Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Part Two of the Helen Hunt Jackson 'Interview'

First I want to thank Mrs. Jackson for joining us again today. I would like to spend some time with questions about your work for the Indians in the late 1870's and early 1880's.

In your article 'Oldest House' you mention the fate of the people who lived in the area prior to the Spanish residence in Santa Fe.

When Coronado explored Mexico in 1540, he found many Indian pueblos on the Rio Grande River, and speaks of several which must have been near the present location of Santa Fe. The one which it is generally supposed was on its precise site at the time stretched along its river-banks for six miles. Colorado reported that he found here a beautiful and fertile valley, under high cultivation by the Indians. It is hard to realize...that a race which, over three hundred years ago, had reached comfort and success in agriculture and pastoral occupations, should be today an abject, supine, wretched a melancholy comment on the injustices they have received.

Those are pretty harsh words. It is obvious you have strong feelings about the issue.

The book, Century of Dishonor, as its title indicates, a sketch of the United States Government's dealings with some of the..tribes.

Right sentiment and purpose in a senator..representative here and there, are little more than straws which make momentary eddies, but do not obstruct the tide.

a..states representative argued in Congress that is is very hard if the government will not for..advantage, break a few treaties when it has broken so many for the advantage of other states....what a logic of infamy...because we have had one century of dishonor, must we have two?

Do you think anything can be done for about this issue?

The only thing that can stay this is a mighty outspoken sentiment and purpose of the great body of the people. ....for the American people,as a people, are not at heart unjust. If there be one thing which they believe in more than any other, is fair play. As soon as they understand....they will rise up and demand it...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your thoughts and words with us.

(It should be noted that these 'interviews' contained words used by Mrs. Jackson. Also prior to the publication of Century of Dishonor and Ramona, Helen did not use her real name. Century was the first to carry the name Helen Jackson. The use of Helen Hunt Jackson did not appear until after her death in 1885.)

I hope you enjoyed a bit of insight into the interesting, complex and fearless woman. She seemed to always state her opinion, regardless of what others may have thought. She is a woman to be remembered.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

'Interview' with Helen Hunt Jackson

For fun this week I thought it might be fun to 'interview' Helen Hunt Jackson using her own words. I hope you enjoy. The photo is from my recent performance at the Pikes Peak Library District as Helen Hunt Jackson

As you were traveling to the west you made some unique observations. Would you share some of those thoughts?

Prairie, unfenced, undivided, unmeasured, unmarked, save by the different tints of different growths of grass or grain; great droves of cattle grazing here and there; acres of willow saplings, pale yellowish green; and solitary trees, which look like hermits in a wilderness. These, and now and then a shapeless village, which looks even lonelier than the empty loneliness by which it is surrounded, - these are all for hours and hours. We think, “now we are getting out into the great spaces.” “This is what the word ‘West’ has sounded like.”

You seem to like the lower elevations as opposed to the high peaks. Why do you think that?

I think that true delight, true realization, of the gracious, tender, unutterable beauty of the earth and all created things are to be found in outlooks from lower points—vistas which shut more than they show, sweet and unexpected revealings in level places and valley, secrets of near woods, and glories of every-day paths.

You are quoted as saying there are nine places of worship in Colorado Springs. What are the?

There are nine “places of divine worship” in Colorado Springs, -- the Presbyterian, the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Methodist, the South Methodist, the Episcopal, the Congregationalist, the Baptist, the Unitarian, and Cheyenne Canyon.

What do you do when the snow covers the ground?

... winter..... memory and fancy will have their way; and, as we sit cowering over fires, and the snow piles up outside our window sills, we shall gaze dreamily into the glowing coals, and, living the summer over again, shall recall it in a minuteness of joy, for summer days were too short and summer light too strong. Then, when joy becomes reverie, and reverie takes shape, a truer record can be written....

Thank you Mrs. Jackson. I hope you will join me again later to share more of your insights.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Varina Davis

Varina Howell was 17 when she met Jefferson Davis, 18 years her senior. Then married when she was 19 and within a short time, Varina found herself in Washington DC as the wife of a politician.
This was a huge step for a young southern lady born and basically educated at home, much like other women of her time. Born May 7, 1826, Varina was a bright, outgoing and charming woman. Still, for a woman at that time, options were limited. According to writings and letters, Varina tried to be the good wife the Jefferson expected her to be. Her first trip to DC was a trial, but by the second trip she had found her step. In some ways she may have understoon politics better than her husband.
Varina has the distinction of being the only first lady of the Confederacy. To some she was a saint and others a vile creature. Does that sound familiar? Some would say the same thing about Mary Lincoln.
As I have studied this woman and her times I come away with a person who did her best in what we now know were very trying situations. After the war, she feared for the safety of her children in Georgia, to the point she sent them to Canada to live with her mother. She petitioned tirelessly for the release of her husband from his prison. A remarkable and yet perhaps misunderstood woman. The pictures above are of the home she and Jefferson retired to in 1879. A picture of another time and era. As you can see in the second photograph the home suffered damage during Katrina and has been slowly restored as seen in the first photograph.

I want to thank my friend Ken Oyer for his willingness to visit Bouvier and share these recent photos.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Katherine McNeal Lamont

In honor of National Womens' History month I will be highlighting women in the Colorado Springs, El Paso County area of Colorado.

Todays focus is Katherine McNeal Lamont. There is not much known about her. Accourding to her obituary she was born August 2, 1871 in Rock Island, Illinois and moved to Denver where she married a Scotsman named Duncan Lamont on October 3, 1901.

From Denver they moved to Colorado City where Mr. Lamont became the pastor of the First Baptist Church at 1 S. 24th ST.

Her obituary says she was active in the church and social groups. When you study the city directories you see that most of her married life was spent in Colorado City (later a part of Colorado Springs) except for about two years spent in Victor Colorado. Still even in Colorado City the Lamonts moved no fewer than three times.

What is found in the local papers is a woman who seemed to do her best as the wife of a pastor and later postmaster. She took part in church events, even to the point of singing a duet with another woman. It appears she was a member of the WTCU while her husband was preaching against the sins of alcohol.

The more I try to find out about this woman the more questions I run into. Why did she wait until thirty years of age to marry? Was she instrumental in her husband moving into politics? What was her early life in Illinois and Colorado like? Perhaps some day these questions will be answered. In the meanwhile, Katherine Lamont is one of the women from the early days of Colorado who walked the land, but has been overlooked. Even the large headstone is shared with her husband, then two identical smaller ones on each side.