Tuesday, August 22, 2017



From Wikipedia:
Pauline Cushman (Born Harriet Wood) (June 10, 1833 – December 2, 1893), was an American actress and a spy for the Union Army during the American Civil War.

After a Northern performance, Cushman was paid by two local pro-Confederate men to toast Confederate President Jefferson Davis after a performance. The theatre forced her to quit, but she had other ideas. She had decided to ingratiate herself with the rebels by making the toast, while offering her services to the Union as a spy.

By fraternizing with rebel military commanders, she managed to conceal battle plans and drawings in her shoes, but was caught twice in 1864 and brought before Confederate General Braxton Bragg, tried by a military court, and sentenced to death by hanging. Though she was already ill, she acted worse off than she was. The Confederates had to postpone her execution. Cushman was spared hanging by the invasion of the area by Union troops. She was also wounded twice.

Some reports state that she returned to the South in her role as a spy, dressed in male uniform. She was awarded the rank of Brevet Major by General James A. Garfield, and made an honorary major by President Abraham Lincoln for her service to the Federal cause, and became known as "Miss Major Pauline Cushman." By the end of the war in 1865, she was touring the country giving lectures on her exploits as a spy.

Sources state that in 1879 she met Jere Fryer, and moved to Casa Grande, Arizona Territory, where they married and operated a hotel and livery stable. Jere Fryer became the sheriff of Pinal County. An adopted daughter, Emma, died, and the Fryers separated in 1890.

By 1892, she was living in poverty in El Paso, Texas. She had applied for back pension based on her first husband's military service which she received in the amount of $12 per month beginning in June 1893.  Her last few years were spent in a boarding house in San Francisco, working as a seamstress and charwoman. Disabled from the effects of rheumatism and arthritis, she developed an addiction to pain medication, and on the night of 2 December 1893 she took a suicidal overdose of morphine. She was found the next morning by her landlady.

Paula Raymond was cast as Pauline Cushman in the 1964 episode "The Wooing of Perilous Pauline" of the syndicated western television series, ‘Death Valley Days’. In the story line, set in Casa Grande, where the feisty Miss Cushman was operating a saloon, she is wooed by her future husband, Jere Fryer (Ray Danton), who makes a bet with a friend that he can convince her to marry him within a week. Fryer later becomes a sheriff; the couple separated in 1890.

The television series ‘Rawhide’ also aired an episode with Pauline Cushman as the central character.

That would be:


From IMDb:
 A woman wanders into camp needing help. She is an actress who one of the men recognizes later. She worked as a Union spy during the war. Although most of the men hate her, one even more so as he was court-martialed due to her.

A lone female survivor of a stagecoach attacked by Apaches, wanders into camp needing water and rest. The men happily rush to her aid learning she is an actress who after rest recites some of her work including Romeo and Juliet with Rowdy as Romeo. When Dan Madox comes in off night duty, he recognizes her as a famous Union spy, causing dissension among the drovers. The actress, who's alone on foot, has asked to tag along with Gil's drive. But when she's identified, the predominantly Texan cowboys split between bitter Confederates who don't want her sharing their water as they plod through a drought, and those who are thrilled to have professional entertainment until they hit the next town. Maddox ahas a special hatred for her as he was court-martialed and imprisoned because of his relationship with her during the war. Egged on by Kirby, Maddox and several drovers leave the drive stealing the little water they have left. When the next waterhole is dry, Favor tries to bluff them but is forced to take more drastic action to save the herd and drive.

[David Stevens]

In that episode, Cushman was portrayed by Phyllis Thaxter.  The difference in her physical appearance from one episode to the next can be attributed to the audience’s point of view being supplied by one of the other characters.  In this case, I don’t think it’s any of the regulars – Rowdy Yates, Gil Favor, or Wishbone – but instead we’re seeing Cushman through the eyes of Dan Maddox, the drover who felt that she betrayed him and caused him to be court-martialed.  (As for the televersion played by Paula Raymond, she was definitely seen through the eyes of the man who loved her, Jere Fryer.

For more on Pauline Cushman, click here.

Happy trails to you!

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