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Historic Women - B

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Dona Gertrudis "La Tules" Barcelo  (1800-1852) - A saloon owner and master gambler in the Territory of New Mexico at the time of the Mexican-American War. She amassed a small fortune by capitalizing on the flow of American and Mexican traders involved with the Santa Fe Trail.  See full article HERE.

Ida B. WellsIda B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) - Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Ida Wells would become African-American educator, newspaperwoman, anti-lynching campaigner, and founder of the NAACP. When both her parents died of yellow fever when she was just 16 years old, she dropped out of high school and found employment as a school teacher. In 1880, she moved to Memphis and became a part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper, launching her activist career. Though a mob ransacked her offices and threatened her life if she did not leave town, she stood steady.

In 1895 she moved to Chicago, where she married a widower and African-American rights advocate named Ferdinand Barnett. The couple published the Chicago Conservator, where Ida wrote many articles on the lynchings taking place in the south, as well as beginning to lecture widely. She was a founding member of the National Afro-American Council, served as its secretary, and was chairman of its Anti-Lynching Bureau. Wells was also a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Wells-Barnett continued her tireless crusade for equal rights for African-Americans until her death in 1931.

Anne BassettAnne Bassett (1878-1956) - The daughter of Herb and Elizabeth Basset, who owned a ranch in the isolated area of Brown's Hole, near the Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah border, Anne was the first white girl to be born in Brown's Hole. Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch were frequent visitors to the ranch and often courted both Anne and her sister Josie. Anne's father was an unassuming man who allowed his wife, Elizabeth, to run the ranch.

During this time, there were a number of large cattle barons who wanted to take over Brown's Hole and Anne's mother, in the midst of a feud with the large cattlemen began to do a little cattle rustling of her own. As Anne grew up, she took up her mother's feud against the cattle barons, especially against the Two Bar Ranch. Helping herself freely to their cattle, she was soon dubbed the "Queen of the Rustlers."

When rumors began to fly that Anne and her mother were intentionally running Two Bar cattle over the cliffs out of spite, the cattle barons hired Tom Horn to infiltrate Brown's Hole. After warning Matt Rush, Isom Dart, and other area ranchers to leave the area, he shot and killed the two men when they refused to vacate.


When Ann Married H. Bernard the manager of the Two Bar, he was quickly fired. The marriage lasted six years. When Ann was caught rusting cattle from the "enemy" ranch, she was tried but acquitted. In 1928, Ann married a man named Frank Willis and the two settled in a small southwestern Utah town where she lived until her death at the age of 78. Over the years, many believed that Ann Basset and Etta Place were the same women; however, most historians have discounted these allegations.


Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) - Originally from England, Blackwell immigrated with her family to the United States in 1832, when she was just 11 years old. Well educated as a child, her family was very religious Quakers and she grew up to become an anti-slavery proponent.




She first became a teacher, but, knew that what she wanted to become was a doctor. She took up residence in a physician's household, using her time there to study from the family's medical library. She then began to apply to a number of medical school, but, was turned down time and time again. She was finally accepted at Geneva Medical College but, that was a fortuitous “accident.” When the college received her application, the faculty put it to a student vote. The students thought her application was a hoax perpetrated by a rival college, and voted her in. By the time they found it wasn’t a joke, it was too late. During her training, she suffered prejudice at the hands of the professors and students alike but, in the end, would prove them wrong when she graduated at the head of her class in 1849 and became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.


Her struggle wasn’t over; however, as she was banned from practice in most hospitals. Though she was advised to go to Paris to continue her training, she chose instead to continue training as a student midwife. In 1857, Elizabeth, along with her sister, Dr. Marie Zakrzewska, who had followed in her footsteps to become a doctor, founded their own infirmary in New York, treating indigent women and children. She would go on to train numerous women as nurses in the Civil War, open the first training school for nurses in the United States, and establish a Women's Medical College in England. When she retired she continued to work for the women’s rights movement and published books about diseases and proper hygiene.


In 1907 Blackwell was injured in a fall from which she never fully recovered. She died on May 31  1910 at her home in Hastings in Sussex, England after a stroke. She was buried at Saint Mun's churchyard at Kilmun on Holy Loch in the west of Scotland.


Celia Ann "Mattie" Blaylock (1850-1888) - Born in Wisconsin, Mattie was raised in Fairfax, Iowa until she ran away from home at the age of 16. She then made her way to Kansas where she first worked as a prostitute in Scott City before moving on to Dodge City. There, she met Wyatt Earp around 1873 and soon became his romantic companion. She continued to work as a prostitute during their early years together. Living and working together, Mattie utilized the last name of "Earp" and by the time they moved on to Tombstone, Arizona in 1879, she would have been considered his "common-law" wife. She allegedly suffered from severe headaches and became addicted to laudanum, which was commonly used as a pain killer at the time. As her addiction became worse, Wyatt's eyes began to stray in Tombstone and started up an affair with Josephine Marcus. After Morgan Earp was killed in March, 1882, Virgil, along with the Earp women, escorted his body home to Colton, California. Wyatt sent Mattie along with the others while he and Warren stayed to begin the Earp Vendetta Ride. Mattie waited for Wyatt's telegraph that she should return to Tombstone, but it never arrived. In the meantime, Wyatt was getting more and more involved with Josephine, who he would later marry. Finally, Mattie left California and moved to Globe, Arizona, where she returned to prostitution. On July 3, 1888, she took a lethal dose of laudanum in Pinal City, Arizona. Her death was ruled suicide. She was laid to rest in the cemetery about one mile from the old town site.


Anne Bonny, Lady PirateAnne Bonny (or Bonney) (1700?-1782?) - This famous lady pirate known for her violent temper and ferocious fighting, operated in the Caribbean, along with the likes of "Calico Jack" Rackham and fellow lady pirate, Mary Read. See Full Article HERE.


Sara Bourdett, aka: Great Western (1813-1866) - Born in Tennessee, Bourdett went to Texas at the outbreak of the Mexican War and followed the troops driving a buggy and cooking for the soldiers. Packing two pistols and standing six foot tall, she quickly earned the nickname "Great Western," after the massive ship that was the second steamer to cross the Atlantic Ocean. She caught up with Zachary Taylor and his troops at Matamoros, Mexico and set up her cook tent throughout the campaign, providing meals for the officers of the 5th Infantry and 2nd Dragoons. In 1849 she became so ill in Chihuahua that she was forced to return to the United States, but after she recovered, she once again set up her cook tent for the soldiers in El Paso, Texas. She followed John Glanton, Texas soldier and infamous scalp hunter, to Yuma, Arizona. There, she married A.J. Bowman and later died there. While providing her assistance to the troops she was bestowed an "honorary brevet" as a colonel for her services in Mexico. Her remains were later re-interred at the Presidio at San Francisco, California.


Mary Elizabeth BowserMary Elizabeth Bowser (1839?-??) - Born as a slave on John Van Lew's plantation in Richmond, Virginia, Mary Elizabeth remained as such until Mr. Van Lew died in 1851. At that time, Mrs. Van Lew and her daughter, Elizabeth, freed all of their slaves, in addition to buying members of their slave families from other owners and freeing them as well. Elizabeth Van Lew, an outspoken abolitionist, soon arranged for Bowser to be educated in Philadelphia. However, when tensions increased between the North and South, Bowser returned to the Van Lew household, where she worked as a servant. Soon thereafter, she married a free Black man named William (or Wilson) Bowser.


Despite her abolitionist sentiments, Elizabeth Van Lew was a prominent figure in Richmond, though secretly she was regularly sending reports to Union officials about activities in the South. To further her cause, she recommended Bowser for a position in Jefferson Davis' household, where Mary Elizabeth would become a prominent Union spy. Household members and guests assumed that Bowser was an illiterate slave and therefore spoke openly in front of her about battle strategies and often left important papers lying about that Bowser would read. The information was quickly passed to Union informers which ultimately led to the Confederate defeat. Unfortunately, what happened to Mary Bowser after the war is unknown, including the date and details of her death.


Isabella Marie BoydMarie Isabella Boyd (1844-1900) - Best known as Belle Boyd, and often called "La Belle Rebelle," and the "Cleopatra of the Secession," Belle was a Confederate spy in the Civil War. Born at Martinsburg, West Virginia, she was the oldest child of Benjamin Reed and Mary Rebecca Glenn Boyd. Her career as a spy occurred after a band of Union army soldiers tore down a confederate flag hung outside her home in 1861 and replaced it with a Union flag. To make matters worse, when one of the soldiers cursed at her mother, Belle was so angry that she shot him down. Though she was exonerated by a Board of Inquiry, Union sentries were posted around the home and her father's hotel in Front Royal, carefully scrutinizing her activities. Little did they know, she was watching and listening to the soldiers just as thoroughly. Listening to their talk and charming at least one of the officers into revealing military secrets, she passed on valuable information, via her slave, Eliza Hopewell, to Generals Turner Ashby and "Stonewall" Jackson during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. For her contributions, Stonewall Jackson awarded her the Southern Cross of Honor and made her an honorary captain and aide-de-camp on his staff.


However, she was betrayed by her lover and arrested on July 29, 1862. Held for a month in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, she was exchanged a month later. She then went into exile with relatives but was again arrested in June, 1863, this time spending several months in prison, before being released in December. Suffering from typhoid fever, she then went to England to try to regain her health in 1864. There, she  met and married a Union naval officer named Samuel Wylde Hardinge. who died in October, 1866 when his ship went down.


She then became an actress in England before returning to the United States in 1869. that same year, she married John Swainston Hammond in New Orleans and, after a divorce in 1884, married Nathaniel Rue High the next year. in 1886, she began touring the country giving dramatic lectures of her life as a Civil War spy. She died while touring in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on June 11, 1900 at the age of 56.

 Molly Brown

The "Unsinkable Molly Brown"

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


Margaret "Molly" Tobin Brown (1867-1932) - Better known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," who survived the sinking of the Titanic, Margaret Tobin originally came from humble beginnings. Bron in Hannibal, Missouri on July 18,1867, she was one of six children of Irish immigrants. In 1883, Molly's older sister Mary, and her husband Jack Landrigan, moved to Leadville, Colorado to work in the mines. Three years later, Molly and her brother Daniel followed them to the rough and tumble mining town. While Daniel went to work as a miner, Molly took a job in a department store. Soon, Molly met James Joseph (J.J.) Brown, an enterprising and self-educated miner. In 1886, they married. While in Leadville,  Molly became involved in women's rights, helping to establish the Colorado chapter of the National American Women's Suffrage Association. She also established a soup kitchen to assist miners' families.


In the meantime, her husband, J.J. was moving up at his job at the Little Johnny Mine, becoming a superintendent. However, when he invented a method that could reach gold at the very bottom of the mine, proving instrumental to the Little Johnny's owners, the Ibex Mining Company, he was awarded 12,500 shares of stock and a seat on the board. The Browns became instantly wealthy and in 1894, moved to Denver, where they became active in social, philanthropic, and political circles. The Browns had two children.


Though J.J. and Molly were privately separated in 1909, they remained close until his death in 1922. In 1912, Molly was on a European tour with her daughter when she learned that her oldest grandson was ill. She immediately booked first class passage back to the U.S. on the first ship that was available, the Titanic. When the ship collided with the iceberg and began to sink, she helped many others to the lifeboats before being forced into one herself. The French Legion of Honour recognized Molly in 1932 by awarding her for her efforts during the sinking and her work with miners and women and children. Margaret Tobin Brown died of a brain tumor on October 26, 1932 in New York City. She is buried at the Holly Rood Cemetery in Westbury, New York.


Laura Bullion, aka: Della Rose, Rose of the Wild Bunch (1876?-1961) - Born in Knickerbocker, Texas around 1876 to a German mother and a Native American father, she met outlaws William Carver and Ben "The Tall Texan" Kilpatrick when she was just a teenager. Knickerbocker was a haven of outlaws and Laura's own father was a bank robber, so it came as no surprise when the young girl followed a life of crime. When she was just 15 years-old she began a romance with Will Carver, who had been married to her aunt until she had recently died.Carver often worked with Black Jack Ketchum robbing trains before he moved on to Utah and hooked up with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, where Laura ultimately ended up too. Somewhere along the line, Laura transferred her affections to Ben Kilpatrick , who cast his lot with the Wild Bunch in 1898. Laurie Bullion often helped the gang by fencing goods and money for them and was known to the group as Della Rose and often called the "Rose of the Wild Bunch."


Having taken part in several train robberies with the Wild Bunch, Kilpatrick and Bullion returned to Texas with William Carver, where Carver was ambushed and killed by lawmen on April 1, 1901. Bullion and Kilpatrick then fled to to St. Louis, Missouri, where they were arrested on November 8, 1901. Kilpatrick was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Laura was sentenced to five.


After serving 3 1/2 years, Laura was released from the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 19, 1905 and lived the last years of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, under the name of Freda Lincoln, making her way as a seamstress and a dressmaker. She passed away on December 2, 1961 and is buried in Memphis under a tombstone that reads, "Freda Bullion Lincoln—Laura Bullion—The Thorny Rose." She never saw her lover Ben Kilpatrick again. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was released from prison in June, 1911 and immediately returned to a life of crime. While trying to rob a Southern Pacific express near Sanderson, Texas, on March 13, March, 1912, he was killed with an ice mallet.



Continued Next Page

Laura Bullion, member of the Wild Bunch

Laura Bullion was also known as "The Rose of the Wild Bunch."

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


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