Fierce Women Who Influenced Me will be a series on my blog. I am not sure how often I will post about them but over the course of the next few months I will be introducing you to the fierce women who shaped my life. Some of these fierce women I knew or know and some I have never met. #thefierce50 is a new group in my life and I guarantee you will be hearing about them as we start our project to celebrate women ages 50 and over.
The other day I posted a video of a few photos from my grandmother’s acting career. I got a great deal of response from people wanting to know more so I will introduce you to my family today. The photo above includes my great grandmother, top left, my grandmother, Top right and my mom bottom left. There is one pic of me too because I wanted to see the pictures of all of us at about the same age. I think in this gathering I am the oldest portrayal as I was probably 28 in that photo. My great grandmother was maybe 20, my grand mother 17, my mom 22. Another woman you will hear about is my Dad’s sister but that is for another day.
My great grandmother, Isabelle, was born in Pony, MT in 1883. Her father was a successful miner and she grew up with a couple of siblings in the house with the first indoor bathroom in Pony. There house was grand for the area on a lovely spot with a view of the valley beyond. Her parents wanted her to marry the accountant for the mine. There was another young man showed up at her house with a wedding license having never met her. He was sent to a sanitarium for a short time to get his head straight. Her heart lay elsewhere.
Her dad travelled to Hot Springs every year to take the baths. He had arthritis and that was the cure in that day and one night they went to the theatre. In the audience was a young medical student, Thomas Jelks, who saw her from afar and begged an introduction from everyone until he found the young woman from Montana. He was going to school in New Orleans at Tulane but would travel every summer to visit her, riding in the engine of the train the whole way. He courted her but her parents didn’t want her to marry him and move far away. She was the only child they had by that time. Her siblings having succumbed to an illness that went through the town.
Thomas travelled to Pony every summer to spend time with Isabelle. One summer her dad and Thomas decided to go into the high country to hunt and Belle asked to come along and cook for them. One afternoon she heard shots being fired close to the camp and she carefully went to find out why. She found her dad and her boyfriend using her biscuits for target practice because they were too hard to eat. Her fierceness showed in how she took that embarrassment. She became an incredible cook and we still use her recipes for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. Several of her recipes we use in our daily lives. One does have to remember that at that time women prided themselves on their skills as homemakers. Few married women worked outside the home so cooking and sewing were abilities they worked to perfect.
This brings us to the really Fierce woman part of her story. Not to be married off to a man she didn’t love she wrote to Thomas and told him and he hopped on the next train. Isabelle told her parents she was going to visit a girlfriend in Butte. When Thomas arrived he went to the courthouse for a judge who stopped his court proceedings in the middle of a trial to marry them. Isabelle and Thomas jumped on the next train heading to Hot Springs. I know her mother and father must have been distraught but they did reconcile and visited each other often. Isabelle and Thomas raised two daughters in Hot Springs where he was a respected doctor.