In 1862, our great-great grandmother, Sigtrud, had just delivered twin daughters. The family had recently emigrated from Norway and was living in Wisconsin. A Union Army recruiter came in search of new recruits, but Sigtrud would have none of it. Rifle in hand, she ran him off and said she did not sail across the ocean to become a widow. Don’t mess with a lactating mother who is protecting her little family. As new immigrants with no other means of support, she and her little babies would not have survived without a bread-earner. Good on you Sigtrud. We owe our existence to your gumption.
Our great-great aunt was living on the harsh Kansas prairie when she suddenly became a young widow. At that time, she had few respectable options to support herself and her daughter but she did have a wagon, a team of horses and a cook stove. The cook stove was loaded onto the wagon, and Aunty followed the threshing teams across the vast prairie in her chuck wagon. Every time I think of her story, I am humbled by the comparative ease of my life. Although we may not have inherited her sturdiness, I’m pretty sure the Cúpla Sisters would be as handy at rustling up grub for hungry threshers.
Gail Laughlin, whom you met in our last blog, graduated in 1886 from Portland High School in Portland, Maine. She was the top scholar and, as such, received the Brown Medal. If she had been a male, she would have received the college scholarship and law school assistance that should have accompanied the award. The denial was heart-searing as Gail had long vowed to become a lawyer in order to right inequalities and to improve opportunities for women. It took her twelve years of hard work to accomplish her goal. Gail graduated with a law degree from Cornell University Law School where she was an outstanding student. Although her dearest wish for ERA passage was not attained, she was successful in helping right many inequalities and improved the lives of all Americans.
photo: Ahlborn, R. E. (1978) Chuck Wagon. July. [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ncr000153/.