Jerrie Mock: The Newark-born “Housewife” Who Flew Around the World

An amazing story from the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock.

Ohio Women's History

It began with the dream of a little girl taking her first airplane ride. In 1932, in Newark, Ohio, that little girl understood what her destiny held, even if not the details. “I will fly around the world.”

In grade school, she studied the atlases of the world and found two more dreams for her life: to ride a camel in the Sahara and to ride an elephant.In college, she was the only female in a class of 100 studying aeronautical engineering.

As the years passed, she pursued her dreams as best she could, but Jerrie Fredritz was from a small town, and a girl in the 1940s. When you’re a girl, you drop out of college – if you were lucky enough to start college – to get married. Two years later, you give birth because this is what you do.

Jerrie Mock in the cockpit in her…

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Four Women in Ohio’s History

This is a practice presentation that I did for the Ohio Local History Alliance a week ago. The live presentation was delivered yesterday at 9am. I actually think I did a better job here because I was more relaxed and not worried about the time. I hope you like it!

Biographical Sketch of Eliza Archard Connor | Alexander Street Documents

Ohio Women's History

Thank you Cora B. Arney for allowing me to share this! Click on the link to read the article there or you can read it below.

Source: Biographical Sketch of Eliza Archard Connor | Alexander Street Documents

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Eliza Archard Connor, 1838-1912

By Cora B. Arney, Public History Consultant, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Women’s Rights Journalist

“Author, Traveler, Scholar.” These are the terms etched into a New Richmond, Ohio headstone to describe 19th century journalist, Eliza Archard Conner. Archard was born in 1838 in the abolitionist town of New Richmond, Ohio and died in 1912 in New York City. She was tough, highly opinionated, and a radical in her time. She seized any opportunity to prove herself as a prolific journalist, and to influence other women to live up to their full potential. These qualities were no doubt seeded by spending her formative years…

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Ohio Local History Alliance Virtual Meeting October 1-3

Ohio Women's History

Hello fellow readers. I wanted to make you aware of this meeting October 1-3 and let you know that if you sign up, you will hear Ohio Women’s History Project as one of the first presentations on October 1st from 9am – 10am.

http://ohiolha.org

The title of the presentation will be Transformed Women Who Brought Us to Where we are Today.  There will be several other presentations and a guest speaker during these three days. I hope you will be able to attend and while it is virtual, you will be able to ask questions via Chat that I will be able to answer at the end. I look forward to seeing you!!

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Sojourner Truth: Ohio Women’s Right’s Convention, Akron

Ohio Women's History

Sojourner Truth was born Isabella “Belle” Baumfree sometime in 1797 in Swartekill, NY (died 11/26/1883 at 86). She was an abolitionist, an author and a human rights activist. She escaped slavery in 1826 with her infant daughter. She was the first black woman to get her son back in court two years later. Ms. Truth helped bring black troops to the Union for the Civil War and she also helped freed blacks to receive land grants. In the latter she was unsuccessful. She also narrated several pieces that have been published, her talk in Akron was not want of them. Today there are quite a number of memorials in her name around the country.

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Helen Beatrice Jenkins Davis: Columbus, OH

Ohio Women's History

Ms. Helen Beatrice Jenkins was born July 28, 1894, in Columbus, Ohio, the 12th of 13 children of Sallie and William George (Billy) Jenkins. Helen’s father was born into slavery in 1849. After the end of the civil war and slavery, William Jenkins moved to Jamestown, Ohio where he met and married Sallie.

Ms. Jenkins grew up on Spring Street, in an area that is presently part of Martin Luther King Drive. Helen graduated from the Columbus Normal School, in the top five percent of her class; and continued her education at Ohio State and Capital Universities. Discriminatory practices within the public educational system caused a delay of approximately two years before Davis’ appointment to a teaching position in the
Columbus Public Schools in 1918. She was among the first Black teachers, in the first integrated Columbus Public School, Spring Street Elementary. Helen B. Jenkins Davis’ teaching career spanned over…

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Phoebe Ann Moses – Darke County, Ohio

I have put off writing about Annie Oakley (born August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926 Leo/Artemis) for some time now because I wanted to feature other Ohio Women in History that most people did not know about. Annie was one of the first superstars or famous actresses of her time. I read about her in a short biography by Chuck Wills for DK Biographies, so that it is more of a children’s reader. I’d love to find something more about her life but it appears that this was not her priority until after retirement and writing just wasn’t in her. She was only able to pen a few pages. Also, being a celebrity, more fiction was written about her than non-fiction.

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Prominent Columbus Black Women from Second Baptist Church

Recently, I met with Sandra Jamison who is a member of Second Baptist Church and part (board member?) of the James Preston Poindexter Foundation. Second Baptist Church is the oldest Black Baptist Church in Columbus and Reverend Poindexter was a very outspoken and prominent leader for this parish and community. Ms. Jamison and I met at the Ohio Local History Alliance Conference last weekend and shared with me a list of these wonderful women who once attended her church. The list was created by another woman in her church and she handed me a copy of it. I am listing these women here and sharing photos and notes if I can find them. If you are aware of any information on these women, I invite you to contact me with more information. Also, don’t hesitate to post on my FB group Ohio Women in History.

Blanche M. Van Hook – She was a society columnist featuring black women as well as working for the city. She was also known for writing about the Lucy Depp Park neighborhood. She was born in approximately 1896 in Ohio and died here in 1970.

Helen Carter Moses – She was a composer, organist and teacher (Sandra said that she learned to play piano from her).

Daisy Hall Rice – Beautician

Helen Jenkins Davis- She was born in the 1880’s and lived until the 1980’s. She was one of the first black teachers in Columbus. She graduated from her teaching college in 1916 but it would not be until 1921 that she was able to find a position because of her race.  In 1976, she was the first witness to be called in regard to a school segregation case that would eventually lead to the Supreme Court making a decision on this once again. She is mentioned in the book Beyond Busing: Reflections on Urban Segregation, the Courts and Equality. There is now a scholarship in her memory and a FB group.

Jessie Stephens Glover – Is the first black female to graduate from the Ohio State University in 1905 with a B.A. in Modern Languages. For awhile she lived in Florida and taught German and English at what is now Florida A&M University. She later moved to Virginia to teach at what is now Virginia State University before moving back to Ohio for marriage and to raise their two daughters.  She became an activist and volunteered to be a probation officer for the Domestic Relations court. She was born in 1882, in Ohio, the daughter of former slaves and lived until 1966. Her biography is featured in Profiles of Ohio Women 1803-2003.

Edna Bryce – She was a club woman and entrepreneur who owned a flower shop.

Isabella Ridgway – Founder of an “old folks” home for blacks, in the early 1900’s. It is named after her and continues to this day. There is also a foundation in her name which began in 2016.

Constance Jean Nichols – Born in Marietta, Ohio and a graduate of the Ohio State University. She was a devoted activist, was one of the founders of the Vanguard League— an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against African Americans in Columbus. She was also responsible for helping to get the Ohio Theater integrated.

E. Carrie Coles – Was a member of the Housewives League.

Nell Moffett – Was once a Principal at Mt. Vernon Avenue Elementary School.

Cora Jordan White – Executive Secretary at the Blue Triangle Branch Y.W.C.A.

Anna Hughes – Administrator, Ohio Avenue Day Nursery

Belle Carter – She was a Pioneer Teacher, Social Worker, and a Probation Officer in the Court of Domestic Relations.

Mayme Artis – Piano Teacher

Anna B. Jones – She was born in about 1871 and became a Philanthropist and Community Activist

Victoria Woodhull Documentary

Eden Valley Enterprises is seeking donations for their documentary on Victoria Woodhull. As you can see by this trailer, it is going to be a great success! They have already created a wonderful documentary on Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, which I got a chance to see at a screening at the Ohio History Connection. The film entitled “Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story,” was nominated for an Emmy! So you know your donations are in good hands. Both Grandma Gatewood and Victoria Woodhull’s stories are available in a storytelling program for presentations.

Florence K Harding – Marion, OH

Her favorite painting of herself

Florence Mabel Kling – Harding (August 15, 1860 – November 21, 1924 Leo/Hera) was the 29th First Lady of the United States. When searching for a book to read about her, my first First Lady to do an article on, I chose the book by Katherine A.S. Sibley. The reason being that there was a lot of controversy associated with the Warren Harding presidency (posthumously) and this book came from a more positive angle. I wanted to find out more about Mrs. Harding as a woman. As I began to read her story, I realized I had so many things in common with her. I was able to identify with her life (pre-White House years) and could empathize with some of the ways in which she behaved as a mother and grandmother; in her time period.

Florence was not a stranger to controversy, it met her every step of the way from the moment she was a frisky young adult of 19 and married the wrong guy. She was meant to become a concert pianist and study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Instead, she eloped (they could never find records of a marriage certificate) to Henry Atherton De Wolfe. He was a drunk and this lasted six years. In the meantime, however, she gave birth to her only child Marshall Eugene. Being a divorced woman in 1886 and a single mother at that, her father decided that it was in her best interests to let he and her mother raise the child. They took over and allowed her to spend time with her son but he made the decisions as to how the child would be raised. Florence lived alone and made a living off of giving piano lessons.

She met Warren G. Harding four years later and he was five years younger than she. He owned the “Marion Star,” when they met. They married a year later and Florence immediately went to task in becoming, not just his wife, but his business partner as well. This would continue throughout their marriage. Mr. Harding tried to take an interest in her son, who continued to be raised by her father and it made somewhat of an impression on Marshall.

Marshall would go on to Michigan State to study journalism and played football there as well. He made some attempts at going into business but eventually became like his own father instead. At 34 years old, he died of alcoholism an tuberculosis. His own father had died by this point as well. At his death he left a widow (Esther Naomi Neely) with a young boy, (George) and girl, (Eugenie) to raise. Mrs. Harding would keep in touch with this family (Esther eventually re-married) and she gave monthly checks to Esther for child support.

In this time period, people did not divorce and the gossip columns and social media outlets of today were, thankfully, unavailable at that time. When Warren G. Harding became the 29th president in 1921, Mrs. Harding circumvented any knowledge of her previous family from getting into the press. As she was a newspaper woman herself, she played to the journalists by becoming their friends and gave them information but refused to do interviews. In return, they respected her anonymity. Mrs. Hardings grandchildren were never at the White House. She did not visit them, during the time they were in office but she did maintain correspondence with their mother.

This is an interesting point about Mrs. Harding. A lot can be said about her pushiness toward her daughter-in-law; giving advice on how to raise the children. She was frugal with her child support (it was a lot in those days but she could have afforded more than she did). Florence would also send hand-me-down dresses (of her own) to be used as fabric to make Eugenie’s clothes. I am sure Esther did not appreciate all the meddling but we don’t really know because only Mrs. Harding’s letters were preserved. We do know though that Mrs. Harding began to regard Esther in more of a confidante type of way, telling her more intimate details about her life. I see this as a bit narcissistic though, and while I am empathic toward Mrs. Harding, I can still imagine this might be the case. She had no real relationship with Esther, other than her letters and money. They rarely saw each other from what I can detect in this book. So, for her to be so forward, appears a bit narcissistic or entitled to do so. In the end however, Mrs. Harding left a great fortune to her grandchildren and they were only in their mid-20’s at this time.

With regard to her marriage to Mr. Harding, Florence faced many struggles. He was a philanderer, like many presidents before and after him. Still, she remained strong and stalwart and it appears he did appreciate this. While he was not faithful, it does seem that he respected his wife very much and took her opinions. He nicknamed her “The Ducchess,” which she evidently enjoyed hearing. While Mrs. Harding is not given the credit that Eleanor Roosevelt would receive (she was only in office for two and a half years); she was just as involved in politics and in advising her husband. Meanwhile, Mr. Harding, had two major affairs – one to a woman who was married herself and best friends with the Hardings. The other woman was more clandestine and produced a child. However, the only child of Warren G. Harding, (Elizabeth Britton) was not proven with DNA results, and published in the New York Times, until 2015 (using Ancestry.com). So in the book I read, written by Ms. Sibley and published in 2009, she continues to state that it was highly unlikely (since the Hardings were married for 32 years and never had a child). This was an affirmed belief by all of the doctors involved with the Hardings at that time as well. Nonetheless it was true but the DNA was done posthumously as Ms. Britton did not wish to clear it up for herself. Ah, secrets and lies!!

The Daily Star’s thoughts on the First Lady:

Mrs. Harding is far better looking than her pictures…her smile is the essence of sweetness and graciousness, while her photographs often give her the appearance of sternness

It appears that President Hardings time in office was somewhat similar to that of President Trump now. He brought a lot of friends with him to the White House who assumed a great many roles. Some of them did take advantage of their positions but it seems as if they kept the President in the clear. How this would be handled now, since President Harding was a Republican, I would assume he would get the same treatment as President Trump. President Harding differed though because he was well-liked by the public at that time and this was in great part to his wife’s role in orchestrating public events. Mrs. Harding, began inviting the public to the White House and in fact this became the precedent that has continued to this day. Of course at that time, the fear of terrorists was unheard of. The Hardings actually went out and met with the public – and shook all of their hands – when they were present for these occasions. The public were also offered food and drink. Large soiree’s occurred during the Hardings time in office as well. People who throw good parties, have great numbers of friends. Especially when you are making them feel welcome in the highest office of this country.

Florence took her role to heart and was not just involved in planning parties and decorating the house. Suffrage was ratified right before they went into office and so Mrs. Harding was the very first wife to vote for her own husband. She was very involved in helping Warren choose cabinet members (some of their friends) and writing the speeches he would present. She was involved with women’s concerns and took part in the conditions faced by female criminals and creating a Women’s Prison. She had gatherings with women journalists at the White House. She invited notable women to the White House such as Madam Curie. Not only was she involved with raising awareness toward women and their issues, she was also passionate about war veterans. She toured many hospitals and gave public functions for soldiers and their families. Florence and Warren Harding had a great love for animals. While their family did not include children of their own, they did have several dogs and a horse. As a result, philanthropy toward animal rights was another great cause they both shared. Ms. Sibley took offense to this though, in writing that Florence had no problems with wearing a fur coat. In that time period, it was normal to wear furs and being “Politically Correct” was unheard of. While people enjoyed pets and wanted to protect them, the issue of non-pet animals was really not a concept at that time. I don’t feel confused by this at all.

A journalist asked First Lady Mrs. Harding about women in politics and this is her short but typical response to the press:

What do you think of women in politics?” “I believe it is a good thing under certain circumstances

A separate item of interest I noted from reading this book, was the support and affiliation with the Native American tribes during their travels in office. I thought to myself, “When was the last time we heard of a President smoking a peace pipe?” For that matter, when was the last time we saw photo ops with the Native American people? Presidents don’t attend Pow Wow’s or even talk about these people, not unless there is a protest. I hadn’t thought of that until I saw a photo in this book and read about the time the Hardings spent with the Native Americans.

Émile Coué

Unfortunately, another struggle with the Hardings marriage was the health and wellness of both of them. Florence almost died in office and Warren did die. Mrs. Hardings health was an issue throughout their entire marriage but came to an almost fatal blow within the first year of the presidency. The top doctors were called in and lived there for many months. One of them was Dr. Boone (an ancestor of Daniel). She was a great fan of a French motivational health speaker at that time, Émile Coué and would use his mantra: Every day, in every way I am getting better and better. This worked and she would eventually heal, though the sickness would continue to come and go. By the time her husband died, she began to lose interest in remaining and she followed him a year and three months later.

Warren’s death would even become a controversy as well, much later. It was surmised that she orchestrated this by poisoning him. The theory is based on the fact that she did not want an autopsy. Many family members do not do this when they are assured by their doctors as to the cause.  I find this reasoning hard to believe as there were nurses in the room when he died and a doctor was by his side up until the last half hour. I also find this hard to believe when you look at the emotional toll it took on Florence and how quickly she would follow him. Doctor’s today, attribute his death to being a mistake of his doctor’s who assumed it was one thing and ignored other signs (but also as they were not as knowledgeable at that time). My feeling is that Florence died of a broken heart, loneliness, and giving up her will to live.

We often want to search for posthumous theories, to try and understand or to make history fit with our own concerns in modern day times. Sometimes this makes good sense but many more times, it is best to let a “cigar just be a cigar,” to rephrase a Freudian quote.

What I also enjoyed, in reading about Florence K. Harding, is that she was a follower of the occult and enjoyed talking to psychics and astrologers. She was very well aware that Warren would win the presidency but also that he would die in office. Yet, even though people do believe in metaphysics and the supernatural, it doesn’t take away the excitement when it is proven and he is announced as the next President. Nor, does it eliminate the pain when the person does die as predicted.