The Maid Who Fought Back

Hattie Canty rose from an Alabama girl to a maid to an African-American labor activist. She was the maid who fought back, the maid who eventually ensured that Las Vegas workers in the hospitality business made a living wage.  Early Life Hattie Canty was born in 1934 in  St. Stephens, Alabama. She graduated high school and married. They divorced. A single mother with two children, she moved to San Diego and took a job as a cook, then as a private maid. Las Vegas She remarried in 1961, moved to Las Vegas, and had eight more children. Her husband worked for Silver State Disposal. She stayed home to care for her ten children. By 1972 she returned to work, this time at the Thunderbird Hotel. Her husband died of lung cancer in 1975. And then she was a single mother again, this time with eight children still at home. She worked as a janitor, a maid, and then in 1979 got a job as a maid at Maxim Casino. In 1987, she earned a promotion to the better paying job of a uniformed attendant. The Union She joined the Culinary Workers Union 226, an affiliate of the Hotel Employees and […]

Mama Josie and the Angels of Bataan

World War II both brought many and shone a light on many horrors. (See my post on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) But among the awfulness there were shining stars. This is the story of Mama Josie and the Angels of Bataan. Early Life Josephine Nesbit was born on the family farm in  Butler, Mo on December 23, 1894. Nesbit was the seventh of ten children. Farm life was hard. Even the children rose at dawn and did chores.  Both her parents died before she turned twelve. Orphaned first her grandmother and later a cousin in Kansas took her in. She left high school at 16. Nursing as a Career Her sister was a nurse. After Nesbit spoke to her sister’s supervisor, she chose to become a nurse. Nesbit became a registered nurse in 1914.  An army recruiter came to Kansas City in 1918. He wanted nurses to join the Army Nurse Corps to help with the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Nesbit joined the Reserve Army Nurse Corps. By 1941 Nesbit had been an Army Nurse for twenty-two years. She’d enjoyed the travels of a peace-time nurse. On her second tour, Nesbit was a lieutenant and second-in-command at Stenberg General Hospital in Manila, the […]

Revolutionary War Hero Margaret Corbin

It’s July and fitting that this month’s history posts be about Margaret Cochran Corbin, born November 12, 1751 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, A U.S. Revolutionary War Hero, Margaret Corbin was the first woman paid a soldier’s pension by the Continental Congress. Early Life Born to Robert Cochran, an Irish immigrant, and his wife Sarah, Margaret was orphaned at the age of five. While she and her brother were away from home, Native American’s raided her home. Her father died, and they kidnapped her mother. Her mother’s brother adopted her and her brother. Married Twenty-one-year-old Margaret married John Corbin from Virginia in 1772. Presumably they moved to Pennsylvania. The Revolutionary War Her husband joined the Pennsylvania Artillery in 1775 or 1776.  A matross, an artilleryman, John served on a cannon crew. Margaret, like many other wives at the time, became a camp follower. Camp followers cooked, cleaned and repaired clothes for the soldiers to earn money. They also cared for the sick and wounded. And camp followers brought the soldiers water to drink and to cool the cannons. The soldiers called these women, Molly Pitcher. John manned one of two cannons at Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, when George Washington […]