Both Laura Secord (1775–1868) and Mary Pickford (1892–1979) were courageous women in their day. I think the fact that both had suffered personal tragedy at a very young age may have contributed to their later strength and courage.
Laura Ingersoll lost her mother when she was eight, and following on the heels of that tragedy, her baby sister was taken from her home, adopted by relatives. Four years later, Laura's stepmother also died.
Massachusetts was in turmoil after the War of Independence, and Laura's father was away much of the time. By this time Laura was capable of running the household herself and caring for her younger sisters. In 1795, with more little siblings and a new stepmother who was pregnant, the family undertook the long trek to Upper Canada. As the eldest, Laura was the one who had to remain strong when their schooner nearly capsized in a sudden gale on Lake Ontario.
Mary Pickford's beloved father (Mary's name was Gladys Smith when she was a child) died when she was only six. Her distraught mother, Charlotte, dispersed the three children to various relatives. After her mother came to her senses and reunited the family, little Gladys became determined to keep them from ever splitting up again. She would take over the role of head of the family, responsible for providing for them and keeping them all together. She took the task of bringing up Lottie and Jack very seriously. It was a responsibility she felt for the rest of her siblings too-short lives.
More stories about the lives of these women can be found in Laura Secord, Heroine of the War of 1812 and Mary Pickford, Canada's Silent Siren, America's Sweetheart.