When one of 16-year-old Rosa Belle Praigg’s stories was accepted by the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1859, she used her earnings of $15 to buy the first oil lamp in her home town of Perryville, Kentucky. She later wrote a story based on her experiences during the Battle of Perryville in 1862.
After coming to Bowling Green to teach school, Rosa married Dr. William H. Dickerson. She became the mother of 5 daughters but continued to write, publishing under her own name and under the pen name Violet (or Violette) Woods. Her stories and poems appeared in newspapers and journals such as Peterson’s Lady’s Book, the Louisville Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Kentucky Tribune, the Bowling Green Democrat and the Bowling Green Gazette.
At a time when women who took up the pen were liable to shy away from publicity, the young Rosa actually seemed to court it. In 1860, she sought an opinion from George D. Prentice, the editor of the Louisville Journal, about a poem she had recently placed in a Danville newspaper. Promising to look for the piece, Prentice assured her that “I love poetesses exceedingly” and “I expect to love you when I read your stanzas.”
A finding aid for the Rosa Belle (Praigg) Dickerson Collection at WKU’s Special Collections Library can be downloaded here.