My “The Irish Slaves” book is doing very well, and the video is turning out to be quite popular, too. There’s quite a lot of conversation going on. Check it out!
Haunted Marietta is selling quite well and getting enthusiastic feedback! Amazon has it on sale for $14.35 and has only two copies left; they say there are more on the way! Eddie Hunter, of the blog ‘Chicken Fat,” gave it an excllent review online, and I received email from a former classmate far away in Pennsylvania saying that she really loved the combination of history and the paranormal! I’ve had a signing at Barnes and Noble and I have one tomorrow at the Norcross Ghost Tour in Norcross, GA and one at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur on Friday. Not bad for a book that has only been out 5 weeks…
Easter, of course, is a religious holiday that celebrates the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ in Christian belief.
But, what do eggs and rabbits have to do with the Christian belief? Where did these traditions originate?
For that matter, why do we call the holiday, “Easter?”
The answer is that, as with many Christian holidays, the holiday incorporated many traditions from celebrations far older than Christianity.
The word, “Easter,” for instance, comes from the name of the Norse earth goddess, Oestre, who was celebrated in the Spring, the time of rebirth and renewal. Hot cross buns were originally used in her celebration, with the four quarters of the cross representing the phases of the moon. This was an obvious symbol for the Christians to adopt to symbolize the cross.
The Egyptians and Persians exchanged eggs decorated in pastel colors in the Spring. Many of them believed that the Earth hatched from an egg, and the egg is an obvious symbol for fertility and rebirth. Early Christians adapted this tradition, using red eggs to symbolize the Resurrection.The ancient Greeks and Romans used eggs as fertility symbols, as well. Eggs have been decorated in the spring for thousands of years, and as Easter gifts, for at least five hundred years. According to About.com, for instance, Edward I of England spent “eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts.”
Rabbits also symbolized rebirth to the Egyptians, who associated rabbits with the moon. Since the moon determines the date of Easter, the Christians soon made that connection, too. The tradition of the Easter Bunny, who brings colored eggs, originated in Germany and was brought to America by German immigrants.
And so we see that like most holidays, our Easter celebration has roots that go back much further and reach out much farther than most of us ever realize. It was the Christian church’s ability to adapt the customs that people knew and loved that allowed it to spread in the way that it did.
Today, children delight in decorating and hunting eggs, getting stuffed bunnies in baskets, and celebrating the return of Spring. For Christians, Easter has deeper meaning today. But for everyone, in any culture, time or belief season, it only feels right to celebrate Spring and, thus, celebrate life anew every year.
Bet you didn’t know a woman invented..
. the feather duster:
Susan Hibbard patented the feather duster in 1875. Her husband, George Hibbard, tried to claim the patent was his, but the court awarded the patent to her. Like a Victorian-era man would invent a feather duster!
. . the automatic dishwasher:
Josephine Garis Cochran invented and patented the first automatic dishwasher in 1889. It was first shown at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and later became associated with KitchenAid.
. . the microelectrode:
Ida Henrietta Hyde invented it in the 1930’s. She was the first female to be a member of the American Physiological Society. The microelectrode revolutionized neurosurgery.
. . the windshield wiper:
Mary Anderson, an Alabama woman, invented it in 1903.
. .the bra:
Mary Phelps Jacobs invented it in 1914, freeing women from the corset and paving the way for the flappers of the 1920’s. She made the first one from two silk handkerchiefs and a ribbon.
. . the chocolate chip cookie:
It seems like there should have always been chocolate chip cookies, but they were actually invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield, who was the proprieter of the Toll House Inn in Wakefield, Massachusettes, in 1930.
. . a serum that saved thousands of babies:
Hattie Elizabeth Alexander, who was a pediatrician as well as a microbiologist, developed a serum that worked against a type of influenza that had a 100% mortality rate on babies. She patented it in 1932. In 1964, she became the first woman president of The American Pediatric Society.
. . a communication system that helped combat the Nazis in World War II;
Actress Hedy Lamarr, with George Anthiel, invented that in 1941.
. . the disposable diaper:
Marian Donovan invented the first disposable diaper in 1950. She couldn’t get a major manufacturer to back it, so she started her own company. In 1951, she sold it and her patents for one million dollars.
. . Liquid Paper (whiteout)
Bessie Nesmith, the mother of Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, invented the typewriter correction liquid in 1951.
. . the Apgar Scale:
This scale, which is used to determine the health of newborn babies, was created by Dr. Virginia Apgar in 1953.
. . Scotchgard:
Patsy Sherman invented Scotchgard in 1956.
. . the home diabetes test:
Helen Free invented the first home diabetes test in 1958.
. . Kevlar:
Stephanie Louise Kwolek invented this material, used for bulletproof vests among other things, in 1964.
And that’s just a sampling of what women have contributed! How many of these did you know?
Who was Jane Addams?
Well, for one thing she was the first American woman to win the Nobel prize.
She was a feminist and a pioneer and innovator in the field of social work (before the field actually existed as social work.)
Jane was born in 1860 to a prosperous and politically active miller who served as an officer in the Civil War. She was the last of nine children. She was born with a congenital spinal defect that limited her physical activity as a child, and even though it was corrected by surgery, she was never physically strong.
In 1881, at age 21, Jane grduated from Rockford Female Seminary. She then spent 6 years studying medicine, but was finally forced to give up the plan of practicing as a doctor because of her poor health and intermittent hospital visits. While trying to regain her health, she studied in Europe, and spent several years trying to decide what she wanted to do next At 27, while traveling in Europe with her friend Ellen Starr, Jane visited a settlement house called Toynbee House in the East End of London, which was set up to provide assistance, work training, and education for London’s poor. Jane thought that a similar establishment could and should be established in the working districts of Chicago.
In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr leased a large house in Chicago, moved in, and opened Hull House, one of the first settlement houses in America. They provided a night school for workers, nursed the sick, listened to the troubled, gave shelter to the homeless, and much more. There was a library, a music club, a book bindery, a swimming pool, even an art gallery.
They even brought women in from off the street, shocking society by finding value in those who were “no better than they should be.” The house was a beacon of hope in a harsh world.
But that is not all that Jane Addams did. She was a strong influence on the Chicago School of Sociology, and through her writing and her lectures she helped define the methodoloy of the new field of social work. She worked hard for social reform, such as an end to child labor and a recognition of the rights of women. She was adamantly opposed to war, and helped organize the Women’s Peace Party and the International Women’s Congress in an effort to avert World War I. This caused her to be expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Addams worked tirelessly for social justice, peace, and human rights until she sustained a heart attack in 1926, from which she never completely recovered. She was in and out of hospitals, and was hospitalized in Baltimore on December 10, 1931, when she became the first American female to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo,Sweden. Ironically, it was not her heart that killed her, but cancer. She died in 1935, but she left behind a legacy of service that should not be forgotten.
Dixie Haygood was born Anna Jarrett in 1861, according to the New Georgia Encyclpedia and married George Haygood when she was 17 years old. In 1885, she began performing a stage act under the stage name “Annie Abbott the Little Georgia Magnet” that astonished not only audiences in the US but across Europe.
At only 100 pounds, Dixie was able to perform amazing feats of strength and resistance, such as lifting a table with four strong men on it or preventing three men from lifting a pool cue simply by touching one of the men. She was examined by doctors, who could not explain how she could do what she could do.
Many people then and now claim that Dixie’s act was a mixture of clever use of the center of gravity, illusion and charm. Dixie herself claimed to be a spiritualist. Over time, many people began to consider a witch. According to Weird Georgia, she would often fly into uncontrollable rages, and into trances where she would allegedly cause large pieces of furniture to move around the room. (It is worth noting that Dixie was subject to epileptic seizures.)
By the time of her death in 1915, many people had decided that Dixie was using a supernatural power. She is said to have put a curse on her grave, stating that anyone who stood between her grave and the sun would be subject to the curse. (I did not know this when we visited the grave on the 30th of December, but the sun was already sinking and we were on the other side of the grave from it, so I guess we’re safe:)) The most interesting manifestation of this so-called curse seems to affect the graveplot next to Dixie’s, which belongs to the Yates family. Every year around Christmas, according to Weird Georgia and other sources, a hole opens up between the two plots, so deep that sometimes part of the Yates family tombstones fall into the hole. When the damage is repaired and the hole is filled, the same phenomenon happens again around Christmas the next year. Dixie Haygood is buried in Memory Hill cemetery in Milledgeville, GA, and her grave was unmarked for many years. The Cemetery Preservation Society placed a stone there in 1991, according to Sue Harrington, who is working on a book about Alice Abbott/ Dixie Haygood with her husband, Hugh Harrington. But they put the gravestone on the middle grave by mistake. Dixie is actually buried in the outer grave in the plot. The middle plot is her son, who travelled with her. (Only her husband’s grave was marked at the time that the stone was placed.)
I did not know about the alleged “curse” when we visited Memory Hill cemetery, so I did not look for the Yates plot, but I don’t see a hole in either of these pictures. I think the Yates plot has to be on the other side of the photos, because the plot next to this on the right says “Hines.”
Donaldina Cameron was born on a sheep ranch in New Zealand in 1869, but she and her family emigrated to California when she was two. Her mother died when she was five. Ranching was hard work, and Donaldina, her older brother, and her four older sisters were not enough to help her father keep the ranch going. It failed, and her father supported the family by working for other ranchers.
At age 19, in 1888, Donaldina was engaged to marry, but for reasons that are not now known, the engagement fell through. In 1895, a friend persuaded her to spend a year as a missionary, working as a sewing teacher at the Presbyterian Mission House in Chinatown. It was there that Ms. Cameron’s life changed forever.
Chinatown at that time was a desperate, crowded, disease-ridden and filthy place. The exclusion act of 1882 made it illegal for Chinese men, who came in to the states to work in the gold rush camps and on the railroads, to bring their wives and families to America. There were very few women in Chinatown, and this led to an enormous demand for prostitutes. Some women came over as indentured servants,thinking they could be house servants or do laundry and hoping to join their husbands after their service was ended, but with 30 year contracts, they were really slaves with no hope of freedom. Other women and female children as young as five were kidnapped, particularly from Canton, and brought to Chinatown. The young children were sold as household slaves called Mui Tsai’s. They were worked hard and often brutally mistreated. When they were old enough, they were often sold into prostitution. The women and teens were immediately forced into prostitution. Their lives were usually short, violent, and miserable. Most lived for around five years from the time they were enslaved.
The main goal of the Presbyterian Mission House was to rescue these girls.
When Donaldina arrived at the Mission House, she was innocent and totally unprepared, but she quickly became involved in the clandestine rescue of children and prostitutes. Late at night, she went out with axe-wielding police officers to cribs and brothels, freeing the women and finding children and prostitutes who had been hidden behind trap doors and in coal tunnels. She learned to hide them and find ways to protect them when their “owners” came with writs of habeas corpus, legal documents which would let them reclaim their “property.” Many of these slave owners were members of the Tong, powerful Chinese gangsters who constantly threatened the Mission and its workers, legally and physically.
Donaldina decided to stay at the Mission House after her year was through, assisting the crusader, Margaret Culbertson, who was the superintendant of the house. In 1897, Culbertson died, and in 1900, Donaldina became the superintendent of the house. Over the next few years, she helped rescue many children and women, earning two nicknames she kept for the rest of her life: the girls called her “Lo Ma,” or Little Mother, and the Tongs and other slave owner called her “Fahn Quai,” or White Devil.
In 1906, during the great San Francisco Earthquake, the Mission House was destroyed by fire. Donaldina braved the flames to rescue the records that gave her guardianship of her girls. In 1908, the house was rebuilt and it still stands today, now known as Cameron House.
In addition, Donaldina helped establish the Chung Mei Home for Chinese boys and the Ming Quong Home for Chinese girls.
Donaldina continued to rescue Chinese girls and women and to fight in the courts and as a public speaker for their freedom until 1934, when she retired. She died in 1968, at age 98. She is credited as being the major force in ending the Chinese slave trade. In all, she rescued and educated over 3,000 girls.
Never underestimate what a determined woman can do.
Sources: San Francisco Encyclopedia, Cameron House, Wikipedia, et al.
(In honor of Women’s History month, I am posting a series of articles I wrote, Women You Should Know.)
Emily Warren Roebling is a woman I’d be willing to bet you’ve never heard of.
But you’ve heard of the Brooklyn Bridge, right?
Well, without Emily Warren Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge would not exist as it does today.
It all began when Emily Warren met and fell in love with Washington Roebling, while visiting
her brother at his headquarters during the Civil War. Emily and Washington married in 1865.
In 1867, Emily’s father-in-law, John A. Roebling, began work on the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately,
tragedy soon struck, and one day when John Roebling was supervising construction on the bridge, his
foot was crushed in an accident and he died of tetanus shortly thereafter.
Washington Roebling took over his father’s work on the bridge, but once again, the bridge took its
toll. Roebling developed caisson disease, also known as decompression disease,from working too long at
high atmospheric pressure. He became paralyzed, and could only supervise construction from his balcony
by the use of binoculars.
At this point, Emily, who had studied such subjects alongside her husband as mathematics, cable
construction, and material strength, took over the day-to-day supervision of the work on the bridge.
The contractors and assistant engineers came to her for advice and took her suggestions. To them, she
was the Chief Engineer.
In 1882, eleven years after Washington and Emily had begun work on the bridge, the Mayor or Brooklyn
resolved to replace Washington on the grounds of physical incapacity. Emily requested permission to
address the American Society of Engineers, the first time a woman had ever done so. She spoke so
eloquently that Washington remained the Chief Engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge until its completion
in 1883. At the opening ceremony, speaker Abram Stevens Hewitt said that the bridge was
“…an everlasting monument to the sacrificing devotion of a woman and of her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred.”
After the completion of the bridge, Emily went on to serve in the Relief Society during the Spanish-American War and in civic organizations, as well as to gain a law degree from New York University. She died in 1903.
Howells, Trevor:The World’s Greatest Buildings,Fog City Press, 2002.
Emily Warren Roebling: Wikipedia
Emily W. Roebling-Engineer Girl: Engineergirl.org
Wilmshurt, Paul:The Brooklyn Bridge and a Marriage of Equals, BBC.co.uk