Category Archives: A chance for love
Love conquers all. Eventually, right? One of my favorite stories of a determined man finally winning the heart of his beloved is the true tale of Ethel and John Love. Yes, Love. This is the story of a girl who held out against this love-struck sheepherder for five years…but John wore her down. I hereby republish this blog from 2012.
Again, I am intrigued to read between the lines. A city girl leaves Denver, degree in hand, to accept a job as a teacher on a Wyoming ranch. Her classroom consists of seven students. During her school year, she meets her future husband, a handsome, ambitious sheepherder. It takes this stubborn Scotsman five years and dozens of sappy letters to convince Ethel to accept his proposal. What was she waiting on?
Born into a relatively wealthy family, Ethel Phoebe Waxham was a fearless young thing with a big heart. She spent a summer volunteering in the slums of New York if that tells you anything. In 1905 she finished at Wellesly and took a job teaching the children on the Red Bluff Ranch in Wyoming. Her letters indicate she fell madly in love with the place and its people, but not so much with rancher John Love. Oh, she liked him well enough and appreciated the fact that he made the eleven-hour ride to see her several times during the school year. Ethel, though, apparently wasn’t ready to settle down. She had, you know, places to go, people to see, things to learn. Or was she simply afraid marriage might mean her life would pass into obscurity?
At the end of that first teaching job, she enrolled in the University of Colorado to obtain a master’s in literature. That’s when the letters started arriving. Lots of them. John Love made no secret of why he was writing. Ethel needed to be his wife and he would wait for her. No matter how long it took. Unless and until she married another.
When Ethel received her degree in 1907, she took a job in Wisconsin, again as a teacher. Still the letters followed. And she answered, often with an apology that she shouldn’t. She didn’t want to give him false hope, after all. Once she even scolded him for closing his letter with “ever yours,” instead of the customary “sincerely yours.” Yet, Ethel did not entwine her life with any other men. She didn’t often attend dances or parties. Strange girl. It’s almost as if she was the female version of George Bailey. Perhaps restless, she moved back to Colorado in 1908 and continued her work, but where was her heart, I wonder?
Ethel spoke four languages, enjoyed writing, especially poetry, even staged theatrical productions. But that sheepherder, who by now was doing pretty well for himself, wouldn’t give her any peace. Finally, this fiercely independent American girl caved. The two were married in 1910 and remained together the rest of their lives, happy by all accounts.
If you’d like to know more about John and Ethel, check out this piece from PBS. It’s worth the read.
I have a confession. I blush at the drop of a hat. I can blush if the wind changes direction. Go figure. It’s supposed to be the sign of a strong heart. But it gives me away, whether I’m hiding anything or not. People assume I’m embarrassed or lying about something. Hence, this would be a debilitating trait for a spy to have. Somehow, though, Emily Geiger overcame flaming cheeks to deliver some important intelligence during the Revolutionary War.
Emily was the daughter of Swedish immigrants and ardent patriots. During the Revolutionary War, they did everything they could to further the cause of freedom. Emily’s father, however, couldn’t fight due to some health issues.
When General Nathaniel Greene needed a dispatch sent to General Thomas Sumter, Emily reportedly volunteered her services. The territory between the generals was crawling with British soldiers. The details are, of course, myth and legend, but supposedly she argued a woman, nay, a young girl, would get through much easier than a man because she would not arouse suspicion. Greene agreed and entrusted her with a message for Sumter.
Emily was intercepted by the British, and, when questioned, blushed. Profusely. Naturally, her captors assumed she was hiding something and called for a woman to search her. By the time an elderly British matron arrived, Emily had eaten the entire message. Finger lickin’ good? I hope so.
Unable to pin anything on the girl, they let her go on her way to her uncle’s house and Emily did, indeed, deliver valuable information to Sumter.
I think the moral here is that just because a fair-haired blonde blushes, she isn’t necessarily hiding something. Then again …
Copyright 2016 Heather Blanton