Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Tragic Love Story of Vivia Thomas: The First Female to Enlist in the United States Army

Females have made incredible progress in terms of their collective advancement in numbers and rank within the United States armed forces, particularly since World War II. However, one of the little known episodes in United States military history is the enlistment and death of Private Vivia Thomas (1840-1870), U.S. 6th Infantry, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Her life, one that Hollywood would have a hard time imagining and some call legend, is currently being researched for a book I am writing. She could very well be the first woman ever to enlist in the United States Army, albeit under false pretenses. The photograph to the left is Vivia's tombstone, on the southern end of the Officer's Circle at the center of Fort Gibson National Cemetery, Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. The fact that Vivia is buried in the Officer's Circle, the only enlisted soldier given that honor, gives creedence to her remarkable story.

Vivia's Death

Nearly 140 years ago, on a bitterly cold morning in January of 1870, a lone sentry patrolled the grounds around the U.S. army military outpost called called Fort Gibson, Indian Territory (present day eastern Oklahoma), and discovered the body of one of the fort's soldiers, a young private the soldiers called "Thomas," lying across a grave in the cemetery just north of the fort. The body was taken to Fort Gibson's infirmary, and as the doctor began to perform his examination to determine cause of death, a shocking discovery was made: the soldier was actually a woman..

The doctor immediately reported the strange discovery to the Fort Gibson's commanding officer, and an inquiry began to determine how female soldier had managed to pass herself off as a man and get into the United States Army. It was known that "Thomas" had enlisted in the U.S. 6th Infantry, stationed at Fort Gibson, just a few weeks earlier, but nobody knew the background of young Thomas. Eventually, a minister who assisted the soldiers at Fort Gibson's came forward with one of the strangest stories in American military history. It seems that just a few days before "Thomas" had told the pastor her secret. As the commanding officer and chief medical officer listened minister tell the story of a the young woman named "Vivia Thomas," events were being set in motion that would eventually lead to her burial in the Officer's Circle of Fort Gibson's Military Cemetery.

Vivia's Life as a Boston Brahmin

Vivia Thomas was born into a wealthy family from Boston. From a child, she received all the special privileges of the Boston Brahmin, including the finest education and invitations to all events involving Boston's upper society. It was during one of Boston's elegant parties at the conclusion of the Civil War that Vivia met and fell in love with a handsome Union Army officer.

Boston, Massachussets in the 1860's

The courtship continued and deepened for several months until one day Vivia's family excitedly announced that Vivia was engaged to be married. Wedding plans were announced to the Boston elite, and Vivia's dreams of marriage and family seemed to be on the verge of fruition. Those were happy days for Vivia Thomas.

Sadly, just prior to the wedding day, the young United States Army officer disappeared. He left Vivia a lengthy, apologetic note and explained that though he loved Vivia, he was unsure married life was for him. He wrote that he felt his heart was pulled toward the western frontier and that he had made arrangements with the U.S. Army go west. He wanted adventure. Though he would not specify his post, the letter detailed that he would be stationed at one of the many frontier army outposts of the United State. He did not feel it would be fair to force his wife to leave the comforts of Boston to endure the wilds of the frontier. For this reason, he was breaking the engagement and going west alone.

Broken hearted, and deeply embarrassed for the humiliation she had brought to her own family, young Vivia Thomas determined to leave Boston and go west in search of her lover. Through offical inquiries Vivia learned that her fiance was being stationed at Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory, and one day she suddenly and secretly left her home and family to go find her lover. Her journey west began.

Vivia's Journey West

During the several months it took for Vivia to reach Indian Territory, which included river rafts down the Ohio and Missisippi, and up the Arkansas River, Vivia cut off all of her long, flowing hair and started dressing in men's clothing. She rarely spoke, and would avert anyone's gaze, and would often roughen her face with dirt and coal. At first, her motive had simply been to disguise herself for protection while traveling through rough country as she headed to the frontier to find her lover. The disguise, however, proved successful. Vivia soon became known as "Thomas" and upon arrival at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory via the Arkansas River, she determined to get close to the young officer who had jilted her by enlisting in the 6th U.S. Infantry stationed at Fort Gibson. In those days, when the Army would often receive substitute solders, it was not uncommon for enlisted men to join the ranks of Army Infantry with little knowledge of the soldier's background.

In the weeks that followed, as "Thomas" went about doing various jobs at the fort, including patrolling for Indians, cooking, cleaning and sundry other tasks assigned enlisted men, she was able to hide her identity well. She carefully stayed away from her former lover; but she would watch him closely. Vivia would often find herself vacillating between thoughts of revenge for her hurt and a reunion that would end in an embrace of long lost love.

Vivia's Discovery

One night Vivia decided to secretly follow her former lover as he left the fort. The young officer travelled a short distance from Fort Gibson where Vivia observed him greet with a hug and a kiss a young Indian woman. It seems that the officer had begun a courtship with an Indian woman who lived a short distance from the fort. Vivia would soon discover that her fiance had been making regular evening trips to visit his Indian lover. Vivia followed him through the darkness on many occasions, each time growing more and more bitter.

How could he leave Boston, Massachussets and let her face the humiliation of family and peers? How could he move west and fall in love with an Indian! How could he? The more she thought about what he had done to her, the more the cloud of bitterness descended over her soul.

On a cold winter evening in December 1869, Vivia followed her former lover on his nightly rendezvous with his Indian girlfriend. She waited for him behind an outcropping of stone, debating whether or not to confront him. The longer she waited the more her bitterness motivated her to not reveal herself, but to extract revenge by simply ending his life in payment for how he had ended hers. When the officer finally headed back to Fort Gibson that evening, he rode by on his horse, and Vivia shot him. She never said a word. She never revealed herself to him. She simply shot him, hitting him in the chest and knocking him off his horse. Immediately, she was overcome with overwhelming remorse. She went to where her former lover lie on the ground, only to discover she had shot him dead. With tears streaming down her face, she quickly made her way back to Fort Gibson, where she slipped into her bunk, quietly grieving over the murder.

The next morning, the body of the officer was discovered by a passerby and brought to the fort. The soldiers at the fort assumed that he had been killed by Indians. A small cavalry from the fort went out to search for clues, but in a few days the case was closed. The Indians had ambushed an officer of the United States military.

Vivia's Guilt

The guilt over what she had done overwhelmed Vivia. She continued to leave her quarters every night, but this time she would make her way to Fort Gibson's cemetery. She would go to the young man's grave and weep uncontrollably, praying for forgiveness. Within a couple of weeks, she broke down and told her story to the minister of the fort. She knew he would be honor bound to not divulge her confession. But a couple of nights later, with temperatures below zero degrees, on January 6, 1870, Vivia went to her former lover's grave. This time she stayed for hours, well into the early morning of January 7th. At reveille, a soldier walking the grounds of the cemetery found the body of the soldier he knew as "Thomas" lying prone across a recent grave. Vivia Thomas had frozen to death.

Upon hearing the story of Vivia Thomas from the minister, the commander and military officers made a decision about the burial for this young lady. They had never liked her fiance in the first place because of his various attachments with the local Indians, and they all felt deep admiration for Vivia because of the courage it took for her to traverse the United States - alone - to find her lover. In their own small way of acknowledging that never in the history of the United States military had a woman ever been enlisted in the infantry, and in appreciation of her dogged determism and heroic courage, they gave to Vivia Thomas a plot in the prestigious officer's ring of the Fort Gibson National Cemetery.

Next time you are near Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, take time to find her tombstone. Every grave holds a story, and Vivia's is one of the more remarkable ones.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Ramesh said...

Google Maps: Fort Gibson National Cemetery

Rex Ray said...


Ramesh said...

A very poignant story.

It's ironic that Columbus originally came to the Americas, as his intention was to discover a route to India. And the native Americans were labelled as Indians. The stories of native Americans "exterminations" are also tragedies on a massive scale similar to the aborigines of Australia.

Great post, Pastor Wade. I am surprised you are able to flesh out the story in great human detail.

Speaking of time periods around 1870-1890 ... we have lots of houses in west philly (close to univ. of penn.) that are from that era. I love old homes. The one I am in is from 1920. A walk around west philly is walk through history. It's old, historic and typical west philly.

Rex Ray said...

You said, “The fact that Vivia is buried in the Officer's Circle, the only enlisted soldier given that honor, gives creedence to her remarkable story.”

I goggled her name and the story is repeated word for word as you told it. But it says it is a legend and an American folk figure.

How do you plan to make it true?

Below is a copy-paste:

Vivia Thomas
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is orphaned as few or no other articles link to it. Please help introduce links to this subject in articles on topics related to it. (February 2008)

This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (February 2008)
This article may not meet the general notability guideline or one of the following specific guidelines for inclusion on Wikipedia: Biographies, Books, Companies, Fiction, Music, Neologisms, Numbers, Web content, or several proposals for new guidelines. If you are familiar with the subject matter, please expand or rewrite the article to establish its notability. The best way to address this concern is to reference published, third-party sources about the subject. If notability cannot be established, the article is more likely to be considered for redirection, merging, or deletion, per Wikipedia:Guide to deletion.
This article has been tagged since February 2008.
Vivia Thomas was an American folk figure.
• 1 The Legend
• 2 Love Blossoms
• 3 A Broken Heart
• 4 A Disguise
• 5 Revenge
• 6 Guilt
• 7 Sources

[edit] The Legend
Legend states that as the sun came up on a bitterly cold morning in January 1870, a sentry patrolling the grounds around Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory discovered the body of one of the fort's troopers, young private Thomas, lying dead across a grave in the cemetery near the fort. The body was taken to the fort's infirmary and as the doctor tried to discover the cause of death, an unusual discovery was made.... Private Thomas, who had enlisted only a few weeks before, was a woman.
As the doctor and the fort's commanding officer pondered just how she had managed to pass herself off as a man and get into the Army, the old priest at the fort came forward with one of the strangest stories in American military history. Thomas had given her secret to the old priest just a few days before her death.

The priest's story was the beginning of the legend of Vivia, which has been told by the people of eastern Oklahoma ever since.

Anonymous said...

The US Department of Veterans Affairs website recounts the legend slightly different in that she contracted pneumonia, collapsed on her lovers grave and died several days later.

"One of the most interesting stories associated with Fort Gibson National Cemetery is the tale of Vivia Thomas. Legend has it this high-spirited daughter of a wealthy Boston family met and fell in love with a handsome young lieutenant at a ball following the Civil War. After several months of courtship, they announced their engagement, but shortly before the wedding he left, leaving only a note that he desired to go West in search of adventure. Broken-hearted and bitter over the abandonment, Thomas went in search of her lover. After learning that he was stationed at Fort Gibson, she set off on a journey of revenge. She cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing and joined the Army. The disguise worked, as the former fiancé did not recognize her. One night as he was returning from a visit with his Native American girlfriend, she ambushed and killed him. Despite an intense investigation, the murder went undiscovered. However, Thomas grew remorseful and began to visit his grave late at night. Eventually she contracted pneumonia from the continued exposure to the cold and collapsed near his grave, dying a few days later. Rather than condemning her actions, her army colleagues were so impressed with her courage in coming alone to the frontier and carrying out a successful disguise that they awarded her a place of honor for burial in the officer’s circle." said...


That is the purpose of researching her life for the book. The story is as old as the hills in eastern Oklahoma, so I will be trrying to separate fact from legend.

By the way, you don't bury legends, you bury people.


Wade said...


That is the purpose of the book. The story is as old as the hills in eastern Oklahoma, so I will be separating fact from legend.

As a little clue, you don't bury legends, you bury people.


Wade said...


Periodically I will write narratives regarding Oklahoma history. The purpose is to expand the online literature regarding little known facts about Oklahoma, such as the "legend" of John Wilkes Booth dying in Enid, Oklahoma and the fact that the actual killer of John Wilkes Booth, Boston Corbett, did die in our fair city of Oklahoma and was buried not 100 yards from the house in which I live.

Anonymous said...

Very long time reader, first time comment. Always enjoy your posts. Very interesting historical piece.

Have you heard of Deborah Samson? She disguised herself as a male and fought for a few years in Washington's army as a Robert Shirtliff (Shurtleff? sp?), and was even wounded in battle. Once discovered, she was quietly discharged, but did eventually receive a government veterans pension. I don't know if she was the first in the US Army, because technically she was in what I guess was called the Continental Army, but thought you might want to know that detail for your book research.
My seven year old daughter did a homeschool history fair project on her/him last year.

Tim Snider - Payne County said...


Thanks my friend. I am familiar with Sampson, but would love to have a copy of your daughter's home school report. If she would consent to me having a copy, please send it to

I am gathering information on women who fought with the U.S. military before they were allowed, by law, to fight. It's a little like women preaching, before they are allowed by the BFM, to do so.


Anonymous said...

WADE wrote: "I am gathering information on women who fought with the U.S. military before they were allowed, by law, to fight. It's a little like women preaching, before they are allowed by the BFM, to do so."

It is amazing that the bfm2k can downplay the role of women and at the SAME TIME, affirm the stature of the scriptures. No integrity in the bfm2k, no 'wholeness' or shall we say 'whole-i-ness'?

bfm2k simpley reflects the prejudices of the few, not the scope of scriptural confirmation of the honorable service of women before God.

Did Deborah or her people question her leadership in the Book of Judges ? No.

the bfm2k allows no Deborahs when the Church needs them the most.

Yes, the modern-day Deborahs will arise to God's service without the dubious 'blessing' of the bfm2k;
and their fruit will be wonderful to behold. :)

Rex Ray said...

People tell me I’m too gullible that I believe everything I hear. Your blog is “Truth and Grace”.

In my old age, I’ve grown to watch out for ‘if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not.’

On the previous post at Jan 30, 12:47 AM, you said, “What I write is fact and only first hand knowledge, not hearsay…”

Upon hearing the story of Vivia Thomas, I went to sleep sad. Two hours later, I thought maybe if something is ‘too sad to be true, it’s probably not’.

You wrote: “However, one of the little known episodes in United States military history is the enlistment and death of Private Vivia Thomas …is currently being researched for a book I am writing. She could very well be the first woman ever to enlist in the United States Army…The fact that Vivia is buried in the Officer's Circle, the only enlisted soldier given that honor, gives creedence to her remarkable story.”

Instead of using the word “episodes”, why didn’t you write ‘legends’?

My prediction for 2009, is researching for your book is a waste of time for the following reasons:

1. The gravestone is probably the daughter of some important officer.
2. Someone saw it and wrote from their imagination.
3. Jilted lovers usually find someone else.
4. Anyone going that far would say, ‘Remember me?’
5. The soft lovely hands of a ‘party girl’ would never match the hands of a man in those frontier days.
6. Men didn’t shave every day, and if they did, where was her beard in the morning? In fact, why did she never shave?
7. No private bathrooms would be a big big problem. (I can see with everyone ‘taking a break’, she would be looking for a bush.)
8. Where did this party girl learn to shoot?
9. Returning to camp, her lover would not be walking his horse, but in a run.
10. It would take a miracle for anyone to make a heart shot at a running horse at night without seeing the gun sights.
11. When love grows to hate, most of the ‘revenge’ is letting the victim know what’s coming to them.

Give it up Wade, or you’ll be like poor L’s looking for the folded napkin in Jewish tradition.

Anonymous said...


still looking, too, but I don't know if it is to be found :) L's

Steve said...

What a great American story! People leaving the soiled East Coast for the Frontier, true love, a successful search, vengeance, remorse, a sacrificial (if accidental?) death, honors from those left behind, the military setting things right, and a beautiful, plain memorial. You have everything you need except Mark Twain or O Henry to pace it out in true western fashion.

Stories like this might resurrect out national culture.

Rex Ray said...

Hi L’s,
Yes, it’s hard to find a road that was never made. Smile

I’d suggest to Wade the fastest research would be in reverse.

That is; look for an officer with the name of Thomas in 1870 that had relatives with the name Vivia Thomas.

Anonymous said...


it's me, L's

I googled up a bunch of stuff about Vivia and ended up in circles, so I don't envy Wade in his research on this one.

I got to thinking about it: anything this juicy: a 'Boston Brahmin' socialite practically left at the altar by that total jerk, would have ended up in the society column or maybe even the main part of the paper.

So Boston library micro-fiche research of the newspapers of that day, might prove revealing. (Road trip for Wade: and Boston ain't cheap).

Next, the Boston Historical Society must have some record of the scandal, unless the family somehow kept the whole thing quiet, which I doubt, human nature being what it is.

I am wondering if 'Livia Thomas' was the young woman's original family name. ?

I just LOVE these historical goose-chases. But I'm sure glad I'm not doing the research on 'Livia'. Very interesting story, and obviously Wade is correct here: there IS a real body buried in that REAL grave. L's

Anonymous said...

I find this story sad for several reasons.

First of all, if true, it is not the story of a courageous woman serving in the army before it was allowed, but rather the story of a deranged murderess.

And secondly, it saddens me that a Baptist preacher seems to be holding her up for praise.


Anonymous said...

Linda, you don't get it.
She shot the guy and immediately regretted it.
Then she confessed to the minister.
Then she went to the gravesite repeatedly to pray and mourn.

It is a great story. And it flows so well out of the struggle in human nature between good and evil that I wonder why you 'don't get it'. I find it fascinating, particularly that the woman had enough spunk to go after the guy, although apparently she did go 'just a little' over-the-top when she did him in.
Hell hath no fury . . . .

Alan Paul said...

I'm with you Linda - her remorse notwithstanding.

Ramesh said...

Classic American Ghost Stories By Deborah L. Downer - The Legend of Vivia

Haunted Homeland By Michael Norman - Pg 313
Rex Ray: Some of your questions are answered on Pgs 312 here.


Anonymous said...

I find it wonderful that the Christian soldiers buried her with such compassion in a protected place with the officers.
They knew how to forgive one who had repented and they knew to care for her remains with human dignity.
Some 'old-fashioned' Christianity was not so 'conservative' was it?
It was just showing caring for a human being that had done wrong, suffered, repented, and passed on in their midst.

Maybe 'conservative Christianity ' is a modern creation of people that find no compassion for others who have sinned and repented.

Wade is right. It is a tragic story.

It is a story that can only be understood by those who, knowing their own human weaknesses, would feel a sense of sadness for this woman, not condemnation.

Anonymous said...

This would make a good segment on 'Ghost Hunters'.

Anonymous said...

A great story whether true or legend.

Anonymous said...

This is not a great story.

Let's just reverse the gender roles and put it in today.

Your daughter decides marriage to her fiance is not a good idea. She breaks up with him and moves far away, continuing her career and finding new love.

Her ex fiance tracks her down, stalks her, and finally murders her.

But oh yes--he weeps and mourns over her dead body and is "repentent" and "remorseful". (The common run of things with abusers.)

Still think it a touching story? Or would it nauseate you?

And women do not need such vile abusers held up as shining examples of tragic but brave womanhood.

It is called damning with faint praise.


DL said...

Go Linda!

DL said...


My children had to read a book about a woman named Emma Edmonds who joined the union army in 1861 at the start of the civil war disguised as a man. The book suggests that over 400 women may have fought on both sides posing as men. Just though you might find it interesting. The name of the book is Behind Rebel Lines.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Linda,

I just can't summon any pity for the 'victim' here. He reaped what he sowed: he set her up, he let her plan their wedding, he runs out at the last minute, leaving a note instead of confronting her personally.

And remember, his note said, 'although he loved her . ."
So, he kept the door open so to speak by proclaiming his continued love. This was probably all the encouragment she needed.

I think he encouraged, then pulled back, encouraged, then pulled back. A typical pattern of males who fear commitment. No matter.
Vivia was led. He wrote, 'I love you. She believed him. So she followed. And we know the rest . .

The 'handsome young officer' gets no sympathy here as a 'victim' of a stalker. He practically handed her the gun!

I think the real 'victim' was Vivia. My sympathies are with her tragedy. said...


I appreciate everyone's comments. I've learned a great deal myself, including that there are far more women who fought with the U.S. military disguised as men than I ever dreamed. said...


I would suggest you just chalk this story to legend and get a good night's sleep tonight.


Anonymous said...

Here is the story of a woman pirate from my corner of the world. It was only after she lost her job as a mechanic because her disguise as a man was uncovered that she took to a life of crime.

Her story was suppressed for many years. I think this explains other circumstances which would cause a woman to disguise herself as a man.

"Gertrude Imogene Stubbs was born in 1879, in Whitby, England, the daughter of George Stubbs, a train engineer and his wife, Violet, a seamstress. Whitby was a port town on the east coast of Britain and saw much ocean going traffic, including the famous Captain Cook.

Getrude's family emigrated to Sandon, B.C., Canada in 1895 when her father accepted a job to run trains for the newly completed K & S Railway. Violet was somewhat apprehensive about the decision to move to the wilds of Western Canada, but George was convinced that they could make a good life for themselves in the boomtown.

They travelled to Canada by steamer from England. Gertrude was very taken with life on board the steamer; it made a profound impression that was to forever affect her life.

Less than a month after they had arrived in the thriving town of Sandon, Gertie's mother was tragically killed in an avalanche that destroyed their home on the steep mountainside at the north end of town. Gertie was coming home from her job at a general store in town and witnessed the whole thing. Her heart broken father blamed himself for Violet's death and sank into drinking and gambling, leaving his only child pretty much to fend for herself.

Gertie had to make sure her father actually made it for his shifts and accompanied him on his routes to Kaslo, helping him shovel coal. Finally, as he slid further into debt and depression, she was pretty much doing the actual running of the engine herself to enable her constantly drunken father to keep his job so they would not starve.

After his death in 1896, the Railway refused to allow her to continue working for them because their policies did not include hiring women.

Stranded in Kaslo without a penny after paying off her father's debts, she found that what honest work she could get as a woman paid only starveling wages. After barely eking out a living through the winter, she cut her hair off short, disguised herself as a young man and hired on as a coal hand on the sternwheelers. There she was happy and her knowledge of steam engines soon proved so useful that she was given more responsibilities.

Unfortunately, Gertie's disguise was finally discovered. Her ship and another were racing to establish which vessel had the superior speed when the boiler ran dry. The explosion in the engine room blinded her in her right eye and knocked her unconscious.

Gertie was taken to the hospital where the attending doctor realized she was a woman. Without even compensation for her injury she was given the sack, nor would any other steam company hire her on - nobody hired women.

Furious that she was not allowed to do the work she was good at merely because she was not a man, Gertrude Imogene Stubbs swore vengeance on the steamlines and Gunpowder Gertie was born.

From there little was known about her life until just recently, as most records of her exploits were suppressed by the Provincial Police who were most thoroughly embarrassed by her when she stole their own patrol boat to mount her buccaneering campaign against the paddlewheelers that had treated her so poorly."

Anonymous said...

Here is another. I think this was very common as not all women could be expected to live within the artifical constraints forced on them.

"James Miranda Stuart Barry. (née Bulkeley [?]) Born England 1795. Died 1865. In the day when medicine only accepted men as students one woman disguised herself as a men and entered the Edinburgh University in 1809. As a doctor in the British army she served in the far corners of the British Empire and gained a reputation as an outstanding surgeon. In 157 Dr. Barry was posted to Canada where he was well respected for his fight to provide cleaner hospital facilities and better food for the working soldiers. An odd small “man” with little or no facial hair Dr. Barry was considered an eccentric. It would not be until death, when the body was being prepared for burial that it would be discovered that the renowned doctor was indeed a woman! It must have cause a stir in the Victorian society to have had the first “woman” doctor in the British Army!!!"

There are many lists of British and Chinese women pirates, some dressed as men, but many also eventually known as women. Also the Hudson Bay Company had women who came with them disguised as men. For 200 years no women from the British Isles were allowed on Hudson Bay territory, so not a few came as men.

Anonymous said...

haha - WOW! A boondoggle of a revelation!

"Cut and paste anony" said, "I just can't summon any pity for the 'victim' here. He reaped what he sowed"

The key word here is "HE". That's why you can't summon the pity.

All of your cut and pasting from google searches as you pretend like you care about all when you only care about women has been completely REVEALED...

by who?

By a woman!!!

Go Linda!

Anonymous said...

He led her on and could not sever the ties between them in his letter which said, 'I love you."

So Vivia severed the ties herself.

Rex Ray said...

You put a bright light on a dark subject, when you suggested reversing the gender.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned O.J. for example.

If ever a prominent statue marks his grave, I’m afraid it would be egged, wrapped with toilet paper, or maybe a noose properly attached by those that loved his wife.

With no evidence of target practice on Vivia Thomas tombstone, speaks volumes.

Yes, Wade, I’ll sleep better tonight.

Anonymous said...

When Supreme Court uphold free speech ruling on porn, there is indeed something wrong with the leadership in the country. Maybe it will take a conviction filled woman preacher can straighten them out and convict their consciences.

Anonymous said...


Now you have "conviction filled women" convicting the conscience of men instead of the Holy Spirit?

This is getting sick Wade.

Anonymous said...

Mothers, do this all the time. The problem I see within all these arguments is really not about a woman's abilty ot lead. It is about those who reject and look down upon maternity. Paul allowed for both (I Cor 7). said...

The Anonymous who starts with "Huh?",

If you would sign your name, and be a person of both courage and conviction, I might be able to help you get well.

Otherwise, your sickness is unidentified.

Anonymous said...

In 1 Corinthians 7 the Apostle Paul says,

1. Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2. But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

Further along, Paul continues,

6. But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

There’s that word “concession” again. So many folks get caught up in the “concessions” that God allows in this fallen world instead of making an effort to live by His original intent.

7. Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

8. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them to remain even as I [unmarried].

9. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

Anonymous said...

SUE wrote about 'Gunpowder Gertie'

"Furious that she was not allowed to do the work she was good at merely because she was not a man, Gertrude Imogene Stubbs swore vengeance on the steamlines and Gunpowder Gertie was born.

From there little was known about her life until just recently, as most records of her exploits were suppressed by the Provincial Police who were most thoroughly embarrassed by her when she stole their own patrol boat to mount her buccaneering campaign against the paddlewheelers that had treated her so poorly."

WOW. We need some 'Gunpowder Gerties today to clean up some of this SBC mess.

No wonder the big-wigs of the SBC want to keep women down: they are AFRAID of them.
That's it. They are afraid of the women of the Church!
Given the opportunity, the women of the SBC could and would pull a 'gunpowder Gertie' and the nonsense and shenanigans of the last thirty years would be a hated memory.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Linda. I always write out a response to things I disagree about but seldom post them. This story must have hit you just like it did me. If true it is tragic but heroic give me a break. Another thing that caught my attention was Wade's statement "I am gathering information on women who fought with the U.S. military before they were allowed, by law, to fight. It's a little like women preaching before they are allowed by the BFM to do so." I could write a book on that statement but I'll halt here.
Jim Sadler

Anonymous said...

You've got to give Vivia credit for one thing: she was decisive.
So she went 'overboard' a little, I give you that.

As a woman, I do not APPROVE of the shooting, but there is not a woman on the planet who doesn't understand WHY she did it. We women totally get it.

As for male commenters here, what's your problem? You have no problem that Dr.Klouda had to sell her blood to pay her husband's medical bill? That was okay. She was expendible? All's fair in church politics? After all, she was 'just a woman'. Yeah, real fair, guys. Where were you when your 'opinions' really mattered?

If we are going to 'switch' gender roles, here, I think it can be said that 'courage' in a man is often seen as 'something else' in a woman. I won't define 'something else' here for the sake of propriety.

However, I like it that Vivia went after the guy to resolve her confusion.
That took gumption. And apparently, she was well respected in her service to the Army as 'Thomas', so that's a plus.

And if it weren't for the brutality of the emotional abuse of how her 'fiance' had treated her, would she have 'cracked up' and shot the turkey? No.

At least, Vivia was totally repentent, by all accounts.
It was, after all, a grand 'crime of passion'. The classic stuff of legends, yes.

But TRUTH is always stranger than fiction, is it not?

Jeff Rogers said...

I for one am very appreciative of the history of Oklahoma. It is my ancestral home. My Great Great Great Grandfather Gamaliel Rogers who married a grand daughter of Lewis Clark and fought in the 5th infantry regiment of Indiana during the civil war took a job from the government after the war as a chaplain to the native Americans in Indian Territory as a horseback riding itinerant preacher. He was to preach the gospel to the Indians in the hopes that they would not be war-like but peaceful. He is buried in Cabool, MO. I have pictures of his tombstone on my blog,
Dated Dec 5 2007

His son, my great great grandfather was the first of four consecutive, Samuel N. Rogers, he homesteaded a place called "Dobe Springs" near Buffalo OK. He was given the rights to the land from the government prior to the opening of the Cherokee Strip as payment for his father Gamelial's work with the Indians. His son Samuel II continued homesteading, sending his children to the land grant school in Manhattan Kansas. most of his eight kids were teachers in western Oklahoma having graduated from Kansas State University. My grandfather was the third generation to graduate from Kansas State and the only one of his nine siblings to leave the area of North west OK and South West KS (mostly Meade, KS and Buffalo, OK). He worked for the diamond match company working with a team of chemists to perfect the "Strike anywhere" match. But during World War II he was recruited with a team of Chemists, given the rank of Leiutenant in the Army and sworn to secrecy and worked on the Manhattan Project. His major contribution was the design of the detonating mechanism. As a child growing up, he spoke very little about that time. His conscience seemed to be conflicted over the good of ending the war and the destruction that his work contributed to. Much as our country has debated the pro's and con's of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki events. I for one stand proud of my grandfathers work as I do the work of his forebear in the civil war and then preaching the gospel. Both were men who loved peace, and loved Jesus. Both men were caught up by the times of their existence by horrible wars...both of them conducted themselves honorably. I would have been the 5th generation in my family to graduate from Kansas State (go Wildcats),...but I chose instead a career in the Air Force. I cannot help but think that knowledge of my ancestors had a role in that. I love my Lord and can serve him anywhere...but I often feel my heart tugged in the direction of western Oklahoma to meet and greet all those myriad of descendants that I am obviously related to. None in the generations from Gamaleil to my grandfather had less than 8 kids. My grandfather had 11. I have a lot of family scattered across Kansas and Oklahoma. I hear the tug of loyalty and love and betrayal in the story of Vivia Thomas. I love those stories...especially when they are about Oklahoma...Keep it up Wade.

Native Arkansan said...

HAUNTED OKLAHOMA: THE LEGEND OF FORT GIBSON and yer vershun sound an awful lot alike Wade. All tha way down ta whole sentences. Ol' Troy Taylor might have a case fer copyright infrinjment if ya ever publish this in a book.

Native Arkansan said...

'Cept ya left out tha ghostie.

oc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is something I tend to think when comparing Corinthians to the letter to Timothy, isn't Paul addressing something of a particular circumstance that Timothy is dealing with? It looks like much of what he is dealing with the element of very very novice believers in the assembly. We forget that there is very little of a Christian doctrine and heritage developed in this point of history in the church. It is plausible to consider that the Greek myths or OT legalism had a tendency to be integrated if not careful.

Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous 3:28,

I rather think Paul was addressing something HE was dealing with, not that Timothy was. He never did instruct Timothy not to let a woman teach, etc, and in 1 Corinthians 5 (and elsewhere), Paul gives crystal clear instructions. In no uncertain terms.

Anonymous said...

Paul's Letter To Philippians:
a different tone about the women of the Church emerges here:

3 And I make request to you, true helper in my work, to see to the needs of those women who took part with me in the good news, with Clement and the rest of my brother-workers whose names are in the book of life.

4 Be glad in the Lord at all times: again I say, Be glad.

5 Let your gentle behaviour be clear to all men. The Lord is near.

6 Have no cares; but in everything with prayer and praise put your requests before God.

7 And the peace of God, which is deeper than all knowledge, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

8 For the rest, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things have honour, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.

9 The things which came to you by my teaching and preaching, and which you saw in me, these things do, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 But I am very glad in the Lord that your care for me has come to life again; though you did in fact take thought for me, but you were not able to give effect to it.

11 But I will not say anything about my needs, for I am able, wherever I am, to be dependent on myself.

12 It is the same to me if I am looked down on or honoured; everywhere and in all things I have the secret of how to be full and how to go without food; how to have wealth and how to be in need.

13 I am able to do all things through him who gives me strength.

A woman also can do all things through Him who gives her strength.

Paul speaks about the women who took part with him in the Good News. and there is a plea to give a thought to the things of value.
So, where here is Paul's lack of respect for women? I don't see it.
Quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

In response to Cleveland's is just that I have heard some really good women with a historical biblicial basis in their teaching do an exceptional job in teaching about the Scripture. Paul does bring distinction in the type of teaching using a different Greek word when he writes to Timothy in being that of a close knit mentoring-like of teaching.

Anonymous said...

Historical accuracy is important in these matters. They often lay a foundation for truth or heresy. I always heard Roman Catholicism started with the Council of Nicea but came across from some great sources that it actually started about 120 years later when the bishop at Rome began to assert authority over Constantine. Henry Hudson's Papal Power is an excellent source.

Anonymous said...

Constananople... I mean

Anonymous said...

Fundamentalist Christianity, is a movement that arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wikipedia

Anonymous said...

Who attended the Nicene Council ?

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous of Sat Jan 31, 11:26 AM

How do you apply your Scripture verses to the post?

After you quote 1 Corinthians 7:6, (“But this I say by way of concession, not of command.”) you say,

“There’s that word “concession” again. So many folks get caught up in the “concessions” that God allows in this fallen world instead of making an effort to live by His original intent.”

What does “not of command” mean?

I believe the English Temporary Bible captures the meaning: verse 7:6

“In my opinion that is what should be done, though I don’t know of anything the Lord said about this matter.”

WHAT? Paul, don’t you understand? Every word you say is out of the mouth of god.

Don’t say things like that are we’ll have to call you a liar. Oops how can we do that and say 100% of what you say is true?

With this verse, woe oh woe is the inerrantists.

If all Christians took Paul’s advice not to marry, how many Christian children would there be to carry the gospel to the next generation? Didn’t he know God wanted them to populate the earth?

In my opinion, this is just one more place in the Bible that Paul’s opinion is talking through the top of his hat.

Bob Cleveland said...


Since ALL scripture is inspired by God, are you saying God was talking through ....

nahhh ... you CAN'T mean THAT!

Or do we get to pick & choose what is and isn't "scripture"?

Anonymous said...

There is a principle Petere states about Paul's letters being weighty at points where unlearned men my distort and destroy themselves. Either side of the issue we need to be careful with Paul's intentions.

Rex Ray said...

Yes, all Scripture is inspired by God.

And yes, “…the Bible has…truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter and that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy.”

I believe as Michael Whitehead, lawyer for the SBC, said (you’ve heard me say this a dozen times)

“without any mixture of error” means the truth of the Bible is true, and the untruth of the Bible is untrue”.

Too sleepy to continue…more later.

Rex Ray said...

Examples of ‘untruth’ in the Bible in the form of lies:

1. Lies of the devil.

2. Lies of Peter: “I never knew him.”

3. Lies of Moses: “And the Lord was even angry with me because of them and said to me, ‘You shall not enter the Promised Land’.” (Deuteronomy 1:37 3:26 4:21)

Example of ‘untruth’ in the Bible in the form of ignorance or not knowing the truth.

1. After Jesus said he would be killed, Peter said, “God would never let this happen to you, Lord!” (Matthew 16:22)

2. “The leader of the demons gives him the power to force out demons.” (Matthew 9:34)

3. “…go where more people can see your miracles, they scoffed. If you’re so great, prove it! For his brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:3-5)

4. “Each of you will go back home and leave me by myself. But the Father will be with me, and I won’t be alone.” (John 16:32) vs. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Bob, we don’t get to pick and choose what is and isn’t “Scripture”, the Holy Spirit does.

As wind separates chaff from grain, the Holy Spirit separates untruth of men from truth of God.

Bobbertsan said...

"She could very well be the first woman ever to enlist in the United States Army, albeit under false pretenses. "

Weren't there women who enlisted in the Civil War disguised as men?

concerned mom said...

Great story whether true or false.Lesson is: not every truth is to be discovered.A search for the truth led to greater heartbreak and Vivia's demise.She may have found a better man if she didn't pursue the bastard.

John Carr said...

Back in Nov., '09, I had read the story of V. Thomas, and being a songwriter, I immediately sat down and wrote a song, based on that account.Finding your website about her made me want to let you know that you are welcome to a (rough) recording I made some time ago. Your account is nearly the same. I would be glad to send you a copy of my song on cd. All I ask is that you recognize me as the composer. Thanks!

John Carr

Joan said...

Paul is not God.

It's pretty clear from the history of the world that we are created to mate with people and that most of us will as a result have children.

If you look at this little piece of Paul where he is acting as if marrying and having children is some lesser path, just because he himself was celibate, and pretend that that's God's word not Paul's, you are turning human history and nature on its head.

That particular translation with concession and command can be translated and has been translated differently, but basically Paul is putting forth the idea that women should not be part of your community. That women should be avoided. That it is somehow inherently sinful to do what is for the majority of people the most natural thing in the world, to marry and love another human being and bring forth children.

To be clear, I am addressing something very specific and very limited, that some other commenter has brought up. There's a commenter here Who's acting as if it would be somehow Superior to follow Paul's word. So you're deciding that Paul's word is superior over God's?

The very first book of the bible, Genesis, says that He made them male and female. The very first book of the Bible treats the issue of human marriage. Paul cannot overturn that with his repulsion towards women.

Joan said...

As to Linda's comments, I agree, if the genders we're reversed, you would clearly see a story that no one would think of as brave. Yes, in this Legend we think of Vivia as brave because she did something that was unusual for a woman, but was it? Clearly the history of humanity involves lots of hard-working women and hunting women and so on.

Maybe we think it was Brave for a woman of her class? But in fact Boston Brahman women went on safaris and so on, so maybe she wasn't really that exceptional, and it is just your sexism that makes her seem exceptional. I believe there are several books about women who wanted more interesting lives and dressed as men.

As to the naysayer up above who says that it's unlikely that this could have happened, we know for a fact that many women disguise themselves as men successfully, we also know that many upper class individuals through exposure to the elements and hard work roughened their hands and their faces. We do know that this is true so your objection is silly.

Joan said...

As to the folks who say that it's absolutely what this young man deserved, to be stocked and killed, you are essentially saying that no one can change their mind. No one can decide to break off an engagement. That if you're going to break off an engagement and you don't do it just right, that justifies being murdered. I'd like you to think about that.

I mean it is not right to trifle with someone's emotions, but many times folks are indecisive or torn, want to do something with their lives but at the same time form romantic attachments. And no one is obligated to marry anyone else when they haven't been able to fully make peace with the idea. You don't deserve to die for that.