nonfiction · Uncategorized · writing

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

I’m sure that you have seen that saying floating around cyber space lately. I know I have. But it’s true. Think about it. Through out history, the women who made history was not  considered “properly behaved” women for the times.

I for one don’t want to be a properly behaved woman. I want to make history. But I’m thinking I won’t be one of those women you read about in history books. I will be one of those that changed things quietly on the sidelines. Just doing what I love doing. Stirring up shit  Writing, and doing my very best to live life to the fullest.

Now, we have all heard about Amelia Earhart,  Cleopatra,  Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice to name a few. Women who have made the history books. But, what about those women who have extraordinary talents and are little known? I  decided they needed to be mentioned and applauded for what they have contributed to our society  and history.

I found some fascinating women in history. The first one has become close to my heart because she was Native American. I am half Native American. Her name was:

Lozen. According to my research Lozen was born into the Chihenne band of the Chiricahua Apache in the early 1800’s. From the 1840s through the 1870s, Lozen fought alongside Geronimo and her brother Victorio, participating in war councils, ambushes of Mexican soldiers, and territorial battles with American settlers and soldiers such as the Battle of Apache Pass, the massacre at Cibecue and countless other struggles. Lozen’s older brother Victorio is quoted as saying, “Lozen is my right hand . . . strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people.”

Geronimo, Chiricahua Apache leader. Photograph...
Geronimo, Chiricahua Apache leader. Photograph by Frank A. Rinehart, 1898. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had what the Apaches called “Power,” supernatural abilities on the battlefield and in spiritual communication. Lozen also fought beside Geronimo after his breakout from the San Carlos reservation in 1885, in the last campaign of the Apache wars. With the band pursued relentlessly, she used her Power to locate the enemies, the U. S. and Mexican calvaries. According to Alexander B. Adams in his book Geronimo, “She would stand with her arms outstretched, chant a prayer [to Ussen, the Apaches’ supreme deity], and slowly turn around.”

Upon this earth
On which we live
Ussen has Power
This Power is mine
For locating the enemy.
I search for that Enemy
Which only Ussen the Great
Can show to me.

(From Eve Ball’s In the Days of Victorio)

“By the sensation she felt in her arms, she could tell where the enemy was and how many they numbered,” according to Adams.

Taken into U. S. military custody after Geronimo’s final surrender, Lozen traveled as a prisoner of war to confinement at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. Like many other Apache warriors, she died there of tuberculosis sometime after 1887, her life a validation of the respected place women held among the Apaches.


Bell was born in Washington Hall, County DurhamEngland – now known as Dame Margaret Hall – to a family whose wealth enabled her travels. She is described as having “reddish hair and piercing blue-green eyes, with her mother’s bow-shaped lips and rounded chin, her father’s oval face and pointed nose”.

She was an archaeologist, a linguist and the greatest woman mountaineer of her age. And in Baghdad in 1921 she drew the boundaries of the country that became Iraq.  “I had a well-spent morning at the office making out the southern desert frontier of the Iraq,” she wrote to her father on December 4 1921.

Despite being a brilliant scholar, archaeologist, mountaineer and linguist, she also found time to be a leading figure for the anti Suffragette Movement (perhaps bizarrely saying if women were still interested in housework, why should they get the vote). In a Victorian era that stifled Women’s role in society, she proved a fearless traveller spending many years crossing the deserts of Arabia and befriending the Arab people. Even though the Arabic princes were unaccustomed to a women playing such a pivotal role in politics they generally warmly accepted her and she in turn felt part of their culture.

Bell briefly returned to Britain in 1925, and found herself facing family problems and ill-health. Her family’s fortune had begun to decline due to the onset of post-World War I worker strikes in Britain and economic depression in Europe. She returned to Baghdad and soon developed pleurisy. When she recovered, she heard that her younger brother Hugo had died of typhoid. On 12 July 1926, Bell was discovered dead, of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. There is much debate on her death, but it is unknown whether the overdose was an intentional suicide or accidental since she had asked her maid to wake her.

Molly Elliot Seawell (October 23, 1860, Gloucester, Virginia – November 15, 1916, Washington, D. C.) was an American writer.

English: Molly Elliot Seawell 1860-1916
English: Molly Elliot Seawell 1860-1916 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was born as Mary Elliot Seawell into one of the older families of English language-speaking North America and one of the first families of Virginia. Her father was John Tyler Seawell, a lawyer and orator and a nephew of President of the United States John Tyler. Her mother (Tyler’s second wife), Frances Elizabeth Jackson Seawell, was a native of Baltimore whose father, Major William Jackson, had fought in the War of 1812.

Molly Elliot Seawell was the author of forty books, including regional fiction, romances, books for boys (primarily nautical stories), and nonfiction. She also penned political columns for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and New York.

The death of her father when she was twenty prompted Seawell, her mother, and her younger sister, Henrietta, to move from Gloucester to Norfolk and later to Washington, D.C. Either in Norfolk or in Washington Seawell began her literary career in earnest. She wrote first under pen names, including the patrician “Foxcroft Davis”—for her novels Mrs. Darrell and The Whirl—and the Russian “Vera Sapoukhyn.” She first used her real name for the publication of her short story “Maid Marian” in 1886, a tale she later dramatized for actress Rosina Vokes. Her first novel, Hale-Weston, published in 1889, was widely read and translated into German.

With the publication in 1890 of the prize-winning Little Jarvis, Seawell began a commercially successful series of popular books for boys, often sea stories, influenced by her uncle, Joseph Seawell. Typical of the period in which they were written, the books are not patronizing in tone or diction. Moreover, Twelve Naval Captains (1897) is said to have been used as a text at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Seawell, whose health had been precarious for many years, died of cancer on November 15, 1916, a few weeks after her fifty-sixth birthday. She was a popular and widely read writer in her time, included at the beginning of the twentieth century in standard reference works on American writers and among the authors interviewed by the New York Times‘s Otis Notman, along with such notables as William Dean Howells, Jack London, and Theodore Dreiser. Her work was adapted for the stage and for three silent films: The Heart of Cerise (1915), The Sixteenth Wife (1916), and The Fortunes of Fifi (1917).

Seawell represents the end of one generation of independent and self-reliant, though socially and politically conservative, southern women, and her story provides the background for the emergence of modern women.

That’s just 3 of the fascinating women I found during my research. There are many more that have done great things  for their  times but are largely forgotten or overshadowed by others. I believe these women need to be brought fourth into the light as examples on how “Well behaved women rarely make history”.


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