One thing about history: looking back, it’s easy and almost scary to see how the tiniest change could have derailed entire destinies.
One of my favorite stories of serendipity is that of Mary Catherine “Mollie” Gortner. In 1890, she and her family moved to Colorado Springs from the gentle, rolling hills of Iowa. Her husband was on the scout for new opportunities and challenges. Mollie was always up for an adventure. She and her children, who were older, were eager to see some new sights.
After the Gortners were settled, the announcement of a massive gold discovery in Cripple Creek beckoned to her oldest son, Perry. He took a job there in the spring of 1891 as a surveyor. The burgeoning boom town turned wild and wooly almost overnight and Mollie worried about her young, innocent son. She arranged a visit for the fall, packed up some care packages for him and headed up the mountain. A 4-day wagon trip.
During one of Perry’s surveying jaunts over the summer, he had spotted a huge herd of elk and knew his mother would want to see the magnificent animals. They often hung about only three hundred or so yards beyond the first gold strike in Cripple Creek—the Gold King Mine. Perry and his mother packed a lunch and struck out for a warm, September hike up to what had become known, ironically, as Poverty Gulch.
A worse name no one could have imagined.
A bit winded after the high-elevation walking, Mollie sat down on a rock to wait for the herd to pass by. Nothing in particular drew her to that spot. In fact, she gave it very little thought.
Then, glancing around, she noticed a rock that “winked” at her. Curious, she took another rock and struck off a piece.
A chunk of pure gold cut through with bits of quartz fell into her hand.
Has any discovery of gold ever been easier or more serendipitous?
Hearts pounding, hands sweating, she and Perry hammered free a few more chunks, hid them in her skirt, and raced to the assayer’s office to file the claim. The clerk balked at handing the paperwork to a woman. Perry was a little befuddled on how to respond to this objection. Mollie solved the problem for both men. Without a second’s hesitation, she snatched up the forms, signed her name on the dotted line and raised her chin defiantly.
In Colorado in 1901 a woman had the legal right to own land and file a claim. The clerk didn’t have a leg to stand on, other than his chauvinism. He had a choice at that moment. He saw the fire in Mollie’s eyes and filed the claim in her name. Henry, her husband, didn’t give a wit about whose name the mine was in. He was supportive of her ownership and, to say the least, delirious about the lucky discovery.
The Mollie Kathleen mine is still in operation to this day. Perry ran it for Mollie from 1901 until his death in 1949.
Mollie died in 1917 but she will forever be known as the first woman to discover gold in Colorado, and the first woman to own a mine in the state.
Just think, what if she had sat on a different rock?
Have you ever had a moment like Mollie’s? The kind in which the slightest hitch could have redirected your life from where it is now? What do you think about her serendipitous discovery?
Comment for your chance to win one of two copies of my book, A Lady in Defiance, which was recently optioned for a television series. One of the characters in the book is named Mollie. It’s a bit foreshadowing.
Thanks for reading!
A LADY IN DEFIANCE
Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance.
When three good, Christian sisters show up, stranded and alone, he decides to let them stay. The decision may cost him everything, from his brothel…to his heart.
Naomi Miller, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem, however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, “Why?” Does God really have a plan for each and every life?
A romance based on true events, A Lady in Defiance deftly weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance.
In my upcoming historical romance, Lawless Hearts, a female Pinkerton detective and an Irish-Cherokee outlaw work together to find a missing agent and become entangled in a net of corruption, crime and murder. It’s a tale of daring deception, pulse-pounding suspense and sizzling romance, in a Western setting that is as authentic as it is wild.
The entire series is rooted in historical events that follow the expansion of the railroad across the American West, and it features numerous secondary characters from the pages of history. For my heroine, I took inspiration from the history of the Pinkerton Agency and the country’s first female detective.
A woman who made history
In 1856, a young 20-something woman named Kate Warne answered an advertisement for detectives posted by Allan Pinkerton to fill his fledgling agency. According to Pinkerton’s records, she convinced its progressive founder that women could be “most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective.” Her arguments and determination impressed Pinkerton and he hired her over the objection of his brother Robert, who was also a partner in the business. Thus Warne became the first female private detective in the United States.
Warne was an excellent private investigator and acted undercover, infiltrating social gatherings and events. During the Civil War, she was instrumental in saving Lincoln from the first assassination attempt. She wore disguises and changed her accent at will and became a huge asset for the agency. Later, Pinkerton hired other females and appointed Warne as Supervisor of Female Detectives. She mentored and trained other young women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood that persisted throughout the 19th and into the 20th century.
Two opposites who defy historical norms
In Lawless Hearts, Brigit Stevens is modeled after the young female detectives mentored by Kate Warne. These were women who sought to break out of the Cult of True Womanhood. They defied cultural norms and broke down societal structures. In that sense, they were truly “lawless” in their pursuit of justice.
Jasper Byrne isn’t just an outlaw whose heart is reawakened. His conscience is under intense reconstruction, as well. After spending most of his life attempting to be someone he isn’t—a bad guy—he takes Brigit up on her offer to join her on the right side of the law. Although he doesn’t perceive himself as a hero. In fact, he’s confused when Brigit treats him like one. But her determination to reform him inspires Jasper to resist the flow of culture and history and end up like so many others in his situation—at the end of a rope.
Unfortunately, there are some who have the law on their side and are using it for nefarious purposes, and they have Brigit and Jasper in the crosshairs.
The deal she offers him could be a path to freedom or a detour straight to hell.
Jasper Byrne has been an outlaw more than half his life. He’d do things differently, if he had the chance, but it is too late to change—or so he thinks. In chains, on his way to court where he expects to be convicted, he is hijacked from under the nose of a U.S. Marshal by a woman who pretends to be a reporter.
Brigit Stevens has worked as an undercover Pinkerton agent for ten years, guarding her heart while putting high-ranking rascals behind bars. But when a fellow detective goes missing during a railroad investigation, she has to turn to a train robber for help. She offers him a deal if he’ll guide her to an outlaw hideout where even lawmen don’t dare to go.
Jasper admires the beautiful detective’s pluck and her clever disguises, but she doesn’t seem to understand he’s a scoundrel. As for Brigit, she is more even more surprised when the dangerously sexy outlaw steals her heart before she can find the lock.
Can an outlaw and a Pinkerton form more than a temporary partnership? Does love have the power to rewrite the future and create second chances?
A high-powered Western romance that transports readers back to the wild American frontier where lawless hearts reigned. Don’t miss the last, most exciting, episode in the series Steam! Romance and Rails.
Lawless Hearts will be released this summer, but it’s available as a preorder now. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the series, you can get started with Her Bodyguard for free if you sign up now for my newsletter.
As a special offer, I’ll also give away a copy of Fugitive Hearts, which sets the stage for Lawless Hearts.
What would be a woman’s strengths in working for the Pinkerton’s that a man wouldn’t have? I can think of several.
E.E. Burke is a bestselling author of historical romances that combine her unique blend of wit and warmth. Her books have been nominated for numerous national and regional awards, including Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice and Kindle Best Book. She was also a finalist in the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to living the dream–writing stories readers can get lost in.
March is Women in History month. Each Saturday, I’ve been shining a spotlight on a woman from the past who did something extraordinary, like Fern Hobbs, known as the girl who tamed a wild West town, and Minnie Hill, the second licensed female steamboat captain in the country.
Today, I thought I’d share a little about a woman who did something so remarkable, I’m not sure many women today would attempt the feat – she defeated her husband to become mayor of their town!
In 1916, Laura Stockton Starcher defeated her husband twenty-six to eight to become mayor of Umatilla, Oregon, a small Eastern Oregon town of not quite two hundred, in what became known as the Petticoat Revolution.
Laura Jane Stockton was born in parents moved to Parma, Idaho, where she lived for many years in Idaho before moving to Oregon. No details were available on how and when she met her husband, E.E. Starcher, but in 1912, the couple moved to Umatilla, a town located on the southern bank of the Columbia River. It was a community where most everyone knew everyone else.
It was also a place where laws were slackly enforced and city improvement had ground to a standstill. Instead of progressing into the new century, it was sliding back toward a the days gambling and lawlessness.
The women of the town decided to do something about it.
Under the guise of a card party held at the home of Mrs. C.G. Bromwell, (her husband was a city council member), the women discussed the particulars of who would run for which office and agreed to quietly, discreetly seek support without revealing the details.
On the morning of December 5, 1916, no one expected a big voter turnout. The same men had held the same town office positions for years. The polls opened at eight that morning with men sauntering in to vote. No one even bothered to order ballots. Names were written on a slip of paper and dropped into the poll box.
Since no women arrived to vote in the morning, although Oregon had given them the right in 1912), it seemed men assumed they were at home doing their daily tasks of cleaning and cooking.
Much to the shock of the men in town, women arrived at the polls around two that afternoon and they wrote names on those slips. Names that would upend the present councilmen.
Only 38 votes were cast for the mayoral position, but Laura beat her husband 26-8 (and the other four votes are lost to history).
Laura Stockton Starcher was voted in as Mayor of Umatilla. Lola Merrick became town treasurer. Bertha Cherry was elected auditor. Gladys Spinning, Florence Brownell, H.C. Means, C.G. Bromwell, and Stella Paulu took all but two of the city councilmen seats.
Perhaps the most stunned person in town that day was Laura’s husband, the current mayor. He had no idea his wife intended to run against him, and demanded a recount, but the results were the same. The women had received the majority of the votes.
In an interview in the the Idaho Statesman, Laura said, “Well, my husband’s administration claimed that the reason it accomplished so little for the city was that it was impossible to get the entire council, or even a quorum, out. Now, I intend to get my council out in this way. We will all be women except the two holdovers, men, who, I understand, are going to learn to do fancy work, in order to feel at home with us, and I shall turn the city council meetings into afternoon teas if necessary, in order to be sure of the full council being present.”
At first, the election made humorous news throughout the nation, referred to as the “Petticoat Government.” The women were often referenced in publications by their married initials: the new mayor, Laura Starcher, was listed as Mrs. E.E. Starcher. Regardless, the women soon proved that they were serious about their newly elected positions.
In her first public address, Laura stated: “Umatilla will be given a business administration and a progressive administration. We believe the women can do many things and effect many reforms in this town that the men did not dare do. We propose to replace the electric street lights, which the present administration removed, clean up and improve the streets, lay sewers and do everything we can to improve the physical and moral health of Umatilla. We shall enforce the laws strictly.”
Within a month, the Laura and her council members had paid the outstanding balance of the town’s electric bill and installed several new street lights.
During the next four years, the council funded projects to improve streets and sidewalks, improved electrical and water maintenance, and created the city’s first “Cleanup Weeks.” They also founded a town library, designed a plan for monthly garbage pickup, and appointed a city health official during the 1918 smallpox epidemic.
Sadly, Laura only served less than a year due to illness. Stella Paula took over the position and when she was elected mayor in 1918.
In 1920, an all-male council was voted in, but the ladies of Umatilla had proven a point. The women could govern as well as the men (and sometimes better!).
Although there is no mention of it, a woman claiming to be Laura’s niece later stated that the Starcher’s divorced after the election, and Laura suffered from health issues some called “nervous breakdowns.”
At any rate, Laura stepped up and because a symbol of courage and hope to women across the country, particularly when some women still fighting for the right to vote.
Laura eventually returned to Idaho and she passed away in Parma on May 2, 1960.
What woman (famous or otherwise) has had an impact on your life?
Share your comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card and a digital copy of Quinn.
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.
Thanks to the Homestead Act of 1862, the West was populated by farmers and ranchers who took their chances with 160 acres and a dream. But from 1828 in Georgia through the early 1900s in Alaska, thousands more flocked across the U.S. and its territories seeking their fortune.
Have you seen photographs of those intrepid miners: scruffy-looking, bearded men in dirt-encrusted garments, a man wearing a broad smile and holding a lump of ore, and men on mules or standing in a river gripping what looks like an oversized dinner plate? If you look further, you might stumble on pictures of women in these same poses.
You didn’t misread that last sentence. A small percentage of women worked alongside the men who converged on the the gold, silver, and copper fields. The reasons for the women’s presence are as varied as the women themselves. Some came with husbands, fathers, or brothers, then stayed after said male relative died. Other ladies were already in the area and decided to give mining a go. Still others heard about the possibilities for riches and were adventuresome enough to try mining on their own. A few came out of desperation.
However, men were not happy to have the women “horn in” on their domain, so many of the ladies dressed as men to blend in or fool their competitors. Apparently, the practice was so common during the California gold rush that when a newspaper photographer advertised for a “lad” to help him, he specified that “no women in disguise need apply.”
Widespread prejudice from the men made life as a female prospector difficult. Claim jumping and stealing by the men were common practices among themselves, but some reports indicate it may have been worse for the ladies. The women also had a tough time selling the claims they did keep. Then it became official when the United States National Bureau of Mines banned the women from mining in 1915. But still they persevered.
Because of the lack of sources, it is unknown how many women prospectors were successful, but there are articles and books about some of the more “colorful” characters such as Fannie Quigley who started her career as a dance hall girl, then headed to the Alaskan gold fields to cook for the miners.
She eventually staked her first claim in 1907, going on to own twenty-five more. Her personal life was less successful-she left two husbands during her search for gold. Then there’s Lillian Malcom (also part of the Klondike rush) who was a Broadway actress. Several of her claims were stolen by men, so she moved to Nevada, acting out her Alaskan adventures along the way to fund her journey. The picture below is of a gold nugget in 1920.
Panning for gold the old-fashioned way is a simple, yet backbreaking process of scooping gravel from a river into a pan, swirling and dipping the pan to let the current carry most of the silt away, then repeating the action until there are about three tablespoons of sand from which to pick out the eyelash-sized flakes. And just in case you’re wondering, prospectors typically worked from sunup to sundown.
Would you have taken your chances as a prospector in the Old West?
I WILL GIVE AWAY AN EBOOK EDITION OF GOLD RUSH BRIDE HANNAH TO ONE RANDOMLY SELECTED COMMENTER.
Gold Rush Bride Hannah
(Book 1, Gold Rush Brides):
A brand-new widow, she doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds…and hearts?
Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels…relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone…dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life?
Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money?
I wrote a blog here a while back about things to do around Dallas. One of those were the Fort worth Stockyards. Well, I can’t very well recommend somewhere I’ve never been, right? The grandkids were visiting from Panama (and getting vaccinated-dual citizens!), so we went on a day trip.
Wow, there’s something there for everyone!
First recommendation – go in early spring or fall – it gets hot there! Second, go early. We got there early enough to snag a shady parking spot, and started wandering.
Tons of shopping! Everything from tourist-trap stuff to really top end boots and attire. These guys were outside one shop, and I was tempted to take one home – instead, settled for the perfect coaster for my desk!
Then we sat on a bench beside the brick of Exchange Avenue, and waited for the cowboys to drive a herd of longhorns past! (happens daily at 11:30 & 4:00) I don’t know if you’ve ever been close to a longhorn, but they are HUGE!
They also had one saddled and standing in the shade that you could get on and grab a photo, but none of us were tempted.
We wandered, and every fifty feet or so there are stars in the sidewalk, like in Hollywood, but they’re for cowboys (and women) that helped settle the west, Western actors, even the cattle trails had one.
After a delicious lunch at Shake Shack (Didn’t know there was one in Texas!), we set off again.
Next stop, Cowtown Coliseum. They have rodeos there every Friday and Saturday night, and the kids would have loved to have seen one, but there just wasn’t time, this trip. But it’s open to the public every day, and there are still things to see there, including Sancho of the curly horns.
It’s also home to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – I had a blast finding all the bullriders I’ve followed for years, including the King of the Cowboys, Ty Murray. But it wasn’t only just cowboys – rodeo stock (bucking horses and bulls) are represented too!
Next stop, The John Wayne Museum. It was closed, but we went in the gift shop, and I couldn’t believe it! There was Trigger and Bullet! For you youngsters, that was Roy Rogers’ horse and Dog, from his TV show. I’d seen them at the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, Ca, decades before, and it was like seeing slightly macabre old friends!
On the way out, I couldn’t resist – I had to get on the bucking machine. Mind you, it was NOT moving. Trust me, getting up on that thing was hard enough – a sure sign I’m too old for it, but I had to get a photo!
All in all, a great, fun day – I highly recommend it! You can learn more of the details of what to do there, here.
If you make it there, send me a photo of YOU on the bucking bull!
The turn of the century when the 1800s merged with the 1900s was called The Gilded Age among other names. It was an era of great economic growth and the world changed very rapidly, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors. Women were fighting for the right to vote and to have a say in the running of the country, to end social injustice. As they cried out for and demanded change a lot of women’s organizations sprang up.
One such organization was the American Temperance Society who advocated against liquor. They were led by women such as Carrie Nation whose first husband died of alcoholism. Carrie attracted a lot of followers who marched and carried signs decrying the evils of drink.
These women eventually became known as “Hatchettes” due to the fact they’d march into saloons carrying hatchets and destroy the place. It was a wild time and women were fed up being treated as second-class citizens and being abused (or killed) by their drunken spouses.
Grace Legend in A Cowboy of Legend joins the temperance movement and sees a hero in Carrie Nation. One of her childhood friends was beaten to death by her drunk husband so Grace sees this movement as one that will define her life.
She’s living in Fort Worth, Texas with her brother who’s trying to keep her out of trouble and not having much luck. As a baby in “The Heart of a Texas Cowboy” she was a sassy little thing and as an adult she’s headstrong, passionate, and determined to make her mark.
Tempers flare and sparks fly when she descends on Hell’s Half Acre and Deacon Brannock’s Three Deuces Saloon with signs, drums, and hatchets.
Having grown up with nothing, he’s worked long and hard for something to call his own and he’s not about to let these women take it from him.
But who is Deacon Brannock? Grace’s search yields no one in the state in Texas under that name. It has to be fake. If so why? What is he hiding?
And who is the young pregnant woman living above the saloon? A wife, mother, sister? Or maybe he’s holding her against her will. Grace wouldn’t put anything past him. He has a dangerous reputation and was questioned for the murder of one man. Who knows how many others he may have killed?
Yet, Grace is keeping secrets of her own as well. Her family would be furious if they knew what she was doing.
This story has a monkey named Jesse James, orphan boys, and a mystery.
A Cowboy of Legend releases a week from today on Tuesday the 27th.
I have two copies to give away. Just leave a comment answering my question. If you had lived back then, would you have joined one of these women’s organizations? Or tell me any organizations you have joined or are still a member of?
Once Upon a Mail Order Bride (ebook only) is on sale for $1.99 until close of day on Thursday, April 22! If you missed the fourth book of Outlaw Mail Order Brides, now is your chance to get it cheap.
Before I was able to purchase a small place in Wyoming where I live part-year, I always thought of Wyoming as ‘the cowboy state.’ The symbol of a cowboy on a bucking horse is pervasive in the state, and shops and bars are plentiful in throwing around the word ‘cowboy.’ But the other nickname for the great state of Wyoming is ‘the equality state’ because, as any feminist historian may know, Wyoming was the very first place in the entire world to give women the vote. Although it’s often said that the decision to give women the vote had to do with the comparatively small population residing in Wyoming at the time, the pro-suffrage vote was generally along political party lines with the Democrats bringing in the law on December 10, 1869. At the time, there was something akin to five men for every woman in Wyoming.
In September 1870, women finally got their chance to cast their ballots…and apparently predominantly voted Republican. Later that year, women jurists served, and in 1871, the first female Justice of the Peace was elected. Women went on to serve in several capacities, including in the state legislature. However, in my own neck of the woods, in the valley of Jackson Hole, things were a bit slower to take off, but when they did, women certainly made their mark.
It’s difficult to believe that the area in which the town of Jackson now sits was once called Marysvale, but that was the original postal address for the area. The first homestead claims had been filed in the 1880s, mostly by men, with women and families arriving later. In 1893, Maggie Simpson became the official postmistress sitting on a property that now is the center of town. She renamed the district Jackson and, as everyone now knows, that is the name that stuck.
By 1900, the town was slowly developing and lots were being sold for housing and shops, but it remained a fairly laid-back place with no real government. It took another twenty years for a town council to be elected—all women! At the time, the population of Jackson was 307 and Grace Miller beat one Frank Lovejoy for the position of mayor, fifty-six to twenty-eight. The five-woman council was able to collect long-overdue taxes, improve road conditions, maintain the Town Square, control roaming livestock, give access to the cemetery, expand sewer and water systems, and install electric lighting and a phone service. They also employed the first Town Marshal, a woman! Pearl Williams had formerly been working at the drugstore as a clerk, but having been brought up on a ranch located between Jackson and Wilson, she had her own horse and could look after herself in the wild. Apparently, most of Pearl’s time was taken up giving interviews to reporters who loved the story of the female marshal in the wild west. The truth of the matter was that the town jail cells had no doors and the worst incidents Pearl apparently handled, aside from keeping stray cattle out of the town square, involved drunken cowboys.
My own first visit to Jackson was as a young girl in the 1960s. I don’t remember much other than going up to Yellowstone except that it was still a fairly quiet place reveling in its small-town life. I suppose in the 1970s when my book Always on My Mind is set, it was just beginning to evolve into what it is today—a vibrant place that welcomes men and women (!) from around the globe, pandemics permitting. And women, of course, continue to play a vital role in both the state government and the town of Jackson.
If you’d like to win an e-copy of Always on My Mind, comment below and let me know what you think it might have been like for a woman living in Jackson in the seventies. There certainly was a lot going on in the country at the time. Here’s the book’s blurb to give you some ideas: 1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.
Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.
Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”
Secrets of My Heart comes out March first and is part of the Willamette Brides series (a sequel to the Heart of the Frontier series which came out several years ago). The story deals with three women who are caught up in the racial conflicts of 1879 Oregon. As I researched for this story, I kept finding a lot of issues that reminded me of problems we’re continuing to deal with today.
For instance, did you know that early in Oregon’s history, exclusion laws went into place that made it illegal for African Americans to even take up residency in Oregon Country. Wagon train masters signed agreements to not allow blacks in their trains. In one of the museums I visited they had a display that told the story of former slave Rose Jackson who was forced to hide in a specially made wagon box all day, every day, as the wagon train came west. She was only able to come out at night after everyone had gone to bed.
There were three exclusion acts – Peter Burnett’s Lash Law was one of these that called for African Americans to be expelled from Oregon, and if they refused to go, they were to be lashed. The law was rescinded in 1845 when it was determined lashing too harsh. The next exclusion law was made in 1849 and stated, it was unlawful for any “negro or mulatto” to enter or reside in Oregon Territory. It was rescinded in 1854. The third and final exclusion act was passed in 1857 and actually written into Oregon’s Bill of Rights. The clause prohibited African American from being in the state, owning property, and making contracts. Oregon became the only free state admitted to the Union with an exclusion clause in its constitution. It wasn’t repealed by voters until 1926, with final racist language not removed until 2002.
While the exclusion laws were generally not enforced, they hung as a threat over the heads of African Americans who feared that at any given moment new laws might be passed to strip away their possessions and force them from the state. This was especially driven home when the Fourteenth Amendment issue came up.
The Fourteenth Amendment which grants citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, was ratified by a very narrow margin in 1866. Oregon then rescinded that ratification in 1868. The Fourteenth Amendment in Oregon was not re-ratified until 1973. They also refused to ratify the 15th Amendment which allows African American men the right to vote. That law wasn’t ratified in Oregon until 1959. For more information go to:
Of course, along with these laws, were laws against the Native Americans. Including making it illegal for whites to marry a person who was at least half Native American or even a quarter black, Chinese or Pacific Islander. This law wasn’t rescinded until 1951.
Learning about these laws and the problems they caused was quite fascinating and reminded me that as Solomon said in the Bible there truly is nothing new under the sun. It also reminded me that as Christians we should love others as Jesus loved us and when we do that, it allows for no prejudice or negativity based on the color of our skin.
I hope you’ll enjoy the series.
Soli Deo Gloria
What do you think would be the hardest part of traveling the Oregon trail in a covered wagon?
Tracie is giving away a print copy of Secrets of My Heart to one person who comments today.
Tracie had an unexpected travel engagement arise today and will not be available to respond to comments here today, but she welcomes readers to contacted her directly at email@example.com or through her website http://www.traciepeterson.com.
Writing a series about outlaws has opened my eyes a bit concerning the oddities I sometimes find hidden way back in history. It’s been fun and very interesting.
Sometimes teens in the old West, just as today, had some wild oats to sow. Yet, you never think about girls doing it back in the 1880s. Yet, this one became famous for it.
Rose Ella Dunn was born Sept. 5, 1878 in Indian Territory at Ingalls, Oklahoma. She was the only girl among five brothers. That was probably the problem right there. They taught her to ride, rope, and shoot. The boys had formed their own outlaw gang by the time she was just twelve years old. I’m not sure what their parents must’ve thought of that.
A few years passed and when she was fourteen or fifteen, her brothers introduced her to outlaw George “Bittercreek” Newcomb.
The striking beauty with a kind demeanor became very infatuated and Bittercreek called her his Rose of Cimarron. Bittercreek was a member of the Doolin/Dalton gang and they were extremely protective of her.
Rose would go into town for supplies and whatever the gang needed, plus bring back news. It was a good system.
For some reason, maybe they got religion or something, her brothers disbanded their gang and started bounty hunting. Knowing most of the gangs and how they operated, they had quite a bit of success. I’m sure the brothers switching horses mid-stream must’ve made everyone on the lawless side just a tad bit nervous.
On September 1, 1893, the gang was in the saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma when they found themselves surrounded by a posse of U.S. marshals. A hail of bullets rained down on them. The outlaws exchanged fire and made a run for it.
Bittercreek was struck down in the street but managed to pull himself to cover. Rose watched it all from a nearby hotel, filled with horror. She ran to him with two belts of ammunition and a Winchester rifle and hunkered down next to him.
Rose fired the Winchester at the marshals while Bittercreek loaded his revolvers. Finally, he was able to escape.
Three deputy marshals lay dead. On the gang side, several were badly shot up. Rose hid out with them, nursing them back to health.
By 1895 Bittercreek had a $5,000 bounty on his head and was wanted DEAD OR ALIVE. That caught the attention of her brothers. Loyalty didn’t amount to much when that much money was involved.
The next time they came to visit at the house, the brothers were waiting. They shot Bittercreek and the outlaw with him as they dismounted, killing them both.
Rose was never prosecuted for her involvement with the gang and her life of crime ended. She married a local politician until her death at the age of 76. I could find no record of any children.
So, was she just a rebellious teenager innocently caught up in something over her head? Or was she truly an outlaw and in it all the way? Have you ever been caught up in something you really wanted no part of and then couldn’t figure a way out?
I’m giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards in a drawing on Sunday.
Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder and in her honor I thought I’d share a bit of trivia about her life and accomplishments.
Laura was 65 when the first of her Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods, was published. It was 11 years later, when she was 76, that the 8th and final book in the series was published.
Laura received her teaching certificate at age 15 and taught in one room schoolhouses until she married Almanzo Wilder at age 18.
The Little House books were not her first paid writing accomplishments. At age 42 she went to work for the St. Louis Farmer as their poultry columnist. She eventually went on to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist, McCall’s Magazine and The Country Gentleman. In order to give her writing more credibility with male readers, her columns were published under the name A.J.Wilder.
As a young child, she lived through a devastating invasion of over 3.5 TRILLION locusts. It was one of the worst natural disasters the country had ever faced to that date, causing an estimated $116 billion worth of damage and causing near starvation for many settlers,, including her own family. The culprits, the Rocky Mountain locusts went extinct about 1902, though no one knows the reason why.
Laura had some interesting leaves on her family tree. One ancestor, Martha Ingalls Allen Carrier, was hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. She was also related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt through her great grandmother, Margaret Delano Ingalls.
She was once told that writing for children was a waste of time. I’m so glad she ignored that advice! Her Little House books have remained in print continuously since the 1930s and the series has sold over 60 million copies and have been published in 26 languages.
Laura received lots of fan mail over the course of her writing life. After her Little House series took off she averaged about 50 pieces of mail per day. In fact, on her last birthday she received over 1000 bits of correspondence.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award was established in 1954 by the American Library Association. Its purpose was to honor authors and illustrators whose children’s books have made a major impact on children’s literature. Laura was, of course, the first recipient. Since then, other recipients have included Theodor Geisal (Dr. Seuss), Maurice Sendak and Beverly Cleary. However, the organization announced in June 2018 that it planned to change the name of the award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award due to the way Laura portrayed Native Americans in her books. In their statement the organization added this caveat: “Changing the name of the award, or ending the award and establishing a new award, does not prohibit access to Wilder’s works or suppress discussion about them. Neither option asks or demands that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children.”
Prior to the establishment of her namesake award, Laura had already won Newberry Honors on four of her Little House books.
A fun little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia – In the summer of 2017, Laura (in her young pig-tailed girl persona) was sculpted in butter at the Iowa State Fair in honor of the 150th anniversary of her birth.
Laura died on February 10, 1957, just 3 day after her 90th birthday. She was survived by her daughter and only child, Rose. Rose never had any children of her own, but Roger MacBride whom she met when he was a teenager and who later became her lawyer and literary agent, became her heir. He inherited an estate that has a present day value of over $100 million and was responsible for licensing the television rights to the Little House books.
So there you have it, some interesting tidbits from the life of one of the most beloved of children authors. Were any of these new to you? Do you have some fun facts of your own to add? Have you read the books yourself?
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