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A Special thank you to Cathryn Stanley, Secretary of the History Detectives of Belmont County, for this month's HDBC History Blogger's edition on Women's History!

Written by Cathryn Stanley, Secretary


March is Women's History Month. This blog highlights some of the many women who have shaped the history of Belmont County. From plucky pioneer heroines to modern women breaking barriers in their fields, these ladies are essential to Belmont County's story.

Betty Zane- Revolutionary War Heroine

Elizabeth "Betty" Zane McLaughlin Clark (July 19, 1765 – August 23, 1823) was a heroine of the Revolutionary War on the American frontier. She was the daughter of William Andrew Zane and Nancy Ann (née Nolan) Zane and the sister of Ebenezer Zane, Silas Zane, Jonathan Zane, Isaac Zane, and Andrew Zane. On September 11, 1782, the Zane family was under siege in Fort Henry by Native American allies of the British. During the siege, while Betty was loading a Kentucky rifle, her father was wounded and fell from the top of the fort in front of her.

Zane volunteered to fetch more gunpowder from her brother’s house 40 to 50 yards from the fort. In answer to those who doubted her speed, she reportedly replied, “’Tis better a maid than a man should die.”

As young Betty dashed to the cabin, the stunned opponents did not fire, but as she returned to the fort, they realized her purpose and opened fire. Bullets pierced her clothing, but her wounds were superficial. Her heroism enabled the fort to hold out until relief arrived.

The Zane family later settled in what became Martins Ferry, across the Ohio River from Wheeling, and played an essential role during Ohio's formative years.

You can see a statue of young Betty Zane (erected with funds raised by school children in 1928) in Walnut Grove Cemetery in Martins Ferry. While in town, learn more about her and the Zane family at the Sedgwick House Museum in Martins Ferry.

Rachel Lloyd - Chemist

Born in 1839 in Flushing to a Quaker couple, Lloyd was the first American woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry and the first woman author in a major chemistry journal.

She studied at the Harvard Summer School and received her doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1886. She worked as a professor of chemistry and head of the chemistry department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work determining the sucrose concentration of sugar beets helped establish a commercial sugar industry in Nebraska. In 1891, she became the first regularly admitted female member of the American Chemical Society. On October 1, 2014, the Society designated her research and professional contributions to chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

Lydia Ann Starr Hunter McPherson -Newspaper Editor and Publisher

Lydia Ann Starr Hunter McPherson (born August 11, 1827, in Warnock) was an American newspaper editor. She founded the Caddo International News newspaper in Caddo, Oklahoma, making her the first woman publisher in Oklahoma. Two of her sons did the printing for her.

In 1877, McPherson moved across the Red River to Whitesboro, Texas, where she founded a weekly newspaper, the Whitesboro Democrat. It was the first newspaper in Texas published by a woman. It subsequently moved to Sherman, Texas, and became a daily newspaper under the Sherman Democrat.

In 1881 she became one of the first three women to join the State Press Association of Texas and was elected corresponding secretary. She was a delegate to the World's Press Association convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1886.

McPherson also wrote for other periodicals, contributing to Cosmopolitan magazine and Youth's Companion. In 1892 she published Reullura, a collection of her poems.

Susanna Salter - Politician and Activist

Susanna M. Salter was born Susanna Kinsey on March 2, 1860, near Lamira in Belmont County. At 12, she moved to Kansas with her parents, descendants of English Quakers. She was the first woman in the U.S. to be elected mayor. Her nomination was a surprise (including to Salter herself) because her name had been placed on a slate of candidates as a prank by a group of men hoping to secure a loss that would humiliate women and discourage them from running. Because candidates did not have to be made public before election day, Salter did not know she was on the ballot before the polls opened. On election day, she agreed to accept the office if elected. The Women's Christian Temperance Union abandoned its candidate, and members voted for Salter. She also received backing from the local Republican Party, helping to secure her election by a two-thirds majority. She served one term as mayor of Argonia, Kansas, becoming the first woman elected mayor and one of the first women elected to any political office in the United States. Although her term was uneventful, her election drew national attention and sparked a debate about women in politics.

Mary Maurice - Silent Movie Actress

The "Grand Old Lady" of early silent films, veteran touring company actress Mary Maurice (born Birch on November 15, 1844, in Morristown), spent nearly her entire 1910-1918 screen career with the New York-based Vitagraph company where, on and off the screen, she "mothered" everyone from the Talmadge sisters to Jean, "the Vitagraph Dog." She was especially effective as James Morrison's mother in The Battle Cry for Peace (1915). She appeared in 139 films between 1909 and 1918.

Ruth (back) is shown in this photo with nursing students Sharon Weber and Shelva Truax in the new west wing nurse's station.

Ruth Brant Maguire - Nurse and Educator

A native of Pennsylvania, Ruth came to Martins Ferry in 1923 after becoming a registered nurse. Initially, her duties were as floor supervisor before advancing to assistant superintendent and eventually administrator on October 1, 1925. Ruth held the administrator position for 45 years.

In 1925, Ruth organized the Martins Ferry Hospital School of Nursing, later named in her honor. The school graduated more than 500 nurses before its doors closed in 1965. Items from the school once housed in the basement of EORH are now on display at the Belmont County Heritage Museum in St. Clairsville.

During her administration, the hospital grew in size and scope of services. Additions to the hospital campus were added in four consecutive decades, ultimately increasing from 30 to 200 beds.

Also known for her commitment to civic activities, Ruth was a founding member of the Betty Zane Frontier Days Steering Committee and served on the city's Board of Health. She also founded the Ruth Brant School of Nursing Alumni Association.

Kathy Crumbley - Belmont County Sheriff

Kathy Crumbley, elected Belmont County Sheriff in 1976, was America's first female to win a sheriff's race while competing in the primary and general elections. She appeared on the "Johnny Carson Show," "Hee Haw," and "The Mike Douglas Show.” Paramount signed Crumbley as a technical adviser for a proposed TV series based on her exploits. The tentative title was "Walking Broad." A song, "The Lady Sheriff of Belmont County," was written and recorded about her. Crumbley was not the first female sheriff of Belmont County. May K. Dunfee filled in for her husband, Sam, after his death while on duty in 1926. She finished his term from 1926 to 1927. This was common at the time. The sheriff’s wife served as matron, caring for female prisoners and feeding prisoners and staff.

May Louise Hinton-Wykle -Pioneering Nurse and Educator

May Hinton Wykle (Ph.D., RN, FAAN, FGSA) is an American nurse, gerontologist, nursing educator, researcher, and the first African American Marvin E. and Ruth Durr Denekas Endowed Chair at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing of Case Western Reserve University. In 2011, she was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. Her honors and accolades are too numerous to mention here.

She was born February 11, 1934, in Martins Ferry and graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. She earned her nursing diploma in 1956 at the Ruth Brant School of Nursing, where she was the school's first African American student.

After graduating, Wykle worked as a staff nurse at the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute. She gained experience as a head nurse and, later, a supervisor. In 1962, she pursued her bachelor's degree in nursing, then returned to the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute as an instructor and director of nursing education. In 1969, Wykle went back to Case Western Reserve University to earn her master's degree in psychiatric nursing and her Ph.D. in nursing, where her teachers were so impressed with her they asked her to join the faculty. She has been a faculty member there since. During her career as a nurse and educator, May Wykle made it her mission to open up the field of nursing to more minorities


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Written by Cory Campanizzi, Assassination Historian

For over a decade now, I have been approached by people who know my research interest and have been asked, “What did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say, if anything, about a concern for the environment?” To be honest, it has been a question I had asked also, and as someone that researches the U.S. political assassinations of the 1960s and environmental sustainability, I knew I had to find the answer! And after careful contextual consideration of Dr. King’s work, I determined that he had much to say about the larger biosphere and how environmental justice deeply affected his views during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Environmental studies, for which I’m formally trained, widen environmental sustainability's purview into a broad multi-disciplinary approach, including areas within the social sciences. As a social science, psychology can provide a profound understanding of how humans function within the environment through an emerging discipline known as the psychology of sustainability. Within this emerging discipline, I discovered the deepest connection to how Dr. King orchestrated his thought toward commencing a global concern for all that inhabit this small planet.

Dr. King’s concerned approach would question the conscience of the government and corporate interest involved in the Vietnam war during his April 4, 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York, New York. This speech, titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” would come exactly one year before his assassination and brought forth the conditions of environmental devastation, and his greater pathos- the destruction of the family and village. King reminded the audience, “They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops, they must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees.” King then concludes, “We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village.”

Again, Dr. King would provide a greater connection during his September 1967 keynote speech at the annual APA (American Psychological Association) convention. In a room full of Ph.D. psychologists and psychiatrists he proclaimed, “you have given us a great word… maladjusted” he continued: “There are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted.” “We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” King further clarified and moved for “creative maladjustment”. He was striving towards a focus on how individuals must refuse to accept the way in which injustices are normalized and through ‘creative maladjustment’, correct conditions of economic inequality, oppression, racism, war, and the undercurrent of environmental injustice within these same communities that manifest by way of air pollution, multi-source point water contamination, and over-industrialized land usage.

In what would be his final act of evoking economic and environmental justice, Dr. King would work directly with striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. On February 1, 1968, two garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, in an attempt to shelter from the rain, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. Conditions worsened for black sanitation workers, as the new mayor, Henry Loeb refused to sideline unsound trucks and refused to pay overtime for men forced to work long into the evening. Worsening wage conditions also gave way to workers using welfare and food stamps to feed their families. Beginning on February 11, along with the local chapter of the NAACP, the sanitation workers unanimously decided to strike. King was asked on behalf of Reverend James Lawson, to peacefully lead a march after a sit-in for union recognition was rejected by mayor Loeb. After a speech on March 18 in Memphis, King then returned on March 28 to lead a march that ultimately ended in violence instigated by an outside group, and resulted in the death of a black teenager. Despite the tragedy, the strike would continue, and with his denouncing of the violence, King would return on April 3 to deliver his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The next day, he would be assassinated on the balcony of the Loraine Motel. He was only 39 years old.

King’s lasting legacy of concern for the environment is captured in his insistence on caring for not only the physical environment but those that inhabit it as well. It is through the use of non-violent civil disobedience, coupled with the ability to use creative maladjustment that we can be led to resist perceived normality in fossil fuels used for energy production, the insistence on sensible and sustainable innovation for transportation, renewable energy technology, and energy storage development. It would also be pertinent to identify how King would respond to the ongoing transition to more sustainable development and how the effects of this transition weigh on not only this country’s natural resource reserves but the global community’s as well. It is this last question that perhaps is what eludes us the most.

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Written by Kristina Estle, President of the History Detectives of Belmont County

Based on the play The Legend of Santa Claus

As my 8-year-old, Tara, and I walked into the Ohio University Eastern Campus’ Shannon Hall Theatre, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew my daughter would love The Legend of Santa, but I was curious to see if the show could grasp the attention of the parents, grandparents, and other adults that filled the theatre. The answer is an outstanding YES! Ohio University Eastern, Belmont County Tourism Council, and the Saint Clairsville Chamber of Commerce sponsored this show. The instant that Santa began his tale, I was hooked.

He began by calling names of children off of his Naughty and Nice list. The Legend of Santa Claus was not your typical Christmas show, but Santa Stories, from Saint Nicholas to Present Day. He begins by telling the story of the Elves. Santa claims that the Creator wanted entertainment, so on top of creating humans, he made Sprites and Dwarfs, gnomes and giants, dinosaurs and dragons, and of course, angels and fairies. As humans multiplied, disputes and arguments arose. Because of those, the mystical creatures decided to create their own world without humans and relocated to colder climates such as the Netherlands and Finland. Though, they missed the humans. The Dokeafore, also known as the Dark Elves, had a mission, and their main goal was to disrupt the celebration of Christmas. They did not want the children to receive gifts. Santa claims that if children misbehave or act up, they could have been influenced by the Dark Elves. Ultimately, the humans disrupted the Elves' villages in Finland, and they decided to relocate to Greenland. But, again, humans became masters of the sea and found their way to Greenland, disrupting the elves' villages. The elves made one final attempt at relocating, and that was to the polar ice cap, The North Pole.

How did the elves and Santa get together? To answer that question, Santa took us back to 280 AD to Asia Minor, or what today is known as Turkey. There existed a middle-aged couple who sold olive oil and grain and owned a fleet of ships. Their names were Nona and Theathones. They belonged to a group of Christians, and this group would meet in each other's homes, where they would pray and sing hymns. They would dance and enjoy each other’s company. Nona and Theothanes wanted children, but they were middle-aged. They prayed to God, and Nona became pregnant, and she gave birth to a little boy, which they named Nikolas, meaning “servant to the people.”

When Nikolas was a teenager, a plague broke out in his village. This plague would have been similar to the Covid pandemic that we have experienced recently. The traveling sea merchants who went port to port could have spread this plague. Nona and Theathones died from this plague. Nikolas had an uncle who was a monk. Due to his parents' wealth, Nikolas received a good education. He moved in with his uncle. Nikolas decided he could best serve the people by becoming a priest. His parents had left him a large fortune. He decided he would help the people of his village, especially the children, which he was very fond of. He wanted to take care of them. He wore a robe with his hood up, shadowing his face, and at night time, he would travel the streets, and if a family were in need, he would leave some grain, loaves of bread, or even a few coins. He was a generous soul, and the people loved him.

A merchant of the village had lost everything he had. He also had three daughters, who were reaching of age in which they could marry. During those times, in order to marry off their daughters, the parents had to put forth a dowry. A dowry was something of value, which could have been land, coins, horses, etc. The oldest daughter knew that her father did not have the money for the dowry, so she became an indentured servant to make money to save up for a dowry to give her father for her younger sisters to marry. Nikolas heard of this story, and one night he threw a bag of coins into the merchant's house. The sisters found it the following day and were overjoyed. They now had enough money to put together a dowry, and the daughters could marry. Ironically, the youngest daughter had hung her stockings by the fire in the chimney to dry them, and when Nikolas had tossed the coins into the chimney, they landed in her stocking. “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas would soon be there.” It is believed that this story enticed people, to this day, to hang stockings on their chimneys. The father of these three young women was determined to find out who was providing for his family. So one night, he waited and waited, and when Nikolas threw the bag of coins into the chimney, the merchant ran after him; when he finally caught up to him, he threw back his hood and exclaimed, “Father Nikolas!? I should have known it was you!” Nikolas begged the merchant to keep his secret. Ultimately, he could no longer keep the secret, and rumors quickly spread.

As a priest, Nikolas took annual voyages to the Holy Land. He would be there for weeks where he prayed. As he was returning while crossing the Mediterranean, a massive storm developed. The wind howled, and the waves were ferocious. Everyone aboard feared for their lives. The crewmen approached Nikolas and asked him to pray to God for their safety, which he did. They made it safely to the port of Paterra, their home port. They were so grateful they made it home safely that the crewmen praised Nikolas and told the wild tale to all who would listen. Because of this story, Nikolas became the Patron of Sailors. Even the Vikings believed in and prayed to Saint Nikolas and accepted him as their Patron. Nikolas’ fame spread. A group of elves’ in Finland heard of Saint Nikolas and his good deeds. They had been looking for a special person to help with a special project.

An opening became available in Mira, and a group of priests decided that Nikolas would be a perfect candidate to become the Bishop of Mira. There he was anointed as the youngest Bishop in history. Nikolas continued with his good deeds. Emperor Diocletian struggled with ruling this region during this time, and he needed someone to blame. Therefore he blamed the Christian leaders. He jailed, persecuted, and tortured these leaders, many of which lost their lives. Nikolas was too famous for killing. Therefore, he was left in prison for many years. Eventually, Diocletian died, and Constantine came to power. Constantine released the Christian leaders. Nikolas was released. He was so grateful that he decided to help the generals of that territory with the people of that territory. Nikolas inspired equal justice for all. A battle transpired, and Constantine and his men were outnumbered. Before the war, Constantine looked into the sky and saw the Christian Cross in the sky, which inspired his men to fight with great ferocity. After winning the battle, Constantine began leaning toward Christianity and ultimately decided to convert the Roman Empire.

Nikolas continued helping others, and he became known worldwide. One of Nikolas’ many talents was craving. The first figure he ever carved was a wooden cat. That may have been the first toy. His reputation continued to spread as trade routes began to expand. The leader of the Elfon Council decided that Nikolas, indeed, was the person they were searching for. They needed someone to spread hope and joy and bring the elves and humans back together. They told Nikolas that they possessed special powers and admitted that he might not live forever, but they could ensure that his reputation would continue infinitely. On December 6th, 343 AD, Nikolas passed away. The elves lived up to their word, and the name of Santa Claus continues today. In 800 AD, the Catholic Church admitted Nikolas to sainthood, and he came to Saint Nikolas.

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