Who will remember? If we don’t speak up for our grandmothers, who will? This occasional blog will tell the stories of women that history never recorded, or time may have forgotten. Storytelling brings history to life. You might read about it, but what if someone dressed in clothes from a given period and told you how it was?
As a teller of historical tales, I portray Eunice Lakeman Hoar, who, with her husband and nine of their children, settled what became Rangeley Lake in the western mountains of Maine. What was life like for a woman with all those children in the early 1800s?
I also portray Chansonetta Stanley Emmons, who is not unknown but deserves to be more widely known for her wonderful photographs of a way of life in Kingfield, Maine that was passing from its former glory at the turn of the last century. Once you hear something about her life, and view a slide show of her hand-painted details on photos on 3 x 4″ glass slides, do you think you will forget them?
I am researching Ann Jarvis Greely, from Ellsworth, Maine. I have done short storytelling presentations of Ann as the founder of the Unitarian Church in Ellsworth. I find very few people in Ellsworth who know about Ann. She was a leading citizen in the late 1800s and early 1900s, in Ellsworth. She was a granddaughter of Colonel John Black, local lumber baron. She owned a millinery shop on Main Street at the age of 20. She resented not having a say on how her tax dollars were spent, and campaigned tirelessly for women’s suffrage. She was active on a national level, and brought Susan B. Anthony to Ellsworth to speak. I am developing a program where, as Ann, I will tell something about the long hard battle women had, to win the right to vote.
I do not take lightly the responsibility of speaking for these women. Months, and sometimes years go into the research of the time periods, as well as into the lives of the women themselves. Sometimes, like with Chansonetta, they leave behind a body of work and enough written material to craft into a story. Other times, like with Eunice, the thread of a story might be passed down, but it might not even mention any women involved. (As if her husband might have taken nine children into the wilderness by himself… don’t get me started!)
I am looking for women from the past with interesting stories. I don’t have to look far. As a storyteller, I am looking for stories with a beginning, middle and satisfying ending. Some bold pioneer women helped to found a new town. Others created an amazing body of artwork. But others may have had more humble lives that deserve to be remembered.
Since Meg Haskell wrote a wonderful article for the Bangor Daily News describing my storytelling, I have had many flattering comments. I have had several requests to perform my stories for various groups. And, I have had a few people telling me stories of women from the past that they feel are remarkable and deserve a voice. Since it is unlikely that I will live the many decades more that would be required to craft and tell so many stories, I hope to feature some of those women here.