The Girl Who Dared to Defy : Jane Street and the Rebel Maids of Denver

Setting Jane Street’s story within the wider context of early twentieth century class struggles and the women’s suffrage movement, The Girl Who Dared to Defy paints a fascinating-and ultimately heartbreaking-portrait of one woman’s courageous fight for equality.

Girl Who Dare to Defy
Jane Street Union Organizer
ludlow
Photo #11 WhoWillFeedUs

Marcelina Pedregone, her thin skirt partly ablaze in the early morning light, recalled running hard—sprinting northward toward a fence, then crawling into a smoky arroyo where she could lay flat in the rocky dirt, trying to become invisible from the bullets nipping around her legs and feet like a mad dog. She saw some women dodging flames to desperately help their children reach a well and then scramble inside after them, while others sought safety in a pump house, its walls being chewed by gunfire. Amid their shrieks and wails, Marcelina allowed a brief hesitation to worry about her own children she had left behind, Cloriva and Rodgerio, just four months and six years old. They had been staying with the Valdez and Costa children near Tent No. 58, one of about 150 makeshift homes for Colorado’s southern coalfield miners and their families when someone shrieked, “Dynamite! Dynamite!”

The next day, as survivors straggled into Trinidad, Marcelina asked with parched lips if anyone had news of her children. Not until a “dead” wagon arrived, loaded with fourteen bodies, did she find Cloriva and Rodgerio, smothered, burned, and swollen, along with others who asphyxiated in the Costa death pit.

Over a thousand miles away and almost two years after Ludlow, an obscure young woman—a single mother—simultaneously struggled to support her child and improve her lot. That certain ladies had not empathized with Ludlow’s mothers and children personally offended her sense of feminine integrity. Her name was Jane Street, and she resolved to change the status quo. Jane Street would orchestrate a domestic mutiny against Denver’s Capitol Hill women, that is, against the powerful and elite. The housemaid rebellion would soon make national and local news. It would simultaneously herald club support for women’s suffrage, improved morality, and education of the underprivileged, even as it patronized the efforts of a neglected working class. Jane would face sexist attempts at suppression, including sabotage and betrayal, arrests and abandonment. For this, she deserves more than a small piece of working women’s history. Jane Street never claimed to be a victim, but her tragic life story makes one wonder why she did not.

Jane Street hig
Jane Street Stenographer
getlstd-property-photo
Egg photo

Available from

Your favorite local book seller

Book Details

25 B&W ILLUS

HARDCOVER: 328 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0-8061-6849-4

Published: February 2021

Video

Video Coming Soon

The Girl Who Dared to Defy : Jane Street and the Rebel Maids of Denver

Setting Jane Street’s story within the wider context of early twentieth century class struggles and the women’s suffrage movement, The Girl Who Dared to Defy paints a fascinating-and ultimately heartbreaking-portrait of one woman’s courageous fight for equality.

Girl Who Dare to Defy
Jane Street Union Organizer
ludlow
Photo #11 WhoWillFeedUs

Marcelina Pedregone, her thin skirt partly ablaze in the early morning light, recalled running hard—sprinting northward toward a fence, then crawling into a smoky arroyo where she could lay flat in the rocky dirt, trying to become invisible from the bullets nipping around her legs and feet like a mad dog. She saw some women dodging flames to desperately help their children reach a well and then scramble inside after them, while others sought safety in a pump house, its walls being chewed by gunfire. Amid their shrieks and wails, Marcelina allowed a brief hesitation to worry about her own children she had left behind, Cloriva and Rodgerio, just four months and six years old. They had been staying with the Valdez and Costa children near Tent No. 58, one of about 150 makeshift homes for Colorado’s southern coalfield miners and their families when someone shrieked, “Dynamite! Dynamite!”

The next day, as survivors straggled into Trinidad, Marcelina asked with parched lips if anyone had news of her children. Not until a “dead” wagon arrived, loaded with fourteen bodies, did she find Cloriva and Rodgerio, smothered, burned, and swollen, along with others who asphyxiated in the Costa death pit.

Over a thousand miles away and almost two years after Ludlow, an obscure young woman—a single mother—simultaneously struggled to support her child and improve her lot. That certain ladies had not empathized with Ludlow’s mothers and children personally offended her sense of feminine integrity. Her name was Jane Street, and she resolved to change the status quo. Jane Street would orchestrate a domestic mutiny against Denver’s Capitol Hill women, that is, against the powerful and elite. The housemaid rebellion would soon make national and local news. It would simultaneously herald club support for women’s suffrage, improved morality, and education of the underprivileged, even as it patronized the efforts of a neglected working class. Jane would face sexist attempts at suppression, including sabotage and betrayal, arrests and abandonment. For this, she deserves more than a small piece of working women’s history. Jane Street never claimed to be a victim, but her tragic life story makes one wonder why she did not.

Jane Street hig
Jane Street Stenographer
getlstd-property-photo
Egg photo

Available from

Your favorite local book seller

Book Details

25 B&W ILLUS

HARDCOVER: 328 pages

ISBN-13: 978-0-8061-6849-4

Published: February 2021

Video

Video Coming Soon

“This highly original work explores the life and efforts of Jane Street, an organizer of maids and household servants in Denver. Street played a significant role in IWW attempts to organize one of the poorest-paid and least-respected groups of women. Despite tremendous opposition, Jane persists, a latter-day St. Joan of Arc.”

Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel
author of A Short History of Denver

"Botkin’s exceptionally well researched and very readable book adds a new chapter to the histories of the American women’s movement, the American labor movement, and the American West, and it will be a great resource for future historians of the early twentieth century."

David Kirkpatrick
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times