Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Woman Behind the Man

Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author

We all grew up hearing the stories of the great men, and this post is not denying their contributions. Instead, this is looking at the women in their lives and what impact that relationship may have had. 

For this post, I will be focusing on Verner Z. Reed and his wife Mary Dean Johnson Reed. The two made quite a difference during their lives.

Reed, born in Ohio and raised in Iowa, worked on the family farm to help the family, which consisted of thirteen children. Originally, Reed began as a journalist in Chicago at the Times. He later moved to Colorado when his half-brother came seeking a cure for his TB. 

It was in Colorado that Reed flourished. He saw a need for housing in the new town of Colorado Springs and created a business, along with his father and brother to build houses. He also wrote promotional brochures for the city.

In the 1890s as Cripple Creek was booming he took on promotional duties there. He also worked with Winfield Scott Stratton and it was he who helped broker the sale of Stratton's 'Independence' mine to an English syndicate. As a result of his efforts, Reed garnered one million dollars for his work. 

Mary Reed 
from Find a Grave

Reed married in 1893 and after his death in 1919 he left an estate worth around twenty million. Mary used the wealth on various philanthropic endeavors. Even with all she'd done, it was said she added another six million to the estate by the time of her death in 1945.

Much like Julie Penrose and other 'widows' of the wealthy, Mary did much to use the wealth for the benefit of many. In honor of National Women's History Month, Mary and other women like her are worth the effort to learn their story. There is more to be found and written about Verner and Mary Reed, but that is for the future. 

In my novella, "Angel of Salvation Valley" the love of a good woman makes all the difference.

At the top of the ridge, Drew was even more impressed with what he saw. Nestled against the southwest corner was a small cabin, the door facing the entrance to the valley, with glass windows on either side. A small ladder on the outside led to a small hatch entrance above the door. Wooden shingles covered the roof, but Drew saw there were a couple that needed replacing. Still, it was a well–made and cared for home.

"Home I haven't had a home since...," Drew paused, "no point in going down that path," he said, averting the pain he knew would come. As his words died, he heard a sound from the northern part of the valley. The echo of his own words, even though spoken softly to himself, were coming back to him.

Fearing being overheard, Drew started to move from the top of the ridge when he noticed movement in the western area of the valley. Intrigued, he stopped. Coming toward him was a lithe, dark–haired woman. Her movements were easy, as were those of the huge brown and black dog cavorting beside her. Sweet laughter filled the air as she bent to speak to the dog.

"Looks quite the storm over toward the north, Rafe," her voice carrying clearly across the valley to where he was hiding. "Good thing we have a snug place to stay. Still, it would be easier if I didn't have to do everything myself."

The dog looked at her, shook his head, and sneezed.

"What's that you say, you help me?" The words drifted up, followed by another peal of golden laughter.

Drew found his heart responding, it'd been so long since anyone around him had expressed such joy. It was bittersweet, for it reminded him of his mother. Shaking his head to clear those thoughts away, he returned his gaze to the woman and dog. He had no business finding anything nice about this woman, if in fact she was the one. Logic told him she was; he instinctively wanted it otherwise. He was here to kill her and gain his freedom, nothing was more important to him than that. Still, a piece of his heart was softening.


Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

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