Pioneers come in all walks of life. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Pearl Buck, author of “The Good Earth,” was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts of America.
Their stories and others will be told at an event this weekend, “A Night at the Museum – Pioneering Women.”
“The concept behind that is that the characters at the museum come to life,” said Leah Palmer, the event and education manager at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence.
The museum focuses mostly on the stories of the America’s 19th century trails of exploration, trade and migration. But this is Women’s History Month, and for this event at least the museum is widening the scope to women pioneers of many kinds. It’s the fourth time the event has been held.
Barbara Potts, a pioneer in her own right in that she was the first female mayor of Independence, will give some opening comments, and then re-enactors step into the stories of others, such as a woman on the Mayflower; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court; and C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made female millionaire.
“They’ll be in costume. They’ll be in character the whole time,” Palmer said.
Another is Mary Wells Yates, said to have traveled the western trails more than a dozen times. She and her husband made the 800-mile trip from Virginia to Missouri in the 1830s. Then in 1863 – she was 48, widowed, with grown children – there came word of gold in Montana, and she set out, taking her unmarried children with her. She took cows and chickens and sold butter and eggs along the way. She came back to Missouri and then headed west with more of her children. Over the years, she made 11 trips from Missouri to Montana, serving as a guide and selling provisions.
The event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 318 W. Pacific Ave. That’s about three blocks south of the Square and across from the Bingham-Waggoner Mansion.
The cost is $15 for the public and $10 for members of the Friends of the National Frontier Trails Museum. You can pay at the door, but signing and paying in advance is requested. Call the museum at 816-325-7575.