The historical accounts of Cobalt, Temiskaming, and points beyond predominantly feature the exploits of the men. Women very rarely merit a mention despite their equally important contribution.
If and when, however, a gal managed to get her name in the headlines, it was because her story was sensational.
Take for example, the Lady Prospector Caroline Maben Flower. The picture above was captured over 100 years ago when she came to Northern Ontario to take part in The Porcupine gold rush.
Caroline was newsworthy then and her story continues to create interest today. This picture has surfaced several times in my news feed. Just recently, she appeared again on the Historic Northern Ontario group on Facebook.
Site admin Richard Lamoureux wrote , “[She] registered claims throughout the Porcupine district and rallied a gang of men on her Turnbull properties to further develop them. Aside from her prospecting ventures, Caroline, a graduate in music in New York, Berlin and Paris, offered piano and harmony lessons, accepting only a limited number of pupils. Those interested were to apply at the Goldfields hotel.”
“Though there is little information on Flowers[sic], it is evident that she was hardworking and full of ambition.”
Of course, that’s the line that jumped off the screen at me. The part about “little information”.
I love a good research challenge.
And that’s what I’ve been up to since before Christmas: tucking into the records on Ancestry and the newspaper archives.
I have been able to connect the dots from when she was Katrina Pugh of Minnesota to Caroline Maben of New York, and then Caroline Maben Flower when she lived in an exclusive Manhattan neighbourhood in a top-floor apartment.
Caroline was used to having her name in the limelight. Notices of her social engagements appeared frequently in the Minnesota and New York newspapers. However, she would have deeply regretted the headlines that appeared at the end of February 1906, when the most unusual story broke across the entire country.
“Woman Thief Well Known to “The 400.” San Francisco Call
“Rich Society Woman’s Dual Life Exposed” St Louis Post Dispatch
“The Strange Case of Mrs. Flower of New York.” Salina Evening Journal
“Woman’s Double Life: sort of a feminine Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Iola Daily Record
Now, is that a story, or is that a story?
I was about to finish writing the piece and was all set to publish this weekend. Then I received some breaking news of my own.
There’s a diary.
This morning, I received a message from Caroline’s great-grandniece who wrote, “I can confirm that she kept a diary. I can also confirm that Caroline Pugh was quite a character, whose real life story would make a good historical article, short story or even a book.”
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that I have to pause the writing until I get more information from the journals!
But that’s a good problem to have, right?