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True Grit

January 9, 2020

  

I saw some obscure mention of this woman and she caught my attention.  I was unable to find much about her, but still think she needs to be remembered.  The historical society in Nevada has a sketchy record of her life.  

 

Annie Lowry was born on November 13, 1866, somewhere near Lovelock, Nevada. Her mother was a Paiute Indian and her father was a white man who was often away from home for long periods of time. When he was at home he did not treat his wife well. During the times he was away Annie and her mother reverted to Indian ways, but when he was there he insisted that everyone speak English and discouraged anything Paiute.  Her father enrolled her in the local school where it was noted that she was the first Indian to attend school with white children, and quite possibly the first Paiute to go to school at all. 

 

Mr. Lowry eventually became successful and quite prosperous. It seemed his Indian family became an embarrassment to him. He deserted them never to return.  When he left Annie gave up all white ways and returned to her Indian heritage, language and ways.  When her father died years later in Oregon, friends encouraged her to calm her inheritance as he had died a wealthy man.  She steadfastly refused because she didn’t wish to make things difficult for her brothers who lived as whites.  To support herself she worked as a domestic for about $1.50 a week.  It was the only work available to Indian woman.  She fell in love with and married a local native man, Sanny.  It was a traditional Paiute ceremony that took five days.  They had nine children, five of whom survived infancy. 

 

In 1910, Sanny contracted typhoid fever and died.  Annie was left penniless to raise the children. She refused to send them to the government Indian orphanage and was determined to keep the family together.  She worked two jobs, seven days a week.  At night she took in sewing, done by lamplight, while the children slept. Eventually she met and married John. S. Pascal who was an English speaking Paiute. 

 

John had no formal education and did not know how to read or write.  Annie taught him both and it was a great comfort to him later when he was left unable to walk because of a crushed spine, after being run over by a team of run away horses. After his death she tore off the wing of the house where their bedroom had been, an Indian custom. She moved into the rest of the house. In 1925 she was afflicted with a mysterious illness that left her paralyzed on one side of her body and blind. Doctors in Reno tried, but were unable to help her.  She turned to the local Indian healer who ministered to her for five days and nights.  On the fifth day she was well and lived another eighteen years in perfect health. 

 

 

            

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