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!

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!!

View original post

Names on the Ohio Women’s History Project Shirts

Ohio Women’s History Project T-shirts

Available at https://ohiowomenshistory.com/womens-history-store/

I want to be clear that this is just a sample of the names of women in Ohio History, it is not all of them. These are names that I could fit on a t-shirt and names of women I have begun to write about on this website, plus a few more. I made sure to get names of women that were “firsts” at something. I also tried to only get one name in different categories, and this is why all the first ladies from Ohio are not on here. If you haven’t bought your t-shirt yet, click on the link above and see the different items which are featured. Let’s educate others about Ohio Women’s History, ONE T-SHIRT AT A TIME!

Agnes May Driscoll – Coder/Mathmetician

Annie Oakley – Sharp shooter

Belle Sherwin – Activist

Berenice Abbott – Photographer

Bernice Pyke – First woman to be a delegate for the Democratic Nat’l Convention

Betsy Mix Cowles – Activist Abolition

Betty Zane – American Revolution Heroine

Charity Edna Earley – First AA woman to be an Army Officer

Dorothy Fuldheim – Journalist

Eliza Bryant – Humanitarian

Ella P. Stewart – First AA woman Pharmacist

Emma “Grandma” Gatewood – First woman to walk the Appalachian Trail

Erma Bombeck – Comedian

Evelyn Ryan – Prize winner of Defiance, Ohio (movie made about her life)

Florence Harding – First Lady

Florence Ellinwood Allen – First woman on the state Supreme Court

Florence Z. Melton – Shoe Manufacturer

Frances Jennings Casement – Suffragist

Frances Bolton – First woman to Congress/House of Rep.

Hallie Brown – Educator/Activist

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Writer

Henrietta Buckler Seiberling – Founder of AA/Oxford Group

Jane Scott – Journalist/Musicians

Jerrie Mock – First woman to fly solo around the world

Judith Resnik – Astronaut

Lillian Wald – Nurse

Lillian Gish – Silent film star

Lucy Stone – Suffragist

Lucy Webb Hayes – First Lady

Maude C. Waitt – One of the First women to the state Senate

Mildred Wirt Benson – aka Carolyn Keene (or Nancy Drew’s writer)

Nettie Cronise Lutes – First woman admitted to state bar as a Lawyer

Phyllis Diller – Comedian

Ruby Dee – Actress

Ruth Lyons – Radio/TV

Sarah Worthington – Philanthropist and daughter of Governor

Sharon Ann Lane – Vietnam Nurse

Sojourner Truth – Suffragist/Activist

Victoria Woodhull – First woman to run for President of the US

Ohio Local History Alliance Conference 2019

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported Ohio Women’s History Project this year at the conference! If you wished to have a receipt, don’t forget to email me at ladyjatbay@gmail.com and let me know your name and how many shirts or prints that you paid for and I can send this back to you. If you still wanted to purchase a shirt, you can click on the store at the top of this page.

Ohio Local History Alliance held an amazing conference and I think we all learned a great deal from these presentations. We now have good ideas about how to take our museums, non-profits and new businesses forward in the years ahead. Below are some of the workshops I attended and information that I learned. I have included some links so that you might be able to research this more on your own.

The first workshop that I attended was given by Megan Woods, Cultural Resources

Megan Woods

Division Director at the Ohio History Connection. Her workshop was “Ohio Women’s Suffrage Centennial.” Megan discussed how to be included on their event page on the Ohio Suffrage Centennial website. The Ohio Suffrage Centennial Commission was passed on May 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine. There is currently a travelling exhibit of banners and a trading card project going on in Northwest Ohio by the Trumbull County Historical Society.  There are also book discussion groups and you can get a list of books to read for your own groups through the Ohio League of Women Voters. In August of 2020 there will be a huge celebration that is in the planning stages at this time. Akron is working on a statue to honor Sojourner Truth. Case Western Reserve is hoping to get a play produced entitled the “Taming of the Anti.” All these and more can be found on their website above.

Harriet Taylor Upton

She spoke about three women in particular from Ohio, Harriett Taylor Upton who started in Ravenna and ended up in Warren. She brought the National Women’s Suffrage Association to Warren. She became the Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee and was a part of the D.A.R. (Daughter’s of the American Revolution).

She also shared about Florence Allen who was the first female judge in Ohio but began her career first as a musician and journalist. She had left Ohio for New York to study law and then returned to eventually receive a nomination to the Ohio Supreme Court. Later she would be nominated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Federal Supreme Court. Florence also wrote several books about the law.

Haley Quinn Brown

The third woman was Haley Quinn Brown who was a black woman that eventually came to Wilberforce, Ohio. She was the Dean of Tuskeegee Institute, an International Public Speaker and the President of the Colored Women’s League. She was very involved in the temperance movement as well.

We listened to various people in the audience talk about their projects. One of which is that the Girl Scouts of Ohio are working on a badge to commemorate being a good citizen and learning about the voting process.

I then attended a Grant Management Basics workshop with Jennifer Souers-Chevraux who is the owner of Illumine Creative Solutions, LLC. Jennifer taught us about ways to be organized in a fashion that would help guarantee success with the grant already received. She also gave us several non-profit organizations to help with your business.

Tracy Lawson, the author of a historical book entitled “Pride of the Valley,” engaged

Savannah Homa, Tracy Lawson and Keilah Israel

with Mt. Healthy school in Springfield, to help kids become interested in their ancestry through family trees. Two young ladies came to report on their findings. These future female historians were Savannah Homa and Keilah Israel. There were a total of eight boys and girls involved in this project.

These young girls were very bright and had amazing insight into what they had discovered on this project. I was very impressed with their advanced level of thinking.

At lunch time, on Friday, we listened to Nekole Alligood from the Delaware Nation speak on re-patriating native American remains that might be found in a family member’s home. There is an organization called NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) which handles this type of service in a culturally appropriate way so as to bring peace to the departed. When such an event occurs it needs to be a sacred event with no press invited to the ceremony.  Nekole also made us aware of the fact that there are 44 federally recognized tribes that stem from Ohio. I wondered how many there were that were not recognized. We also learned that native American’s were not recognized or given U.S. citizenship until 1924. Even today, the issue of young women kidnapped from reservations, (which are often isolated locations with people living far from others) for purposes of human trafficking. The issue of rape was brought up many years ago in an article written for Amnesty International that I recall reading. I believe this took place in Alaska. It is interesting to note that girls are kidnapped from reservations but not outside of the reservation (i.e., non-natives). This is a huge concern because the reservations are meant to be protected lands – so why are the people on them not protected?

Sue Plummer and Christine Anderson

Another workshop I attended was on the “Women of King Records.” King Records was a recording studio, manufacturer and shipping warehouse run by Syd Nathan between 1943-1971, in the Cincinnati area. Christine Anderson, a professor from Xavier University in Cincinnati and Sue Plummer an Ohio History Service Corps Alumni, have been conducting research to uncover the women who produced music during that time. They shared a spreadsheet with their findings which held 2,054 recordings of various genres including hillbilly, Doo-Wop, funk and soul. They gave us access to this spreadsheet which includes links to YouTube videos if they were available. I am not sure whether or not it is acceptable to share this link so I will keep that to myself. You can however access this website which appears to be linked to Xavier University.

As you can imagined I had a wonderful time at this conference but I feel safe in saying most people seemed to be having a good time. There were smiles on these eager faces, as they walked about and the people I talked with all agreed that they enjoyed attending.

Remember #olhaempowers to follow on Instagram or Twitter.

Honor the Ladies!

I felt it was important to put something together, as a memorial for women in Ohio’s history. I have been working on this for the last couple of months and then met up with a graphics artist that I was referred to. Samantha Vickers is in Cleveland and runs a company called Intentions Studio Design. We spoke on the phone and I explained how I wanted the emblem to look. I wanted something that would be formal and elegant as this was the style in our history when these women would have been around. It was important to get a design that these women would be proud of. She had it in one take and I was really surprised. You never really know if you are explaining yourself correctly until you see the finished product.

The women on this design have all passed. They are not ALL of the women in history in Ohio because you wouldn’t have been able to read the names if we did this. These are not even ALL of the women who have passed. This sample is based on women that I have written about or are preparing to do so. The names that are highlighted are women were “First” to achieve in the state of Ohio or wherever they became famous. The women that are considered for an Ohio Women’s History list are women who were either born in Ohio or those who made history here. For example, Mildred Wirt Benson (aka Carolyn Keene) was born in Ladora, Iowa and grew up there until she graduated college. When she came to Ohio, she began to write and eventually penned the “Nancy Drew Series,” or at least the majority of the stories. There are other women, like Natalie Clifford Barney who born here and lived here only 10 years. However, she went to boarding school in France and eventually stayed in Paris and ran a “Salon,” which was an intellectual gathering place for forty years. (She is not on the emblem but written about here on my blogposts).

If you click on Women’s History Store, above, you will see this emblem featured on products for men, women, youth and toddlers. This online store is based in Ohio. When you click on the products in the store, it will take you to the “EnlightenedGal” store that I created and this is through the manufacturer (CustomizedGirl). Whatever you purchase, Ohio Women’s History gets a commission from this. This is going to be set aside to pay for setting up Ohio Women’s History Project. This will be a non-profit geared toward educating and bringing awareness to our young people but also to adults. I have already given a lecture for the Westerville Kiwanis on four of the women in Ohio’s History. I would like to have contests for students, that we can feature here on the blog and will be an assignment for their history classes (If you are a teacher, please get in contact with me at ladyjatbay @ gmail.com to discuss). My way of educating will be focused on writing and lectures. The direction of this business will be based on what funds are able to be collected from the sales of these shirts in the store here.

Thank you for taking the time to peruse Ohiowomenshistory.com. Feel free to contact me about contributing an article or telling me a story about an Ohio Women in your history. They don’t need to be famous, just a remarkable person who transformed the people around her.

Jeannine Vegh, Founder of Ohio Women’s History Project

Emma Gatewood – Mercerville, Ohio

Emma “Grandma” Gatewood (October 25, 1887 – June 4, 1973; Scorpio and Artemis)

To say that she had the Gods on her side would be an understatement. This woman faced such tragedy at the hands of her husband. These were episodes of extreme violence, sexual abuse and emotional abuse as well.  After she finally got rid of him, she began to heal from these inner wounds in her own individual way. A way which began to nurture her sense of self and help define her as a woman. By an act of purpose, she became an accidental celebrity. A gift that she did not wish for but would allow and come to expect after a while. Emma Gatewood, aka Grandma Gatewood on the A.T. (Appalachian Trail) would be the first woman to walk the trail in 1955 at the age of 67. She would continue to walk the trail two more times as well as the “The Oregon Trail,” and quite a few other long hauls.

gatewood-book-coverI was turned on to this story, just this past year, after learning about a documentary made in her honor. A documentary which features two of her daughters:  Lucy and Louise, the youngest of the clan. After watching the documentary, I saw Ben Montgomery’s book “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk,” lying on the table and picked it up to scan the cover (P.S. 8/26/2018 – see NYT article at the end of this blog. Ben Montgomery evidently was her great great nephew). This book was a  New York Time’s bestseller and written by a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. After purchasing it, I had put the book to the side, thinking it would be a dull day to day journey and not quite that interesting. I assumed I would force myself through it so I could review it for this website. Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was full of intrigue; rich in historical content from that time period and of course her background.

Being a woman from Mercerville, Ohio and having lived in Gallipolis and some small

First Four of 11 Children

First Four of 11 Children

towns in West Virginia with her husband; it is not unusual to imagine a story of abuse and desperation. Not quite a story of poverty, when you had a woman like Emma but finances were plucked away because her husband was just a really bad man. I am not putting too much emphasis on him because it is a typical jerk of a husband story. You can read the book to find more. These types of stories are so compelling and what old country music tried so hard to explain to us. She would have eleven children, 24 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and one great-great when she died at the age of 85.

Ben creates a rich experience of the trail that you feel as if you are walking right along with her. Thanks to her journals, newspaper articles, and letters written home, he was able to piece together what life on the trail was actually like for her, on a daily basis. In the meantime, his research uncovered one of the largest hurricanes of that time “Hurricane Connie.” He was able to show us the devastation in towns she had already left behind as well as how it affected the path in front of her. He spoke of civil unrest of the times while talking about the night she spent with two opposing gang leaders from New York, unaware yet sensitive to her surroundings. His story created a depth by showing us her own trials and tribulations on the road and yet, no matter what, she persevered and kept moving forward “one foot at a time.”

Her Gear

Her Gear

Reading this book, I kept thinking to myself “Wow, the Gods sure wanted her to be the one.” I also kept imagining the pain she must have been in with a simple pair of tennis shoes. I imagined what her feet must have looked like. As a smaller hiker myself (up to 15 miles), I have seen my own feet after wearing hiking boots. If they aren’t just right, you can get callouses, blackened toe nails, and bloodied heels – all of which I have had. I heard about the throbbing pain she suffered toward the end – with her knee beginning to give out. I have, at 54, problems with my legs which give me trouble if I walk too much on sidewalks or in shopping centers. I could imagine what it was like after her glasses broke (also toward the end) and she could barely see ahead of her. What amazed me most was that a 67 year old woman, having birthed eleven children, was able to sleep on a bed of leaves or hot rocks to warm her back. I have only had one child and my back does not allow me to sleep on anything but a mattress and this is not for vanity. I certainly would have a hard time getting off the ground after an eventful night’s sleep (her sleeps outside were rarely good ones due to nature, not her back).  The bitter icy temperatures up in the final mountain range, any of us who live in cold weather climates – such as Ohio – know far too well what it would have been like wearing a rain coat and a few layers of clothes.  But she made it and is now a legend.

The Writer with Louise (L) and Lucy (R). On the trail.

The Writer with Louise (L) and Lucy (R) on the trail.

As you can imagine, I am not racing to get to the trail and step in place behind her. I’ll keep walking my 6-10 miles with my local meetup group. I wouldn’t mind walking the Grandma Gatewood trail again (I didn’t know I had been on it when I was at Old Man’s Cave). The writer, Ben Montgomery did walk the majority of her trail and did so by tracing the original path she would have taken, thanks to her notes.  This is because the trail she took was much more intense and less user friendly than the well-paved and marked trail of today. I was impressed by his dedication to doing so. He was definitely not a wimpy writer, hiding behind his computer.

So, very sadly, I must put this story behind me as I do with all the women that I have begun to research for this blog and begin to search for another amazing tale. After finishing each woman’s article, I feel as if they have just died for the first time. I tend to be on the verge of tears as I finish the book and write the article as I know I must say goodbye and move forward. I have gotten to know some amazing women that no one really has much intimate knowledge about, with the exception of what little is there to read. When I went about bringing this website to people’s attention, I had no idea just how few resources there would be about Ohio Women’s History. It is important to showcase their lives and make sure that young women have heroines, someone to look up to and imagine being like. Important that they understand, women have done so much more than get us the right to vote – which is all most people seem focused on. We are in a generation of slackers, people who would have the same physical problems I have from sitting at their desk for hours in a day staring at a CRT. Ben’s book talks about an article a man wrote which addresses the laziness of society (back then), due to the invention of automobiles. It mentioned people driving for only two blocks to get a bar of soap. I can’t imagine what that man would think of today’s society. His story was telling and a bittersweet call to arms before life became as it is right now.

The story of Emma Gatewood is the tale of many strong farming women who were capable of accomplishing multiple tasks in one day. My own research into women’s history reminds me of the book, “They Saw the Elephant,” which are diaries and stories about women crossing the country with their families, to find Gold in the hills of California, around the time of 1849. Unless these women documented their experiences or someone decided to walk a trail, these other women, unsung heroines, are people we will never know. Except of course if our grandparents made sure to put them in our heads – and we listened and paid attention to those stories. Otherwise, they are long ago and forgotten because now, in their place, are the modern vamps of our time who can sing a song or look pretty on the screen.

 

Note: Below is the Grandma Gatewood Trail at Old Man’s Cave, where a placard is there mentioning this. This trail was her favorite hike.

Grandma Gatewood Trail map at Old Man's Cave

Post script 8/26/18 https://nyti.ms/2N35h7L

Hillbilly Elegy – Middletown, Ohio

ma-and-pa-sonI just finished reading “Hillbilly Elegy,” by J.D. Vance, 2016. If you remember Ma and Pa Kettle, the first four episodes are about their eldest son who went to college. This could be based on the story of J.D. Vance (except they don’t have potty mouth). In fact, my own paternal family came from the hills of Kentucky, making their way up Daniel Boone Forest (Lauren and Lee Counties) before moving to Obetz, Ohio.  My Great Grandfather left after killing someone to protect his family from the victims family. However, of the people I grew up with, J.D.’s family makes mine look like the Queen’s cousins. While his family was plagued with drugs and alcohol, mine changed the spellings of their last name, for all the children they had from playing around. Of course no one could figure that out since 1. The last name was quite unique but 2. A lot of illiteracy came into play. Why I am including this story here on Ohio Women’s History is that the main character of the book is Mamaw (prn: Ma’am-maw), Bonnie Vance. A woman of exceptional and very unique character (though not for an Appalachian woman), it was because of her hard work and I’d say intelligence that helped her grandson escape poverty and make a name for himself. ma-and-pa-w-gun

Bonnie was a woman who found herself pregnant in high school and ran off to marry her husband. She then learned that this man was a raging alcoholic, yet she stood by him for many years before he finally got his act together. Her own children, including J.D.’s mother continued the genetic trend with alcohol and now drugs as well. J.D. went from home to home, like a foster child, except in his case it was his mother’s succession of boyfriends. Bonnie took him in from time to time and the last three years of his childhood would be spent with her. Over the years, she and her husband worked diligently to make up for what was lost with their own kids and to try and turn the family crisis around.

I didn’t have any relatives or “family” who could match Bonnie with her talk but I did know a lot of Appalachian women whom I truly adored and respected. What endeared me to Bonnie’s story was that she did remind me of Ma Kettle and beneath that rough exterior was a woman who would do whatever it took to make sure that her grandson succeeded in life. As I am also the first in my family to go to college and then get a graduate degree, I can empathize with the struggles of going from welfare and living in the “sticks” or out in the “boondocks,” to living in California and dealing with culture shock from this experience. Appalachian women may have had it rough but these women are what we would call “street smart” today. Though they didn’t live on any streets, they grew up with a sense of loyalty to their kin that most people can’t really relate to in this day and age. J.D. Vance is able to capture this sense of love and respect through an incredible memory that seemed to photograph each scene of his life and then write it down in such a way that you feel you are right there in their living room.

Unless you know exactly when your kin “crossed the pond” and took a look at lady liberty for the first time, then you just might be of Appalachian folk yourself. This is not exactly what we were called when I was growing up; this term is merely a Politically Correct word which established itself among the liberals of today. In fact, the women that are still with me refer to themselves as “hillbilly and proud to call myself that.” There is no shame in being a hillbilly, there is only shame if you choose to get caught up in the chaos and surrender to living out the terms “White Trash.” Of all the survivors of abuse, drugs/alcohol, child molestation, that I have met and had the pleasure to work with, those who rose from the ashes of despair and chose to not allow their trauma to be a part of their lives ever again – except to educate and teach others – all have started from humble beginnings.

I would be proud to have known Bonnie Vance and I chose to put her on this website list of heroic Ohio women of history because of her hard work and dedication to her family. She was a transformed woman of history who brought her family to where they are today. And this, no doubt, will transform the future generations of her family. Hillbilly Elegy should be a must read for children raised in Appalachian communities (via school districts) as it will be a book they can relate to and as such, will give them hope that they too can succeed.

J.D. Vance and his Mamaw, Bonnie Vance

J.D. Vance and his Mamaw, Bonnie Vance

Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story – Event

Long before Reese Witherspoon made the movie Wild about the adventures of Cheryl Strayed, there was  Emma “Grandma” Gatewood. You can now see the full documentary, Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story as it will be coming to the Ohio History Museum on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 from 1-3pm. Emma who, at 67 years old was the first woman ever to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. A survivor of three decades of domestic violence and in the meantime raised 11 children, she finally found the courage to walk away. Inspired by an article in National Geographic, she then decided she would like to, as a woman walk the trail. Later she became a celebrity and appeared on a couple of guest spots on national television. After the film, the producers will be there to answer questions.

Also on Sunday, October 30th from 2-2:30 pm will be another interesting women’s history event. Woodhull for President! will be presented by a staff member at the Ohio History Museum.

Appalachian Women

This is an amazing documentary of women who are called “Appalachian.” While these ladies are not from Ohio, their kinfolk migrated here over the years and settled around our fine state. You can still hear the dialect amongst certain elder women, here in Ohio and a hint of this talk from others. A wonderful lady I grew up with, used these words:

Arn – Iron

Wharsh – Wash

Davenport – Sofa or Couch

Arnge – Orange

“Well, for heaven’s sake.”

Perhaps you can recall some words that gave you a smile as well. I once worked with a client down in the Wilmington area that had such a thick dialect I often had to ask what he was saying because I had never heard his way of speaking before.

What I find superior amongst these women is their ability to be a survivor. These are ladies who would never ask for a handout from the government because they already know how to make do with what they have. If they don’t have it, they can grow it, bake it, sew it, or fix it. This is a skill that most women do not know today and could not do if their lives depended on it. I believe there will come a time when this will be necessary.

Cherish your elders while you have them. They may seem old fashioned and strange now but I guarantee you that as you age, they will make more and more sense.

Appalachian Family transplanted to Grove City

Appalachian Family transplanted to Grove City

The same Appalachian family c. 2001 L-R Joe, Elsie, Bob, Della and Bernie Wells

The same Appalachian family c. 2001
L-R Joe, Elsie, Bob, Della and Bernie Wells

Appalachian family home KY c. 60's or 70's

Appalachian family home KY c. 60’s or 70’s

This old house was where Della and her kin lived in KY, estimated time would be 1930’s-40’s and back. This home was a three room place for a sharecropper and his family. It had a big living room, a fireplace, a big bed in the living room, the bedroom had 3 beds, there was a big kitchen and a long table with chairs made by Della’s father. Three kids slept in each bed and parents were in the living room. In order to find this home, Della and her husband had to work hard traipsing through weeds and looking out for snakes before they were able to find this and take a photo.

Mom (Della's mother-in-law but what we called her) and Norma Jean Welsh 1974

Mom (Della’s mother-in-law but what we called her) and Norma Jean Welsh 1974

Mom and Norma Jean are standing in front of the garage for their home and Della and Don’s home. Behind the windows is Della and Don’s home and in front of them (which you can’t see of course) is their home. It was a two car garage and attached to it is the original home that Don and Della lived in before they built the home behind the window. The original home was a one bedroom house that I vaguely remember from peering through the window from time to time. It had no bathroom and so Della, Don and the two girls had to go to Mom and Norma’s for hygiene.