Glades Middle School
9451 SW 64 Street
Deaconess Harriet Bedell, Humanitarian, Missionary , portrait by Anabel Alfonso
Dedication of garden to honoree
The Biography Of Harriet Mary Bedell by Daniel Tucker
On cold winter night an old woman walked into the Seminole village, her name; Harriet Mary Bedell, the missionary. Harriet Mary Bedell was born on march 19, 1875 in Buffalo, New York. When she was older she wanted to become an Episcopal Deaconess. Then after many months she finally started her training. The after many more months she became an Apprentice Episcopal Deaconess. After that she moved to Oklahoma to help the Cheyenne Native American tribe.
After a few months she gained the respect of the Cheyenne tribe, earning her the title ‘vicsheia’ or bird woman because she whistled and hummed while she worked. Then the time finally came, she became a full Episcopal Deaconess. She was then called to assist an old church hospital in Alaska just 40 miles from the Arctic Circle. After many months she could no longer cope with the cold, arctic winters so she moved to sunny Florida in the Davenport area. Then in 1960 Hurricane Donna would strike. Hurricane Donna was large and dangerous and headed for Florida. Harriet Bedell quickly packed up and left, and when she returned all her possessions were destroyed; her house, her type writer and the worst of all were all the gifts that she had bought for all the children.
After much persuasion she went into retirement, but only for a few months because she could not stand doing nothing. She tried start over, but she grew too old. She passed away on January 8, 1969. She was 93 years old.
Her accomplishments were that of a hundred lifetimes. She would be remembered as the woman who changed history for some Native American tribes. She had enhanced the lives of the Cheyenne, Miccosukee and the Seminoles, who are still thankful for her devotion. She would give gifts to the children on holidays and hold parties for the adults.
She would give gifts to the children on every Christmas that was celebrated. She also helped sell native craft through the collier corp. of finance in Collier County, she also stopped cheap china forgeries from entering the country. Her work still influences us today by helping get the Miccosukee tribe their own land in the everglades, when the everglades were becoming a national park. She will be known for her great service to the Native American tribes not only in Florida, but in Oklahoma and Alaska!