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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Livermore - "Loyal Cows and Hens" - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

A last minute request to do my Civil War program for Cromaine Public Library at the Hartland Senior Activity Center this Tuesday at 7 p.m. sent me reviewing my Civil War material to be sure and meet their program title of "Not Just a Man's War."

I will, as usual, portray Liberetta Lerich Green, whose family were abolitionists operating an Underground Railroad Station in Shelby Township.  Her brothers both were in Michigan Infantry regiments.  Younger brother, Isaac (Ike), was in the 3d Michigan Infantry alongside his brother, Will, in the 5th Michigan Infantry.  I've paid a lot of attention to the 5th, but the 3d was even more decimated so that Ike may have mustered in as a bugle boy, but by the time he finally left the military in San Antonio, he was a major.  Along the way he wound up eventually in the fighting that left the Potomac and went out to the southwest.  I can well believe he had at least a nodding knowledge of the Memphis Hospital where Union Soldiers were treated.

Mary Ann Bickerdyke in 1898
Mary Ann Bickerdyke, known as Mother Bickerdyke for her caring nature as hospital administrator is the subject of today's story written by Mary Livermore, who was a kindred spirit.  Livermore was a 19th century reformer journalist, abolitionist, and early advocate of women's rights who headed the United States Sanitary Commission, a private aid agency  for soldiers in the war who were sick or injured.  Chicago also features in this story because that was where the U.S.S.C. was headquartered.  The paragraph on Women in the USSC is worth reading for a highly condensed view of Women in the Civil War.

Families throughout the Union with sons, brothers, and husbands in the fight were eager to send food to help soldiers in the hospitals.

After the story of "Loyal Cows and Hens" I will add an incident from the Wikipedia article for yet another view of how this woman was an unstoppable force.

The story starts with a few lines that wouldn't size up properly with my scan of Livermore's story.  With so little, it's easier to type the introductory section.

"Loyal Cows and Hens" 

It was more difficult to supply the hospitals with milk and eggs than with any other necessaries.  With the supplies furnished by government, the tea, coffee, sugar, flour, meat and other like articles,

And this paragraph from the opening of the Wikipedia paragraph about her Civil War service:
Mary Bickerdyke served in the Civil War from June 9, 1861 to March 20, 1865, working in a total of nineteen battles.[7] Bickerdyke was described as a determined nurse who did not let anyone stand in the way of her duties.[8] Her patients, the enlisted soldiers, referred to her as "Mother" Bickerdyke because of her caring nature.[9][10][8] When a surgeon questioned her authority to take some action, she replied, "On the authority of Lord God Almighty, have you anything that outranks that?"[11][12] In reality, her authority came from her reputation with the Sanitary Commission and her popularity with the enlisted men.[13]
Wikipedia also tells of the "Loyal Cows and Hens" she acquired, saying General Hurlbut set aside President's Island as pasture for them -- along with permitting her chosen staff of escaped and former slaves to tend them.
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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