21 - Lucretia Mott

At age 13, Lucretia Coffin was sent to the Nine Partners School in Duchess County, New York, which was run by the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers. After graduation she became a teacher at Nine Partners and met her future husband, also a teacher there, James Mott. Learning that the male teachers were paid significantly more than female teachers started Lucretia on a mission to fight for women’s rights, and for the rights of other suppressed peoples.
In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband’s support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Divine within every individual regardless of sex or race.

In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. At the societies organizational meeting in Philadelphia, Lucretia, as an experienced speaker through her ministry, was the only woman presenter. Days after the conclusion of the convention, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1838, Lucretia attended an Anti-Slavery convention at Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists. During the convention, an unhappy mob rioted and destroyed the hall. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents.
In June 1840, Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England where she met activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton admired Mott, and the two discussed the possibility of working together in the future to tackle issues including women’s right to property, their earnings, and custody of their children in the event of divorce.

In 1848, Mott and Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, at Seneca Falls, New York. By this time, Lucretia Mott had become a well-known advocate of minorities rights and women’s rights, and her fame eventually reached the political arena. That same year, during the National Convention of the Liberal Party, five voting delegates cast their vote for Mott to be the party’s candidate for the office of U.S. Vice President. She placed 4th in a field of nine.
Over the next few decades, women’s suffrage became the focus of the women’s rights movement. While Cady Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott’s mentoring of Cady Stanton and their work together that inspired the movement.
After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that advocated universal sufferage. In 1864, Mott and several other Hicksite Quakers incorporated Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which remains one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country.
In 1948, a stamp was issued in remembrance of the Seneca Falls Convention featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott. And, in 1983, Mott was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Lucretia Mott always adhered to her Quaker ideals of equality of all people regardless of race, sex, or creed. Did you know that Annie Oakley was raised Quaker? Knowing that helped me in my research for my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. If you are curious about it, you can find my books on Amazon.

20 - Perry Twins

Juanita and Ethyle Perry – Alexa

Juanita and Ethyle Perry; two young women who left their family when they were teenagers to find their fortune. And they did.

Not much is known about the Perry twins’ early life. Some say they were born in Oklahoma and raised in Riverhead, Long Island. Others say it was the other way around. Either way, it’s clear the two left home at a young age to make their claim to fame with their talents as expert horsewomen.

In the early nineteen teens, they secured jobs as cowgirl performers for the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West show. In 1916, the Miller Brothers and Buffalo Bill Cody combined their Wild West shows.

Previously, in the early 1890’s Bill Cody employed the Cossack Riders, a group of male equestrians from Georgia and Russia who performed daring feats of horsemanship.

The Perry twins, expert at trick riding and horse handling, became known as the Cossack Girls because they could perform any trick their male counterparts could, and more. The added bonus for the audience was that they were infused with charming star power and were pretty to look at. They had the whole package.

A favorite act they performed consisted of one of them, dressed as a gray-haired old woman driving a team of horses. Before long, the horses spook, rear up and then bolt, the wagon carrying the old woman careening out of control toward a group of townspeople as they leave their Sunday service. Just before the horses reach the townsfolk, the other twin, riding a charging stallion and resplendent in a beaded buckskin ensemble, emerges onto the scene. The rider catches up to the wagon, leaps out of the saddle and onto the back of one of the team, and swerves them out of the path of the churchgoers. The twin driving the wagon regains control and with the help of the rider, brings the team to a quiet stop. Disaster averted!

After a successful run with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the Perry’s joined Barnum and Bailey’s Wild West extravaganza, but then tragedy struck. While performing, Juanita was thrown from her horse and trampled to death. Devastated, Ethyle left her life of performing. In 1921 she married William Cody Bradford, Buffalo Bill Cody’s nephew. She passed away at the age of seventy-three.

Many women graced the stage of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and it was said he paid them a fair wage, often as much as their male counterparts. One of the most famous female performers of the Wild West Show was, of course, the one and only Annie Oakley.

I’ve done years of research on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the famous Miss Oakley, and have written a historical mysteries series featuring Annie as an amateur sleuth. The third full-length novel in the series titled Folly at the Fair, comes out June 2. If you like a rollicking good time with plenty of action and intrigue, you’ll love this series. You can find the books on Amazon.

19 - Marion Davie

Marion Davies – Alexa

Most famously known as William Randolph Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies deserves credit in her own right as an actress, film producer, screenwriter and philanthropist.
In 1916, Broadway showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. signed Marion on as a featured player in his popular Ziegfeld Follies. That same year, she also made her screen debut modeling gowns made by Lady Duff Gordon in a fashion newsreel.
The following year, she appeared in her first feature film, Runaway Romany, directed by her brother-in-law, Broadway producer George Lederer. Marion not only contributed as the lead actress, she also wrote the screenplay.
Then she starred in two films—The Burden of Proof and Cecilia of the Pink Roses. Playing mainly light comic roles, she quickly became a popular film personality appearing in lead roles alongside major male stars. She earned a lot of money and spent much of it helping family and friends.

She soon caught the eye of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and took on the new role of “mistress.” Hearst, highly supportive of her film vocation, founded Cosmopolitan Pictures to produce her films. He also took over management of her career.

While Hearst kept his wife at bay, Marion filled the void as friend, lover, and hostess of Hearst’s lavish parties for the Hollywood elite held at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and also aboard his luxury yacht, Oneida.

Linked with Hearst’s famous name and lifestyle, Marion’s name would also be linked to scandal when famous Hollywood film producer, Thomas Ince, died.
In November 1924, Marion was hosting a weekend party on the Oneida. It had been rumored around town that Marion had fallen victim to the charms of playboy and known philanderer Charlie Chaplin, who was also a guest aboard the yacht that fated weekend. One story has it that Hearst, jealous of Chaplin, took a gun and fired it into what he thought was Chaplin’s cabin. Instead, it was Thomas Ince who got the bullet. There has never been any evidence to support that story.
His autopsy showed that he suffered an attack of acute indigestion and the cause of death was actually a heart attack. But, people love to gossip. Especially about a wealthy business tycoon and his mistress.
Marion stayed with Hearst until his death in 1951. Eleven weeks and one day later, she married Horace Brown, but the marriage didn’t last. In her later years, Davies devoted herself to charity work. In 1952, she donated nearly two million dollars to establish a children’s clinic at UCLA which was named for her.

Marion was one of many well-known women in history who got her start with the Ziegfeld Follies. I was so fascinated with the Ziegfeld phenomenon, I wrote a historical mystery with the Follies as a backdrop called Grace in the Wings. If you liked this flash briefing, you might like my novel. You can find Grace in the Wings on Amazon.

18 - Clara Bow

Named the first ever “It girl,” Clara Bow made a huge impact in the roaring twenties and was known as one of the decade’s leading sex symbols.

In 1921, at sixteen years old, she entered a nationwide acting contest called “Fame and Fortune.”

Showing up in her tomboyish sweater, lackluster skirt, and with absolutely no experience, Clara’s chances of winning were slim. But when she turned on the emotion, she won the judges over. She walked away with a silver trophy and an evening gown.

After the contest, Clara dropped out of high school to pursue her dreams. Then with two movies under her belt, Clara felt she was on her way, but then tragedy struck. Her mother’s mental health began to deteriorate after a diagnosis of epilepsy. Her father offered little help and left Clara alone to deal with her mother’s erratic fits of rage and temper. One night, Clara woke up to her mother holding a knife to her throat. Clara’s father had his wife committed. Even though Clara knew this was in her best interest, it still caused her great distress and in 1923, her mother died.

That same year, Clara left her father and New York and headed for Hollywood. She secured several other silent film roles and charmed audiences with her perky personality and her bold sexuality. She portrayed the perfect, adorable and charming “flapper” and the motion picture world took notice.

In 1926 she signed her first big movie contract with Paramount Pictures, and in 1927 she landed the lead role in a movie called It. The film was an instant box office success and Clara Bow became America’s first “It girl.”

Clara starred in 46 silent films, and eleven “talkies.” Her star burned bright, but at age 26, the actress burned out and started to show signs of mental instability, much like her mother. In 1931, Clara married Rex Bell, a rancher from Texas. She dropped out of Hollywood and went to his ranch to recuperate. She starred in two more movies, but then officially retired from acting two years later to devote her life to her husband and sons.

But, Clara’s gradual slide into mental illness culminated in a suicide attempt in 1944. She was  diagnosed with schizophrenia. When she was released from the hospital, she did not return to the ranch but instead bought a modest bungalow where she lived out the rest of her days until she succumbed to a heart attack in 1965.

Clara Bow became one of America’s best-loved film icons and the highest paid actress of her day. She influenced some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and also the common woman who wanted to personify the loveable flapper with her “Clara Bow heart-shaped lips” and her charming down-to-earth realism and individuality.

If you liked this flash briefing, you might like some of my historical fiction novels. You can find out more about them at www.Karibovee.

 

17 - Belle Starr

Born in Missouri in 1848 Belle Starr would become one of the most notorious outlaws in American History.

 

After the civil war, Belle’s family moved to Scyene, Texas where they became associated with known criminals, including Jesse James and the Younger brothers. Belle married a man named Jim Reed in 1866. Two years later, they had a daughter who they named Pearl. Reed, too, became involved in crime and was soon wanted for murder in Arkansas. The family fled to California where their second child, Eddie was born.

 

In 1871 the Reed’s returned to Texas and settled in the town of Paris. Reed tried his hand at farming, but to no avail. He soon fell in with the Starr Clan, a Cherokee Indian family known for many crimes, but primarily horse theft. The Reeds also became reacquainted with Belle’s old family friends, members of the Jesse James gang and the Younger brothers gang.

 

In the Spring of 1874, Belle was arrested for a stagecoach robbery she allegedly committed with her husband and one of the gangs. Belle always had a keen sense of style and would often be seen riding with the gangs sidesaddle and perfectly attired in a black velvet riding habit, plumed hat, and carrying two pistols.

 

In the summer of 1874, Reed was killed. Belle then married one of the Starr brothers, Sam, and they settled in Oklahoma. Belle assisted her husband in criminal activities such as bootlegging, horse thievery, and harboring criminals from the law. In 1883, Belle and Sam were arrested for their crimes. Belle was found guilty and served nine months in Detroit, Michigan. Sam, too, was found guilty and assigned to hard labor.

 

Three years later, Sam was killed in a gunfight with lawman Frank West. It was said the relationship with Sam Starr was the happiest of Belle’s life, and with the death of her husband, her life of crime ended. But shortly thereafter, she died under mysterious circumstances.

 

While riding home from a friend’s house Belle was shot in the back. She fell off her horse, and was shot again, this time in the shoulder and the face. Legend has it, her own shotgun was used to do the deed.

 

According to Frank Eaton, also known as “Pistol Pete”, she had attended a dance on the fateful night. She danced with Frank and then a very drunk Edgar Watson asked her to dance. She refused him and left. Watson followed her and shot her. Eaton claims Watson was tried, convicted and hung for the murder.

 

However, another story circulated that there were no witnesses and no one was ever convicted of Belle’s murder. Suspects included her husband after Sam, another member of the Starr clan, her son, whom she had beaten for mistreating her horse, and Edgar Watson because he feared she would turn him in for a murder he committed in Florida.

 

The crime of how and why Starr was murdered has gone down in history as unsolved.

 

If you want to read more about fascinating women in history, head on over to my website at www.Karibovee.com and check out my Empowered Women in History blog.