Christiana Carteaux Bannister

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. Early Years 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…

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First Women in Business

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 Business: Agriculture 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.

Mary Young Pickersgill

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. Early Years 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,…

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Elizabeth Jarvis Colt

Woman Who Ran the Colt Firearms Factory When firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt died in 1862, majority ownership in the Colt Fire Arms Company passed to his wife, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt. Called the Grande Dame of Connecticut, she worked tirelessly to preserve her husband’s accomplishments and safeguard his legacy. The company continued to thrive under her leadership for almost forty years. Image: Elizabeth Jarvis Hart Colt With her son Caldwell Portrait by Charles Loring Elliott Early Years Elizabeth Hart Jarvis was born October 5, 1826 in Saybrook, Connecticut to Episcopal Minister William Jarvis and Elizabeth Jarvis, the eldest of five children in an affluent and socially prominent family. Samuel Colt, born July 19, 1814, was an inventor and arms manufacturer in…

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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…

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Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau

First Woman to Exhibit Her Art at the Paris Salon Elizabeth Gardner was among the first wave of Americans who sought art training in Paris during and after the Civil War. She was the first American woman to exhibit a painting at the Paris Salon, and the first woman awarded a gold medal there. Her prize-winning painting The Farmer’s Daughter sold April 23, 2010 at Sotheby’s New York for $494,500, significantly more than the $200,000 to $300,000 estimate. Image: The Farmer’s Daughter (1878) By Elizabeth Jane Gardner The painting for which Gardner received a gold medal at the Paris Salon Early Years Elizabeth Jane Gardner was born October 4, 1837 in Exeter, New Hampshire. After attending the Young Ladies’ Female…

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Women of Civil War Waterford

Union Newspaperwomen in Confederate Virginia Image: Lida and Lizzie Dutton During the years preceding the Civil War, Quakers in Loudoun County, Virginia lived in a heated political situation. After their state seceded from the Union, they struggled to remain pacifists in the presence of Confederate troops. But three girl journalists in the town of Waterford had no problem asserting their support for the Union. Educating the Dutton Girls Like most Quakers, John and Emma Dutton of Loudoun County, Waterford, Virginia believed that girls should be as well educated as boys. The Duttons home schooled their daughters Emma Eliza (called Lida) and Elizabeth (known as Lizzie) at home, and encouraged them to exercise full use of their minds. Their cousin Sarah…

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Clara Brown

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 Early Years 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.

Maria Ruiz de Burton

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. Early Years 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…

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Adelicia Acklen

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. Early Years 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…

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