Helen Hunt Jackson
Adopted by Doris Sky
Helen Hunt Jackson led a hard life on the frontier
plains; she lost her husband and two children during her lifetime.
she was among the first authors to draw attention to the condition
of the American Indian through her two books, "Ramona" and "The
Helen was born into a pious, scholarly
household on October 15, 1831, in Amherst, Massachusetts. She
was a high-spirited, strong-willed,
fun-loving child in spite of her Calvinist environment. Although
opposite in temperament, Jackson and Emily Dickinson formed a friendship
in childhood that would last throughout their lives. Her mother
died of tuberculosis when Jackson was 12, and her inflexible father,
a minister and professor at Amherst College, died three years later.
She enrolled at the Abbott School in New York City and earned
a reputation as a scholar. When she was 21, she married Captain
Edward Hunt, a West Point graduate. Early in their life together
a son died in infancy, but another son was born in 1855. During
the Civil War Edward was killed in an accident while working on
a one-man submarine he had invented. Four years later, Jackson
buried her second son, then age 9, a victim of diphtheria. As the
widow re-emerged into the world, she began to write verse for therapy
and for self-support. Her writing was an almost immediate success
but her health was not robust. Her doctor insisted she seek relief
in the "curative air of the Rockies." In 1875, she married a prominent
Colorado Springs citizen, William Jackson.
On one of her trips back east, she attended
a reception and met members of the Indian Commission. The Ponca
Chief, Standing Bear,
told Helen of the tragic plight of his people. His interpreter
was Bright Eyes. Helen said she would help raise funds for the
Ponca People so they could return to their land. "I have done now,
I believe, the last of the things I have said I would never do.
I have become what I have said a thousand times was the most odious
thing in the world - a woman with a cause," she wrote a friend.
She defended the Ute and in Colorado, it was said she was without
a sympathizer in the state. She stood her ground and wrote A Century
of Dishonor, which she considered her most important book.
Helen was described as "the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly
individual woman in her time". She rose above personal tragedy
and became on of the most successful writers of her day. She included
as her friends, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver
Wendell Holmes. Through her dedication to Indian reform during
the last five years of her life, she wrote herself into American