Kentucky Daisey’s Legendary Locomotive Leap
During the Oklahoma Territory land runs, Nanitta R.H. Daisey jumped off a train, staked her claim just north of Edmond Station, and jumped back on the train. Not only did this attract attention from local and regional newspapers but international newspapers as well. Some say she shot a pistol in the air before hopping back on the train, others say she tied a section of her petticoat to the stake. The Director of Education at the Edmond Historical Society and Museum, Anna Studstill, uses the life of Daisey as an educational tool to teach the importance of how legends are born. “Daisey was the most captivating woman of her time, and people are still writing about her,” Studstill said.
Just the Facts Ma’am
From all that has been written about Daisey, Studstill explained that sometimes, “it is tough to distinguish what is true and what is embellishment.” For instance, there are articles and writings with various name spellings. “There are 36 different ways to spell her name,” Studstill said.
Prior to her Edmond land claim, Daisey was a teacher in Kentucky and ran for Kentucky State Librarian. An 1892 newspaper was the first time “Kentucky” appeared in an article, and the name Kentucky Daisey stuck. Later, Daisey was a correspondent for the Dallas paper. After staking her land claim, Daisey was a school teacher and lived in her homestead. She was married for a time and had no children. “She divorced in the late 1800s,” Studstill said. “That was mind-blowing for that period of time.”
Daisey walked her own path during a time when women’s paths were narrow. She led and taught women to stake land claims. Studstill referred to a newspaper article, which said Daisey led a group of 11 unmarried women who participated in the El Reno land run. Many of the women Daisey helped, Studstill commented, were college graduates from refined homes. They were willing to defy social norms to make a home in the new frontier, and Daisey led the way. “She captured that pioneer spirit,” Studstill said.
Kentucky Daisey is memorialized in a sculpture entitled, “Leaping into History – Kentucky Daisey”. The bronze sculpture, located at Edmond’s Farmer’s Market, was created by Mary Lou Gresham. “That leap she made is what made her different. She was a character. She was a strong, self-reliant person,” Gresham said.
“That was pretty gutsy,” proclaimed Cinda Covel, City Clerk for the City of Edmond, who has served as the Visual Arts Commission staff liaison since 2012. “The incredible movement captured in the piece invites visitors to leap back in time with Kentucky Daisey into early Oklahoma history,” Covel said.
On display at the Edmond Historical Society and Museum is a miniature version of the sculpture. Call 405-340-0078 or visit www.edmondhistory.org