Category: Heroines

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

Flying Into History

 A while ago, when I was knee deep in research for my latest sweet historical romance, I happened across the mention of a woman who made history. Only I’d never heard of her.

I quickly became quite interested in learning more about her contributions to our past, though.

You see, her big historical moment might have been touted around the world, but fell by the wayside when a much bigger event took place at the same time.

Harriett Quimby was born in May 1875 on a Michigan farm.  She was in her early teens when the family moved to San Francisco. With dreams of becoming an actress, she was listed as one in the 1900 census.

She began writing for magazines.  In 1903, she moved to New York City and became a theater critic. Reportedly, she even authored a few screenplays that were turned into a silent films.

Harriett eventually turned to photojournalism as a career and leaned into adventure and excitement. She enjoyed travel, theater, and automobiles. In 1906, after a ride on an automobile racetrack, she bought her own car. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to do such thing.

Through her journalism work, she covered an aviation tournament at Belmont Park in 1910. Harriett was friends with siblings John and Matilde Moisant. John ran a flying school and produced his own monoplane. Harriett enrolled in the school, along with Matilde. In  the summer of 1911, Harriett became the first American woman to be licensed as a flyer by the Aero Club of America, the U.S. branch of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. A few women had flown before her, but none at that time were licensed.

Tall and energetic, Harriett was hard to miss, especially when she created a flying costume that became her trademark. She wore a purple satin jacket and matching riding pants with high laced boots and a soft cowl around her head.

Seeking more excitement, she went on the barnstorming (a form of flying in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses) circuit where she became quite popular.

In the spring of 1912, after weeks of preparation, she traveled to England to purchase a Bleriot airplane. She borrowed one in Dover, England. Early on the morning of April 16, Harriet became the first woman to fly across the English Channel, landing in France.

Unfortunately, just a few hours after her history-making flight, the world discovered the tragic news of the Titanic sinking the previous day and poor Harriet was obliterated from the headlines.

She returned to America and barnstorming, joining in several air meets. On July 1, 1912, she was paid handsomely to participate in an air show near Boston. In front of the gathered spectators, her plane lurched, throwing her lone passenger to his death. Although she struggled to gain control, Harriett was also thrown from the plane and was killed.

Harriett had been a pilot less than a year, but her impact on the aviation industry, particularly for women, continues to this day.

As I was working on my book, I thought about how young women of 1912 may have looked up to Harriet, found inspiration in her achievements. You can read more about her impact on my fictional characters in Quinn (Pendleton Petticoats Book 9).  The sweet historical romance releases tomorrow.

She’s waging a war for women’s rights

He’s fighting a battle to win her heart…

There’s nothing typical about Quinn Fairfield. The outspoken suffragette spends her days writing sensational headlines as a newspaper reporter and indulging her natural curiosity. She’s much more likely to be found riding a bicycle around town than learning the social graces at which her sister, Caitlyn, excels. When Caitlyn announces her plans to wed a man Quinn doesn’t trust, she sets out to find a reason to break up the happy couple. In the process, she finds herself falling for an intriguing, kind-hearted man.

After spending several years in Portland at college, Walker Williams returns to Pendleton, eager to make his mark on the world. He’s determined to become a legendary architect despite the challenges that arise from his upbringing on the nearby Umatilla Reservation. When a feisty red-headed newspaper reporter catches his eye and captures his heart, Walker fights his growing feelings for her. He’ll do anything to shelter Quinn from the prejudices aimed at him and his heritage.

Can the two of them overcome their fears, set aside the burdens of the past, and surrender to the sweet romance blossoming between them?

Filled with laughter, adventure, and historical tidbits from 1912, Quinn is a sweet historical romance brimming with hope and love.

You can find Quinn on Amazon: http://a.co/2MX4ewF

To enter to win a digital copy of the book, answer this question:

Name a woman who has inspired or influenced you in a positive manner.

 

How am I? Same trailer, different park.

If you’ve read my books, you know I love pairing a cowboy with a city girl. My characters usually wonder how they can be attracted to someone who fails to hit even one item on their this-is-what-I’m-looking-for-in-a-potential-date list, and this creates great conflict. But another reason I love throwing cowboys and city women together is it creates great dialogue and can even increase sexual tension.

Here are some sayings that have great dialogue potential. I’ve tweaked some a little the way I would if I used them in dialogue. ?
• Woman, you’re as friendly as a fire ant.
• Darlin’, I’m so country I think a seven-course meal is a possum and a six pack. (I can see my hero saying this one with a wry grin.)
• If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma state line.
• You look like you were sent for and couldn’t go. (Can’t you see the sparks flying if my cowboy hero said this to a heroine?!)
• You’re so skinny you have to stand twice to make a shadow. (More sparks flying, I think as my heroine wonders if this is a compliment or a diss.)
• You look like the cheese fell off your cracker.
• Honey, you make a hornet look cuddly.
• Woman, you talk any faster and you’ll catch up to yesterday.
• You look like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Or, it’s twin, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on. (This one has potential for a tender moment, as the hero asks her what on earth happened. When she asks why he thinks something is wrong, he uses a soft husky voice and says, “Sweetheart, you look like you’ve been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on.” Of course, what he says shatters her control. She confides in him. He understands and consoles her. Bond forms, and there you go, sexual tension.)
• Woman, you could talk the legs off a chair.
• Are you two sandwiches short of a picnic?
• Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill. (Can’t you imagine a city girl trying to understand what the hero means by this one and him trying to explain it?)
• Don’t write a check your ass can’t cash.
• He’s all hat, no cattle.
• You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make ‘em biscuits.
• Same trailer, different park. (In response to being asked how you’re doing.)
• Dang, if you aren’t double-backboned (I can see my hero saying this to a heroine when he’s impressed with her strength of will or character. Of course, she won’t quite get the compliment, and when he explains it, she’ll just melt all over his boots.)
• Woman, you’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.

Not only can a western saying add color and realism to a story, it can add humor, reveal character or even create sexual tension. But best of all, it’s fun as all get out to write.

Now mosey on over to leave a comment about one of the sayings above or your own personal favorite and be entered for a chance to win the snack set and a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy featuring AJ, a Texas Aggie cowboy and New York City girl Grace Henry.

Updated: January 30, 2018 — 8:42 pm

Take Your Heroine To Work Day!

We all know why we love a great hero. Maybe because they’re larger than life. Maybe because they NEVER leave the gas tank empty or they take out the garbage when it’s overflowing or they drag those cans back up the driveway without being asked… just so we don’t have to do it.

 

Okay, that would be FANTASY WORLD here on the farm, and probably in a bunch of places! In our house the division of duties generally falls on the female of the species, and honestly… I’ve learned that teaching myself how to do things is way better than waiting for someone to do it for me. And in doing that, I’ve strengthened my heroines by default.

 

One heroine learned how to lay tile on a floor after I installed our woodstove tile and floor…

And she opened her own bakery after learning the ins and outs in a big commercial grocery store bakery… and the fact that my night job when I first got published was working in a commercial bakery didn’t hurt! 🙂

One heroine ran a sheep farm in the North Country using the STAR method… We don’t have sheep here, but we’ve got the farm!

Kayla Dougherty was a hospice nurse, based on the great hospice nurses who helped us through my mother’s cancer…

Restaurant? Waitress? A prodigal daughter comes home to help run her family’s small-town restaurant. My eleven years of waiting tables and being headwaitress at the end came in handy here…

Meg in “Small Town Hearts” ran a candy store in Jamison, New York… and guess who loves, loves, loves to make candy for holiday trays??? 🙂

After waiting tables I was offered a job as a bridal consultant at a local bridal store… I grabbed that chance to work in one of the most fun environments you can imagine… and with SO MUCH TO LEARN because I am no one’s fashionista!!! I am the opposite of fashion-savvy so I had to learn everything from the get-go. Hardest job I ever jumped into, and the most fun… And this laid the groundwork for the Grace Haven series where three sisters step in to help their mother’s event-planning business, focusing on weddings! The Gallagher girls got the best of my long-time experience, and we had so much fun!

I used that same experience for a sweet novella contracted by Harper Christian “All Dressed Up In Love”, a story of a young about-to-be lawyer who really wants to run a wedding shop and the hard-nosed lawyer who inherits the wedding gown shop when his mother passes away… and the last thing he wants is to run this store because he’s got plans… BIG PLANS!!!… and he’s also got a heart and can’t bear to see his mother’s employees and friends all out of a job. Set in Old City, Philadelphia, I drew on my experience and eight years of having boys at Penn to fill in the blanks.

Now I get that not everyone has had to hold the number of nametag and hairnet jobs that I’ve done in order to make ends meet… but the huge blessing of that was that I got first-hand experience in so many facets of real-life jobs and now I can apply them to characters and settings!

Readers are not only intuitive, they’re smart. They don’t have to have held these jobs to rationalize the reality from the made-up story. Those grains of reality are what make a story’s heart beat. They’re what cause a person to set a book on a keeper shelf and not in the donation pile… although I don’t mind being donated so that other folks get a taste of what I’m sellin’!!! 🙂

 

I’ve never lived in the West or run a ranch, so for that I take 3 parts farm life, 2 parts knowing men and how funny they are, 2 parts common sense, 2 parts research and one part Chaps and it’s a right solid recipe for creating a Western series. My Double S Series was so much fun to write… and later this year the first book of my Shepherd’s Crossing series will release from Love Inspired! Oh be still my heart, writing cowboys is fun… but then so is writing lawmen and military heroes and farmers and contractors.

This year I bought myself a bunch of power tools. My favorite one is the heavy duty cordless drill that drives screws into place. I’ve built two chicken coops (and made mistakes!) but now my heroine can make the same mistakes and it will sound real because it is!

I don’t like the pneumatic hammer… it’s too hard for me to hold the nail gun up high, I’m short and don’t have that upper body strength, dagnabbit… but I LOVE A GOOD HAMMER!

I put a roof on… badly…. ooops. But the next roof was better! 🙂

Drawing on our lives, our friends’ lives, our jobs, our experiences is a great way to round out those heroines and make them the kind of strong, forward-focused women who can match your hero step-for-step.

I love a strong heroine who’s based in old-time values, appreciates a smokin’ hot hero, and gets the job done… even when the job seems impossible, kind of what sweet Kelsey faced when lake effect snow off of Lake Erie forced her off the road and into the arms of an amazing small town… and gave her reason to renew the two friendships that got her through years of foster care as a Philadelphia teen. “Welcome to Wishing Bridge” might not be a western, ladies and gents, but it’s got the great small-town values we love and the beauty of promises kept… even when they’re old.

Because if my heroines can achieve their goals, there’s a better chance for a long and happy marriage. Pretend, of course.

But happy, nonetheless! 🙂

And for today I’ve got a sweet offering for you guys. Own it before you can buy it!

I’ve got a copy of “Her Secret Daughter” to send to some lucky person… leave a comment below… tell me what kind of heroines appeal to you? Shy? Introverted? Insecure? Or plucky? In-your-face? Determined?

The nice thing is that God made all authors different, so there’s something for everyone!

 

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