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Mary Seacole - A Bold Front to Fortune - Extra History - #1

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Published on Jan 9, 2016

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Mary Seacole treated soldiers during the Crimean War - but she took a long path to get there. She grew up in Jamaica, the daughter of a local hotel owner and a Scottish soldier. She admired her doctress mother and wanted to be like her, but she also yearned to travel and see the world. In 1821 she accepted a relative's invitation to visit London, and turned herself from a tourist to a businesswoman by importing Jamaican food preserves. She traveled with her business for several years before returning home to Jamaica, where she married a white man named Edwin Seacole and started a general store. Their venture failed, and disaster struck: fire destroyed most of Kingstown, and both Mary's husband and her mother died in 1843. Mary survived and rebuilt the hotel, but she set out to start a new life in Panama and was immediately greeted by a cholera epidemic. She helped contain it, and earned a reputation that helped her start her own business across the street from her half-brother's. When word reached her that the Crimean War back in Europe needed nurses, she left her business behind and went to sign up. Both the War Office and Florence Nightingale's expedition rejected her, but Mary determined to find her own way there.
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