Category Archives: Women in History

Lucretia Mott- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Lucretia Mott

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

At age 13, Lucretia Coffin was sent to the Nine Partners School in Duchess County, New York, which was run by the Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers. After graduation she became a teacher at Nine Partners and met her future husband, also a teacher there, James Mott. Learning that the male teachers were paid significantly more than female teachers started Lucretia on a mission to fight for women’s rights, and for the rights of other suppressed peoples.

In 1821, Mott became a Quaker minister. With her husband’s support, she traveled extensively as a minister, and her sermons emphasized the Divine within every individual regardless of sex or race.

In 1833, her husband helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. At the societies organizational meeting in Philadelphia, Lucretia, as an experienced speaker through her ministry, was the only woman presenter. Days after the conclusion of the convention, Mott and other white and black women founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
In 1838, Lucretia attended an Anti-Slavery convention at Pennsylvania Hall, a newly opened meeting place built by abolitionists.

During the convention, an unhappy mob rioted and destroyed the hall. Mott and the white and black women delegates linked arms to exit the building safely through the crowd. Afterward, the mob targeted her home. As a friend redirected the mob, Mott waited in her parlor, willing to face her violent opponents.

In June 1840, Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, in London, England where she met activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton admired Mott, and the two discussed the possibility of working together in the future to tackle issues including women’s right to property, their earnings, and custody of their children in the event of divorce.

In 1848, Mott and Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, at Seneca Falls, New York. By this time, Lucretia Mott had become a well-known advocate of minorities rights and women’s rights, and her fame eventually reached the political arena. That same year, during the National Convention of the Liberal Party, five voting delegates cast their vote for Mott to be the party’s candidate for the office of U.S. Vice President. She placed 4th in a field of nine.

Over the next few decades, women’s suffrage became the focus of the women’s rights movement. While Cady Stanton is usually credited as the leader of that effort, it was Mott’s mentoring of Cady Stanton and their work together that inspired the movement.
After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that advocated universal suffrage. In 1864, Mott and several other Hicksite Quakers incorporated Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, which remains one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country.

In 1948, a stamp was issued in remembrance of the Seneca Falls Convention featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott. And, in 1983, Mott was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Lucretia Mott always adhered to her Quaker ideals of equality of all people regardless of race, sex, or creed. Did you know that Annie Oakley was raised Quaker? Knowing that helped me in my research for my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. If you are curious about it, you can find my books on Amazon.

Marion Davies- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Marion Davies

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Most famously known as William Randolph Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies deserves credit in her own right as an actress, film producer, screenwriter and philanthropist.
In 1916, Broadway showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. signed Marion on as a featured player in his popular Ziegfeld Follies. That same year, she also made her screen debut modeling gowns made by Lady Duff Gordon in a fashion newsreel.
The following year, she appeared in her first feature film, Runaway Romany, directed by her brother-in-law, Broadway producer George Lederer. Marion not only contributed as the lead actress, she also wrote the screenplay.
Then she starred in two films—The Burden of Proof and Cecilia of the Pink Roses. Playing mainly light comic roles, she quickly became a popular film personality appearing in lead roles alongside major male stars. She earned a lot of money and spent much of it helping family and friends.

She soon caught the eye of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and took on the new role of “mistress.” Hearst, highly supportive of her film vocation, founded Cosmopolitan Pictures to produce her films. He also took over management of her career.

While Hearst kept his wife at bay, Marion filled the void as friend, lover, and hostess of Hearst’s lavish parties for the Hollywood elite held at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and also aboard his luxury yacht, Oneida.

Linked with Hearst’s famous name and lifestyle, Marion’s name would also be linked to scandal when famous Hollywood film producer, Thomas Ince, died.
In November 1924, Marion was hosting a weekend party on the Oneida. It had been rumored around town that Marion had fallen victim to the charms of playboy and known philanderer Charlie Chaplin, who was also a guest aboard the yacht that fated weekend. One story has it that Hearst, jealous of Chaplin, took a gun and fired it into what he thought was Chaplin’s cabin. Instead, it was Thomas Ince who got the bullet. There has never been any evidence to support that story.
His autopsy showed that he suffered an attack of acute indigestion and the cause of death was actually a heart attack. But, people love to gossip. Especially about a wealthy business tycoon and his mistress.
Marion stayed with Hearst until his death in 1951. Eleven weeks and one day later, she married Horace Brown, but the marriage didn’t last. In her later years, Davies devoted herself to charity work. In 1952, she donated nearly two million dollars to establish a children’s clinic at UCLA which was named for her.

Marion was one of many well-known women in history who got her start with the Ziegfeld Follies. I was so fascinated with the Ziegfeld phenomenon, I wrote a historical mystery with the Follies as a backdrop called Grace in the Wings. If you liked this flash briefing, you might like my novel. You can find Grace in the Wings on Amazon.

Juanita and Ethyle Perry- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: The Perry Twins

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Juanita and Ethyle Perry; two young women who left their family when they were teenagers to find their fortune. And they did.

Not much is known about the Perry twins’ early life. Some say they were born in Oklahoma and raised in Riverhead, Long Island. Others say it was the other way around. Either way, it’s clear the two left home at a young age to make their claim to fame with their talents as expert horsewomen.

In the early nineteen teens, they secured jobs as cowgirl performers for the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West show. In 1916, the Miller Brothers and Buffalo Bill Cody combined their Wild West shows.

Previously, in the early 1890’s Bill Cody employed the Cossack Riders, a group of male equestrians from Georgia and Russia who performed daring feats of horsemanship.

The Perry twins, expert at trick riding and horse handling, became known as the Cossack Girls because they could perform any trick their male counterparts could, and more. The added bonus for the audience was that they were infused with charming star power and were pretty to look at. They had the whole package.

A favorite act they performed consisted of one of them, dressed as a gray-haired old woman driving a team of horses. Before long, the horses spook, rear up and then bolt, the wagon carrying the old woman careening out of control toward a group of townspeople as they leave their Sunday service. Just before the horses reach the townsfolk, the other twin, riding a charging stallion and resplendent in a beaded buckskin ensemble, emerges onto the scene. The rider catches up to the wagon, leaps out of the saddle and onto the back of one of the team, and swerves them out of the path of the churchgoers. The twin driving the wagon regains control and with the help of the rider, brings the team to a quiet stop. Disaster averted!

After a successful run with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the Perry’s joined Barnum and Bailey’s Wild West extravaganza, but then tragedy struck. While performing, Juanita was thrown from her horse and trampled to death. Devastated, Ethyle left her life of performing. In 1921 she married William Cody Bradford, Buffalo Bill Cody’s nephew. She passed away at the age of seventy-three.

Many women graced the stage of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and it was said he paid them a fair wage, often as much as their male counterparts. One of the most famous female performers of the Wild West Show was, of course, the one and only Annie Oakley.

I’ve done years of research on Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the famous Miss Oakley, and have written a historical mysteries series featuring Annie as an amateur sleuth. The third full-length novel in the series titled Folly at the Fair, comes out June 2. If you like a rollicking good time with plenty of action and intrigue, you’ll love this series. You can find the books on Amazon.

Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Clara Bow

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Named the first ever “It girl,” Clara Bow made a huge impact in the roaring twenties and was known as one of the decade’s leading sex symbols.

In 1921, at sixteen years old, she entered a nationwide acting contest called “Fame and Fortune.”

Showing up in her tomboyish sweater, lackluster skirt, and with absolutely no experience, Clara’s chances of winning were slim. But when she turned on the emotion, she won the judges over. She walked away with a silver trophy and an evening gown.

After the contest, Clara dropped out of high school to pursue her dreams. Then with two Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveemovies under her belt, Clara felt she was on her way, but then tragedy struck. Her mother’s mental health began to deteriorate after a diagnosis of epilepsy. Her father offered little help and left Clara alone to deal with her mother’s erratic fits of rage and temper. One night, Clara woke up to her mother holding a knife to her throat. Clara’s father had his wife committed. Even though Clara knew this was in her best interest, it still caused her great distress and in 1923, her mother died.

That same year, Clara left her father and New York and headed for Hollywood. She secured several other silent film roles and charmed audiences with her perky personality and her bold sexuality. She portrayed the perfect, adorable and charming “flapper” and the motion picture world took notice.

In 1926 she signed her first big movie contract with Paramount Pictures, and in 1927 she landed the lead role in a movie called It. The film was an instant box office success and Clara Bow became America’s first “It girl.”

Clara starred in 46 silent films, and eleven “talkies.” Her star burned bright, but at age 26, the actress burned out and started to show signs of mental instability, much like her mother. In 1931, Clara married Rex Bell, a rancher from Texas. She dropped out of Clara Bow - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeHollywood and went to his ranch to recuperate. She starred in two more movies, but then officially retired from acting two years later to devote her life to her husband and sons.

But, Clara’s gradual slide into mental illness culminated in a suicide attempt in 1944. She was  diagnosed with schizophrenia. When she was released from the hospital, she did not return to the ranch but instead bought a modest bungalow where she lived out the rest of her days until she succumbed to a heart attack in 1965.

Clara Bow became one of America’s best-loved film icons and the highest paid actress of her day. She influenced some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and also the common woman who wanted to personify the loveable flapper with her “Clara Bow heart-shaped lips” and her charming down-to-earth realism and individuality.

Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Belle Starr

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Born in Missouri in 1848 Belle Starr would become one of the most notorious outlaws in American History.

After the civil war, Belle’s family moved to Scyene, Texas where they became associated with known criminals, including Jesse James and the Younger brothers. Belle married a man named Jim Reed in 1866. Two years later, they had a daughter who they named Pearl. Reed, too, became involved in crime and was soon wanted for murder in Arkansas. The family fled to California where their second child, Eddie was born.

In 1871 the Reed’s returned to Texas and settled in the town of Paris. Reed tried his hand at Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveefarming, but to no avail. He soon fell in with the Starr Clan, a Cherokee Indian family known for many crimes, but primarily horse theft. The Reeds also became reacquainted with Belle’s old family friends, members of the Jesse James gang and the Younger brothers gang.

In the Spring of 1874, Belle was arrested for a stagecoach robbery she allegedly committed with her husband and one of the gangs. Belle always had a keen sense of style and would often be seen riding with the gangs sidesaddle and perfectly attired in a black velvet riding habit, plumed hat, and carrying two pistols.

In the summer of 1874, Reed was killed. Belle then married one of the Starr brothers, Sam, and they settled in Oklahoma. Belle assisted her husband in criminal activities such as bootlegging, horse thievery, and harboring criminals from the law. In 1883, Belle and Sam were arrested for their crimes. Belle was found guilty and served nine months in Detroit, Michigan. Sam, too, was found guilty and assigned to hard labor.

Three years later, Sam was killed in a gunfight with lawman Frank West. It was said the relationship with Sam Starr was the happiest of Belle’s life, and with the death of her husband, her life of crime ended. But shortly thereafter, she died under mysterious circumstances.

While riding home from a friend’s house Belle was shot in the back. She fell off her horse, Belle Starr - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveeand was shot again, this time in the shoulder and the face. Legend has it, her own shotgun was used to do the deed.

According to Frank Eaton, also known as “Pistol Pete”, she had attended a dance on the fateful night. She danced with Frank and then a very drunk Edgar Watson asked her to dance. She refused him and left. Watson followed her and shot her. Eaton claims Watson was tried, convicted and hung for the murder.

However, another story circulated that there were no witnesses and no one was ever convicted of Belle’s murder. Suspects included her husband after Sam, another member of the Starr clan, her son, whom she had beaten for mistreating her horse, and Edgar Watson because he feared she would turn him in for a murder he committed in Florida.

The crime of how and why Starr was murdered has gone down in history as unsolved.

Lady Henry Somerset - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Lady Henry Somerset

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Bertha Honoré Palmer and her Board of Lady Managers set out to celebrate and honor women of the world who were dedicated to making a difference through their art, their philanthropy, and their beliefs at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.

One such woman who was invited to speak at The Woman’s Building was lady Henry Lady Henry Somerset - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari BoveeSomerset, an advocate of women’s rights and the Temperance Movement.

Born to London nobility, Lady Isabella Caroline Somers-Cocks was the first born of Charles Somers-Cocks, third Earl of Somers, and his wife Virginia. Fun fact, Isabella was also the first cousin of the writer Virginia Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen. The family was deeply religious and raised as an Anglican, young Isabella had aspirations to become a nun.

But, it was not to be. In 1872, she married Lord Henry Somerset and two years later, they had a son. However, what seemed to be an idyllic marriage was doomed to failure as Lord Henry was homosexual. Because homosexuality was against the law in England at the time, Isabella, as a woman, was expected to keep her husband’s secret and remain in an unhappy marriage. But this wouldn’t do. She separated from Lord Henry and sued for custody of their son, thus exposing her husband’s infidelities.

She won custody of her son and Lord Henry moved to Italy, but because of her deep religious convictions, Lady Henry would not divorce her husband. Although she still enjoyed her life as a titled, wealthy heiress, the custody battle, the couple’s separation and Lady Henry Somerset - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveeher husband’s sexual orientation resulted in scandal and Lady Henry was shunned by London society. She moved to Ledbury and immersed herself in the raising of her son and charity work. When her father died in 1883 he left her vast estates in Surrey, properties in London, and the slums in the East End.

Her interest in Temperance came about when a close, personal friend committed suicide while intoxicated. She was also alarmed by the considerable occurrence of public drunkenness she witnessed in the streets of London’s East End, particularly in children. She became a member of the Order of Rechabites, an organization dedicated to the promotion of total abstinence from alcoholic beverages.

In 1890, Lady Henry was elected president of the British Women’s Temperance Association. The following year, she travelled to the United States, where she spoke at the first World’s Christian Temperance Association convention in Boston. In 1893, she would return to the United States to speak at the Woman’s Building on women’s rights and temperance at the request of the Board of Lady Managers.

In 1895, Lady Henry opened the Colony for Women Inebriates, a facility intended to Lady Henry Somerset - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveerehabilitate alcoholics, in Surrey, England where she devoted the rest of her life to the women who’d come seeking help from their addictions.

Did you know that Annie Oakley believed in temperance? Raised a Quaker, she never touched alcohol. I wonder if she went to see Lady Henry speak at The Woman’s Building of the Columbian Exposition in 1893?

In celebration of my newest release in the Annie Oakley Mystery series, Folly at the Fair, I am giving away three signed copies of the book! To enter just go to http://karibovee.com/raffle/ Good luck!!

Sophia Bennet - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Sophia Hayden – Empowered Woman in History

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Sophia Hayden is best known for designing The Woman’s Building at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. She was only twenty-one years old.

Born in Santiago, Chili, Sophia would leave there at a very young age, on her own, to attend school. At six years old, Sophia’s parents, Elezena Fernandez, a Santiago native, and George Henry Hayden, an American dentist from Boston, sent their daughter to Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston to live with her grandparents and attend the Hillside School. 

Later, at Roxbury High School, Sophia became interested in architecture. An extremely Sophia Bennet - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveebright and dedicated student, she was then accepted to MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she obtained a degree in architecture and graduated with honors. But unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to get her hired as an architect, most likely because she was a woman. After graduation, she took a job at Boston High School as a mechanical drawing teacher.

Fast forward to 1891. Businesswoman, philanthropist, and socialite Bertha Honoré Palmer and her Board of Lady Managers, a group of women dedicated to representing women at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, needed someone to design The Woman’s Building to do just that. They ran a design competition for female architects. Thirteen women entered the competition by submitting their designs. Hayden based her design on her college thesis project, a striking classic Renaissance structure with pavilions at the center and both ends, multiple arches and columned terraces. She won first prize and the chance to go down in history as the only female architect involved in the building of what would become known as the White City. 

However, the Board of Lady Managers and Sophia didn’t see eye to eye on much of Sophia Bennet - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveeanything after the contest, particularly concerning philosophies of obtaining furnishings and art for the interior. Sophia also faced frustration with the continual changes demanded by Bertha Palmer and her construction committee. Other architects sympathized with and defended Sophia’s ideals, but in the end, Bertha Palmer fired her.

Sophia’s frustration and dismay at being removed from the project was somewhat soothed with an award for the building’s “delicacy of style, artistic taste, and geniality and elegance of the interior.”

The following year, Hayden designed a memorial for women’s clubs in the U.S. but the memorial was never built. Hayden never worked as an architect again. Sadly, all of the buildings in the White City were destroyed two years after the Fair.

Since all of my books in the Annie Oakley Mystery series feature strong, talented and empowered women, I had to highlight the Woman’s Building in my latest release Folly at the Fair, which takes place during the Columbian Exposition of 1893. In celebration of the release I am giving away three signed copies of the book to my Alexa listeners. All you have to do to enter is go to http://karibovee.com/raffle/ I hope you are a winner! Good luck!

 

Bertha-Honore-Palmer-Empowered Women in History

Flash Briefing: Bertha Honore Palmer, Empowered Woman in History

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

In 1870, at twenty-one years of age, Bertha Matilde Honoré married Chicago millionaire Bertha-Honore-Palmer-Empowered Women in HistoryPotter Palmer, a merchant who’d made his fortune catering to the tastes and needs of women through his popular mercantile. Palmer made even more money when he sold his store to a retail syndicate that would eventually become Marshall Fields.

With his riches, Palmer invested in real estate. He also built a luxury hotel which he named The Palmer House. Unfortunately, the hotel and many of their other assets fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Luckily, with the help of Bertha, Palmer was able to re-establish his fortune and rebuild his hotel, which would soon become the toast of the town and a Chicago landmark.

Meanwhile, Bertha was on the rise to the top of Chicago’s social elite. She became one of the earliest members of the Chicago Woman’s Club, a group of women dedicated to creating solutions to their cities’ social and economic concerns. The group in Chicago campaigned for impoverished children and also for the children of women incarcerated in prison. In addition, they developed and supported early childcare in the form of preschools and kindergartens, and petitioned for them to become part of the Chicago school system.

In 1891,Chicago was preparing for the World’s Columbian Exposition to take place in the city in 1893. Women played a large role in the planning of the fair, led by Bertha Palmer, the new President of the Board of Lady Managers. Collectively, they set out to celebrate women from around the world, and did so first by hiring female architect Sophia Hayden to design and build what would become known as the Woman’s Building.

The Woman’s Building contained exhibits of works by women across a variety of fields from fine art, applied art, literature and music, to science and home economics. There were also exhibits about women in American History and other cultures and places in the world.

Annexed to the Woman’s Building was the Children’s Building which exhibited American 19th century best practices for child-rearing and education.

In addition to her social causes, Bertha had passion for art, primarily French Impressionist art. She and her husband amassed quite a collection including almost thirty Monet’s and a dozen Renoirs. These works now form the core of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Impressionist collection.  

Later in life, after the death of her husband, Bertha purchased over 80,000 acres of land in Florida. An astute business woman, she became a progressive rancher and farm developer. She introduced many innovations to foster Florida’s ranching, citrus, dairy, and farming industries. Within sixteen years after her husband’s death, she managed to double the value of the estate he had left her.

Bertha Palmer was such a prominent figure in the history of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, I just had to make mention of her in my latest release, Folly at the Fair. In fact, in the book she invites Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, and other members of the Wild West Show to a party at the lovely Palmer House hotel where Annie’s sidekick, investigative journalist Emma Wilson has taken up residence. 

In honor of the release of Folly at the Fair, I will be giving away three signed copies of the book. All you have to do to enter is go to http://karibovee.com/raffle/ Good luck!

 

Perle de Vere- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Perle de Vere

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

Shortly after her arrival in Denver at the age of fourteen or fifteen, a girl with mysterious beginnings, who called herself “Miss Martin” became known as Perle de Vere, a beautiful Perle de Verea- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveewoman with red-hair, a strong will, and good business sense. Her family believed she worked as a dress designer and catered to Denver’s wealthiest women. But, in fact, she catered to the city’s wealthiest men as a favorite prostitute.

During the Silver Panic of 1893, business in Denver dried up. Miss de Vere, then at 30 years old, packed her bags and moved to the booming gold camp of Cripple Creek, Colorado. She invested her savings and bought a house on Myers street. She hired several beautiful girls and started her own brothel. Her business proved to be an instant success, affording Perle fine clothing and an extravagant lifestyle. She also knew how to protect her investment and demanded her girls practice good hygiene, dress well, and have monthly medical exams.

Perle, a discerning business woman and the most successful madam of the town, didn’t cater to just anyone. Patrons of her establishment had to apply for a visit. Once their application was approved and their wealth determined, Perle allowed them to choose their girl. Evenings at Perle’s house, called the Old Homestead, often consisted of live entertainment, socializing, cards, and dancing before the girls and their clients retired upstairs. Perle often hosted lavish parties with imported foods and plenty of champagne and other spirits.

Much of Pearl’s early life is shrouded in mystery, and so is her death. In the summer of 1897, Perle hosted an extravagant party sponsored by one of her wealthiest clients and Perle de Verea- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveemost ardent admirerers—a millionaire from either Poverty Gulch or Denver. Imported champagne, liquor, and caviar graced Perle’s establishment, for the wildest party the town would ever see. Perle’s admirer even brought her a beaded gown imported from Paris to wear to the event.

During the evening, after much drinking and revelry, Perle and her admirer got into an argument. He stormed out of the house and Perle retired to her bedroom. Later that night, one of the girls found Perle her lying on her bed, still in her gown, her breathing labored. Unable to rouse the madam, the girl called for a doctor, but it was too late. In the early hours of the morning, Perle de Vere died. She was 27. Gossip spread that Perle’s admirer poisoned her. The coroner stated her death was due to an accidental overdose of morphine, a drug she sometimes used for insomnia. Most of the newspapers reported the same, but one reported the death as suicide.

Perle de Vere- Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Most likely, Perle died of an accidental overdose, as the coroner stated. But, with a story as rich as hers, and with a cast of the intriguing characters she possibly entertained, it’s interesting to speculate on what might have happened to Colorado’s most famous “soiled dove.”

If you like to learn about more wild women of the west, you might be interested in some of my historical mystery novels featuring gutsy, sassy, female leads like Annie Oakley. You can find my books on Amazon.

Dora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee

Flash Briefing: Dora Hand

Join host Kari Bovee, award-winning author of historical fiction as she shares stories of strong women of history combined with mysteries of the past.

>> Listen to Flash briefing HERE. <<

What woman could inspire four of Dodge City’s legendary lawmen to come together to find a killer? A beautiful songbird named Dora Hand.

Born between 1840 and 1844, Dora Hand came from a prominent Boston family. She is said to have studied music in Europe and had once performed opera in New York City. She married a musician named Ted Hand, but the relationship did not last.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Dora moved west for the dry air. She settled in Dodge City, Kansas, and the town was instantly smitten. Described as beautiful and gifted, legend has it that attentions for her favor caused more gunfights than any other woman in the west.

One of her most ardent admirers was James Kelley, also known as Dog Kelley, the mayor ofDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Bovee Dodge and part-owner of the Alhambra Saloon and Gambling House. Dora sang every night at the Alhambra, and also sang at the Lady Gay Dance Hall and Saloon. She earned upwards of $75 per week.

Sweet natured and generous, Dora gave much back to the community through charity and good works. But, despite her benevolence, she still encountered her fair share of jealous and ill-meaning followers. Some thought her an angel, and others thought her a whore.

A Reverend Mr. Wright, a local pastor, both confounded and delighted his flock when he invited Dora to sing weekly at his Sunday evening services. Like her or not, every Sunday night the church was packed to hear the lovely Dora sing.

One of Dora’s admirers was Spike Kennedy, the son of a wealthy Texas cattle rancher. Spoiled and not adhering to his father’s Quaker sensibilities, or his mother’s Catholic devotion, Spike was, in short, a hell-raiser who loved drinking, gambling and whoring, and who felt he was above the law because of Daddy’s money—which, ultimately he was.

One night, after much drinking at the AlhamDora Hand - Empowered Women in History - Historical Fiction Author Kari Boveebra, Spike turned his attention to Dora. Dog Kelley threw him out on his ear. Humiliated, Spike would have his revenge. On an early October morning, Spike fired two shots into the thin walls of Kelley’s cabin. Little did he know, the mayor had gone to nearby Fort Dodge to visit a doctor for a stomach ailment. Sleeping in a bed in the back room of the cabin, was Dora. The second bullet zinged through the door, then the interior wall, and hit Dora in the side, killing her instantly.

Dodge’s renown lawmen, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett and Bill Tilghman set out to find Spike. They did, but he didn’t hang. His father somehow bought him an acquittal, and the court cited “lack of evidence.”

Dora’s funeral drew one of the biggest turnouts Dodge City had ever seen. It was said the town shut down for her funeral and 400 men rode behind the wagon carrying Dora’s body up Boot Hill for burial.

If you love tales of the old west, you might enjoy my Annie Oakley Mystery Series. You  can find the books on Amazon.