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Cynthia H. Van Name Leonard 1828 ~ 1908


Cynthia Van Name Leonard

Was born February 28, 1828, in Buffalo, New York. Was a pioneer in many fields of labor which have been invaded by women in this century. She was the first woman to stand behind a counter as a saleswoman, and was a member of the first Woman's Social and Literary Club organized in her city.

In 1852 she married Charles E. Leonard, connected with the Buffalo Express, and later with the Commercial Advertiser of Detroit, Michigan. In 1856 Mr. and Mrs. Leonard moved to Clinton, Iowa, where he published the Herald. Mrs. Leonard was active in establishing schools and churches in this little frontier city, and when the war broke out she was foremost in all sanitary work, and assisted in opening the first soldiers' home in Iowa.

In 1863 Mr. Leonard moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Mrs. Leonard at once became prominent in the fair for the Freedmen's Aid Commission. She organized and was president of the Women's Club of that city, which later was called the Sorosis. Mrs. Leonard and Mrs. Waterman published a weekly paper in the interest of this club. Mrs. Leonard has been very active in shelter work for the unfortunate women of her own city, and through her efforts succeeded in establishing the Good Samaritan Society and the opening of a shelter for the unfortunate class of society. After the Chicago fire she worked constantly for the protection and assistance of these poor women.

Mrs. Leonard is the mother of Lillian Russell, the well-known actress, whose name was Helen Leonard. She organized in New York the Science of Life Club. All Mrs. Leonard's daughters are well known and more or less prominent in the musical and theatrical world.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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