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When I first thought about doing an e-zine about ladies of the sea I knew I wanted to include Grace Darling, a brave young lady who helped save people from a wrecked ship. What I wasn’t prepared for was the other incredible ladies I found while doing research. You are going to love meeting Ida Lewis, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper who saved several people from drowning. Next we will hear the incredible story of Abbie Burgess who would keep the light burning at a lighthouse for four weeks during a terrible storm. Then to round out the heroic girls in this issue we will meet Grace Vernon Bussell and Helen Petrie, two little-known heroines who will inspire you! So grab your sailor hat and let’s set sail for some great stories.
In this issue you will notice that I've added advertisements. Even though I love to create these e-zines, they do take up a lot of time, so I've decided to offer advertising as a way of compensating me for my time. I promise to only have quality companies represented here and to keep the number of ads to 3-5 ads per issue. If you know of a company or home business that would fit with my business, here are the prices for placing an ad. Be sure to check out the advertisers and see the products they sell. You will find some very wonderful resources.
Before we get started I have some news for you! For the last few months I have been working on my first printed book. This has been an exciting challenge and I discovered that self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. It has been a great journey though and I’m proud to announce that Uncover Exciting History: Revealing America’s Christian Heritage in Short, Easy-to-Read Nuggets will be released this month. This snapshot view of history is going to be a great resource for homeschool families.
Lastly, this month there will be three winners in the Mystery Woman Contest. Since October 3 is my birthday I wanted to pass the joy around. This would be a great month to participate in the contest because you will have a greater chance of winning. I’ll do the drawing on October 10 and contact the winners soon afterwards. So you have less time to find out who the mystery woman is but a better chance of winning. I can’t wait to hear from you all.
Heroines of the Past
P.O. Box 429
Wright, WY 82732
Heroines of the Past
By James Baldwin, 1896
It was a dark September morning. There was a storm at sea. A ship had been driven on a low rock off the shores of the Farne Islands. It had been broken in two by the waves, and half of it had been washed away. The other half lay yet on the rock, and those of the crew who were still alive were clinging to it. But the waves were dashing over it, and in a little while it too would be carried to the bottom.
Could anyone save the poor, half-drowned men who were there?
On one of the islands was a lighthouse; and there, all through that stormy night, Grace Darling had listened to the storm. Grace was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper, and she had lived by the sea as long as she could remember.
In the darkness of the night, above the noise of the winds and waves, she heard screams and wild cries. When daylight came, she could see the wreck, a mile away, with the angry waters all around it. She could see the men clinging to the masts.
"We must try to save them!" she cried. "Let us go out in the boat at once!"
"It is of no use, Grace," said her father. "We cannot reach them."
He was an old man, and he knew the force of the mighty waves.
"We cannot stay here and see them die," said Grace. "We must at least try to save them."
Her father could not say no.
In a few minutes they were ready. They set off in the heavy lighthouse boat. Grace pulled one oar, and her father the other, and they made straight toward the wreck. But it was hard rowing against such a sea, and it seemed as though they would never reach the place.
At last they were close to the rock, and now they were in greater danger than before. The fierce waves broke against the boat, and it would have been dashed in pieces, had it not been for the strength and skill of the brave girl.
After many trials, Grace’s father climbed upon the wreck, while Grace herself held the boat. Then one by one the worn out crew were helped on board. It was all that the girl could do to keep the frail boat from being drifted away, or broken upon the sharp edges of the rock.
Then her father clambered back into his place. Strong hands grasped the oars, and by and by all were safe in the lighthouse. There Grace proved to be no less tender as a nurse than she had been brave as a sailor. She cared most kindly for the shipwrecked men until the storm had died away and they were strong enough to go to their own homes.
All this happened a long time ago, but the name of Grace Darling will never be forgotten. She lies buried now in a little churchyard by the sea, not far from her old home. Every year many people go there to see her grave; and there a monument has been placed in honor of the brave girl. It is not a large monument, but it is one that speaks of the noble deed which made Grace Darling famous. It is a figure carved in stone of a woman lying at rest, with a boat’s oar held fast in her right hand.
Questions about Grace Darling By Ernest Clark Hartwell, 1921
1. This is a true story of one of the heroines of the sea. What is a heroine? Where did she live? You may be able to locate the islands off the coast of Northumberland, England, in a geography book.
2. What did Grace Darling do that caused her to be one of the figures in history and story? You will be interested to know that she was loaded with all kinds of presents for her bravery. But unfortunately she took consumption (tuberculosis of the lungs) not long after her heroic act, and died at the age of 27 years, in 1842.
The Story of Ida Lewis
Ida Lewis was the daughter of Captain Hosea Lewis, of Higham, Massachusetts, and was born on February 25, 1842. She attended the public school at Newport until she was fifteen years of age, when her parents moved to Lime Rock Lighthouse. Soon after their removal to the lighthouse her father was stricken with paralysis, and Ida was obliged to accustom herself to the use of the oars, and bring all the supplies to the lighthouse, and row her smaller brothers and sisters to and from school; she soon became an expert--as much at home on the water as on the land. Her philanthropic nature was first gratified in the fall of 1858, when she won a place among the brave by rescuing from drowning four young men whose pleasure boat had been upset; at this time she was but sixteen. Eight years later she saved a soldier from a neighboring fort from drowning. In 1867 three Irishmen saw a sheep drifting off at sea, and started after it in a small row boat; they had gone but a short distance, when, amid the white-capped billows of the ocean, their courage failed them, and, on turning round, they found they were powerless to reach the shore. The heroine of old Lime Rock took them from their sinking boat, and brought them safely to shore, after which she returned and brought the sheep to land also. Two weeks later she saved a man whose boat, having sprung a leak from striking a rock, had sunk and left him up to his chin in water, while the rising tide was threatening to engulf him.
By Martha Louise Rayne, 1893
On March 29, 1869, Ida was sitting in her favorite chair, beside the warm fire, finishing some needlework before preparing the family’s evening meal. Her mother, sitting near the window, suddenly discovered a capsized boat, to which two soldiers from the garrison at Fort Adams were clinging. She had scarcely made known the facts, when her daughter, catching only the words "drowning men," sprang to her feet, prompt and eager to save them. In spite of her invalid father’s entreaties (for the old sailor knew the danger), she was at the door. All thoughts of the warmth and comfort within have vanished, and the patient, toiling girl has became a heroine, flying, with dauntless soul, to save the perishing. She had no shoes upon her feet, no hat upon her head, and no outer garments to protect her from the storm. With only a towel, hastily seized and knotted about her neck, her stocking-clad feet speed her away over sharp rocks to her ever-ready boat. A younger brother, at her request, accompanied her to assist in dragging the drowning men into the boat; but to Ida’s skill and willing arms must be trusted the plying of those oars upon whose dexterous use depends the saving of those lives, now so sorely threatened. Never before were her hands so tried, or the strength of woman’s arm so tested. Though the green billows, crested with white foam, came flying over the open boat, nearly filling it with water, she heeds them not. Fame, success, and a nation’s encomiums wait upon her exertions or it may be a watery grave beside those she is trying to save.
Her mother stood upon the rock, wildly gesticulating and endeavoring to encourage the drowning men to continue their efforts for life; it is all the aged woman can do, but she does it well. The race for life is accomplished, our heroine reaches the drifting wreck, the exhausted men are brought safely to the lighthouse, and new laurels are added to Ida’s well-earned wreath of fame. One of the rescued men, Sergeant Adams, is barely able to totter to the house, while his companion, but an hour ago a picture of strength and vigor, required united strength, to remove him from the boat.
Thus ends the story of Ida Lewis’s exploits--deeds worthy of emulation, which, in the grand old days of Greece and Rome, would have gained the applause of the Senate and have been perpetuated in the sculptor’s marble and upon the historian’s tablet of brass.
The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York awarded her a silver medal and one hundred dollars, and the General Assembly of her own State (Rhode Island) passed resolutions acknowledging her brave and valuable services. These resolutions were formally communicated to her by a document from the Secretary of State, and with the State seal affixed. The officers and soldiers of the fort sent her their thanks, accompanied by the more substantial reward of a purse containing two hundred and eighteen dollars, and from all parts of the country letters and valuable gifts were sent to her as tokens of regard.
Through the heroic deeds of Ida Lewis, Lime Rock Lighthouse has become famous, and many noted persons have since then visited the place. Ida Lewis was appropriately called by some "The Grace Darling of America."
There are many philanthropic women who, in Christian faith and love have done noble deeds, but it is doubtful if any have become so famous as Ida Lewis for handling the oars, and with such noble results; but all true women will delight to honor one who reflects so much honor on her sex and humanity, and who has so clearly demonstrated what a woman can do.
Ida Lewis By Miss Alice E. Ives, written in 1893
The lighthouse keeper’s daughter
With wind-toss’d rippling hair,
And eyes bright as the sea-gull’s,
Stands tall, and strong, and fair.
As out her frail skiff plunges
From shade of Lime Rock Light,
Across the angry breakers
On through the stormy night,
Fearless as some wild water sprite,
Her white, round arms of steel
Fling foam and spray from flashing oar
And from the dancing keel.
Within her blue eye gleams the light
Of purpose calm and bold,
Such as made knights and martyrs
In saintly days of old.
Her quick ear strains to catch the sound
As swift she guides her barque--
Of cries above the tempest,
That wail out through the dark.
For never boom of signal gun
Nor aid comes from afar,
As she through mountain billows
Steers for the floating spar;
Steers for the clinging, dying man,
Who sees no help in sight;
When suddenly the little skiff
Dawns like a beam of light.
It speeds like sea-bird on the blast,
On, on, and still more near,
Till, through the storm, the maiden’s voice
Rings out with words of cheer.
And as the strong arms pull each stroke,
The gulf of death is spanned,
And life comes to the shudd’ring soul,
Brought by a woman’s hand.
So ever as the years go by,
On errands swift to save,
The angel of the Lighthouse
Still braves the wind and wave.
O woman soul, so true and strong!
No marble shaft is thine,
But in a nation’s heart thy deeds
Shall shine with light divine.
And when in after ages
They ask of her fair fame,
The very waves 'round old Lime Rock
Shall sing the maiden’s name.
Keeper of the Light the Story of Abbie Burgess
The Matinicus Rock light-station stands upon a huge granite rock off the southeastern entrance to Penobscot Bay, Maine, about twenty-two miles out to sea. The keepers of this lighthouse have shown great bravery and faithfulness. One of these watchers, Abbie Burgess, has become famous in our lighthouse annals, not only for long service, but also for bravery displayed on various occasions. Her father was keeper of the rock from 1853 to 1861. In January, 1856, when she was a teenager, he left her in charge of the lights while he crossed to Matinicus Island. His wife was an invalid, his son was away on a cruise, and his other four children were little girls. The following day it began to breeze up; the wind increased to a gale, and soon developed into a storm almost as furious as that which carried away the tower on Minot’s Ledge in 1851. Before long the seas were sweeping over the rock.
By Gustav Kobbe, 1897
Down among the boulders was a chicken coop which Abbie feared might be carried away. On a lonely ocean outpost like Matinicus Rock a chicken is regarded with affectionate interest, and Abbie, solicitous for the safety of the inmates of the little coop, waited her chance, and when the seas fell off a little, rushed knee-deep through the swirling water, and rescued all but one of the chickens. She had hardly closed the door of the dwelling behind her when a sea, breaking over the rock, brought down the old cobblestone house with a crash. While the storm was at its height the waves threatened the granite dwelling, so that the family had to take refuge in the towers for safety; and here they remained, with no sound to greet them from without but the roaring of the wind around the lanterns, and no sight but the sea sheeting over the rock. Yet through it all the lamps were trimmed and lighted. Even after the storm abated, the reach between the rock and Matinicus Island was so rough that Captain Burgess could not return until four weeks later.
Afterward Abbie wrote to a friend: "As the tide came, the sea rose higher and higher, till the only endurable places were the light towers. . . . For four weeks, owing to rough weather, no landing could be effected on the rock. During this time we were without the assistance of any male member of our family. Though at times greatly exhausted with my labors, not once did the lights fail."
During a subsequent winter there was so long a spell of rough weather that provisions ran low, and Captain Burgess was obliged to utilize the first chance of putting off for Matinicus Island, although there was no telling how soon the sea might roughen up again. In point of fact, a heavy storm broke over the coast before he could return, and before long there was danger of famine on the rock. In this strait Captain Burgess’s son, who happened to be at home, decided to brave the storm in a skiff rigged with a spritsail. A small group of anxious watchers followed the little sail with straining eyes until the storm-scud hid it from sight. Twenty-one days passed before he and his father returned--days of hope alternating with fear, and the hardship of meager fare through all, the daily allowance dwindling to an egg and a cup of corn-meal each, with danger of that short ration giving out if the storm did not abate. During all this time Abbie was obliged not only to care for the lights, but also to tend an invalid mother and cheer up the little family in its desolate state.
In 1861 Captain Burgess retired from Matinicus, Captain Grant and his family succeeding him. And now the grim old wave-rent rock became the scene of as pretty a romance as could be devised. A son of Captain Grant had been appointed assistant to his father, and Captain Burgess had left Abbie on the rock to instruct the newcomers in the care of the lights. Young Grant proved a very apt pupil--so apt that he was soon able not only to take care of the lights, but also to persuade his instructress to let him take care of her. She became his wife and his helpmate in a double sense, for not long after their marriage she was appointed an assistant keeper. When she was married she had lived on the rock eight years, and she remained there until 1875, when her husband was appointed keeper, and she assistant keeper, of the light on White Head, an island separated from Spruce Head only by a narrow channel. Matinicus Rock, twenty-two miles out at sea, with the grand sweep of the ocean, the rough shores of Ragged Island and Matinicus Island on the west, the dim outlines of Vinal Haven to the north, and in the background the dark, towering forms of the Camden Mountains--this rock, with its wilderness of boulders, its wind, snow, and fog, its shrieking whistle and clanging bell, its loneliness and perils, had been her home for twenty-two years.
There she had performed the triple duties of wife, mother, and lighthouse-keeper. The transfer to White Head brought some change from the old accustomed surroundings; but the duties, requiring such faithful performance, were the same. The Grants remained fifteen years in charge of White Head. In May, 1890, they removed to Middleborough in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, expecting to pass the remainder of their lives out of hearing of the turmoil of the sea. Yet life away from it seemed strange and unattractive, and two years later found them again on the coast of Maine, this time at Portland, where the husband had reentered the lighthouse establishment, working in the Engineers’ Department of the First Lighthouse District. With them lived Captain Grant, who in the fall of 1890, at the age of eighty-five, retired from the position of keeper of Matinicus Rock, which he had held for twenty-nine years.
Shortly before leaving White Head, Mrs. Grant wrote to a friend:
"Sometimes I think the time is not far distant when I shall climb these lighthouse stairs no more. It has almost seemed to me that the light was a part of myself. When we had care of the old lard-oil lamps on Matinicus Rock, they were more difficult to tend than these lamps are, and sometimes they would not burn so well when first lighted, especially in cold weather when the oil got cool. Then, some nights, I could not sleep a wink all night, though I knew the keeper himself was watching. And many nights I have watched the lights my part of the night, and then could not sleep the rest of the night, thinking nervously what might happen should the light fail.
In all these years I always put the lamps in order in the morning and I lit them at sunset. Those old lamps--as they were when my father lived on Matinicus Rock--are so thoroughly impressed on my memory that even now I often dream of them. There were fourteen lamps and fourteen reflectors. When I dream of them it always seems to me that I have been away a long while, and I am trying to get back in time to light the lamps. Then I am half-way between Matinicus and White Head, and hurrying toward the rock to light the lamps there before sunset. I must always see the lights burning in both places before I wake. I always go through the same scenes in cleaning the lamps and lighting them, and I feel a great deal more worried in my dreams than when I am awake.
I wonder if the care of the lighthouse will follow my soul after it has left this worn-out body! If I ever have a gravestone, I would like it to be in the form of a lighthouse or beacon."
Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter Roop
If you would like to learn more about Abbie Burgess this book tells her story in greater detail. A very well written book.
Two Heroic Maidens
By Samuel Smiles, 1900
Some may think that those are no true examples of heroism. More striking examples may be given--of men and women devoting themselves to rescuing the lives of shipwrecked mariners at sea. A story comes to us from Western Australia, telling us of the brave deeds of a young gentlewoman--Grace Vernon Bussell. The steamer Georgette had stranded on the shore near Perth. A boat was got out with the women and children on board, but it was swamped by the surf, which was running very high. The poor creatures were all struggling in the water, clinging to the boat, and in imminent peril of their lives, when, on the top of a steep cliff, appeared a young lady on horseback.
Her first thought was how to save these drowning women and children. She galloped down the cliff--how, it is impossible to say--urged her horse into the surf, and, beyond the second line of the breakers, she reached the boat. She succeeded in bringing the women and children on shore. There was still a man left, and she plunged into the sea again, and rescued him. So fierce was the surf, that four hours were occupied in landing fifty persons. As soon as they were on shore, the heroic lady, drenched with the sea-foam, and half fainting with fatigue, galloped off to her home, twelve miles distant, to send help and relief to the rescued people on the sea-beach. Her sister now took up the work. She went back through the woods to the shore, taking with her a provision of tea, milk, sugar, and flour. Next day the rescued were brought to her house, and cared for until they were sufficiently recovered to depart on their solitary ways. It is melancholy to have to record that Mrs. Brookman, the heroine's sister, took cold in the midst of her exertions, and died of brain fever.
No less brave was the conduct of a young woman in the Shetlands, who went to sea to save the lives of some fishermen, when no one else would volunteer to go. A violent storm had broken over the remote island of Unst, when the fishing fleet--the chief stay of the inhabitants--was at sea. One by one the boats reached the haven in safety; but the last boat was still out, and it was observed by those ashore that she was in great difficulties. She capsized, and the sailors were seen struggling in the water.
At this juncture, Helen Petrie, a slender lass, stepped forward and urged that an attempt to rescue them should be made at all hazards. The men said it was certain death to those who wished to put off in such a storm.
Nevertheless Helen Petrie was willing to brave death. She hastily stepped into a small boat. Her sister-in-law joined her; and her father, lame of one hand, went in to take charge of the rudder. Two of the crew of the fishing boat had already disappeared, but two remained, clinging to the upturned keel of their craft. It was these the women went to save. After great exertions, they reached the wreck. Just as they approached it, one of the men was washed off, and he would certainly have been drowned, had not Helen caught him by his hair, and dragged him into the boat. The other man was also rescued, and the whole returned to the haven in safety. Helen Petrie afterwards earned her bread in obscurity as a domestic servant, until her death reminded people who knew her story of her existence. Heroines must, one would suppose, be abundant in a country where such a thing could happen.
Information about Ida Lewis and Abbie Burgess
Information about Lighthouses
More information about Abbie Burgess
Mystery Woman Contest
Last issues answer - Eliza Poor Donner Houghton
Winner - Susan Moenssen-True
This brave heroine saved several people from drowning. On September 7, 1838 the Forfarshire had run aground near the Ferne Islands. This young lady saw the wreck from her home at Longstone Lighthouse. She and her father rowed to the wreck and saved several people. Her noble deed endeared her to all England. She lived from 1815-1842. Who is she?
Email your answer (with "Mystery Woman Contest" in the subject line) and be registered to win a free copy of:
Ten American Girls From History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
Ten American Girls From History
by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
E-book, 300 pages,
Would you like to meet ten of the most amazing girls from American history? This book was originally published in 1917 (during World War I) and dramatically tells the stories of Pocahontas, Dorothy Quincy, Molly Pitcher, Elizabeth Van Lew, Ida Lewis, Clara Barton, Virginia Reed, Louisa M. Alcott, Clara Morris, and Anna Dickinson. In the foreword the author tells her reason for writing the book, "My first aim in bringing the lives of these ten American girls from history to the attention of the girls of today has been to inspire them to like deeds of patriotism and courage. Second only to that purpose is a desire to make young Americans realize as they read these true stories of achievement along such widely varying lines of work, that history is more thrilling than fiction." Each historical girl is highlighted in a thrilling story told in an engaging way that will appeal to girls of all ages.
Can't wait to see if you won? You can buy it now!
In each issue of Heroines of the Past we will have a Mystery Woman Contest. A picture and description of a woman from the featured era covered will be included. To participate in the contest, email your answer to Amy with "Mystery Woman Contest" in the subject line. All the entries will be put into a hat and a winner will be chosen. Each time the prize will be different. Entries must be received by October 10th. The winner will be announced in the next Heroines of the Past e-zine.
A to Z Designs
Heroines of the Past
Sea Food Recipes
Oysters Broiled on Half Shell2 dozen oysters
From American Cookery, 1917
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons minced parsley
Grated mozzarella cheese
Mix seasonings and shake well. Arrange oysters on broiler of gas oven and pour over them the seasonings. Sprinkle with cheese. Put in broiler until the edges curl.
Corn OystersDrain liquid from one can of corn. Put corn through the meat chopper.
From American Cookery, 1917
1 cup of pulp
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Drop by spoonfuls and fry in deep fat, or cook on a well greased griddle. Make them the size of large oysters.
Clam ChowderOne quart of milk
May Irwin's Home Cooking By May Irwin, 1904
One and a half pints of pure clam juice
Two pints of clams
One Spanish onion
Butter, flour, and seasoning
To the clam juice add half a pint of hot water, and the onion sliced or cut thin in small pieces (not chopped). Boil until the onions are cooked; then add the potatoes, which should be cut in rather thick slices. When the potatoes are nearly cooked through, add the clams that have been chopped, but not fine. Have a quart of milk in a separate pot that is safe from burning; add pepper, and a little salt if necessary. When it comes to a boiling point, stir in a tablespoon of flour that has been rubbed smooth with a small piece of butter and a little cold milk; then set it back off the fire to cool. Take the clam broth off the fire for about five minutes; then add the thickened milk, and stir well, and set back on the stove to heat, but not to boil (as the clam juice will curdle the milk--no matter how fresh--if they come to the boiling point together).
Books and Movies
Ok before you think, "She’s going to recommend a corny kids movie" please let me tell you why I love this movie. Yes, I do agree that the part with the snake oil salesman is silly and the mean Gogans are annoying but what I love about the movie is Nora. Think about it: she is a single gal in her late twenties who lost her true love, lives with an unstable father, and spends all her time doing the monotonous job of caring for the lighthouse. If anyone had a right to feel sorry for herself it would be Nora, but instead she reaches out to a lonely boy who needs a friend. The result is a charming story that draws the watcher in. Another aspect of the movie is the music. Feel free to fast forward through some of the songs--I always skip "I Saw a Dragon." But then there are some other songs that are sooooo good like "Candle on the Water" and "Brazzle Dazzle Day." So if you are in the mood for a lighthouse movie with a charming story and delightful music then pick up Pete’s Dragon.
Shirley Temple is saved from a ship wreck by Captain January the local lighthouse keeper. The old captain becomes attached to the little girl and must outwit the truant officer who wants to know if Captain January is Shirley’s legal guardian. Younger girls and fans of Shirley Temple will enjoy this movie.
Lighthouses served as a beacon for ships. It let them know of rocks and reefs as well as being a guiding light to ports. If the light went out a ship could lose her way in the darkness and be dashed to pieces on the rocks.
In the Bible God often refers to Himself as "light." What do these verses say about light and God?
- II Samuel 22:29
- Psalms 27:1, 89:15, 104:2, 119:105
- Isaiah 2:5, 60:19
- II Corinthians 4:6
- I John 1:5-7
In the New Testament we are told to be a light as well. What do these verses say about that subject?
- Matthew 5:14-16
- Acts 13:47
- II Corinthians 6:14
- I Thessalonians 5:5-8
- I Peter 2:9
- I John 2:9-11
What do these verses say about Jesus being light?
- John 1:4-9, 3:19-21, 8:12, 12:46
Which of these verse stands out to you the most and why? Commit your favorite verse to memory.