Margaret Reed

Member of the Tragic Donner Party

James and Margaret Reed

In 1846, Margaret Reed and husband James left Illinois on their way to the promised land of California, where they hoped to begin a new life, but their migration did not go smoothly. An early snowstorm trapped the travelers in the treacherous passes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is more the story of the Reeds than the Donners because the Reeds left diaries and letters about that tragic journey.

California Fever
James Frazier Reed was one of the organizers of the wagon train that would become known as the Donner Party. Born in Ireland, he came to the United States as a young boy with his widowed mother. Reed had made a fine life for himself and his family in Illinois as a farmer and businessman, but in 1846 James and Margaret Reed caught California Fever.

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Annie Adams Fields

Writer, Philanthropist and Suffragist in Boston

Annie Adams Fields was a poet, philanthropist and social reformer, who wrote dozens of biographies of famous writers who were also her friends. She founded innovative charities to assist the poor residents of Boston and campaigned for the rights of women, particularly the right to vote and to earn a medical degree.

Image: Young Annie Adams Fields

Annie Adams was born June 6, 1834, the sixth of seven children of a wealthy family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents believed in progressive education for young women; as a girl, she attended a school in Boston that emphasized the classics and literature, which was run by George Emerson.

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Maritime Underground Railroad

Slaves Escaped the South on Northern Vessels

The Maritime Underground Railroad was a network of people who helped slaves travel by vessel from the southern United States to freedom in the North and Canada. Slaves escaped aboard the thousands of Southern ships that did business in the North and sailed regularly up and down the Atlantic coast. A clandestine society of slaves directed fugitives to the ships and black crewmen secreted them on board.

Image: Underground Railroad Routes on Land and Sea
Credit: National Geographic

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Margaret Borland

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.

Early Years
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.

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Kate Field

One of the First American Women Journalists

Kate Field was one of the first American celebrity journalists. A literary and cultural sensation, she wrote for several prestigious newspapers, such as the Boston Post, Chicago Tribune, and New York Herald. She was an intelligent and independent woman, an outspoken advocate for the rights of black Americans and founder of the first woman’s club in America.

Early Years
Mary Katherine Kate Field was born October 1, 1838 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of an actor father and a Philadelphia Quaker mother. Kate lived with her millionaire aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Milton H. Sanford, and they financed her education in New England, and then in England. They also traveled throughout Europe – to Paris, Rome and Florence – and supported her lavishly while she became acquainted with the social and cultural elite.

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Underground Railroad on Long Island

Quakers Ran the Underground Railroad

In the seventeenth century, to the Englishmen who first settled Long Island, slavery was an accepted way of providing the labor force needed for agriculture and a comfortable life. After the arrival of the Quakers in the eighteenth century, attitudes were changed and the Underground Railroad began guiding slaves to freedom.

Image: Map of Long Island towns on the Underground Railroad

Long Island
Stretching east-northeast from New York Harbor into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island comprises four counties: Kings County (Brooklyn) and Queens County (Queens) in the west, then Nassau County and Suffolk County to the east. The Island is 118 miles long from east to west and about 20 miles at its widest point, the largest island in the continental United States. It is separated from the mainland on the north by Long Island Sound and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east.

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Olive Oatman

Indian Captive in Present-Day California

Olive Oatman was a fourteen-year-old girl whose family was killed in 1851 in present-day Arizona by Native Americans, possibly the Yavapai, who captured and enslaved Olive and her sister. A year later Mojave Indians adopted the two girls. After four years with the Mojave, during which time her sister died of starvation, Oatman returned to white society. Her story has been told, retold and embellished so many times – in the media and in her own memoir and speeches – that the truth is not easy to discern.

Image: Olive Oatman after she was ransomed
Mojave blue cactus ink tattoo on her chin:
Five vertical lines with triangles set at right angles
Credit: Arizona Historical Society

Early Years
Born into the family of Royce and Mary Ann Oatman in Illinois in 1837, Olive was one of seven children who grew up in the Mormon religion. In 1850, the Oatman family decided to join a wagon train led by James Brewster, whose followers were called Brewsterites. Brewster had disagreed with the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City, Utah, which caused him to break with the followers of Brigham Young.

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Anne Whitney

19th Century Sculptor and Poet

Anne Whitney was a poet and sculptor who fought to become an artist in a society that did not readily accept female sculptors; sculpture was considered a masculine art form. As with so many of the first 19th century women sculptors, Whitney was a member of a wealthy and supportive family, who helped her financially while she developed her natural talents.

Image: Anne Whitney (seated)
With partner and painter Abby Adeline Manning

Early Years
Anne Whitney was born September 2, 1821 in Watertown, Massachusetts; she was the daughter of well- to-do farmer Nathaniel Whitney and his wife Sarah Stone Whitney. Her supportive and liberal parents encouraged Anne to develop her artistic talents.

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Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Ethnologist, Anthropologist and Social Scientist

Alice Cunningham Fletcher was a pioneer in the science of ethnology, living among American Indians while studying and documenting their culture. Fletcher was a leader in the movement to bring Native Americans into the mainstream of white society, but some of her ideas proved to be detrimental to the Indians.

Early Years
Alice Cunningham Fletcher was born in Havana, Cuba March 15, 1838 after her family traveled there in an effort to improve her father’s health. Both of her parents were from wealthy New England families – her father was a New York lawyer and her mother came from a prominent Boston business family. Little documentation of her early life remains. After her father died in 1839, the family moved to Brooklyn Heights, her mother enrolled Alice in the Brooklyn Female Academy, an exclusive school for daughters of the elite.

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Mary Easton Sibley

Pioneer in Education in Early Missouri

Mary Easton Sibley was an early American pioneer and educator. In 1830, she and her husband founded a girls’ school in St. Charles, Missouri that would become the Lindenwood College for Women, the first women’s college west of the Mississippi River. Today, Lindenwood University is a major coeducational institution that continues to honor Sibley and her dedication to education for women.

Image: Map of the Louisiana Purchase
Including exploration routes of the early 1800s

Early life
Mary Easton was born January 24, 1800 in Rome New York, the first of eleven children born to Rufus Easton and Alby Smith Easton. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Rufus Easton territorial judge of the Louisiana Territory, and the family moved to St. Louis. Rufus Easton became a prominent St. Louis attorney and Missouri’s second Attorney General.

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