Category Archives: Women

Call the Midwife

Tina Johnson's Mother

Marit Stavem Paulsdatter (1843-1926), family collection

So my 2nd great grandmother (stor bestemor – I have to keep practicing my norsk)  was a midwife.  Marit Stavem Paulsdatter was born 25 April 1843 in Lesja Norway (middle upper central-ish) and immigrated with her husband Amund Olson to Minneapolis in 1869.  I have family lore that she went to Oslo to study as a midwife, but cannot find any verification. (Yet!!) She was listed as “Mrs A Olson, midwife” in the 1871 Minneapolis city directory and was listed in the 1880 census as being a ‘housekeeper – midwife’ (husband Amund was listed as a stonemason).  The 1882 Minneapolis city directory gives her a separate listing as “Mrs Mary Olson, midwife” – this is a big deal as women did not very often get a recognition for their work, and probably meant she was either advertising or well known in her community.  Also, her husband being a stonemason could have conferred her some status.

By this time, she had 2 children and another on the way (my oldemor) yet she still kept practicing.  The 1885, 1890, 1894 (now as Mrs. Marit Olson) ,1897, 1901, 1903, 1907, and 1910 Minneapolis city directories listed her at the same address.

In 1910, she was listed in 2 censuses  – not impossible as they were taken over the course of several months.  She was in her usual location in Minneapolis, (though interestingly listed as divorced and her husband Amund was not living with her) then she was listed as living with her daughter’s family in Pembina, MN.  It makes sense as her daughter was expecting her 5th baby and probably needed expert midwifery mothering!

Marit was living in Minneapolis with her youngest single daughter Ella in 1920 while her (ex?) husband Amund was living in Pembina MN with their other daughter and her family.  She passed away at the home of her daughter in 1926 at the age of 83.

So Marit seems like an interesting woman – educated in Norway as a midwife, immigrating to America, raising her own children, divorcing or separating from her husband, and continuing her profession until into her 70th years.  Proud to be her barnebarn.

p.s. – feel free to contact me at 314-292-9153 to learn more about your ancestors — CJ

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Timecapsule Thursday: Mary McRee obit

Mary McRee obit

21 Oct 1889 St Louis Post Dispatch via newspapers.com


Timecapsule Thursday: Rossman School

Came across an article on another Shaw resident, Mary Rossman, founder of the Rossman School. (an independent, coeducational preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (age 4) through Grade 6, located in Creve Coeur)

Rossman school 6 Dec 1967

P-D archives, 6 Dec 1967

Mary Rossman school founders

Mary Rossman and Helen Schwaner, image courtesy of Rossman School


Wandering Wednesday: Mary Urquhart McRee

This is just a jotting down of an ongoing research project into Mary McRee, landowner of the tract in which McRee City, then McRee Town, then Botanical Heights are situated.  So it is very much a wandering – I hope to put everything together eventually!

Mary Urquart McRee was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1829.  I have to kick myself because I just got back from a trip to Wilmington and the outer banks of North Carolina.  I’ll just have to imagine the lines that connected our journey.


Timecapsule Thursday: Red Kate

This article originally ran in the January 2005 issue of the Shaw Neighborhood Newsletter.  Photo attributions are updated.

Red Kate Kindles Shaw

By Cara Jensen

I believe there might be an extra spark in the Shaw air to inspire people into activism.  How poignant that we have a notorious example in our past – socialist activist Kate Richards O’Hare resided at 3955 Castleman from 1913 to 1917.

 

Touted as the most radical public figure in pre-World War I St. Louis, “Red Kate” spoke for victims of oppression, especially poor working women, and against entrenched economic and political interests.  She worked tirelessly with local progressives for social change, but unlike most middle-class women she did cast her reform agenda in pa

rtisan terms.  O’Hare was a socialist and editor of the National Rip-Saw, a socialist monthly published in St. Louis.

 

 

In 1910, Kate O’Hare ran for a congressional seat on the Socialist ballot, and in 1913 she represented the party at the Second International in London. In 1917, as chair of the party’s Committee on War and Militarism, she spoke coast-to-coast against U.S. entry into World War I.  She was indicted under the Federal Espionage Act and imprisoned in the Missouri State Penitentiary with fellow activist Emma Goldman. In 1920, as the culmination of a nationwide campaign by socialists and civil libertarians, her sentence was commuted; she later received a full pardon from President Calvin Coolidge.

O’Hare’s distress over conditions for female prisoners sparked a life-long crusade for penal reform.  After leaving St. Louis, she became assistant director of the California Department of Penology where she implemented prison reform at San Quentin.  Kate O’Hare was also active in Upton Sinclair’s 1934 “End Poverty in California” campaign for the governorship.

Kate Richards O’Hare raised her young family in the Shaw neighborhood. She spent those years firming her ideals and beliefs and left the community stronger than when she arrived.  I honor the spirit of Red Kate, who leaves a legacy to inspire subsequent generations of Shaw activists.


The Three Horsewomen

The Three Horsewomen

The Three Horsewomen

I love this picture.  There is just something about three strong Scandinavian women and their horses that appeals to me.  Even more so because they are my ancestresses.  Johanne Hansen Louison, born in Norway in 1859, and her two daughters, Julia and Laura.  Thank you to the person who captioned this moment because it makes it so much easier to set the scene.  Johanne lived in Winger,MN (northwestern near North Dakota part) and in 1912 she would have been 53.  She farmed the land with her husband Martin, who also immigrated from Norway.  Julia and Laura would have been 16 and 17, respectively, in this picture.  I wonder about the situation that made the sisters “spinsters” for many years – Julia married and had her first child at age 42, and Laura married at 33 and remained childless.  This seems unusual for the time.

I also love that the captionist included the names of the horses – Nellie, Grant and Prince – it seems to show an almost family-like acknowledgement.  The clothing is fascinating to me as well – they are riding astride and so must be wearing split skirts or (heaven forbid) trousers.  But considering their Scandinavian strength and stubbornness (I can say this because we are related) I would vote for the trousers.  It was not unusual in Norway for women of that time to wear trousers while skiing.

I wish the picture was in higher resolution so I could make out the structure behind them, and the tool or device in the lower left.  The building looks to have a stone foundation and brickwork – houses and barns in northern MN were made of wood, so perhaps they are in town for an official event or celebration.  It’s fun to speculate.  Do you see any details that give more clues?


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