Bridget Biddy Mason: From Slave to Businesswoman


A biography profiling the life of Bridget "Biddy" Mason, a former slave who won her freedom in California, and later worked as a nurse and helped others. Includes source notes and timeline.
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A biography profiling the life of Bridget "Biddy" Mason, a former slave who won her freedom in California, and later worked as a nurse and helped others. Includes source notes and timeline.
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Editorial Reviews

Bridget "Biddy" Mason began life in 1818 as a slave in Georgia and died in 1891 as one of Los Angeles's wealthiest women. Owned by Robert and Rebecca Smith, a Mormon family, Mason was part of the trek to Utah. She walked the entire journey, caring for her three children, including a newborn baby, and the livestock. The Smith family relocated to California, a free state. When Smith tried to sneak his slaves out to move to Texas, Mason went to court to sue for her freedom. Declared "forever free" by Judge Benjamin Hayes, Mason remained in Los Angeles, becoming a well-respected midwife, landowner, and founder of the city's first AME Church. There is a paucity of information about Mason's early life (only one photograph of her is known to exist), but Williams has fleshed out her book with good information on the period and the Mormon trek west. This series presents a nicely balanced collection of biographies from the American Frontier era including Native Americans, women, African Americans, and white men. Although there is conformity in pagination and types of materials included, each volume has a different author and stands alone as a good read, suitable for both school assignments and pleasure reading. Time lines covering the person and the major events are included, and plentiful sidebars and illustrations, maps, and photographs add depth to the text. Other titles in the series include James Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer; Crazy Horse: Sioux Warrior; Geronimo: Apache Warrior; Sam Houston: Texas Hero; and Sarah Winnemucca: Scout, Activist, and Teacher. (Signature Lives: American Frontier Era). VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Compass Point Books, 112p.; Glossary. Index. Illus. Maps. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology., PLB . Ages 11 to 18.
—Roxy Ekstrom
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-These titles introduce women who helped shape the nation. While they focus on the individuals, they occasionally oversimplify information. For example, Williams states that when Mason traveled with the Mormons and came across Native Americans, "The encounters were usually pleasant, and Mormon Trail diaries tell of friendly trading.-" The successes of the lone individual are often emphasized and pinpointed as a moment that started to influence all of history. In Warren, the woman's brother is given credit for planting "the seed of patriotism in America" and beginning the fight for freedom when he openly opposed British rule in the courtroom. Terms are not well defined within the texts or do not appear in the glossary. The time lines of each woman's life are attached to a chronology of world events at the end of the book. The juxtaposition of Mason moving to California in 1851 with postage stamps being widely used in 1852 fails to elicit a connection. The only electronic link mentioned is FactHound, which "will find the best Web sites for you." While it lists eight sites for each book, they aren't necessarily "the best" and don't empower readers to locate information on their own.-Kelly Czarnecki, Bloomington Public Library, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jean Kinney Williams lives and writes in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to biographies, her nonfiction books for children include several books in the Profiles of the Presidents series and the We the People series for Compass Point Books.
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