March is Women's History Month, and in honor of the occasion, here are a few of our best entries on the experience of women in Virginia.
Cockacoeske and Ann
A descendant of the famed paramount chief Opechancanough, Cockacoeske was the Pamunkey Indian chief from about 1656 until 1686. She united several tribes and even helped to defend the colony during Bacon's Rebellion. Ann was her niece and successor.
Grace Sherwood and Witchcraft in Colonial Virginia
Witchcraft was not just a New England problem. Virginians worried about it, too. Grace Sherwood was the most well-known of the accused witches, and these entries describe her trial and even provide a transcript of the proceedings.
One of the most mysterious and talked-about women of her day and ours, Sally Hemings belonged to Thomas Jefferson. She lived with him in Paris and at Monticello, perhaps bearing his children. Our entry looks at the evidence and provides the most comprehensive guide to Hemings on the web.
Elizabeth Van Lew, Mary Bowser, Antonia Ford, and Belle Boyd
Women largely did not fight during the Civil War, but on the home front some served as particularly effective spies. These four are among the most interesting, with Van Lew and her one-time slave, Bowser, working for the Union, and Ford and Boyd the Confederacy.
Mary Custis Lee
She was the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and the wife of Robert E. Lee. But Mary Custis Lee also was an artist, an author, and early in her life an antislavery activist. In her later years, she was an ardent defender of her husband's legacy. Few women were more interesting or complex than Mrs. General Lee.
Women Suffrage, Equal Suffrage League, Adèle Clark
These entries trace the long struggle by Virginia women to gain the right to vote. While efforts began as early as the 1870s, the Equal Suffrage League was founded in 1909, in Richmond, by a group that included the artist Adèle Clark. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified a decade later, although Virignia delayed its official approval until 1952.
Women received the right to vote in 1919, but Virginia's first woman member of Congress did not take office until 1993. A native of Salt Lake City, Leslie Byrne moved to Falls Church with her family in 1971 and has served in both the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia.
(Image: Adèle Clark in 1973, courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch)