Hello fellow Internet surfer and welcome
to a gem of a site dedicated to illuminating the onyx-like parallels unearthed
from an otherwise beclouded and boring American and world historical perspective
into its many hues and flavors, a spectrum inclusive of most light that makes
up the untold histories, fascinating stories and journeys not quite attached
or put together in this theatrical or holistic manner as you will find!
We bring many years of personal and unique historical research, reading, collaboration, living, and writing experiences. One of us is a published historian, journalist, and genealogist, whose roots are in the Central Oregon Coast, the primary though not exclusive gathering or focal point of these stories. And her co-author is more centered, though not exclusively so on the personal-spiritual journey as a former Lutheran minister, and how this has come into play to reinvigorate her own philosophical historical understanding of faith and her questions of the world-church professional Christian training, vision and cultural paradigms, relying upon her common sense and also the expertise and critique of those historically disinherited, disenfranchised, and despised.
Neither of us is professionally enamored by historicism in the classical sense, or any particular intellectual chains, other than the challenge to loosen the usual grip of white western european, heterosexist and masculinist elitism! And yes, we believe in being politically correct, and are proud of it, that we still name the names! We are students and practitioners of folk and established history, and are expanding our understanding of story, wishing to share some of those exciting findings and perspectives. We plan to update this site regularly with the little known gems and connections to "the rest of the story" usually relegated to footnotes we have uncovered from the current draft of our mammoth, interconnected, well documented history saga, Sovereigns of Themselves: A Liberating History of Oregon and Its Coast.
Wild Women West
Gender roles are ingrained in society and affect nearly all facets of our lives. Depending on the culture, the historical era, and the geographic region of the world, everything from hairstyles and dress to career choices and marriage have had gender-specific "norms." For a variety of reasons, there have always been individuals who have transgressed those norms.
is a specific kind of cross-dressing in which a person dons the attire, stance,
walk, and attitudes of the opposite sex in order to pass as that sex. Women
throughout history have successfully passed as men in order to gain access
to the greater economic and political opportunities men have typically possessed.
Some men and women have also passed to negotiate around social stigmas against
same-sex love, and many passed in the 19th and early 20th centuries in order
to marry someone of their own gender. (Out In All Directions, Warner
Books 1995, pp 172, 173)
In 1825, a woman named Bundosh (Ququrok patke) is mentioned in the journal of John Work, Hudson's Bay Company trader at Flathead Post. Described as a courier, a guide, a prophet, a warrior, and a peace mediator, she often dressed as a man and had a wife. Twelve years later the Kutenai berdache (or two-spirit roles formalized in 133 Native American Nations where: individuals take alternative gender roles like men doing women's work or women performing men's roles like hunting and warfare; or/and same-sex lesbian or gay relationships. Out In All Directions, p. 177) is mentioned in the journal of William H. Gray, the protestant missionary, who was journeying to the states and traveling with Francis Ermatinger, the Flathead trader. A party of Flathead had been surrounded by Blackfeet, and Bundosh had gone back and forth trying to mediate between them. On her last trip she deceived the Blackfeet while the Flathead, as she knew, were making their escape to Fort Hall. Bundosh was killed by the Blackfeet after saving the party of Flathead, the people with whom she had been intimate in her later years. Her story is still passed down through oral story telling among some Kutenai tribes. (The Ways of My Grandmothers, Quill Press 1982, pp. 70, 71)
Masahay Matkwisú was a Mojave lesbian in the late 1800's. Masahay, whose name means girl's shadow
or soul, was the subject of a lengthy study of homosexuality of the Mojave people, which emphasized the
strength of patriarchal pressure, written by an established Freudian psychiatrist. She was constantly harassed
and frequently left by her "wives" due to social pressure.
There were two cross-dressing women of the 15th Missouri Regiment. Union General Philip H. Sheridan wrote of these women who passed as men and fought alongside the others. After nearly drowning, they were found to be women, discharged, and escorted behind friendly fire. (Out In All Directions, p. 59)
Jeanne Bonnet, a cross-dresser known as the Little Frog Catcher, grew up in San Francisco as a tomboy and in the 1870s, in her early 20s, was arrested dozens of times for wearing male attire. She visited local brothels as a male customer, and eventually organized French prostitutes in San Francisco into an all-woman gang whose members swore off prostitution, had nothing to do with men, and supported themselves by shoplifting. She traveled with her lover, Blanche Buneau, whom the newspapers described as "strangely and powerfully attached" to Jeanne. In 1876, Bonnet was found dead with a bullet in her heart. Police suspected that Bonnet has been killed by the pimps whose girls she has taken.
Trinidad restaurateur Charley "Frenchey" Vobaugh was a woman who passed as a man and, along with "his wife," assumed the outward appearance of a mixed-sex couple in order to remain married for 30 years. Colorado newspapers were full of successful lesbian and gay elopements.
In 1889, the town of Emma was "rent from center to circumference" over the "sensational love affair between Miss Clara Dietrich, postmistress and general storekeeper, and Ora Chatfield." Letter written between them caused the Denver papers to remark that the "love that existed between the two parties was of no ephemeral nature, but as strong as that of a strong man and his sweetheart." Despite attempts to separate them, the lady lovers successfully eloped. "If the case ever comes into court," wrote the Denver Times, "from a scientific standpoint alone it will attract widespread attention." (Out In All Directions, p. 168)
Mary Anderson (alias Murray Hall) passed for over 25 years as a man. During that time, she voted, married twice, and became a prominent New York politician in the 1880s and 1890s. She had breast cancer for years, and was near death when she finally confided in a doctor. The doctor neither cured her nor kept her secret, and she died amid public scandal. (Out In All Directions, 1995, p. 58)
Oregon native Lucille Hart (1890-1962), a Stanford medical student graduate, is noted by historian Jonathan Ned Katz to have dressed as a man in order to practice medicine and marry the woman she loved. Her own doctor wrote that "if society will but leave her alone, she will fill her niche in the world and leave it better for her bravery." (Out In All Directions, 1995, p. 166)
(1) Martha Montage, Inez Tafft Easton & Alberta Lucille Hart/Dr. Alan L. Hart
Albany College 1911 (2) Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919)
(3) Loreta Janeta Velazquez/Lt. Harry T. Buford
Ray Leonard, Oregon Pioneer and Passing Woman
Buried in Lebanon Pioneer Cemetery is the body of one of Oregon's earliest
recorded passing women, Ray Leonard who came to Oregon in 1889 and passed
as a man until her secret was revealed in 1911.
Aspects of Leonard's life just recently came to light when a GLAPN researcher discovered her story in the recently published autobiography of Dr. Mary Canaga Rowland, a Lebanon physician who wrote of her years working as a frontier woman doctor in rural Oregon. Dr. Rowland died in 1966, and her great grandnephew, Seattle journalist, F. A. Loomis, published the edited manuscript in 1994. The following is an excerpt from her manuscript:
"...Another unusual character in Lebanon was Ray
Leonard who had come to Lebanon many years before with his father...When Ray
first came to town he and another man were rivals for a maiden lady who used
a large ear trumpet. It was said that the two men almost dueled over her.
Nothing came of the whole affair. One man moved away and Ray ceased to call
on the lady. He lived in the back of his shop which became a rendezvous for
men of the town who gathered there in the evenings to tell stories. Ray went
hunting and fishing with these men, but always insisted on sleeping alone.
As time passed, he became gray and looked quite old, complained of headaches,
and often closed his shop at odd hours. Eventually, he began to wander about
town at night and seemed disoriented. People who knew him and found him wandering
would take him home. Finally, it became necessary to put him in the state
It is customary to strip each patient entering the hospital and give them a bath before they are given quarters. The hospital immediately discovered that Ray Leonard was a woman. After her secret was out Ray made a rapid recovery and came back to Lebanon to live the rest of her life.
The authorities made her wear dresses, but she confided to her friends that she wore pants below her dress because her legs got cold. She told people that she was the oldest daughter in a large New England family and had grown up helping her father in the shop. After consulting her father they agreed she would do best to wear men's clothing.
Ray was quiet and industrious, and not given to controversy in the community. Back from the asylum she frequented the Christian Science Church, though always sent for me when she was ill. She always remarked, "Christian Science is all right when I'm well, but it ain't worth a damn when I'm sick."
Ray looked far more like a man to me than a woman. She would say, "Look at me, Dr. Rowland, do you think I have one feminine feature?" I had to admit that she certainly looked like a man.
Meanwhile Ray's shop became poison to the men who formerly gathered there to tell tales. The doctor who cared for her all those years crossed the street to keep from speaking to her. And the men of town never ceased to ask the doctor why he had kept Ray's sex a secret. Men everywhere have their little jokes. When people yelled into the maiden lady's ear trumpet that her old beau was, indeed a woman, her remark was, "Why that old !@#*!...." (As Long As Life: The Memoirs of a Frontier Woman)
But Dr. Rowland was not the only one to take notice of this turn-of-the-century passing woman. In 1991 two genealogists living in Lebanon compiled a history of the early settlers buried in Lebanon's Pioneer Cemetery and published a book. In the course of their research, Patricia Dunn and Jeanne Gentry noticed a puzzling discrepancy between Leonard's 1921 newspaper obituary which mentioned that she was a woman, and earlier news accounts which clearly referred to her as "he."
After interviewing local residents who had heard stories about Leonard, they discovered that in fact, Ray Leonard "dressed in overalls, and was thought by most who knew her, including the census taker, to be a man."
Additional research by GLAPN has turned up a 1911 insane asylum record which largely confirms Dr. Rowland's account. Ray Leonard was committed to the hospital in September of that year and was listed among the female entries in the records at the Oregon State Archives in Salem.
The record also notes that a friend, Ed Langtree, "will furnish clothes." Upon her discharge, the word "Miss" was added to her name in the record.
Of her early life not much is known beyond what Dunn and Gentry published about her in their book, Lebanon Pioneer Cemetery: The End of the Trail (City of Lebanon 1991).
She was born in Bath, Maine on February 14, 1849, one of eight children of Joseph Leonard, a boot and shoemaker. She accompanied her father to Philadelphia in 1874 where they spent 11 years in the cobbler trade. In 1885 the two moved West to Nevada where they remained for four years, thence coming to Coos County, "from which after a residence of six months they arrived in Lebanon."
Upon her father's death, the grieving "son" published the following notice in the town newspaper, the Lebanon Express on March 2, 1894:
"Ray Leonard would hereby inform the general public
that the death of his father has made no change in his business as boot and
shoemaker. Thankful for the liberal patronage given him in the past, he notifies
the public that he is still to be found at the old stand, doing honest and
faithful work at 'hard times' prices."
I hereby tender most hearty thanks to and express my appreciation of the many friends who so tenderly and attentively waited upon my worthy father during his long and fatal sickness, and so assisted and sympathized with me in laying his remains away in the silent tomb. Being the only member of a large but widely scattered family that could be with my father, and upon whom the responsibility rested of caring for him in his old age and final sickness in a community where, because of our short residence, we might be regarded as strangers, and among a people upon whom we had no special claims, such watchfulness and kind services were all the more appreciated. ---Ray Leonard"
One-Eyed Charlie's Last Ride
(1) Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1812-1879) (2) Cathay Williams Buffalo Soldier 1886-1887
was a stagecoach driver, a job that commanded considerable respect back in
19th century Oregon. A look at the roadbeds of such wagon route remnants
as I-5 between Grants Pass
and Roseburg and OR-28
north of Jacksonville
might help you to understand why. Hostile Indians, ruthless highwaymen, and
inclement weather plagued these frontier thoroughfares. Even without such
hazards, bouncing along for days on end on a buckboard carriage, minus shock
absorbers and air conditioning required considerable fortitude.
Of all the drivers on the Oregon-to-California line, One-Eyed Charlie, who lost an eye shoeing a horse (The American Woman's Gazetteer, Bantam Books 1976, p. 22) was the driver of choice whenever Wells Fargo needed to send a valuable cargo. Despite a salty vocabulary, an opinionated demeanor, and a rough appearance, all of which might have rankled some passengers, no one was better at handling the horses or dealing with adversity.
When the stage would roll into Portland or Sacramento, One-Eyed Charlie would collect a paycheck and disappear for a few days. It was said Charlie was a heavy drinker and gambler during sojourns deep into the seamy frontier underworld. When it came time to make the next trip through, however, Charlie would be back at the helm, sober and cantankerous as ever. Parkhurst's reputation as a heavy drinker was disputed in a recent letter to the authors from Elizabeth Levy of Soquel, California who wrote: "She was not 'hard drinking' but drank moderately, played cards, chewed and smoked tobacco, leading to cancer of the tongue."
One day, One-Eyed Charlie's hard-drivin' hard-drinkin' life came to a climax. When the coroner was preparing the body for burial, he made a surprising discovery. One-Eyed Charlie was really Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1812-1879)! (Oregon Handbook, Moon Publications 1998, p. 396) Orphaned at birth, Parkhurst first donned male clothing to escape an orphanage in Massachusetts. She learned how to drive a six-horse team in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, (The American Woman's Gazetteer, p. 21) and after working in stables until about 1851, she moved to California and settled in Santa Cruz County. She began driving stagecoaches and is reputed to have killed at least one bandit. The advent of the railroad forced her to turn to ranching and lumberjacking. (Completely Queer, Henry Holt & Company 1998, p. 431)
Shock waves reverberated up and down the West Coast at the realization that a woman had been best at what was considered exclusively a man's domain. The discovery of Parkhurst's true identity made much newspaper copy. The San Francisco Call remarked that "No doubt he was not like other men, indeed, it was generally said among his acquaintances that he was a hermaphrodite" and that "the discoveries of the successful concealment for protracted periods of the female sex are not infrequent." (Out In All Directions, p. 166) Elizabeth Levy, disputing the claims of the Call, advised the authors that "the 'hermaphrodite' comment is ludicrous. A medical exam found her to be a well endowed female, who had at one time in her life given birth."
Levy further claims that Parkhurst "lived her final days with a male bachelor friend named Frank Woodward, who may or may not have known her true identity. Several local historians think there may have been several people who knew Charlie's secret, even up to ten years before her death, but that the newspapers were inclined to make a big deal about it after her death."
But the real kicker was that Parkhurst had voted in a presidential election, over half a century before a woman could legally vote! As the voting records have been lost, legal scholars have been unable to prove or debunk the persistent legend of One-Eyed Charlie (Oregon Handbook, Moon Publications 1998, p. 396) but Soquel, California honors Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst as "...the first woman in the world to vote in a presidential election (November 4, 1868). Although it might well be true that this woman who lived as a man all her life voted here for or against Ulysses S. Grant, she is more a legend for her daring exploits as a stagecoach driver..." (The American Woman's Gazetteer, p. 21)
Scout of the West
In American history and folklore, Calamity Jane
is the popular name for Martha Jane Canary (1852-1903), who was noted for
her marksmanship, trick riding, and cross dressing. She wore buckskin and
passed as a male scout for General George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876).
When she was a child growing up in Princeton, Missouri, Martha Jane suffered discrimination; girls from respectable families were warned not to play with the Canary girl because "she swore and wasn't nice." So young Martha Jane ignored the sissy girls and joined the boys' games, where she learned how to swim and ride better than any of them.
William Cather Junior's Rough-and-Ready West
Born in Virginia, western writer Willa Cather (1873-1947) moved with her family to Red Cloud, Nebraska,
when she was 11 and launched a now legendary four-year gender-bending rebellion
as the rough-and-ready "William" Cather Jr., complete with male attire, crew
cut, and convincingly bass voice. Cather traded trousers for a skirt when
she entered college, but classmates still remarked on her "masculine personality."
The author of 19 books in a variety of genres, Cather explored the power of the land and the complex, passionate relationships of those who dwell on it. She often used Nebraska and Western pioneer farm settings to frame vividly crafted characters, including memorably strong women.
Before her death, Cather took pains to destroy as much of her personal correspondence as she could lay her hands on, and it is likely that she would have fought any attempt to consider her writing in a lesbian context. Clues to her sense of personal identity, however, survive in letters written while in college to Louise Pound in which she laments her "unnatural" attraction and love for the young woman. Some biographers and critics now acknowledge her lesbianism and explore its impact on her writing, and historians cite her reticence as evidence of the dramatic increase in social awareness and disapproval of lesbianism in the 1890s, contrasting her discomfort with the acceptance given previously to romantic friendships between women. Cather appears to have been in love with Isabelle McClung in Pittsburgh and Edith Lewis with whom she lived nearly 40 years in New York. (Completely Queer, pp. 124, 125)
Reverend Marilyn A. Riedel
This Page Last Updated by Maracon on December 1, 2005
Hermeneutics Of Homosexuality
Lesbian Herstory Archives
Hermeneutics of Homosexuality Peopling the Americas Applegate Cemetery
Eureka Cemetery Toleldo Cemetery Chitwood Cemeteries
Benton County Place Names Lincoln County Place Names
1870 Benton County Oregon Census A-I J-R S-Z
1870 Polk County Oregon Census A-M N-Z Polk County Place Names
Oregon History Online:
Oregon History Online: Volume I Oregon History Online: Volume II
Oregon History Online III Oregon History Online: Volume IV
Oregon History Outline V
Oregon History Online
Oregon History Online VIII Oregon History Online IX
Oregon History Online X
MARACON PRODUCTIONS Interweave Guardino Family History
Get a GoStats hit counter