Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Americans A to Z: Biddy Mason

B is for Biddy Mason whose life story is one of my favorites.  I learned about her while researching former Governor Pio Pico and his work in California. Biddy and Pio were friends.

Biddy Mason (1818-1891) was an American nurse, real estate owner and philanthropist. Born into slavery, her life was a true rags to riches tale.

When Biddy was still a slave, her owner Robert Smith moved his family and slaves (including Biddy and her children) from Mississippi to California. Robert was encouraged by church leaders on more than one occasion to free his slaves, but he refused.

Because California was a free state and did not allow slavery, Robert planned to move his slaves to Texas where he could keep ownership of them. But Biddy managed to escape Robert and file a petition in court, which led to a judge granting her freedom.  

After being freed, Biddy worked as a nurse and saved her money until she was able to afford land. She eventually accumulated a six figure fortune which WAS a big deal in the 19th century. Biddy’s fortune allowed her to contribute to many charities and causes that fed, clothed, and sheltered the poor; visited prisoners; and educated young black children.  

If you’re ever in the L.A. area, you can learn more about Biddy at the Biddy Mason Park

Can you think of other rags to riches stories? Please share! 


  1. This is the first I've heard of Biddy Mason. She sounds like an amazing woman.

  2. I'm loving this series! I can't think of any other rags to riches stories right now because I'm just amazed with Biddy Mason! So awesome!

  3. Jess, there are so many great figures whose stories remain unsung. Sharing stories like Biddy’s can give hope to others who are in tough situations. Thank you for your visit!

    Sopphey, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Biddy was a powerful woman! There is more to her story…this was just a snippet.

    Chontali Kirk

  4. I am certainly going to check her out at the Park. Thank you so much for bringing her out into the open. My GGGparents were in CA at this time period and I always wonder about others during that time. Looking forward to reading more interesting posts.

  5. Katie of "IT Foodie," and fellow "A to Z April Blog" Hopper just jumping in to check out your website. What a great blog idea! Plus, the story of Biddy is amazing. She was able to transcend race and gender expectations of the time and accomplish something quite impressive. Great story.

  6. WOW, how interesting. I would like to learn more about her. I think I will take my granddaughter to this museum to expose her to great accomplishments of women. I look forward to more posts. Great job!!!

  7. I love your theme! I'll be back for more!
    Connie #133
    A to Z Challenge.
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  8. I really enjoyed this. What a strong and determined lady she must have been.

  9. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Biddy's story is among my favorites.

    Chontali Kirk

  10. Biddy is a new one for me as is the park. Good choice though.

    If I may make one recommendation, you might want to consider disabling Word Verification to make it easier for visitors to leave comments.

    This can be found by going to your design page, clicking settings, go to "posts and comments", and then change "show word Verification" to "No".

    Makes it easier on those commenting.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out


Chontali Kirk