African American Hairdresser Who Saved Slaves
Image: Christiana Carteaux Bannister
Painted by her husband, Edward Mitchell Bannister
Christiana Carteaux Bannister was an African American abolitionist, philanthropist, and businessperson in New England in the mid-19th century. She met her husband, artist Edward Bannister, at her hair salon in Boston; the two were active in the Boston Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves reach the next station.
She was born Christiana Babcock circa 1820 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island to African American and Narragansett Indian parents. Her African American grandparents most likely lived and died as slaves. Christiana’s parents were probably born after Rhode Island’s gradual emancipation act of 1784 was passed, and so gained complete freedom at the age of twenty-one. Little is known of her childhood.
Business Women in the Early United States
Women have always struggled with the challenges presented by socially-determined gender roles, which have both created opportunities for women’s advancement and limited their growth as professionals.
Image: Eliza Lucas Pinckney
Eliza Lucas Pinckney
Eliza Lucas (1722-1793) was born in Antigua, West Indies and grew up at one of her family’s sugarcane plantations on the island. Her parents, Lt. Colonel George Lucas and his wife Ann sent all their children to London to be educated. Eliza studied French and music, but her favorite subject was botany.
Woman Who Stitched the Star Spangled Banner
Mary Young Pickersgill stitched the Star-Spangled Banner, the large flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. When he saw the flag still flying above the embattled fort the next morning, the sight inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become the national anthem of the United States of America.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania February 12, 1776, Mary Young was the youngest of six children born to William Young and Rebecca Flower Young. Mary’s father died when she was two years old. To support her family, Rebecca opened a flag shop in Philadelphia. Beginning in 1875, she made the Grand Union Flag, also called the Continental Colors, for the Continental Army. The Grand Union Flag preceded the Betsy Ross flag and is considered the first American flag. Young later moved her family to Baltimore, Maryland, where she taught Mary the craft of flag making from a very young age.
Texas Rancher and Pioneer Female Trail Driver
In the mid-1800s, cattle ranching was becoming big business in Texas, but not all ranchers were men. Margaret Borland was one of the very few frontier women who ran ranches and handled her own herds. She drove 1000 head of Texas Longhorn cattle up the Chisholm Trail from south Texas to Wichita, Kansas – a tough trip for the four young children she was forced to take with her.
Margaret Heffernan was born April 3, 1824 in New York City. Her parents, both born in Ireland, had sailed to America a few years before Margaret’s birth. Her father was a candlemaker who struggled to provide a living for his family. When land agent John McMullen came to New York telling tales of lucrative opportunities available in Texas, the Heffernans agreed to join his colony.
Pioneer and Philanthropist in Early Colorado
Traditionally, women’s philanthropic activities were tied to their husband’s wealth, but some women did it all by themselves. A freed slave, Clara Brown established a successful laundry business during the Colorado Gold Rush. She was a black pioneer, the first African American woman in Denver, a community leader and philanthropist.
Image: Clara Brown between 1875 and 1880
Born a slave in Virginia in 1800, at a young age Clara Brown and her mother were sold to Ambrose Smith, a Virginian tobacco farmer. Smith was a kindly man and a devout Methodist; he took Clara and her mother to his church services.
First Female Mexican American Author to Write in English
Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton is among the best remembered authors of nineteenth-century Mexican American literature. Fully bilingual, de Burton was the first female Mexican American to write novels in English: Who Would Have Thought It? and The Squatter and the Don.
Though records are sparse, Maria Amparo Ruiz was born into an aristocratic Latino family in Loreto on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. Her grandfather, Don Jose Manuel Ruiz, was sent to the frontier to assist in the founding of missions in Baja.
Heading a large force of men, Ruiz left Loreto in 1780, and several missions were soon founded. For this, Ruiz was awarded a large grant of land, “…48,884 acres was conferred upon Lieutenant Jose Manuel Ruiz of the Spanish Army, July 10, 1804 for gallant services.” As granddaughter of Ruiz, Maria would one day inherit the vast Rancho Ensenada de Todos Santos established on those lands by her grandfather.
One of the Wealthiest Women in the South
Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham (1817–1887) was one of the wealthiest women of the antebellum South. Her first husband died in 1846, leaving her an inheritance valued at approximately $1 million, which included seven Louisiana cotton plantations, a two-thousand-acre farm in Gallatin, Tennessee and hundreds of slaves. While Joseph Acklen was a great help to Adelicia in the operation of her many properties, she was actively involved in the management of her businesses, especially after his death.
Adelicia Hayes was born on March 15, 1817 into a prominent family in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was Oliver Bliss Hayes, a lawyer, judge and cousin of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States. Her mother was Sarah Clemmons Hightower Hayes of Franklin, Tennessee. Adelicia attended the Nashville Female Academy and at 17 was engaged to Alphonso Gibbs, a Harvard graduate who died before the wedding.
Businesswoman Who Printed First Bible in America
Jane Aitken (1764–1832) is a significant historical figure in the early nineteenth century. She was one of the first women printers in the early United States and the first woman in the US to print an English translation of the Bible. Aitken was also a publisher, bookbinder, bookseller and businesswoman, a time when the independence of women was actively discouraged. She published at least sixty works from 1802 to 1812.
Image: The Thomson Bible, printed by Jane Aitken
Jane Aitken was born July 11, 1764 in Paisley, Scotland, the eldest of four children born to Robert and Janet Skeoch Aitken. Her father Robert Aitken was a stationery and book merchant in Scotland as well as a talented printer and bookbinder. The Aitken family emigrated to the American Colonies in 1771 (Jane would have been 7 years old), and settled in Philadelphia, where Robert set up a business selling stationery and books, as well as printing and binding books.
First and Most Prominent Woman CEO in the United States
Rebecca Lukens was an American businesswoman, who ran a steel mill from 1825 until her retirement in 1847. In the mid-1990s, the mill – the Lukens Steel Company – was considered the oldest continuously operating steel mill in the U.S. In 1994, Fortune magazine named Lukens America’s first female CEO of an industrial company and inducted her into the National Business Hall of Fame.
Image: Portrait of businesswoman Rebecca Lukens
Rebecca Webb Pennock, the eldest daughter of Isaac Pennock, was born on January 6, 1794. She grew up in the business, often accompanying her father in the mill. She had a great desire to learn, and with the support of both her father and cousins, Rebecca received a much better education than most girls of her era. She attended a boarding school in Wilmington, Delaware, where she studied French, mathematics and the sciences.
Native American Bussinesswoman
La Framboise was one of the most successful fur traders in Michigan, while it was still considered the Northwest Territory. At that time, fur trading was a difficult, dangerous and male-dominated occupation. Madame La Framboise was one of the most prominent early businesswomen in the territory.
Madeline Marcotte was born in February 1780 at Mackinac Island, the daughter of a French-Canadian fur trader Jean Baptiste Marcotte and Marie Nekesh, an Ottawa Indian. Madeline was only 3 months old when her father died. She was raised among her mother’s people in an Ottawa village at the mouth of the Grand River near Grand Haven Michigan. She must have been a person of some status there, as her grandfather was Chief Kewinoquot.