Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Women Who Disguised Themselves as Men

Josie Malone, author
Women Who Disguised
Themselves as Men
by Josie Malone
Copyright © 2012 Shannon Kennedy

March was “Women’s History Month” and as the saying by George Santanyana goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The difficulty in writing about women is that we are often not taught about those who came before us. When I was growing up, it seemed that the world was overrun with rules about what a “good girl” could and couldn’t do. I thought my grandmother was an aberration because she insisted upon working beside my grandfather in a real-life game of Monopoly until I went to Washington State University and began taking classes in a subject I’d never even heard of before, Women’s Studies.

And it changed my life. By learning my history, it brought the stories I told to a new level. Writing stories about women, whether it’s a romance or a young adult novel, always poses a challenge, even when I’m sure I already know the answers either as Josie Malone or Shannon Kennedy. I write mainstream western romance as Josie and young adult stories as Shannon.

In my book, A Man’s World, the main character disguises herself as a man in 1888 Washington (State) Territory. She successfully masquerades as a man throughout the story, fooling everyone but the hero. Surprisingly for most readers, this wasn’t an unusual occurrence in the Old West. Women might be expected to dress appropriately, but there were always those who didn’t.

Albert Cashier

Albert Cashier aka
Jennie Irene Hodgers

During the Civil War, Albert Cashier was born Jennie Irene Hodgers in 1843. In 1862, Hodgers disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry Regiment under the name Albert Cashier. The regiment was under Ulysses S. Grant and fought in over 40 battles. Cashier managed to remain undetected as the other soldiers thought she was just small and preferred to be alone. Cashier was captured in battle but managed to escape back to Union lines after overpowering a guard. She fought with the regiment through the war until 1865.

After the war, Cashier continued to live as a male, convincing everyone around her. For forty years Cashier worked as a church janitor, cemetery worker and street lamplighter, she voted as a man, and claimed a veterans pension. In 1910, she was hit by a car and broke her leg. A doctor discovered her secret but agreed to keep quiet. In 1911, Cashier moved to a soldier’s retirement home. After her mind began to deteriorate, attendants gave her a bath and discovered her true sex. She was forced to wear a dress from that time on. Cashier died in 1915 and was buried in her military garb. Her tombstone carried the words: “Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf.” – when she was finally traced back to Jennie Hodgers, a second tombstone was erected with both names on it.

Charley Parkhurst
Another famous woman who lived as a man was Charley Parkhurst, renowned stagecoach driver in California and I referred to her story in A Man’s World.

Charley Parkhurst aka
Mary Parkhurst

Everyone knew that "Mountain Charley" Parkhurst was one of Wells Fargo's most colorful stagecoach drivers. But until the day he died, no one knew his secret. Weighing close to 175 pounds and around five feet seven inches tall, he had broad shoulders and was beardless. Charley had big arms, a rather sharp, high-pitched voice and early on had learned to hold his own. He preferred sleeping in stables with the horses rather than going out with the boys. A patch over one eye was evidence of an encounter with a horse that obviously didn’t realize who it was dealing with; but the other gray eye, sharp as a hawk’s, squinted out from under a battered hat that shaded a leathery, brown face.

He smoked cigars, chewed tobacco, drank moderately, played cards, and shook dice for cigars and drinks; always cheerful and agreeable, but always reticent about personal matters. Those who rode with Charley said he was as skillful, as resourceful and as hard-boiled as any driver in the Sierras. His secret...Charley was a woman.

Little Joe Monaghan

Little Joe Monaghan

A third woman who successfully hid her gender was Little Joe Monaghan who lived as a man for nearly forty years in Idaho. Her story eventually became the movie, The Ballad of Little Jo, but the real life story is much more interesting than the Hollywood version. Just ask our wonderful blog hostess, Jacquie Rogers who knows all about her (Scandal: Little Joe Monaghan).

In conclusion, as my heroine says in my newest book, A Woman’s Place is “what and where she chooses to make it.” And we do have to know our past in order to create a future for ourselves and our daughters, one where they can truly do whatever they choose. One where they don’t have to pretend to be something they’re not, but can indeed be true to who and what they are.

♥ ♥ ♥
My newest release came out in April from BookStrand and it was fun to write especially since it was a spin-off of my first book, A Man’s World. In that historical western romance, Trace Burdette masqueraded as a man, fooling everyone but new neighbor, ruggedly handsome Zebadiah Prescott. With their love on the line, they had to deal with the past and the outlaw who killed her grandfather and stalked her. By the time that A Woman’s Place begins, Trace and Zeb have been married for just over six months when renegades rob the bank she owns in the town of Junction City.

So, our hero, Rad Morgan, the marshal of Junction City sets off to capture the miscreants. Along the way, he meets his match, and Iraqi War veteran/homicide detective Beth Chambers takes no prisoners. She’ll fit right into 1888 Washington Territory. Of course, I had to figure out how to get a woman from 2012 to the Old West and why she was even there, but that was part of the adventure and the paranormal elements kept escalating. Much to Rad’s initial dismay, Beth and Trace become fast friends.

A Woman’s Place blurb:

Trailing a serial killer, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers is thrust into 1888 Washington Territory where she encounters injured Rad Morgan, a ruggedly handsome marshal who believes A Woman’s Place is behind her man. Now, Beth must save Rad’s life, apprehend the killer, and prove herself capable as a law officer.

Former soldier and survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp, Marshal Rad Morgan faces his toughest challenge in Beth Chambers, a determined woman from the future who’s never learned “her place.” But when he is shot and left for dead, he must put himself in Beth’s hands if they both want to survive.

Can these two headstrong people put their pride aside and work together to find the deadly killer and stop him before he destroys this world and their future? As they fight for justice, love helps them discover A Woman’s Place is what and where she chooses to make it.

Where you can buy A Woman's Place:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Bookstrand

Josie Malone bio:
As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell was a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest.

Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State in what was once a summer vacation cabin. It’s been modernized and even has indoor plumbing – woo-hoo! I share the cabin with my two cats or maybe, they share it with me.

I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 36 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.

With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!


  1. Enjoyed the post! Very interesting and YAY for these women who lived as they wanted!

  2. Josie, reading your bio made me tired. You must have a lot of energy to accomplish so much and still find energy to write. I'll look forward to reading your books now that I've "met" you.

  3. Love history stories like this, where women adapt to navigate the men's world (exception in fiction: YENTL, which was just plain silly IMO). Very informative post.I just added A WOMAN'S PLACE to my To Be Read (TBR) file.


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