Her Story is Missing from Our History Books

Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson, a Cherokee poet, educator and Indian rights activist, is a person who should be in all our history books. Her passion, creativity, and dedication to her people alone earned her a place in history. But her story is a missing from our history books. Muskrat Bronson acted when women were struggling to be seen and to vote. In addition, she was a mixed race Indian with all the racial difficulties that came with that. It’s our national shame we don’t all know her name. Early Life Muskrat was born Sunday, October 3, 1897 in White Water, on the Delaware Nation Reservation in Indian territory (now Oklahoma). Her father, James Ezekial Muskrat, was a Cherokee who’s ancestors had traveled the Trail of Tears in the late 1839s. Ida Lenora (nee Kelly) was her mother, an Irish-English transplant from Missouri whose family had moved to Indian Territory. Muskrat’s surviving relatives and biographers believe her father’s “Restricted Indian” status and his struggle to become a citizen heavily influenced her world view . Restricted status meant that while her father held the title to their land, he could not sell or trade the land without the approval of the Secretary of the […]

The Insanity of Inequality

In 1851, the state of Illinois opened its first hospital for the mentally ill. The state legislature passed a law to protect people from being committed against his or her will. The law required a public hearing before that person was committed. With one exception, a husband could have his wife committed without either a public hearing or her consent. All the law required was “the permission of the asylum superintendent” and one doctor who agreed with the diagnosis. In the summer of 1860, Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard (1816-1897) was a victim of that law. Such was the insanity of inequality.  Early Life Betsy Parsons Ware was born in Ware, Massachusetts on December 28, 1816, to Lucy Parsons Ware and Reverend Samuel Ware. The oldest of three children, she was the only daughter. She changed her name to Elizabeth as a teenager. Her father, a Calvinist minister, made sure all his children were well-educated. Elizabeth studied French, algebra, and the new classics at the Amherst Female Seminary. She became a teacher. Elizabeth fell ill during the 1835 winter holidays. Doctors treated her with emetics, purges, and bleeding for “brain fever.” But her symptoms (headaches and feeling delirious) continued. Her father […]

A tiny Crack in Male-dominated Science

In the 1850s, a natural philosopher (amateur scientist) studied the effects of the sun’s heat. Hers were early, perhaps even the first experiments ever done on Earth’s greenhouse effect. Despite the limitations 19th century society put on Eunice Newton Foote, she made a tiny crack in male-dominated science. Early life In 1819 in Goshen, Connecticut, Isaac Newton Jr. and Thirza Newton had a daughter they named Eunice. Eunice, her six sisters, five brothers, and her parents moved to Bloomington, New York. At seventeen, she went to Troy Female Seminary. Being a student there allowed her to study the basics of chemistry and biology at a local science college. On August 12, 1841, she married Elisha Foote. They lived in Seneca Falls and later in Saratoga, New York. They had two daughters. Women’s Rights While living in Seneca Falls, Eunice Newton attended the first Woman’s Rights Convention on July 19-20, 1848. She signed the convention’s Declaration of Sentiments written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The document demanded equality with men in social status and legal rights. Research In the 1850s, Foote conducted her experiments. She used an air pump, four mercury thermometers, and two glass cylinders. She put a thermometer in each […]