Friday, January 10, 2020

The Wild Woman who Championed the Rescue of Trafficked Women

By Jacqui Nelson

Brave and determined spirits always changed the Wild West. Meet the Wild Woman journalist who fought for change by championing the rescue of trafficked women in California and everywhere. 

Mary Grace Charlton Edholm
( born 1854 in Freeport, Illinois ) 

Mary Charlton’s passion for journalism was inherited from her father and mother who wrote about the temperance movement, women's suffrage, and the abolition of slavery. 

At Illinois’ Monmouth College her exhibition essay on the subject "Shall our Women Vote?" was published in the Woman's Journal of Boston. After this, she wrote continuously and her articles appeared in the New York World, the Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Republican, and Chicago Inter Ocean. In 1878, she married fellow journalist Osborn L. Edholm.

In 1886, Mary and her husband moved to Oakland, California where she was unanimously elected official reporter for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). In 1891, she was named superintendent of press. 

Annually, Mary wrote about 250 columns of original temperance matter for over 200 papers, including the dailies of San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, New Orleans, Boston, and New York City. She also conducted three WCTU excursions across the United States, served as secretary for the International Federation Women's Press League, and was editor of Oakland's The Christian Home

For years, Mary championed the rescue of trafficked women. She wrote hundreds of articles in the Woman's Journal, the Women's Tribune, and the California Illustrated Magazine revealing the horrors of the slave traffic in Chinese women for immoral purposes. During an evangelistic meeting in Oakland, she met the millionaire evangelist, Charles Nelson Crittenton (the founder of Florence Crittenton Missions for the rescue of trafficked women) and began writing articles about the Florence Crittenton Missions' work with such enthusiasm that Mr. Crittenton made her a reporter for the missions. 

In 1893, Mary's book The Traffic in Girls and Florence Crittenton Missions (about the horrors of the traffic in women and their redemption through the missions) was published under the name Charlton Edholm. In 1895, Mary was made superintendent of the Florence Crittenton Missions. 

In 1901, Mary used her own home in Oakland to create the Lucy Charlton Memorial (named after her mother) as a home for unfortunate women and children. She supported the charity from the proceeds of her lectures and the sale of her book. 

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After I read about Mary's life I was reminded of an Orpah Winfrey quote that I recently shared on Instagram. "Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right."

I think Mary Charlton Edholm was a true champion for getting it right. She spent her life reporting what she saw and standing up for others. 

For me, being an author means writing about characters trying to "get it right" not just for themselves but those around them. Their struggle is never perfect because that's life. We often try only to fail. But as long as we keep trying, isn't that what truly matters?

Time to seize the day and every chance to try to do better. Wishing you all the best this new year ❤️

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Caroline Clemmons said...

What an interesting article. I had never heard of her but I’m glad you remedied that.

Julie Lence said...

Great blog, Jacqui! She was truly an inspiration to women. Hugs!

Alicia Haney said...

Wow, what a Great and very inspirational woman she was! Thank you for sharing about her , I truly enjoyed reading this article. Have a Great weekend. God Bless you. And yes, you are right, we do fail at a lot of things, but at least we tried, and we can keep on trying.

Patricia B. said...

Thank you for an interesting post. She was quite a dedicated woman. It is sad that over 100 years later the problem is still with us and as bad as ever.

Jacqui Nelson said...

Thank you for your comments, Caroline, Julie, Alicia and Patricia. Glad to hear you found my blog post interesting and inspiring but, yes, as you say Patricia it’s sad that the problem is still with us.

Carri said...

Wow, what an inspirational women, we need several more in the day and age just like her, the trafficking of young girls, women, and even young boys is horrible, and I wish there was more we could do to stop it entirely.

Elizabeth Clements said...

It's always gratifying to hear the accomplishments of women in a predominantly male world in the 18th and 19th centuries, including journalism. It's wonderful to shine a light on their accomplishments so their efforts are recognized. It's so sad that human nature doesn't change, just the window dressing. Evil never sleeps and thus neither can our champions. Great blog, Jacqui, as usual.