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July 27

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.

Mary Peck Butterworth


QUOTE by Isadora Duncan.

Mary Peck Butterworth, Colonial Counterfeiter

In 1722 Mary Peck Butterworth's husband bought her a huge, fancy house that aroused the suspicion of authorities. (She couldn't buy the house herself because the law forbade married women owning anything on their own. It all belonged to the husband.)
      Even though the couple was investigated by the authorities - and two of their "gang" turned state's evidence - there were no convictions. Seems that Mrs. Butterworth, born this day in 1686, developed a currency-counterfeiting process that used cloth that was immediately burned instead using the usual counterfeiting tell-tale copper plates. The cloth "plate" evidence went up in flames after each use so the prosecution's evidence disappeared in smoke. According to the evidence given against her by her relatives who assisted her, she used a hot iron to press a piece of starched cotton over a bill to transfer the pattern. Using the same method she transferred the pattern to paper from the cloth.
      Then with a series of quills, she inked the note by hand into an almost perfect note. She organized a true kitchen-cottage industry, using her family including her brother and his wife who turned state's evidence. She was said to be a tough task boss. She got so good at the business that she expanded her operation into wholesaling bogus bills at half price.
      Members of the organization were arrested, but all were acquitted. It is said she gave up counterfeiting after that.

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B. 07-27-1768, Charlotte Corday - French anarchist. She assassinated French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat for political purposes while he was in his bath. The scene was illustrated many times. He regularly received visitors while bathing, a common thing in those days. She was guillotined.

Event 07-27-1777: The beautiful Jane McCrea was murdered and scalped for her long blond hair supposedly by Indians allied with the British General Burgoyne.
      Subsequent investigation indicated she might have been killed by a stray shot and not by Indians. The scalping horrified everyone and helped unite the colonies against British rule.

B. 07-27-1841, Linda Richards - U.S. nurse and educator. She received the first diploma from the first school of nursing opened in the U.S. LR went on to establish training schools for nurses as well as directing several hospitals.
      She had worked in a mill to finance her nurses training and her lungs were damaged from the mill work.

B. 07-27-1849, Vera Ivanovna Zasulich - Russian revolutionary who shot the governor of St.Petersburg yet was acquitted in a sensational trial. She was a founding member of the first Marxist organization in Russia but broke with the revolutionaries, favoring legal political activities over violence. [Material submitted by WOA reader Heather Rose Jones who is related to VIZ on her father's side and is gathering material for a biography.]

B. 07-27-1853, Lucy Maynard Salmon - Vassar College's first history teacher. As a full professor, she was instrumental in expanding the Vassar library. She taught history as a record of daily life rather than reciting official governmental acts and wars.
      In 1926 a Vassar College fund for research was established in her name.

B. 07-27-1878(?), Genevieve Rose Cline - first woman appointed a U.S. federal judge. GRC got her law degree at 44. President Harding appointed her as an appraiser of merchandise shipped through customs in Cleveland, Ohio.
      In spite of strong objections because she was a woman, she won confirmation in the U.S. Senate as Judge in the Customs Court and served in that capacity 1928-1953.

B. 07-27-1930, Shirley Williams - British member of Parliament and government official. Her mother was writer Vera Brittain (Catlin) whose books were specifically burned by Adolph Hitler.
      Hitler held mass burnings of books he didn't like or that disagreed with his philosophy and VB's books were specifically included.

B. 07-27-1948, Peggy Fleming - U.S. figure skater. PF won the national icre skating championships five straight years and won the 1968 Olympic singles title in the most spectacular performance of a woman on ice to that date. She included leaps and maneuvers that no woman had ever done before in competition.
      She'd spent nearly 20,000 hours in years before age 10 to age 20 to realize her dream, but the victory-memory will always be terribly bruised because her father died of a heart attack only minutes after her victory.

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      "No woman has ever told the truth of her life. The autobiographies of most famous women are a series of accounts of the outward existence, of petty details and anecdotes which give no realization of their real life. On the great moments of joy or agony they remain strangely silent."
            -- Isadora Duncan in her biography My Life (1927).

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