Category Archives: Courage

Teacher! Hide your Husband!

Minna_6x9_EF3 (2)News Flash       “Big Majority Opposes Married Women in Industry: Nation Overwhelmingly Is Against Faire Sex in Jobs If  Husband Is Employed” – Billings Gazette 

The discriminatory practice, known as the “Marriage Bar”, was instituted to avoid depriving “single girls of opportunities.” In Anaconda, Montana, the school superintendent ruled in 1899, that since “Mrs. Foley [who had been employed as a teacher] is married,” [she must not be] “in need of the salary which she draws from the schools.” She lost the position.

In 1913, Mrs. W. J. Christie of Butte argued that “the test of employment should be efficiency and nothing else.” Mrs. James Floyd Denison agreed: “When a married woman has the desire to go from home and to enter the school room . . .it must be because her heart and soul are in the teaching work. Under those circumstances, if she is allowed to teach, the community will be getting her very best service.”Read more

Country schools were desperate for teachers and that was to the benefit of Lilian Peterson, a widow with six children. The school boards of Missoula and Kalispell would not hire her because the marriage bars extended to widows with children. Married homesteader, Maggie Gorman Davis in Choteau County, in 1913 found a position at the Carter School.

The editor of the Helena Independent argued in 1927, “Married women whose husbands are invalids or insane and unable, therefore, to provide a living for the family, should be exempted from the marriage bars.” This was in response to the Billings School Board’s decision to institute the marriage bar. He added, however, that “men should take care of their wives. Single women with their living to make should not be penalized by having positions open to them otherwise taken by women who have married failures.” 

That didn’t stop Jennie Bell Maynard in 1913, a teacher from Plains, from marrying [failed] banker Bradley Ernsberger. They just kept their wedding a secret, and she continued to use her maiden name and teach until they moved to Lewistown. or Jennie Bell Maynard, a teacher from Plains, from marrying [failed] banker Bradley Ernsberger. They just kept their wedding a secret, and she continued to use her maiden name and teach until they moved to Lewistown.

Many women teachers married secretly, or didn’t get married in order to keep their jobs! In 1913, the law didn’t stop Jennie Bell Maynard, a teacher from Plains from marrying banker Bradley Ernsberger. They just kept their wedding a secret, and she continued to use her maiden name and teach until they moved to Lewistown.  In 1914, teacher Adelaide Rowe from Butte eloped with Theodore Pilger to Fort Benton. They hid their marriage for three years.

During World War II, married women were invited back into the classroom. But it was meant to be a short-term solution. M.P. Moe, the Secretary of the Montana Education Association said in 1942, “1,500 married teachers are in the schools ‘for the duration only.’” The National Education Association, however, advocated for married women teachers, arguing that if they “were good enough . . . in wartime . . . they’re good enough in peace time.” In 1953, the Billings School Board lifted the marriage bar due to the teacher shortage and because of the postwar baby boom,  However, this was not true for declining enrollment school districts,

Also, in 1953, the Bigfork School Board adopted two salary schedules. Single teachers were paid on a higher scale than married teachers whose husbands worked. “Ideally,” Superintendent C. E. Naugle explained, “everyone would be treated in the same manner. However, we are not dealing with an ideal situation, we are dealing with reality,” and cuts should be made “where it will hurt the least.”

In 1955, Montana attorney general Arnold Olsen declared that “Marriage is not a ground for dismissal” and that “teacher contracts could not discriminate against married teachers.” Yet, as late as 1964 the Anaconda school district supported hiring single women and married men over married women. Women who were married were offered contracts ONLY if there were no single or male teachers available.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was responsible for the end to the discrimination. Local school districts were required by law to treat married female teachers as they treated married male teachers. This occurred fifty years after education reformers, Mrs. Christie and Mrs. Denison, advocated for teachers to teach based on their ability and not their marital status.

Source – Montana Historical Society from Women’s History Matters

 

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A Life of Her Own – FREE Dec 11th and 12th

LOHO_fullcover_R5 front onlypointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2FREE for download as an ebook Friday Dec 11th – Saturday Dec 12th. Just in time for weekend reading. Includes all five stories below.

What happens when a single woman homesteader in Montana protects a dark secret, or when another is pursued by angry homesteader’s wives? I answer these questions and more in A Life of Her Own, my collection of five homestead women stories of suspense and imagination. Click below!

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Mrs. Andersson Gets Her Wish

Andersson R6Mrs. Andersson has it all.  Or does she? Her homesteader neighbors love her. Were it not for Mrs. Andersson Mirna might never have met dear Mr. Clawson, and Bertha might have gone to jail for trying to kill Sophie. Mrs. Andersson runs a lucrative business that keeps her occupied at odd hours. During hot Montana afternoons, she entertains her neighbors on the wraparound porch of her two-story house. She gives her comforting arms and soothing words to folks in distress, and never asks a prying question. She is fair-minded, doesn’t jump to conclusions, and never gossips. Her heart holds many secrets, including her own. There is one thing she doesn’t have, and can’t have. She’s not one to agonize what is. If you asked her outright she’d say- “Well, it certainly ain’t the end of the world, is it?”  But . . . maybe it is!

Mirna – A Life of Her Own

MIRNA_final_200x300After fleeing terrifying circumstances in Indiana, Mirna takes up a homestead in central Montana. Before long she crafts a new life that brings her both income and new friends, but she lives with the nagging fear that this could be shattered.

When danger does appear outside the door of her shack, she prepares herself. She is on her own except for Dog who lies at her feet, and the cocked rifle in her lap. What is out there beyond her flimsy walls? Will she be able to handle what comes through her door?

Sophie Writes From Montana

SOPHIE_cover_r4Sophie is a sophisticated, attractive young woman who lives in Chicago. She enjoys all the amenities of a big city – interesting and challenging job, museums, art galleries, concerts, libraries, smart shopping, the lakefront and even public transportation. Felix, an outstanding young lawyer, admires her, and may even want her for his wife. Still, she wants to take up a homestead in central Montana.

How can she fit into that hard life? Can she  build a shack, ride a horse, plough, plant and harvest her field, kill and cook chickens, dig a well, or milk a cow? She has no experience in any of these things. Yet she has the brave spirit of an explorer. If Felix will not be there to help her  . . . who will?  

Nora Takes A Chance

NORA_cover_r4“I am sixty-two years old…I am active yet and more active than most younger women, so please think of me as physically able to endure. I have the courage and determination, and I am sure if any other lone woman can do it, I can too.”

– From Montana Women Homesteaders: A Field of One’s Own

Nora, also sixty-two, is in serious trouble. Nora has left her conventional life “back East” to live free on Montana’s open plains. But maybe this time she has bitten off more than she can chew. As she rides alone toward Lewistown she talks to Maggie, her horse, in a “highfalutin” way to give herself some intellectual stimulation. Suddenly Maggie bucks her right into a crisis. How can she get herself out of this one she wonders?

Lizzie the Reluctant One

LIZZIE_R2v1What will become of lovely, gentle Lizzie from Bessarabia? At fourteen she was pushed away by her papa and sent with her unkind brother Adam to homestead in America.  Reared to believe that men are in charge, she submits to Adam’s rules and slaves in the fields alongside him without question. He hires her out when he doesn’t need her on the farm.

At seventeen, Adam gets her a job, in town, and she experiences freedom for the first time. It is a blow when, Adam retrieves her to tend to his growing family and his unstable wife. She is conflicted between her duty to her family and her need for independence. What will Lizzie do? Will she be able to break free of her brother’s oppressive control and make a life of her own?

. The printed copy of the collection is available for $7.95 for those who prefer to turn a book’s pages.

I welcome you and ask you for to write your unbiased review of the collection on my

A Life of Her Own covers wide territory, from the tense tale of the practical Mirna – A Life of Her Own, to the vivacious journalist in Sophie Writes from Montana who faces open and violent confrontation because she is single. Another  woman  in her sixties is the hero in Nora Takes a Chance. She leaves behind her family in Ohio to encounter risks greater than she could have imagined.  Lizzie the Reluctant One is bound by family and duty against her will. The compassionate catalyst of the community harbors a deep secret in Mrs. Andersson Gets Her Wish.

 Each of the five tales of pioneer women are about change and facing disadvantageous circumstances and danger.  The tales are inspired by lengthy research about the lives of  women homesteaders of the early 1900s in Montana and the Dakotas. As the grandchild of homesteaders, I am pleased to shine one more light on this important era in our American women’s history.

pointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2Amazon sites, or leave a Comment below-

 

 

 

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A Life of Her Own

What happens when a single woman homesteader in Montana protects a dark secret, or when another is pursued by angry homesteader’s wives? I answer these questions and more in A Life of Her Own, a collection of five stories of suspense and imagination.

LOHO_fullcover_R5 front onlyA Life of Her Own covers wide territory, from the tense tale of the practical Mirna – A Life of Her Own, to the vivacious journalist in Sophie Writes from Montana who faces open and violent confrontation because she is single. Another  woman  in her sixties is the hero in Nora Takes a Chance. She leaves behind her family in Ohio to encounter risks greater than she could have imagined.  Lizzie the Reluctant One is bound by family and duty against her will. The compassionate catalyst of the community harbors a deep secret in Mrs. Andersson Gets Her Wish.

 Each of the five tales of pioneer women are about change and facing disadvantageous circumstances and danger.  The tales are inspired by lengthy research about the lives of  women homesteaders of the early 1900s in Montana and the Dakotas. As the grandchild of homesteaders, I am pleased to shine one more light on this important era in our American women’s history.

pointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2Download A Life of Her Own as an ebook on Amazon Kindle for $2.99, or FREE if you have  Kindle Unlimited. The printed copy of the collection is available for $7.95 for those who prefer to turn a book’s pages.

I welcome you and ask you for to write your unbiased review of the collection on my Amazon sites, or leave a Comment below-

 

 

 

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Nora Takes a Chance – Survival

 FREE eBook from  January 23rd  to Saturday,  January 24th! Author Page

Some men hold the debatable position that they are more decisive than women. Whether that is true is an open question. I think women tend to see more  variables- not just the physical and intellectual, but the emotional and spiritual as well. Processing all of that feeling and extra information takes time, as the latter have to work their way through the heart, and the heart cannot be rushed. Introspection and feelings come first, and then correct action follows, as when Nora takes a chance.

It could be what scientists tell us- that the connections between two halves of a woman’s brain are stronger than in a man’s. Or it could be from years of practice being the primary caregiver for children up to early adulthood, perhaps the greatest challenge a person can face. So when a woman ruminates you can bet that all the threads of her decision come into play. It can be automatic once her mind is made up, but that faculty is famous for changing. Like in Billy Joel’s song “She’s Only a Woman to Me” 

AppaloosaSuppose you put yourself in a new place, where the scenery is very different from where you lived. Early frosts, suspicious strangers and skittish horses. People are different. They are laconic and tend to stay within themselves for a long time until you get to know them, and you them. The homestead work is very hard and the rewards tenuous at best. And just getting up on a freezing winter morning or after a sleepless sweltering summer night strains the body. Then there are so many rattlesnakes outside that you have to step lively to avoid them if you can’t see them.

On the other hand there is the morning sunrise, the stars and moon which are not often visible in cities. They light up the sky and bring such wonder and peacefulness that the air seems sweeter, the wildflowers fresher, the grain fields more graceful and the people more kindly. There is time for reflection that is so necessary for the soul.

It also seems that it is in a time of great difficulty when we are most alive to all our thoughts and senses. Nora in Nora Takes A Chance falls into that state of mind. How she unravels her predicament focuses her, and she takes decisive action to save herself.

Read about Nora. Here’s a link to Nora’s webpage and an excerpt so you can listen to her thoughts- judge for yourself whether she will make the right choices. I hope this New Year you make the right choices for you as well.

Nora Takes A Chance is available as an eBook for Kindles, PCs and smart phones. It is FREE on Friday Saturday January 23-24.

Sophie Writes from Montana and Mirna: A Life of Her Own and my full-length novel Lila are all available in Kindle editionLila can also be ordered in PRINT edition for those who much prefer turning a book’s pages.

 

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Happy Holidays! – Sophie Writes From Montana is Free on Amazon

Happy Holidays!- As a gift to you Sophie Writes From Montana will be a FREE ebook for Amazon Kindle from Friday to Sunday, December 19th to 21st.

 Sofie is a sophisticated, attractive young woman who lives in Chicago. She enjoys all the amenities of a big city – interesting and challenging job, museums, art galleries, concerts, libraries, smart shopping, a home, the lakefront and even public transportation. Felix, an outstanding young lawyer, admires her, and may even want her for his wife. Unlike Mirna in the short story Mirna: A Life of Her Own, Sophie is most certainly not fleeing terrifying circumstances. Still, she wants to take up a homestead in central Montana. for the adventure!

A full description of Sophie and a Excerpt can be read at at this link- Sophie Writes From Montana To download your FREE EBOOK CLICK HERE  If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon offers a free app for PCs and Smart Phones

Again, may your life be enriched in this Holiday Season!

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Mirna: A Life of Her Own

A Life of her Own2v2NOW a FREE EBOOK pointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2from Thurs Nov 6th – Sat Nov 8th at  Amazon.

It’s a rare warm November day here in Bigfork Montana. The first snow fell this week and has all but melted away. The long, dark, cold, windy, wet weather is almost upon us. Still there is time to resign myself to the inevitability of winter. Most of the time it’s dark here, in the Flathead Valley. But occasionally I will have one of those incredibly clear and glistening snow covered days when every corner is rounded and the snowpack undulates across the fields. These may be the best of times of the year.

1-02-picasabackground-002Getting out later in winter means wearing layers of clothes and keeping emergency supplies in my car- snow shovels, flares, candy bars and gorp, and blankets. Lucky I have my trusty fully charged cell phone if I get in trouble.Of course there are places where it doesn’t reach and I am thrown back to my own resources to get along. I did fine when I was young. I had confidence when I drove from Chicago to Missoula in December 1968. It was so cold that my car would not heat up so I had to put cardboard in front of the radiator so I would not freeze. I opened the door of my motel room that bitter night in Fergus Falls and a cat rushed in. The poor thing must have been freezing.

1-4-IMG_2878Montana homesteaders often lived in tar paper shacks. They had to had to go out into the flying winter storms to feed and water the animals. Brrrr. Could I have homesteaded like back in those old days? That would have taken some real determination, being used to so many comforts.  I think I will just stay home inside and think about it. Well, if Mirna did it I guess maybe . . . possibly . . . I could have done it too.

MIRNA is now a FREE EBOOK from Thurs Nov 6th – Sat Nov 8th      

LILA is also IN PRINT and a KINDLE EBOOK

If you do not have a Kindle reader, Amazon offers apps for PC & smart phones

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Tough Pioneer Women

Women needed a special brand of courage. They feared Indians, animals, and anything that “rustled or stirred outside.” – Cathy Luchetti and Carol Olwell- Women of the West.

Swarms of vagrant men: Following the Civil War there were displaced soldiers. Out of work minersex-slavers, ruffians and outlaws roamed the countryside.

Cowboys were known for being unsavory and Sister Blandina Segale was horrified when she had to share a stagecoach in the dark with a, “tall, lanky…man, wearing a broad brimmed hat, and carrying a buffalo robe.” Pioneer Women, the Lives of Women on the Frontier by Peavy and Smith

Snakes were another nighttime fear. One South Dakota homesteader estimated thousands of rattlers lived in a den near her. She killed five or six of them at a time when she walked across her claim, and at night she could not go outside for fear of stepping on one.

Next Time: Were they reluctant pioneers?

When the winds of change blow, some build walls . . while others build windmills.

Roots – Oceans of sunflowers flood the prairie where Turkey red wheat once flourished. A century ago, waves of eager homesteaders signed up to settle the open lands of the West. Today few of the tar paper shacks or sod houses survive, for they are victims of weather and time. Here and there a skeletal structure tilts and reminds us of the ancestors who grabbed the winds of change.

There are two people buried in a South Dakota graveyard who took the chance. They are my grandparents. Several miles down the road, in another graveyard, my great grandparents rest. They were German Russians who left their homeland, family, and community to start a new life in the United States. In another graveyard, my great uncle’s name is inscribed on the pedestal of a church bell where he was a founding member.

I was born too late to know them. Their lives and land, and what I imagine about that time, are where my stories begin.

The novel Lila opens on the Dakota prairie in the 1920’s. She is a first generation German from Russia, and has been raised in that cultural community. Economics, safety, and religious beliefs were the motivating factors that drove many Germans from Russia to uproot their lives and families to seek a better life in the United States. Although Lila’s beginning comes from a rich history, she is about to create a history of her own.

My ancestors were from Russia, but the West was also settled by many who came from various states in the United States. Of those who took the opportunity to obtain free land, at least 10% of them were single women. On the whole, they were remarkably successful, and as I imagine their lives more stories arise.

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