Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield 1832 ~ 1918


Lucretia Randolph Garfield

Lucretia Rudolph Garfield was the daughter of Zebulon Rudolph, a farmer who resided near Garrettsville, Ohio. He was one of the founders of Hiram College. Her mother was the daughter of Elijah Mason of Lebanon, Connecticut, a descendant of General Nathaniel Greene. She first met her future husband, James A. Garfield, at the Geauga Seminary. They attended this school together until young Garfield entered Hiram College, of which institution he was a graduate. Not long after he entered the college he was called upon to take the place of one of the teachers because of illness. Into his classroom came his school-girl friend, Lucretia Rudolph, whom he considered one of his brightest pupils. She was especially apt in Latin and was so well instructed by Mr. Garfield that twenty years after she prepared her boy in Latin to enter college. After she graduated from Hiram College, she also became a teacher. When Mr. Garfield went to Williams College to finish his education she went to Cleveland to teach in one of the public schools. By that time they were lovers and both studied very hard, believing that there was a great future before James A. Garfield.

Their marriage took place at the house of the bride's parents, November 11, 1858, Mr. Garfield then being President of Hiram College. Their resources were not very great, so they boarded for several years, each year finding them much advanced in worldly goods and reputation.

Young Mr. and Mrs. Garfield resided in Cleveland until 1860, when he was elected to the State Senate and went to Columbus. In 1861, he left the State Senate to become colonel of the 42nd Ohio Regiment. He went into the army a poor man and it was with the money he saved as an officer of the Union Army that his wife bought a house and lot in Hiram, which cost eight hundred dollars. This sum suggests the style of house which was their home until 1870, when, as a member of Congress from the state of Ohio, he came to Washington. Here his salary of $5,000 a year, with the simplicity of living in those days, enabled him to save enough money to give his family a comfortable home in the Capital of the Nation. Through the helpfulness and economy of his unusually intellectual and economical wife they were able to purchase a farm at Mentor, Ohio, which they named Lawnfield, and where was erected the historic house that was so much advertised during the campaign of 1880. This house was designed by Mrs. Garfield and is a fine specimen of architecture. During the war, Mrs. Garfield lived in her home in Hiram and directed the education of her boys, having only the companionship of Mother Garfield. After the battle of Corinth, Brigadier-General Garfield was at home for six months, suffering from malarial fever. On his return to the front he was assigned chief of staff to General Rosecrans and at the battle of Chickamauga won his major-general's star. Before his return home his baby girl died, which caused him very great distress. In 1863, the people of his district elected him to Congress, where he served for eight terms, and was elected to the Senate, and from the Senate, to the Presidency.

During all these years Mrs. Garfield was known as the most devoted wife and mother. Her unusual intelligence and education fitted her pre-eminently for the high positions to which her husband was from time to time promoted. She was never in any sense considered a fashionable woman or a devotee of society. Her ambitions were on a higher plane, but no woman ever received more flattering compliments from her husband and those who knew her best, than Mrs. Garfield. The control she had over her emotional nature was manifested during the ordeal through which she passed at the time of President Garfield's assassination and the eighty days of anxiety and suspense before his death. After the President's death she repaired to Mentor and no woman could have conducted herself with greater propriety, dignity and appreciation of her position than did Mrs. Garfield. The fact that her sons have attained prominent positions is as much due to their mother's care and training as to the inheritance of an illustrious name.

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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