Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two of my Favorite Television Cowboys



When I was young, Sunday afternoon television instilled in me a great love for old Hollywood musicals and westerns. While Gene Kelly danced his way across the screen, John Wayne rode horses and frequently sparred with Maureen O’Hara. To this day, Gene Kelly is still my favorite male dancer, and John Wayne… his grit and swagger find their way into some of the characters I create. To me, he is the ultimate cowboy. Running a close second to him are Peter Breck and Cameron Mitchell.    

Joseph Peter Breck was born on March 13, 1929 in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He is best known for playing Nick Barkley on The Big Valley. Breck’s father was a jazz musician who played with legends such as Fats Waller and Billie Holiday. As a child, Breck often traveled with his parents until they decided he needed a more stable home life and sent him to live with his grandparents. During this time, his parent divorced and he went to live with his mother in Rochester. She later married Al Weber, the sports writer for the Rochester Times Union.         
Upon graduating high school, Breck enlisted in the Navy. After his tour, he moved to Houston and centered his attention on education. He enrolled in the University of Houston and studied drama and English. It was there he got his start in acting, performing at Houston’s Alley Theatre. Stalag 17 was one of the productions he appeared in before moving to Washington D.C.’s theater district. Actor Robert Mitchum discovered Breck in the stage production of George Bernard Shaw’s The Man of Destiny and cast him in an unbilled role in the film, Thunder Road. Mitchum later brought Breck to Hollywood and helped to launch Breck’s acting career.
Breck appeared in several movies, portraying a variety of characters, before being cast to play Nick Barkley in 1965. The Big Valley is where I know Breck best, as I loved his character. Tall, dark and handsome, Nick Barkley was rough around the edges and had a warm heart. He could ride, rope and shoot, was quick to lose his temper and throw his fists, but at the end of the day, family and honesty mattered most to him. As with John Wayne, I model a lot of my cowboys after Nick Barkley.
Breck later moved to Canada with his wife and son. He founded an acting academy in Vancouver, The Breck Academy, and managed it for ten years. Sadly, his son died at a young age after suffering a long bout with acute myeloid leukemia. Breck laid low after the tragedy, but eventually went on to guest star on several television shows. He died on February 6, 2012 from dementia. I will always remember him as Nick Barkley, the rough-and-tumble, sweet-as-pie cowboy from my childhood.

    
  

Cameron McDowell Mitzell was born November 4, 1918 in Dallastown, Pennsylvania. (He later changed his name to Cameron Mitchell at actress Lynn Fontanne’s urging.) Mitchell is the 4th of seven children. His father and mother were both ministers of the Reformed Lutheran Church. Several other men in his family were also ministers, and Mitchell’s father hoped Cameron would follow the same path, but early on Cameron had a love for acting. With the help of a high school teacher, he enrolled in a New York City dramatic school. During his time in the city, he held a variety of jobs while acting on Broadway and writing letters to producers, agents and other actors to further his career. It wasn’t until he criticized a performance of Alfred Hunt did he receive a reply from Hunt offering him an audition.
Mitchell served in World War II as an Air Force bombardier. He made his film debut in 1945, appearing in What Next, Corporal Hargrove? Afterward, he continued with stage and film, gaining recognition twice for his portrayal of Happy in the stage and screen productions of Death of A Salesman. Mitchell continued with roles in westerns, establishing himself as a character actor. He met producer David Dohort when Dohort produced one of Mitchell’s first short-lived television series.  Later on, when Dohort was casting for High Chaparral, his first choice to play Buck Cannon was Cameron Mitchell.        
As with Peter Breck’s Nick Barkley, Buck Cannon became Mitchell’s signature role. This is where I know Mitchell best. His portrayal of Uncle Buck captivated me at a young age. Buck was strong, determined, loyal to family and funny. I model some of Buck’s grit and humor in my own writing.
Mitchell’s love for acting wasn’t his only love. He also had a love for golf, traveling and gambling on the dogs, though by his own words he didn’t gamble often. He loved golf too much for that. Married three times, he sometimes found himself broke, even though, according to him, he made 1,000’s from residuals. Mitchell passed away on July 6, 1994. He was survived by his children and grandchildren, some of which have found their way into acting. To me, he will always be Uncle Buck, that larger-than-life figure on the television screen.     

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Moorhouse Collection

By Shanna Hatfield


The book I'm working on right now has led me down the road of researching the Umatilla Indian Reservation during the early years of the 20th century. One of the best resources I've found for gleaning the details I need is through a collection of photographs from Lee Moorhouse.


Moorhouse was a photographer and an Indian agent for the Umatilla Indian Reservation. From 1888 to 1916, he produced more than 9,000 images documenting urban, rural, and Native American life in the Columbia Basin, particularly in Umatilla County, Oregon.

Born in Marion County, Iowa, as a child Moorhouse traveled along the Oregon Trail to Walla Walla, Washington with his family in the 1860s. He worked as a miner, surveyor, rancher, businessman, civic leader, real estate operator and insurance salesman during his lifetime. In addition to acting as an Indian agent from 1879 to 1883, he served as Assistant Adjutant General of the Third Brigade of the Oregon State Militia.

Unlike most amateur photographers of the time, Moorhouse worked with and mastered the cumbersome and finicky equipment of professionals, including gelatin dry glass plate negatives, large cameras, and a tripod.

So many of his photographs exhibit a keen eye and deep appreciation for his subject matter that went far beyond the amateur. His photographs of the Cayuse, Walla Walla and Umatilla tribes are not only of historical significance, but also incredibly crisp and beautiful.

Moorhouse owned an extensive collection of Native American "curios" including baskets, weapons, regalia, bags and horse trappings--from a variety of tribal cultures. He exhibited the collection at local fairs and used it to adorn people who came to sit for portraits. Like so many photographs from that era, the posed portraits aren't considered accurate ethnographic documents. However, the images taken on the reservation are important records of tribal clothing and dwellings.

 Moorhouse collected so much more than images with his photographs since he commonly inscribed the name of the subject on his negatives. This information has played an important role in identifying members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from his collection.
The "Cayuse Twins" (Al-om-pum and Tox-e-lax)  became a signature piece for Moorhouse when he took their photos in 1898. He sold more than 150,000 copies of their images.

 This is "Dr. Whirlwind," one of Moorhouse's favorite subjects. I believe his name was David Young Chief. As a young man, he carried dispatches for Colonels Wright and Steptoe during the Indian uprisings for 1855-56. He also served as a scout during the Sheepeater Campaign of 1879. Check out the embellishments on his gun. It is currently in the collection of the Umatilla County Historical Society in Pendleton.

The details Moorhouse captured are just amazing, like the traditional dress of Chief Ka-lit-in of the Cayuse Tribe.

These are the children of Parson Motanic. You can see the girls wear the traditional wing style dresses. Their father was a successful farmer and at one time owned one of the largest properties on the reservation, raising both wheat and livestock. I think the girl on the far left and the one standing next to her look like they are full of sass and fun.


 Parson became an ardent Presbyterian and served as an elder at the reservation church for many years. He was often seen driving around Pendleton in his Hudson automobile.


This is Ku-massag, also known as Agnes Davis. She appears in several of Moorhouse's photographs. Here, she wears traditional dress, including a woven hat Moorhouse often used as a studio prop.

And here she is in a studio pose. I just think she is so stunning. Look at that beautiful skin!

I, for one, am so glad Moorhouse decided to pursue photography as a passion, if not a career. Thanks to his diligent efforts (and the University of Oregon libraries), the world can get such a wonderful glimpse into a way of life that is no more.
~*~

 Resources:

Grafe, Steven L.  Peoples of the Plateau: The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915. University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

Photographs: 
 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon  

For a quick overview of his work, you can also find many images on Pinterest.

~*~ 



A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.
She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.
 Find Shanna’s books at:
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Cannibalism: U.S. Southwest Region

By Kristy McCaffrey

Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Why did the Anasazi start building massive stone pueblos around A.D. 900 at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico—a barren gorge in the desert of the San Juan basin—and within 250 years suddenly abandon them? Pueblo Bonito contained over 650 rooms and its construction required more than 30,000 tons of shaped sandstone blocks. Hundreds of miles of roads were created that stretched out from Chaco Canyon in arrow-straight lines, an engineering marvel achieved without compass, wheel, or beast of burden. Shrines, irrigation systems, and a network of signaling stations were erected. These structures aligned with the sun, the moon, and each other.

Physical anthropologist Christy Turner, professor emeritus at Arizona State University, and others have detected traces of extreme violence and cannibalism on human bones unearthed at 40 different Ancestral Puebloan sites in the southwestern United States.

The earliest locations with cannibalized human remains date around A.D. 900. Turner identified 72 Anasazi sites at which violence or cannibalism may have occurred. He estimated that at least 286 individuals were butchered, cooked, and eaten. After the Chaco civilization collapsed around A.D. 1150, many Anasazi moved into deep and remote canyons, living in dwellings hugging the sides of cliffs on high, fortified mesas. The Anasazi had been seized with paranoia, or, perhaps more simply, fear.

Anasazi Ruin.
There are roughly six criteria for determining whether human remains have been cannibalized—breakage, cut marks, abrasion from being smashed against an anvil, burning, missing vertebrae, and “pot polish” created by stirring bones in a pot. Opponents to the cannibalism theory argue that the condition of remains can also be caused by the chewing of a carnivorous animal, re-burial, or witch executions, in which the victim was cut up to locate the witch’s evil heart, anywhere from the head to the big toe. Dismembering was the only way to prevent the witch from wreaking revenge after death.


In the 1990’s definitive proof arrived when a group of archaeological sites were excavated at the base of Sleeping Ute Mountain in southern Colorado. Within the first kiva was found a pile of chopped-up, boiled, and burned human bones. In the second kiva were found the remains of five people in which evidence suggested they had been roasted, then the bones defleshed and split open for the marrow. The skulls of at least two people had been placed upside down on the fire, roasted, and broken open, and the cooked brains presumably scooped out. Tools for chopping were found with traces of human blood on them.

Sleeping Ute Mountain.
In the third kiva, however, was the most unusual find. In the ashes of a central hearth was found a nondescript lump. Further analysis revealed it was a coprolite—desiccated human feces. Testing revealed that the feces contained human myoglobin, a protein found only in skeletal and heart muscle. The only way it could get into the intestinal tract was through eating. Based on the evidence at hand it was clear the community had been attacked. The people had been killed, cooked, and eaten. Then, in an ultimate act of contempt, one of the killers defecated in a hearth, the symbolic center of the family and the household.


Turner found that most deposits of cannibalized bones were often situated near Chaco Great Houses, spread across the Four Corners region, and that most dated from the Chaco period. The eating of human flesh seems to have begun as the Chaco civilization began, around A.D. 900; peaked at the time of the Chaco collapse and abandonment, around A.D. 1150; and then all but disappeared. Turner theorizes that cannibalism might have been used by a powerful elite at Chaco Canyon as a form of social control. Ancient terrorism.

Toltec civilization.
And who were these powerful elite? Most likely the Toltecs—precursors of the Aztecs. The Toltec empire in Mexico lasted from about A.D. 800 to 1100. It’s possible a heavily armed group of these “thugs” infiltrated into the southwestern part of the U.S. and found a suspicious but pliant population whom they terrorized into reproducing the theocratic lifestyle they had previously known in Mesoamerica. This involved heavy payments of tribute, constructing the Chaco system of great houses and roads, and providing victims for ceremonial sacrifice. The Mexicans achieved their objectives through the use of warfare, violent example, and terrifying cult ceremonies that included human sacrifice and cannibalism.


The Navajo have stories in their folklore that reveal aspects of Chaco Canyon that are very different from the Anglo view. Elder Navajo say that Chaco was a place of hideous evil. The people there abused sacred ceremonies, practiced witchcraft and cannibalism, and made a dreaded substance called corpse powder by cooking and grinding up the flesh and bones of the dead. Their evil threw the world out of balance, and they were destroyed in a great earthquake and fire.

The final truth is that the Anasazi, around A.D. 1150, abruptly fled their homes in the Chaco region to live in remote cliff sides, behaving as if chased by a formidable opponent. When the evidence of cannibalism is presented, the motivation for this departure can be understood under a different light.


In my book, THE SPARROW, I’ve weaved the idea of cannibalism into my story, not only through the Anasazi ruins that lay within the Grand Canyon—showcasing the peoples who strove to live in such a hard-to-reach place—but also through the folklore of cannibalism that exists in the Hopi heritage as well.


In 1877, Emma Hart comes to Grand Canyon—a wild, rugged, and, until recently, undiscovered area. Plagued by visions and gifted with a second sight, she searches for answers about the tragedy of her past, the betrayal of her present, and an elusive future that echoes through her very soul. Joined by her power animal Sparrow, she ventures into the depths of Hopi folklore, forced to confront an evil that has lived through the ages.

Texas Ranger Nathan Blackmore tracks Emma Hart to the Colorado River, stunned by her determination to ride a wooden dory along its course. But in a place where the ripples of time run deep, he’ll be faced with a choice. He must accept the unseen realm, the world beside this world, that he turned away from years ago, or risk losing the woman he has come to love more than life itself.



Works Cited

Hartigan, Rachel. “Dying for dinner? A debate rages over desert cannibalism.” U.S. News Magazine. July 2000.  <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/anasazi.htm>

Preston, Douglas. “Cannibals of the Canyon.” The New Yorker Magazine. November 1998.

Pringle, Heather. “Were Some Ancestral Puebloan People the Victims of Ethnic Conflict?” Archaeology Magazine. September 2010. <http://archive.archaeology.org/blog/were-the-ancestral-puebloan-people-victims-of-ethnic-cleansing/>

Turner, Christy G. and Turner, Jacqueline A. Man Corn: Violence and Cannibalism in the Prehistoric American Southwest. University of Utah Press, 1998.

Witze, Alexandra. “Researchers Divided Over Whether Anasazi Were Cannibals.” National Geographic Magazine. June 2001. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/06/0601_wireanasazi.html>



Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Real McCoy


Who was the First "Real McCoy"
By Alison Bruce

If English was a dog, it would be a mutt. Not only a mutt, but one that is constantly stealing words, like bones, from other dogs and calling them his own. Clever dog; capable of declaiming Shakespeare, Penny Dreadfuls and catch phrases.

The latest catch phrase that caught my attention was "the real McCoy." So I looked it up. Of course, there was controversy.

Okay, no one seriously suggested Dr. Leonard McCoy of Star Trek. At least, I don't think they were serious. Clockwise from Dr. McCoy is Bill McCoy, a prohibition era smuggler.
"McCoy took pride in the fact that he never paid a cent to organized crime, politicians, or law enforcement for protection. Unlike many operations that illegally produced and smuggled alcohol for consumption during Prohibition, McCoy sold his merchandise unadulterated, uncut and clean." - Wikipedia
His merchandise was "the real McCoy" but the phrase dates back to the nineteenth century.

The next one clockwise is Elijah McCoy. Free born, in Colchester Ontario, 1844, his parents escaped slaves, he lived in the right period. He apprenticed as an engineer in Scotland. When he returned to his family, now living in Michigan, the only job he could get was as fireman and oiler with Michigan Central Railroad. In his home workshop, he invented a better automatic oiling system, which he patented. He continued to improve it and invent other devises like the folding ironing board and the lawn sprinkler.
Other companies copied his devices, but these never worked as well as Elijah's so people would say, "I want a -- , and make sure it's a real McCoy." - UK Guardian Online

The only problem with this theory is that Elijah McCoy didn't manufacture anything under his own name until 1920. Likewise, another candidate, American world champion boxer, Charles "Kid" McCoy (who was born Norman Selby in 1872) was just a kid when the phrase was first published.

Which brings me to my favourite:

Joseph Geating McCoy

Not mentioned on any of the answer pages, I learned about “The Real McCoy” watching The Adventure of the English Language, a BBC documentary series. There, he was not only credited with coining the phrase, but for shaping the character of the old west. He did it with one simple idea: transporting cattle by train.

In a nutshell, McCoy was a livestock trader looking to make his fortune. He knew Texas had cattle, which was going cheap. He knew Kansas farmers didn't want Texas longhorns anywhere near their eastern cattle. The longhorns carried a tic that carried a disease the longhorns were immune to but killed less hardy breeds. He also knew that railroads wanted to cash in on their investment by hauling more freight.

McCoy bought a village on the rail line, near the end of the Chisholm Trail. He built a hotel, stockyard, office and bank and called it Abilene. The trail lay to the west of the Kansas farms which meant the cattlemen could use it without hostility from the Kansas homesteaders.
In 1867, McCoy spent $5,000 on advertising and riders. He promised a good price for cattle sold in Abilene and was a man of his word. One cattleman bought 600 cows for $5,400 and sold them in Abilene for $16,800. It was the beginning of the 'beef bonanza'. Between 1867 and 1881 McCoy sent more than 2 million cattle from Abilene to Chicago. His reputation for reliability gave rise to the expression 'the real McCoy'. www.historyonthenet.com
 Joseph styled himself "The Real McCoy." Since his business relied on his word, it makes sense that he would turn such a neat phrase.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Plains Indians by Ginger Simpson


The Plains Indians by Ginger Simpson

www.davidpaulkirkpatrick.com
While reading historical literature about my favorite topic, American Indians, I was amazed to learn how many Plains tribes existed.  The "Plains," as defined in the 19th century, included land ranging from northern Alberta, Canada into Texas in the south, cutting swaths through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.  The names of those tribes are, but not limited to: Sarcee, Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Ojibwa, Assiniboin, Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Mandan, Crow, Arikara, Ponca, Cheyenne, Dakota, Omaha, Iowa, Pawnee, Araphaho, Oto, Kansa, Wichita, Kiowa, Osage, Kiowa-Apache, Comanche, and Caddo.

Amazingly enough, though many tribes lived and co-existed on the Plains, the language spoken consisted of only nine different ones: Siouan, Kowan, Caddoan, Algonquian, Shoshoean, and Athabascan.  It’s not surprising that sign language became a means of communication for those who didn’t speak the same dialect.

www.dianawaring.com
A shared interest by all tribes was the buffalo.  Indian survival greatly depended upon the animal, and once I learned the importance of the huge shaggy beast, I suddenly understood why tribal tempers flared when white men began slaughtering the animals for the pure sport of it, shooting  through the windows of moving trains and leaving the carcasses to rot. 
For centuries and centuries, Indians have depended upon the buffalo as their mainstay.  In fact, before horses were introduced as a means of transportation, nomadic bands hunted on foot.  Of course, you can safely assume that the lifespan of these hunters was relatively short because of the danger involved. Have you seen the size of a buffalo?

Usually, twice-yearly hunts were organized and different methods were used to fall the huge beasts.
www.bookunitsteacher.com
Before the advantage of riding among the herd on horseback, hunters found ways to cause stampedes and then drove the animals off a cliff.  Warriors dressed in buffalo skins and wandered among the herds, gaining a vantage point of leadership in which the bulls followed and were stunned to a fearful run by other tribe mates who stamped their feet and yelled.  Now, that's what I call bravery. 

candostreet.com
Saying, “depended upon” is not an understatement.  Not only did the buffalo provide essential food for the tribe, nothing was wasted from a kill.  Clothing, blankets, lodge coverings, utensils, dishes, and even bowstrings were fashioned from the animal’s remains.  The meat was divided equally among the tribe, often dried with berries to create a dish called pemmican to sustain the people through the winter. Even the needles and thread used to tack on the colorful beading that decorated the clothing of the tribe came from the blessed kill.  Take a minute and try to picture having to manufacture everything you use from a buffalo--from the food on your table to the very pot you cooked it in. That doesn't count all the work that goes into scraping and drying the hides.  I don’t know about you, but the supermarket is looking pretty darn good to me. You?

 Have a Nice Day, or as a Lakota woman would say:  Aŋpétu wašté yuhá pe.

Monday, February 23, 2015

GIVE A GIRL A KISS?


This post is not about a cowboy, but someone who is truly remarkable. In fact, I'm sure any red-blooded cowboy would have happily kissed her. As a former newspaper reporter, I cannot help being an admirer of Nelly Bly. She made history not only as a reporter, but in a second career as an inventor.

Nellie Bly/Elizabeth Cochran

Nellie Bly was the pen name of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She was a ground-breaking reporter known for a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism. In addition to her writing, she also was an industrialist, inventor, and charity worker.

At birth she was named Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She was born in Cochran Mills, which today is part of the Pittsburgh suburb of Burrell Township, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Mary Jane and Michael Cochran. Her father was a modest laborer and mill worker who taught his young children about the virtues of hard work and determination by buying the local mill and most of the land surrounding his family farmhouse. As a young girl, Elizabeth often was called "Pinky" because she so frequently wore the color. As she became a teenager she wanted to portray herself as more sophisticated, and so dropped the nickname and changed her surname to Cochrane.

She attended boarding school for one term, but was forced to drop out due to her family’s lack of funds. In 1880, Cochrane and her family moved to Pittsburgh. An aggressively misogynistic column entitled "What Girls Are Good For" in The Pittsburgh Dispatch prompted her to write a fiery rebuttal to the editor under the pseudonym "Lonely Orphan Girl". The editor, George Madden, was impressed with her passion and ran an advertisement asking the author to identify herself.

When Cochrane introduced herself to the editor, he offered her the opportunity to write a piece for the newspaper, again under the pseudonym "Lonely Orphan Girl". After her first article for the Dispatch, entitled "The Girl Puzzle", Madden was impressed again and offered her a full-time job. Women who were newspaper writers at that time customarily used pen names. The editor chose "Nellie Bly" for Cochrane, adopted from the title character in the popular song "Nelly Bly" by Stephen Foster.

As a writer, Bly focused her early work for the Dispatch on the plight of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on women who were factory workers, but editorial pressure pushed her to the so-called women's pages to cover fashion, society, and gardening, which were the usual role for women journalists of the day. Dissatisfied with these duties, she took the initiative and traveled to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent. Still only 21, she spent nearly half a year reporting the lives and customs of the Mexican people. Her dispatches later were published in book form as SIX MONTHS IN MEXICO.



In one report, she protested the imprisonment of a local journalist for criticizing the Mexican government, then a dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz. When Mexican authorities learned of Bly's report, they threatened her with arrest, prompting her to leave the country. Safely home, she denounced Díaz as a tyrannical czar suppressing the Mexican people and controlling the press.

Burdened again with theater and arts reporting, Bly left The Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 for New York City. Penniless after four months, she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper, the New York World, and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island.

After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a boardinghouse. She refused to go to bed, telling the boarders that she was afraid of them and that they looked crazy. They soon decided that she was crazy, and the next morning summoned the police. Taken to a courtroom, she pretended to have amnesia. The judge concluded she had been drugged.

She was then examined by several doctors, all of whom declared her to be insane. "Positively demented," said one, "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where someone will take care of her." The head of the insane pavilion at Bellevue Hospital pronounced her "undoubtedly insane". The case of the pretty crazy girl attracted media attention.

"Who Is This Insane Girl?" asked the New York Sun. The New York Times wrote of the "mysterious waif" with the "wild, hunted look in her eyes", and her desperate cry: "I can't remember I can't remember."




Committed to the asylum, Bly experienced its conditions firsthand. The food consisted of gruel broth, spoiled beef, bread that was little more than dried dough, and dirty undrinkable water. The dangerous patients were tied together with ropes. The patients were made to sit for much of each day on hard benches with scant protection from the cold. Waste was all around the eating places. Rats crawled all around the hospital. The bathwater was frigid, and buckets of it were poured over their heads. The nurses were obnoxious and abusive, telling the patients to shut up, and beating them if they did not. Speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was.

On the effect of her experiences, she wrote: "What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? Here is a class of women sent to be cured. I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck."

…My teeth chattered and my limbs were …numb with cold. Suddenly, I got three buckets of ice-cold water…one in my eyes, nose and mouth.

After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum at The New York World's behest. Her report, later published in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame. While embarrassed physicians and staff fumbled to explain how so many professionals had been fooled, a grand jury launched its own investigation into conditions at the asylum, inviting Bly to assist. The jury's report recommended the changes she had proposed, and its call for increased funds for care of the insane prompted an $850,000 increase in the budget of the Department of Public Charities and Corrections. They also made sure that future examinations were more thorough so that only the seriously ill went to the asylum.

In 1888, Bly suggested to her editor at the New York World that she take a trip around the world, attempting to turn the fictional AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS into fact for the first time. A year later, at 9:40 a.m. on November 14, 1889, and with two days' notice, she boarded the Augusta Victoria, a steamer of the Hamburg America Line, and began her 24,899-mile journey.

She brought with her the dress she was wearing, a sturdy overcoat, several changes of underwear, and a small travel bag carrying her toiletry essentials. She carried most of her money (£200 in English bank notes and gold in total, as well as some American currency) in a bag tied around her neck.

The New York newspaper Cosmopolitan sponsored its own reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, to beat the time of both Phileas Fogg and Bly. Bisland would travel the opposite way around the world. To sustain interest in the story, the World organized a “Nellie Bly Guessing Match” in which readers were asked to estimate Bly’s arrival time to the second, with the Grand Prize consisting at first of a free trip to Europe and, later on, spending money for the trip.


During her travels around the world, Bly went through England, France (where she met Jules Verne in Amiens), Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo (Ceylon), the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. The development of efficient submarine cable networks and the electric telegraph allowed Bly to send short progress reports, although longer dispatches had to travel by regular post and thus, often were delayed by several weeks.

Bly travelled using steamships and the existing railroad systems, which caused occasional setbacks, particularly on the Asian leg of her race. During these stops, she visited a leper colony in China. In Singapore, she bought a monkey.

As a result of rough weather on her Pacific crossing, she arrived in San Francisco on the White Star Line ship Oceanic on January 21, two days behind schedule. New York World owner Pulitzer chartered a private train to bring her home. She arrived back in New Jersey on January 25, 1890, at 3:51 p.m.



Just over seventy-two days after her departure from Hoboken, Bly was back in New York. She had circumnavigated the globe, traveling alone for almost the entire journey. Bisland was, at the time, still crossing the Atlantic, only to arrive in New York four and a half days later. Bisland also had missed a connection and had to board a slow, old ship (the Bothina) in the place of a fast ship (Etruria). Bly's journey was a world record, although it was bettered a few months later by George Francis Train, who completed the journey in 67 days. By 1913, Andre Jaeger-Schmidt, Henry Frederick, and John Henry Mears had improved on the record, the latter completing the journey in fewer than 36 days.



In 1895 Nellie Bly married millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman. Bly was 31 and Seaman was 73 when they married. She retired from journalism, and became the president of the Iron Clad Manufacturing Co., which made steel containers such as milk cans and boilers. In 1904, her husband died. In the same year, Iron Clad began manufacturing the steel barrel that was the model for the 55-gallon oil drum still in widespread use in the United States. Although there have been claims that Nellie Bly invented the barrel, the inventor is believed to have been Henry Wehrhahn, who likely assigned his invention to her. Nellie Bly was, however, an inventor in her own right, receiving US patent 697,553 for a novel milk can and US patent 703,711 for a stacking garbage can, both under her married name of Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman.



For a time she was one of the leading women industrialists in the United States, but embezzlement by employees led her into bankruptcy. Back in reporting, she wrote stories on Europe's Eastern Front during World War I and notably covered the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Her headline for the Parade story was “Suffragists Are Men's Superiors”, but she also "with uncanny prescience" predicted in the story that it would be 1920 before women would win the vote.




The remarkable Nellie Bly died of pneumonia at St. Mark's Hospital in New York City in 1922, at age 57. She was interred in a modest grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Source: Wikipedia