I could go into a huge number of posts, but there are three women in particular I wanted to point out here today. I may do this again later this month, after al, there’s lots of days left in March.
The woman pictured above is Pocahontas, and her life is a lot sadder than what is depicted in the legend or in the Disney film. You could say that the film is complete fiction when compared to the real woman.
Pocahontas was captured by the English during the Anglo Indian wars of 1613 and held for ransom. During her capture, she converted to Christianity and took on the name Rebecca. Eventually she married John Rolfe and bore him a son. Pocahontas marriage to Rolfe in 1614 was the first recorded inter-racial marriage in North America.
The married couple travelled to London where Pocahontas became a bit of a celebrity of the civilized “savage” in order to create investment opportunities in Jamestown. When they were planning on returning to Jamestown, Pocahontas took ill for unknown reasons and died in Gravesend. The exact location of her grave in Gravesend is unknown.
It is believed that she was born in 1595, as no actually record of her birth was kept. This would have put her at about 18 years old when she captured, and 19 when she married John Rolfe. As for the romance with Captain John Smith, while Smith did have dealings with Powhatan indians in the area (some friendly, some hostile), Smith never met Pocahontas until one time when he was captured. In a letter to the Queen, Smith details how Pocahontas risked her life to save his. Never once did they have a romantic affair, but would have been considered more good friends. One must also remember, if Pocahontas birthdate is correct, when Smith met her in 1609, she would have been 13 or 14 at the time.
When Smith was injured and sent back to England, the Powhatans were informed that Smith was dead. Pocahontas never visited Jamestown after that, and did not learn the truth of what happened to Smith until after her marriage to Rolfe.
The picture above depicts Laura Secord, who is famous for her 20 mile walk to warn FitzGibbon of an impending American attack at Beaver Damn during the War of 1812.
The year was 1813, and having learned information about the proposed attack, Secord walked from Queenston in the Niagara district all the way to Beaver Damns to warn James FitzGibbon (not him personally, but he happened to be the commanding officer). With this information, FitzGibbon rallied British troops and Mohawk Warriors to ambush the advancing Americans. By June 24, 1813, the Americans had been defeated with high casualties and prisoner captures for the Americans. Some say this turned the tide in the war and the colonies of Canada (because Canada was still under British rule at the time) went on to victory.
Secord’s walk is disputed several times throughout history, and some even say that Secord herself changed her story over the years. Some say she left with a cow so that she would not be stopped by American troops on patrol. Others say that Secord was escorted by Mohawk warriors (as pictured above). Even FitzGibbon mentioned very little about Secord’s involvement until after the war, believed that it was done to protect Laura and her husband James.
Whatever the true story is, it is agreed upon that Laura Secord did sacrifice a great deal in order to warn the British and help turn the tide of the War of 1812. She lives on In Canadian history.
Elizabeth Jane Cochrane
The charming photo above is a picture of Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, or by her pen name Nelly Bly. Nelly has the distinction being the world’s first investigative reporter, and worker for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World magazine. So valuable was she that once she threatened to take her skills to another newspaper if she wasn’t paid for her abilities in a fair way. Pulitzer gave in, paying her equally to the other journalists.
Nelly is known best for two events, the first being her undercover investigation of Bellevue Hospital. This exposed the mistreatment of inmates and patients within the hospital.
Her other impressive endeavour was traverse the world in 80 days, which she actually did in 72 days, 11 hours and 14 minutes. This was brought on by the book written by Jules Vern, 80 Days Around The World. Bly completed the trip not by balloon, but embarking by steamer. She is the first person recorded to take part in this venture, and in her travels she met Jules Vern in Amiens, France.
Bly got into reporting after her family moved to Pittsburgh in 1880, where she read in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, an aggressively misogynistic editorial to which she wrote a rebuttal under the name Lonely Orphan Girl. The editor was so impressed with the letter, he invited her to join as a reporter, until he learned that Nelly was indeed a woman. Nelly was a good talker, though, and persuaded him to give her a job. She was given the pen name Nelly Bly during this time, as was custom for female writers. The name was chosen from the popular song of the same name by Stephen Foster.
There you go, the first person to travel the world in less than 80 days was Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, best known as Nelly Bly, but equally important was her work exposing the treatment of patients at a New York hospital through her investigative journalism.