N is for Nellie Bly
I am so excited to about today's entry. Today, I want to share with you about one of my American heroines, Nellie Bly. In today's world women and men work side by side in the media but it wasn't too long ago when women reporters and authors were frowned upon. Nellie Bly is someone who changed the course of American journalism for all female reporters.
Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania to Michael and Mary Jane Cochran. Michael and Mary Jane Kennedy had both been widowed before they married. Michael's previous wife had left him with ten children but Mary Jane had no children from her previous marriage. Mary Jane gave him five more children. Nellie was their third child. Of all his children, Nellie was considered to be the most rebellious and was called pinky because she always wore pink.
Michael Bly had spent years buying land around his family's farm and building his mill company. He became a wealthy land owner, businessman and a judge. He was so prominent that the town was named after him. Yet that wealth did not last long for his family. Michael died suddenly when Nellie was six years old. He didn't leave a will thus his second family didn't have a legal claim to his estate. Mary Jane was forced to auction off the mansion. The widow and her five children were financially ruined. In an effort to secure financial security for her children, Mary Jane entered into a new marriage. Yet this proved to be disastrous as her new husband constantly beat her. Mary Jane had no choice but to seek out a divorce but the divorce proceedings did not favor women back then. Nellie witnessed first hand the corruption of the political system against women. She testified at her mother's trial, “My stepfather has been generally drunk since he married my mother.” Her mother was eventually granted her divorce. Once again her mother would face financial hardship. The struggles her mother endured had a lasting effect on Nellie and helped form the woman who pioneered female journalism.
You can read some of her stories here.