Facing down murderous outlaws. Starting schools. Saving the lives of strangers. Rose Maria Segale’s life would one day become the stuff that legends are made of, but she started out with humble beginnings. She was born in the tiny Italian village of Cicagna on January 23, 1850, but her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when she was four years old. She wanted to become a nun, even at a young age, and she told her father that as soon as she was old enough she wanted to join the Sisters of Charity. When she was sixteen, she entered the novitiate, becoming Sister Blandina.
For a short time in 1872, she taught in Steubenville and Dayton, Ohio, but much to her delight, she received word that she was to go to Trinidad to work as a missionary. Her hopes of traveling to a foreign country were soon dashed when Sister Blandina boarded the train and realized that the Trinidad to which she was going was not a tropical island, but the westerner frontier ofColorado.
In Trinidad, she taught she discovered a town frequented by outlaws. Lynching was a common practice, and law was often determined by the mob not the sheriff. One day, two men shot it out, ending with one man fatally wounded and the other in jail. Friends of the dying man were waiting for him to pass and then they planned to storm the jail and lynch the shooter. The son of the shooter, one of Sister Blandina’s students, rushed to her and begged for her help. Appalled, she hurried to the dying man’s bedside and pleaded with him to forgive the man and allow the law to determine his punishment, rather than the frenzied mob bent on revenge. He did, and the shooter faced a judge, not a lynch mob. This fascinating story was later re-enacted on the CBS series Death Valley Days. The episode was called “The Fastest Nun in the West.”
Sister Blandina Segale was later transferred to Santa Fe, where she co-founded public and Catholic schools. During her time in New Mexico, she worked with the poor, the sick, and immigrants. She was also an advocate on behalf of Native Americans and Hispanics who were losing their land to swindlers.
Though Sister Blandina helped many, it was her encounter with Billy the Kid that made her famous. The sister learned of a wounded outlaw the town’s doctors refused to treat, and she found the man and nursed him back to health. When Billy the Kid came to Trinidad to scalp the doctors for not treating his cohort, he met Sister Blandina and thanked her and offered to do anything she asked as a reward for her kindess. What she asked for was that he spare the four doctors. Billy wasn’t happy, but he kept his word, and Sister Blandina saved four men that day.
In a later encounter with the outlaw, the sister told how she was inside a covered wagon when Billy tried to rob its passengers. Seeing her there, the outlaw supposedly tipped his hat to her and left empty-handed.In letters to her sister, she described Billy the Kid as having “a rosy complexion and the air of a little boy. … He could choose the right path, and instead he chose the wrong.” Many of the tales she wrote in letters to her sister later became a book, At the End of the Santa Fe Trail.
Bio: Bestselling author, Vickie McDonough, grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who’s scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams in her fictional stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen and others living in the West during the 1800s. Vickie is the award-winning author of over 30 published books and novellas. Visit Vickie’s website to learn more about her books or to sign up for her newsletter: www.vickiemcdonough.com
History lovers: check out the daily historical posts at: http://christianfictionhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com
Vickie is giving away an autographed copy of Call of the Prairie, book 2 in her Pioneer Promises series.
Here’s what the book is about:
Sophie Davenport fears life is passing her by. Her strict, overprotective parents have kept her close to home because of the severe asthma attacks she sometimes endures. She longs to live a normal life and hopes to marry, but that dream seems impossible. When her aunt has a tragic accident and requests someone come to Kansas to help her, no one is available except Sophie. Her father, tied up with business, reluctantly agrees to let her go. Sophie is ecstatic and sees this trip as her one chance to prove to her parents—and herself—that she’s capable of living on her own. But things in the small town of Windmill are not as her aunt portrayed. And her aunt’s handsome neighbor, Josh Harper, guardian of two of the children her aunt cares for after school, obviously doubts her abilities. Will the Kansas dust, the drama, and difficulties prove too much for Sophie? Or will she lose her heart to her neighbor and succumb to the call of the prairie?