Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Distinguished Literary Women St. John to Tong


Mrs. Cynthia Morgan St. John 1852 ~
Was born in Ithaca, New York, October 11, 1852. She was the only daughter of E. J. Morgan and Anne Bruyn Morgan. In her early youth she showed a passionate love of nature and devotion to the poetry of Wordsworth. Her one pre-eminent interest in a literary way has been in the writings of that great poet. She was a member of the English Wordsworth Society and a contributor to its meetings. She has collected the largest Wordsworth library in this country, and it is said to be the largest in the world, containing all the regular editions, complete American editions, autograph letters, prints, portraits, sketches, and relics associated with the great poet The chief fruit of her life-long study of the poet has been her "Wordsworth for the Young." In 1883 she became the wife of Henry A. St John, of Ithaca, New York.

Mary Joanna Safford
Was born at Salem, Massachusetts. Daughter of Samuel Appleton and Frances Parker Safford. Is a contributor of original articles, poems, and translations to magazines. Is considered one of the best translators of German stories and has translated a great many of these for magazines and periodicals. She makes her home in Washington, where she is considered one of the prominent literary women of the Capital City.

Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth Sangster 1838 ~
Was born February 22, 1838, in New Rochelle, New York. Her maiden name was Margaret Elizabeth Munson. In 1858 she married George Sangster.
She was a regular contributor to many of the leading magazines and periodicals, gradually drifting into editorial work, and in 1871 became the editor of Hearth and Home. In 1873 she assumed an editorial position on the Christian at Work. In 1879 she became a member of the staff of the Christian Intelligencer, serving as assistant editor until 1888. In 1882 in addition to her other editorial work she edited the Harper's Young People, then just starting. In 1871 she became the editor of Harper's Bazar. During all these busy years she has written poems of a high order, stories, sketches, essays, editorial comments, criticisms and everything connected with her work in the various editorial positions which she has occupied. Her published books are "Manual of Missions of the Reformed Church in America," "Poems of the Household," "Home Fairies and Heart Flowers," and a series of Sunday School books.

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore 1856 ~
Miss Scidmore was born at Madison, Wisconsin, October 14, 1856. Her parents being missionaries in Japan and China, Miss Scidmore has spent much of her time in Japan and many of her writings are stories of that country. She first became conspicuous as a writer in the St Louis Globe-Democrat, writing letters from Washington over the signature, "Ruhamah," and by her pen name she is best known. She has written on Alaska, Java, China, India, and her work is reliable and her style fascinating. She spends much of her time in Washington.

Vida D. Scudder 1861 ~
Miss Scudder is today professor of English at Wellesley College and a well-known writer on literary and social topics. She was born in Southern India, December 15, 1861, and is the daughter of David Coit and Harriet L. Dutton Scudder. She received the degree of A.B. at Smith College in 1884 and that of A.M. in 1889, graduated at Oxford and Paris, and was the originator of the College Settlement in New York City. She is the author of "The Life of the Spirit in Modern English Poets" "Social Ideals in English Letters," "Introduction to the Study of English Literature" and "Selected Letters of Saint Catherine' and was the editor of Macaulay's "Lord Clive' and also of the introduction to the writings of John Ruskin, Shelly's "Prometheus Unbound," works of John Woolman and Everybody's Library.

Laura Catherine Searing 1840 ~
Mrs. Searing was born in Somerset, Maryland, February, 1840. In her childhood she lost her hearing and power of speech through illness. Educated at the Deaf Mute University of Missouri and at the Clark Institute, Northampton, Massachusetts, where she regained to quite a degree her power of speech. Married a prominent attorney of New York, Edward W. Searing, in 1876. Has been a correspondent on many of the prominent newspapers, doing this work for the Missouri Republican during the Civil War. Is one of the American authors now residing in Santa Cruz, California.

Molly Elliot Seawell
Miss Seawell's uncle was an officer in the United States navy before the Civil War, and served in the Confederate Army with distinction during the entire war. From him she heard the tales of our early navy which gave her inspiration to write her nautical sketches. Some of these are "Decatur and Somers," "Paul Jones," "Midshipman Paulding," "Quarter-deck," "Fo'c'sle," and "Little Jarvis," the latter winning the prize of five hundred dollars for the best story for boys offered by the Youths' Companion, in 1890. She was a constant reader of Shakespeare, Rousseau and other writers. Byron, Shelley, Thackeray, Macaulay, Jane Austen, Boswell's "Johnson" all formed a part of her home education. In 1895, she received a prize of $3,000 from the New York Herald for the best novelette, "The Sprightly Romance of Marsac." Her "Maid Marian" is a well-known and an amusing story of the Knickerbocker element of New York.

Catherine Maria Sedgwick 1789 ~
Born December 28, 1789, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and died near Roxbury, Massachusetts, July 31,' 1867. She was a daughter of Theodore Sedgwick, a well-known lawyer of Boston, who died January 24, 18 13. She received a thorough education, and after her father's death started a private school for young women, which she continued for fifty years. During this time she contributed to the literature of the day. Her first novel, "A New England Tale," was published in 1822. She then brought out "Redwood," which was translated into French and other foreign languages. Her translator attributed this work to J. Fenimore Cooper. This was followed by "The Traveler," "Hope Leslie, or Early Times in Massachusetts," "Clarence," "A Tale of Our Own Times," "Home," "The Linwoods, or Sixty Years Since in America," "Sketches and Tales," The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man," "Live and Let Live," "A Love Token for Children," "Means and Ends; or Self -Training," "Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home," "Historical Sketches of the Old Painters," "Lucretia and Margaret Davidson," "Wilton Harvey and Other Tales," "Morals of Manners," "Facts and Fancies," and "Married or Single?" In addition to her school and novel work, she edited and contributed to literary periodicals and wrote for the annuals. Her work in these lines fills several large volumes.

Ellen Churchill Semple 1863 ~
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1863. Daughter of Alexander Bonner and Emerine Price Semple. Graduate of Vassar, and student at Leipzig. Her special field of work is the study of the influence of geographical conditions upon the development of society. She is a member of the Association of American Geographers, and a contributor of scientific articles to journals both in America and England. Has written on American history and its geographical conditions.

Margaret Lynch Senn  1882 ~
Was born in 1882 in Chicago. Was the wife of a distinguished surgeon of that city, the late Doctor William Nicholas Senn. Mrs. Senn after her husband's death presented to the Newberry Library, of Chicago, the cygne noir edition number one of H. H. Bancroft's "Book of Health" in ten massive volumes. She is a contributor to the Rosary Magazine and Times.

Grace Gallatin Seton
Mrs. Seton is a writer and book designer. Is the wife of Ernest Thompson Seton. Has done a great deal of work on newspapers, both in this country and in Paris. In 1897 took up the work of designing covers, title-pages, and general work for make-up of books. President of Pen and Brush Club, Music-Lovers' Club, and librarian of the MacDowell College. Has made quite a name for herself in literature as well, having written "Nimrod's Wife," "A. B. C. Zoo Sketches," serial stories, and songs.

Harriette Lucy Robinson Shattuck 1850 ~
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, December 4, 1850. Daughter of William Stevens and Harriet Hanson Robinson. In 1878 married Sidney Doane Shattuck, of Maiden, Massachusetts. Was assistant clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1872, being the first woman to hold such a position. Has written several books.

Mary French Sheldon 1846 ~
Mrs. Sheldon was born in 1846, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Newton, and her ancestors include many notable men and women. Her father was an engineer of high standing in Pittsburgh. Her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth French, was a well-known spiritualist. Mrs. Shelden was twice married. Her second husband, E. S. Sheldon, died in the summer of 1892. She was educated as a physician, but never practiced. She published one novel and a translation of Flaubert's "Salambo." In 1890 she determined to travel in Central Africa to study the women and children in their primitive state. She was the first white woman to reach Mt. Kilimanjaro, traveling with one female attendant and a small body of natives. She has published an interesting account of this trip in a volume on Africa entitled, "To Sultan."

Emily Lee Sherwood 1843 ~
Mrs. Sherwood was born in 1843, in Madison, Indiana, where she spent her childhood. Her father, Monroe Wells Lee, was a native of Ohio; her mother, of the state of Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen she entered the office of her brother, who published the Herald and Era, a religious weekly paper in Indianapolis. Here she did most creditably whatever work she was asked to do in the various departments of this paper. At the age of twenty she became the wife of Henry Lee Sherwood, a young attorney of Indianapolis, and later they made their home in Washington, D. C. Mrs. Sherwood became one of the most prominent newspaper correspondents of the Capital city. She sent letters to the various papers over the country and was a contributor of stories and miscellaneous articles to the general press. In 1889 she became a member of the staff of the Sunday Herald, of Washington, D. C, and contributed articles also to the New York Sun and World, She is an all-round author, writing in connection with her newspaper work, books, reviews, stories, character sketches, society notes and reports. She published a novel entitled ''Willis Peyton's Inheritance; " is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, National Press League and the Triennial Council of Women.

Mary Elizabeth Sherwood 1830 ~ 1903
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Sherwood was born in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1830. Her father. General James Wilson, served as a member of Congress from New Hampshire. Her mother, Mary Richardson, was well known for her great beauty and fine intellect Mrs. Sherwood was a woman of strong personality and distinguished appearance. While living in Washington she became the wife of John Sherwood and soon obtained a prominent place among literary people. She was a contributor to all the leading magazines of the day, a writer of several well-known novels, among them, "A Transplanted Rose," "Sweet Briar" and "Royal Girls and Royal Courts, " but is best known for her books on etiquette, being considered an authority on that subject During Mrs. Sherwood's residence abroad she was prominent in the literary circles of Europe. In 1885 she gave readings in her New York home for the benefit of the Mt Vernon Fund. Mrs. Sherwood was active in many of the charities of New York City, and through her pen raised sums of money for many in which she was interested. Mrs. Sherwood died in 1903.

Lydia Huntly Sigourney 1791 ~
Born in Norwich, Connecticut, September 1, 1791, and died in Hartford, Connecticut, June 10, 1865; was the daughter of Ezekiel Huntly, a soldier of the Revolution. It is said that she wrote verses at the age of seven. She taught a private girls' school in Hartford for five years, and in 1815 published her first volume "Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse." In 1819 she became the wife of Charles Sigourney, a gentleman of literary and artistic tastes, a resident of Hartford. After her marriage she devoted herself to literature. She wrote forty-six separate works, besides two thousand articles, which she contributed to about three hundred periodicals. She was a favorite poetess in England and France, as well as in her own country. Mrs. Sigourney was always an active worker in charity and philanthropy. Her best known works are "Letters to Young Ladies," ''Pocahontas, and Other Poems," and "Pleasant Memories of Pleasant Lands."

Clara A. Smith
Miss Clara A. Smith, instructor of mathematics in Wellesley College. She has recently been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, partly because she solved a problem in mathematics which has puzzled college professors for more than a century.

Eva Munson Smith 1843 ~
Mrs. Eva Munson Smith was born July 12, 1843. She was the daughter of William Chandler Munson and Hannah Bailey Munson. Her mother was a direct descendant of Hannah Bailey of Revolutionary fame, who tore up her flannel petti-coat to make wadding for the guns in battle.
Mrs. Smith has made a collection of sacred compositions of women under the title "Women in Sacred Song." She has written quite a number of musical selections.

Helen Grace Smith 1865 ~
Daughter of General Thomas Kilby Smith and was born in December, 1865, at Torresdale, Pennsylvania Contributor of poems to various magazines, The Atlantic Monthly, Lippincott's, The Rosary, Catholic World and other religious papers.

Julia Holmes Smith 1839 ~
Born in Savannah, Georgia, December 33, 1839. On her mother's side, her grandfather was Captain George Raynall Turner, United States Navy. She was educated in the famous seminary of Gorman D. Abbott, and after graduating, married Waldo Abbott, eldest son of the historian, John S. C. Abbott. Mrs. Abbott was the organizer and first president of the Woman's Medical Association, the only society of its kind in America. In 1889 she contributed to the New York Ledger a series of articles on "Common Sense in the Nursery." She was at one time the only woman who contributed to the Arndts System of Medicine.

Mary Agnes Easby Smith 1855 ~
Was born in Washington, District of Columbia, February, 1855, when her father. Honorable William Russell Smith, was serving as a member of Congress from Alabama. Writes under the pen-name of Agnes Hampton. Has written sketches for several newspapers. In 1887 she married Milton E. Smith, editor of the Church News. Is the author of romances, poems, sketches, which have appeared in her husband's paper, and also Donahoe's Magazine, The Messenger of the Sacred Heart, and other church publications. Wrote some of the sketches which appeared in the "National Cyclopedia of Biography." Is at present one of the expert indexers of the Agricultural Department.

Mary Stuart Smith 1834 ~
Mrs. Mary Stuart Smith was born at the University of Virginia, February 10, 1834. Was the second daughter of Professor Gessner Harrison and his wife, Eliza Lewis Carter Tucker. In 1853 she became the wife of Professor Francis H. Smith, of the University of Virginia. Besides original articles, her translations from the German for leading periodicals form a long list. She is a most pleasing writer for children.

Harriet Prescott Spofford 1835 ~
Born in Calais, Maine, April 3, 1835, but her parents removed, when she was quite young, to Newburyport Massachusetts which has since been her home. Her father was Joseph N. Prescott Her essay on Hamlet when she was a student in the school at Newburyport attracted the attention of James Wentworth Higginson, who interested himself in her career. Both of her parents became helpless invalids, which made it necessary for her to early take up a literary career, and she began by contributions to the Boston papers. In 1859 ^^f story of Parisian life, entitled "In a Cellar," brought her into immediate prominence in the literary world, and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, James Russell Lowell, was so impressed by her ability that from that day she was a well-known contributor of both prose poetry to not only the Atlantic Monthly, but the chief periodicals of the country. In 1865 she married Richard S. Spofford, a lawyer of Boston. Among her works are "Sir Rohan's Ghost," "The Amber Gods," "The Thief in the Night," "Azarian," "New England Legends," "Art Decoration Applied to Furniture," "The Marquis of Carabas," "Hester Stanley at St Mark's," "The Servant Girl Question" and "Ballads About Authors."

Rebecca Ruter Springer 1832 ~ 1904
Mrs. Rebecca Ruter Springer was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 8, 1832. Daughter of Rev. Calvin W. Ruter, a prominent clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was educated in the Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1859 she married William M. Springer, a noted lawyer of Illinois, and afterwards Congressman for several terms from that state. Mrs. Springer passed much of her life in the Capital City, and no woman was more beloved nor more conspicuous through her abilities and charm of manner. Mrs. Springer wrote several books of verse and two novels, entitled "Beechwood" and "Self," and a volume of poems under the title "Songs of the Sea." Mrs. Springer's death occurred in 1904.

Alice J. Stevens 1860 ~
Editor of The Tidings, Los Angeles, California. She was born March 10, 1860. Was at one 'time notary public for Los Angeles County. Was also engaged in the real estate business prior to becoming editor of The Tidings, Is a contributor to Harper's, Sunset, Overland, and Los Angeles Times Magazine, also edited the Children's Department, of the Tidings for a number of years. Is conspicuous in patriotic and philanthropic work.

Ruth McEnery Stuart 1849 ~ 1917
Mrs. Stuart was born at Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of a wealthy planter. Her family had always been slave holders and her life was spent on a plantation where she gained her familiarity and knowledge of the Negro character. She was educated at a school in New Orleans where she remained after her marriage in 1879 to Alfred O. Stuart a cotton planter, and her early life was spent near their plantation in a small Arkansas town. Her first story was sent by Charles Dudley Warner to the Princeton Review in which it appeared, and the second was published in Harper's Magazine. Her stories are of the lazy life of the Creoles and the plantation Negroes. They give a true picture of a peculiar race of people fast disappearing in the South. They are largely dialect stories. Since her husband's death Mrs. Stuart has resided in New York City and here most of her literary work has been done. "Moriah's Mourning," "In Simpkinsville," "A Golden Wedding," "Charlotta's Intended," "Solomon Crow's Christmas Box," "The Story of Babette," "Sonny," "Uncle Eph's Advice to Brer Rabbit," "Holly and Pizen," are some of her well-known stories. Charles Dudley Warner says, "her pictures of Louisiana life both white and colored are indeed the best we have."

Louise M. R. Stowell 1850 ~
Born in Grand Blanc, Michigan, December 30, 1850. Daughter of Seth and Harriet Russell Reed. Taught microscopy and botany in the University of Michigan, and in 1878 married Charles Henry Stowell. Appointed a member of the board of trustees for the Girts' Reform School by the President, for the District of Columbia, and also member of the board of trustees of the public schools of the District of Columbia in 1893. Author of ''Microscopical Structure of Wheat," "Microscopic Diagnosis." Is editor and writer in scientific work.

Ada Celeste Sweet 1853 ~
Author and business woman. Daughter of Gen. Benjamin J. Sweet, a lawyer and distinguished officer of the Civil War. She was born in Stockbridge, Wisconsin, February 23, 1853. Miss Sweet is one of the most noted women in America. At the age of sixteen she was the assistant to her father who was at that time United States pension agent in Chicago, and afterwards first deputy commissioner of Internal Revenue. Upon her father's death, in January, 1867, President Grant appointed Miss Sweet United States pension agent in Chicago. She has disbursed many million dollars annually making a most remarkable record as a business woman, and has installed many valuable reforms, reduced the work of her office to a system, which the government gladly recognized and approved by installing the same in all other pension offices in the United States. In 1885 she resigned this office to engage in business for herself. She was for two years literary editor of the Chicago Tribune, and since 1888 has maintained an office as United States claim attorney, and during this time has done considerable literary and philanthropic work. She was the founder of the ambulance system for the Chicago police.

Sophia Miriam Sweet
Born in Brewer, Maine. Daughter of Nathaniel and Susan Brastow Sweet. At one time associate editor of the Wide Awake. Writer of short stories and juvenile books.

Mary Florence Taney 1861 ~
Was born at Newport, Kentucky, May 15, 1861. Her father, Peter Taney, was a grand-nephew of Roger B. Taney, chief justice of the United States. Her mother, Catherine Alphonse Taney, was descended from a distinguished Maryland family which came to this country with Lord Baltimore, in 1632. Miss Taney has been a teacher, president of a commercial college, newspaper correspondent, private secretary, and assistant editor of the Woman's Club Magazine. Has written an operetta, the state song of Kentucky, and has contributed to the well-known Catholic magazines.

Mary Virginia Terhune 1831 ~
Mrs. Terhune is more familiar to the public under the pen name of ''Marion Harland." She was born December 21, 1831, in Amelia County, Virginia, her father Samuel P. Hawes, having removed there from Massachusetts. In 1856 she was married to Rev. E. P. Terhune, and since 1859 has lived in the North, but her stories have dealt largely with Southern life. She wrote her book 'The Story of Mary Washington" to get funds to aid in the effort to erect a monument to the mother of Washington, which was unveiled on May 10, 1894. She has been a most industrious writer. Among her works are "Alone" "Nemesis," "The Hidden Path," "Miriam," "Husks," "Husbands and Home," "Sunnybank," "Helen Gardner's Wedding Day," "At Last," "The Empty Heart," Common Sense in the Household." Her novel "Sunnybank" was very severely criticized by Southern editors, when it appeared soon after the Civil War. Mrs. Terhune's younger brothers were in the Confederate Army.
Mrs. Terhune has three children, with all of whom she has collaborated a literary work.

Caroline Wadsworth Thompson 1856 ~
Was born in 1856 in New York City. Married Charles Otis Thompson, whose mother was a great-granddaughter of General Israel Putnam and daughter of Lemuel Grosvenor, of Boston. Her grandfather on her father's side was John Wadsworth, of New York. The wife of her maternal grandfather, Howard Henderson, was of French descent and her great-grandfather was one of the original signers of the Louisiana Purchase. Mrs. Thompson is a contributor to the Ave Maria, Bensiger's, and Sacred Heart Review, and is a prominent woman socially and in the charitable works of the Catholic Church.

Ida Treadwell Thurston
Mrs. Thurston is known by her pen name, "Marion Thome." She has written several stories, among them "The Bishop's Shadow," "Boys of the Central." "A Frontier Hero," and many other excellent stories for boys.

Francis Fisher Tiernan
Is the daughter of Colonel Charles F. Fisher, of Salisbury, North Carolina. Married James M. Tiernan, of Maryland. Mrs. Tiernan is a writer of note and some of her novels, under the pen-name of "Christian Reid," are "A Daughter of Bohemia," "Valerie Aylmer," "Morton Houses" "The Lady of Las Cruces," and a "Little Maid of Arcady," and many others.

Edith Matilda Thomas 1854 ~
Was born in Chatham, Ohio, August 12, 1854. Daughter of Frederick J. Thomas and Jane Louisa Sturges Thomas, both natives of New England, her great-grandfather being a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The family lived for a short time at Kenton, Ohio, and also at Bowling Green, where her father died in 1861. Soon after this, her mother and sisters moved to Geneva, Ohio, where Edith received her education at the Normal Institute. She taught for a short time in Geneva, but soon decided to make literature her profession. She had, while a student, contributed to the newspapers, and her first admirer was Helen Hunt Jackson, who brought her to the attention of the editors of the Atlantic Monthly and Century, In 1888, Miss Thomas moved to New York City, making her home on Staten Island, and has devoted her entire time to literature, being a frequent contributor to the prominent magazines of the day.

Rose Hartwick Thorpe 1850 ~
Mrs. Thorpe is the author of the well-known poem, "Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight." Was born in Mishawaka, Indiana, July 18, 1850. Is the wife of E. Carson Thorpe. Has written many other poems, but none has added to the fame which she earned by the writing of the poem mentioned. Lives in San Diego, California.

Eleanor Elizabeth Tong
Daughter of Lucius G. Tong, at one time professor in the Notre Dame University. She is a descendant of William Tong, one of the Revolutionary heroes, and related also to Archbishop Punket. She is the author of the new manual of Catholic devotions under the title, "The Catholics' Manual, a New Manual of Prayer."

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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