year, Phoebe spoke on behalf of women suffrage to a joint meeting in the Missouri State General Assembly. She advocated the passage of State legislation granting women the right to vote. Unfortunately the proposal was ultimately rejected by a vote of 89-5.

Later that year, Phoebe was one of the first women to enter Washington University in St. Louis law school when they opened admission to women, and in 1871 she became the second woman in the nation to graduate with an L.L.B. degree. A big proponent of equality for women, once she graduated she stated that she primarily pursued a law degree in order to “open new paths for women, enlarge her usefulness, widen her responsibilities and to plead her case in a struggle which [she] believed surely was coming. . . . I trust the day is not far distant when men and women shall be recognized as equal administrators of that great bulwark of civilization, law.”  After graduating, she went on to become the second licensed attorney in her home state of Missouri and the third licensed attorney in the entire United States. Eventually she was also admitted to the bar associations of Arkansas, Utah, and Kansas, as well as the Dakota Territory federal courts.

In 1884, Phoebe’s father was appointed as the U.S. Marshal in eastern Missouri. Her father then named her a deputy U.S. Marshal, which placed her among the first women to hold that position. When John Couzins died in 1887, President Grover Cleveland asked Phoebe to step into the position temporarily, making her the first woman U.S. Marshal. She only held the position for two months, however, leaving the service altogether when she was replaced by a male.

As I mentioned above, Phoebe was a strong proponent of women’s rights. She was active in the suffrage movement for many years, as had been her mother. In the early days of the twentieth century she made the following statement: ”… today we round out the first century of a professed republic,—with woman figuratively representing freedom—and yet all free, save woman.” And she also stated “Until we are large enough to think of mind, of genius, of ability without the consciousness of sex, we are yet in the infancy of our development, we belong in kindergarten.” 

Unfortunately, Phoebe’s life did not end well. As the years passed, her strong personality and outspoken ways rubbed her associates and fellow suffragists the wrong way, eventually leaving her with few friends. At the age of sixty-eight, she found herself in a dire situation – destitute, in failing health, and unable to work – so she returned to St. Louis. She died there in December of 1913.

Phoebe was buried with her U.S. marshal’s badge pinned to her chest in an unmarked grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Only six people, including her brother, attended her funeral. It was a sad ending to a remarkable life.

However, in more recent years, Phoebe’s life and groundbreaking accomplishments have received more appropriate recognition.

In 1950 Phoebe Couzin’s final resting place received a marker. In that year, to acknowledge Phoebe’s many groundbreaking accomplishments, the members of the Women’s Bar Association of St. Louis placed a simple stone monument on her final grave.

And in 2000 , Phoebe, as well as Lemma Barkeloo (another early female lawyer) were honored by the establishment of the Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law Chair at the Washington University school of law.

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing life of yet another brave and ahead-of-her-times woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

 

 

It Takes A Strong Woman

A dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson sent me a link to an article on a wonderful artist, Felice House. It’s her amazing work you see in this post. Her paintings and Evan Porter’s write up got me thinking more than usual about heroes and heroines.

We all love a strong, confident hero. The phrase alpha male comes to mind. When I started writing, I attended countless workshops on how to create a strong hero. But writing this, I paused and thought for a moment. How many workshops had I taken on how to create a self-assured, strong heroine? I’ve attended a few, though not nearly as many as ones on heroes. That thought led me to realize whether I’m reading a book or writing one, for me, the stronger the hero’s personality, the stronger the heroine must be. She can’t be a wimpy Missy Miss who crumbles under a strong wind or the hero’s stinging retort.

I want a heroine who doesn’t need a man in her life because she’s fine just the way she is, thank you very much. But should she find one, she believes he’s lucky to have her in his life. She has skills she’s proud of and helps the hero as much, often more, than he helps her. She’s not sitting back moping about the obstacles fate has thrown in her path. No, sir. Instead, she tugs on her big girl panties and develops a strategy to overcome her problems. And if the hero is one of those obstacles? He’d better watch out.

Felice House’s painting reminded me of that type of heroine. When House moved from Massachusetts to Texas, like many of us, she fell in love with “western” culture:  the clothes, cowboy boots, music, the whole thing. However, when she watched classic western movies starring actors such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and James Dean, she found women’s portrayal as helpless damsels in distress disturbing. House described the situation as “the empowered and the powerless.” Already familiar with creating work that fought stereotypical women’s images, House set out to re-envision these cowboy heroes with women.

As you can see from House’s paintings, she and her models succeeded in portraying woman every bit as formidable, compelling and fierce as the original actors. To add emphasis, House made the paintings 1.25 times larger than life to ensure these western women towered over people. These paintings portray images of strong, capable women who can handle anything life sends their way.

House’s paintings have inspired a 2019 goal for me—create heroines half as awe-inspiring, assertive, and frankly, badass as the women in Felice House’s paintings. If I can do that, I’ll be more than happy. 

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what you think makes a compelling heroine to be entered to win a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

To read Evan Porter’s article click here. All images of Felice House’s work are used with permission. To view more of her paintings click here.

 

Updated: January 30, 2019 — 10:07 am

Kate Warne – First Female Pinkerton

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I hope everyone had a joyous Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

I recently read an article about 10 amazing women who paved the way for females in various branches of law enforcement. Some of the names I was familiar with, some not, but I learned new tidbits about even the ones I’d already heard of.  So I thought I’d share what I learned with you. But to do these stories justice, I’m going to spread them over a series of articles rather than try to squeeze them all into one post.

The first one, speaking chronologically, is also the one I was most familiar with, Kate Warne.

In 1856 Kate walked into the Pinkerton National Detective Agency office seeking a position. To Allan Pinkerton’s surprise, she was not looking for a clerical position, but that of a field agent. It took quite a bit of convincing, but the 23 year old widow was more than up to the task. She calmly described the many potential benefits a female detective could offer, such as an ability to manipulate targets into believing she was on their side and confiding in her in a way that men could never manage.

Despite his initial skepticism, Pinkerton never had reason to regret his decision to hire the indomitable Kate. She proved her worth on the first major case she worked on. She was assigned to the investigation of possible embezzlement of funds at the Adams Express Co. The primary suspect was a Mr. Maroney. Kate immediately befriended Mrs. Maroney. She gained the woman’s confidence so much that not only did she learn the information she need to prove Mr. Maroney’s guilt but she managed to find and recover almost 80 percent of the money that had been stolen.

Within four years of hiring her, Pinkerton was convinced that there would be immeasurable value to him to have more female operatives in his organization. So in 1960 he opened a Female Detective Bureau and put Kate in charge.

Of course this didn’t put an end to Kate’s field work. At one point Pinkerton assigned five agents, Kate among them, to investigate secessionist threats against the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Based on their field reports Pinkerton became convinced that there was an assassination plot against then President-elect Lincoln to take place during his trip to Washington DC for his inauguration. It was Kate who confirmed that not only did this plot exist, but she learned the specific time and location where it was to take place. She also played a key role in the secret alternate travel arrangements that foiled the assassins’ plans.

The start of the Civil War saw Kate’s role change from that of investigator to that of spy while she continued to serve as Superintendent of Female Detectives. Using over a dozen assumed names and her spot-on southern belle impersonation she worked both down south and in the north, successfully gathering needed intelligence.

After the end of the war, Kate continued on her course as a valuable senior member of the Pinkerton team. There is no telling how far she would have gone, but alas, while the ‘bad guys’ could not best her, her health did. In January of 1868, still in her mid 30s, Kate contracted a lung infection and died.

In his book The Spy of the Rebellion, Pinkerton wrote of Kate Warne  “Of rather a commanding person, with clear-cut, expressive features, and with an ease of manner that was quite captivating at times, she was calculated to make a favorable impression at once. She was a brilliant conversationalist when so disposed, and could be quite vivacious, but she also understood that rarer quality… the art of being silent.”

There you have it, a very brief sketch of the trailblazing adventures of this brave and adventurous woman. What struck you most about her? If you’d already heard of her, did you learn anything new, or do you have more to add to her story?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.

Updated: January 6, 2019 — 4:38 pm

Chicken Soup, Lemons, and Small Towns

One reason I enjoy writing stories set in small western towns is the sense of community. In one book I joked if someone sneezed, half the town would be at the door with chicken soup before day’s end. From the small towns I’ve known, this isn’t too far from the truth.

Life is hard. In the city I’ve become so accustomed to the polite and well-meaning “hello, how are you today” greetings everywhere, I can respond on auto-pilot. No matter how hard life is knocking me around, I can plaster a smile on my face and reply I’m fine. But in small towns, that’s harder to pull off because people know each other. They’re more likely to see past an overly bright smile and notice something is off. More importantly, they’re likely to ask and care about the answer. Not that this doesn’t happen in the city. It does. I just find it harder to create those mini-communities of support in the city.

Another difference I’ve discovered, is to receive help in the city, I am more likely to have to ask for it friends in my mini-community. My grandparents lived on a farm outside Decorah, Iowa, a town of eight thousand. If someone was struggling financially, if a death occurred in the family, or someone was sick, most of the town knew. For example, my dear friend Lori Turner Halligan shared a story about her father’s death during prime planting time in Iowa twenty-three years ago on April 28. Farmers arrived with equipment and planted her family’s fields before planting their own. Other families brought food to feed those working the fields. Her mother didn’t have to ask. The Turners needed help, and the community turned out. This is the sense of community I tried to create in both my Estes Park Series and my Wishing Texas Series.

Western women are known for their strength. In the old west, they helped carve a life out of the wilderness. While many of my heroines start out as “Eastern city women,” they possess a western soul. One that refuses to let them give up or give in. When fate lobs lemons at my heroines like hand grenades, they put on a hard hat and make lemonade,but sometimes even the strongest of women get weary.

Take Cassie in To Love A Texas Cowboy. When her niece is orphaned, Cassie moves from New York to Texas because that’s what’s best for Ella. Without family to count on, she’s learned to rely on herself, but keeping her art career going, raising a child and keeping a roof over their heads would shake Wonder Woman’s confidence. Like so many of us, Cassie realizes she can’t do it all alone. For her, help comes from the most unexpected place–Ty, a cowboy who at first glance appears to be on the opposite side of every issue and a small Texas town.

Whether we live in the city, small town or a ranch, whether our support comes from those related to us by blood, or a family we create in less traditional ways, we need people we can count on when life gets rough. 

And a special thank you to my BFF Lori for help with this blog and life in general. Everyone should be blessed with a friend like you.

Take a moment to leave a comment and be entered to win the dish towel, wine glass and a copy of Colorado Rescue.

To read an excerpt of To Love A Texas Cowboy, click here

Updated: October 2, 2018 — 4:33 pm