Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Historian Marilyn Weymouth Seguin Tells of Courage of Teens Making History!

English: Belle Boyd.
English: Belle Boyd. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Suddenly, Belle realized she would have to run through the gunfire of both armies if she was to reach General Jackson in time to keep the Yankees from destroying the bridges. Belle lifted her heavy skirts of her dress and ran into the crossfire. Artillery shot and shells whistled over her head, not six inches from her leg. Belle was sorry now that she'd worn the white apron, which surely must make her a more visible target in the murky smoke of the gunfire. Still, she continued to run on towards the Confederate lines..."

Young and Courageous:
American Girls Who  Made History

By Marilyn Weymouth Seguin

Seguin has a passion for history and has devoted her professional life to teaching and sharing through her non fiction and fiction writing, such as No Ordinary Lives which I earlier reviewed and which included diaries of teenagers from Maine, including Nathaniel Hawthorne. Her latest is based upon younger girls who became known historically.Based on that history, Marilyn Weymouth Seguin provides fictional short stories for young and old readers and includes a challenge in her Introduction:

"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it." —Mark Twain

“Courage is grace under pressure.”—Ernest Hemingway

How courageous are you?

• Like Sacagawea, would you leave your relatives and travel thousands of miles through the wilderness to help strangers?
• Like Abbie and Rebecca Bates, would you be brave enough to stand up to an entire army?
• Like Emily and Mary Edmonson, would you leave behind your family and everyone you knew and loved for a chance to live free?
• Like Belle Boyd, would you risk going to prison, getting shot at, possibly even getting killed, in order to save what you believe in?
• Like Minnie Freeman, would you risk freezing to death yourself in order to save the lives of others?


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most of us remember Sacagawea from our American History high school classes, but the story presented makes her so much more real! I did not know that her husband was actually the guide, but soon Sacagawea's knowledge and early training showed that she was better able to meet the needs of Lewis and Clark!

Not so well known are Abbie and Rebecca Bates who saved their town against the British, playing the fife and drum!

Of course, nobody knew it, except for the story later told by the two girls. Me, I believe it! And if it is really just a legend, after all, I really don't mind, because it obviously meant something to the people of that time, and has been carried forward as a wonderful message for the youth that followed...

I just know that if I had been alive back when Mary and Emily Edmonson were trying various ways to escape and become free, I would have been helping if I could...Emily was just 13 when she quietly left through the back door to meet Samuel, her brother and then to go on to where Mary worked. She, too, had been waiting .. Would you believe it was when I was also 13 that I met my friend, Marian Davis. She was the first African-American I had ever seen and we became close friends, riding the bus to school together and hanging with others, mostly white. Funny, we never thought about Marian as anything but our friend, who happened to be a lovely shade of chocolate...

Paul Edmonson, their father was a freedman, but their mother was a slave, making all 14 of the children slaves as well... Their attempt to escape didn't happen, but they never stopped working to be freed...And when they were, they became involved in abolitionist circles! And admired for their bravery...

There were quite a number of women acting as spies during the Civil War. I had met Belle Boyd in a novel by Francis Hamit and was pleased to see her included in this book spotlighting the courage of young girls.One of her most famous actions was getting word to General Jackson that there was a plan to capture him, then later to burn the bridges. Neither of these plans were successful due to Belle Boyd!

I would like to have found a picture of Minnie Freeman, the main character in the last story. Although the story of her saving the children she was teaching during an extreme blizzard is still found on several sites, none of the searches I found show a picture--I wondered how old she was at the time. I've seen historical movies where many high school graduates immediately became teachers in their school, so perhaps she was around 17 or 18... And charged with the responsibility of other children who would have been very close in age, but also those who were quite young...

Yet, when an emergency arose, in 1988, Minnie took charge. The Blizzard had been totally unexpected and most of the children had dressed for the warm day that began...but they were later caught in their one-room school! After it was all over, Minnie received 80 marriage proposals! Hey, the men knew they would get a good, courageous wife if she accepted! LOL

Readers will learn of the courage inside of each of the teens who were faced with making decisions, even as early as at the age of 13...Do you have a young daughter, niece, or grandchild that may at some time be faced with the need for acting independently to save her own or somebody else's life? Would she be ready? This might make a perfect stocking stuffer for those you love...

One never knows what is  happening today that will affect tomorrow's history. Aside from helping our young learn about people in history, Reading about the past can help any of us form our future choices and decisions...Check out the many books by Marilyn Weymouth Seguin. I especially enjoy when a historian uses their research to give us fictional stories, based upon actual historical events. If you do too, then I highly recommend Young and Courageous!


Marilyn Weymouth Seguin teaches in the writing program of the English Department at Kent State University in Ohio. 

She is the author of sixteen books (both fiction and nonfiction) and dozens of newspaper and feature articles. She holds degrees in English and Communication from the University of Maine and the University of Akron.

She lives with her husband in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and Gray, Maine. She has two grown children. Visit her at her website at www.marilynwseguin.com
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