Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mary Tileston Hemenway 1822 ~ 1894

 

Mary Tileston Hemenway, philanthropist, was born in New York City, in 1822; daughter of Thomas Tileston, wealthy New York merchant. Her husband, a Boston business man, the owner of extensive silver mines in South America; acquired a large fortune, and after his death she came into possession of about $15,000,000, thus becoming the richest woman in Boston.

During her long life Mrs. Hemenway bestowed much thought and money upon charitable and educational institutions. She gave the sum of $100,000 to found the Tileston Normal School, Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1876, when the existence of the Old South Meeting House, Boston, was threatened, she gave one-half of the $200,000 necessary to save the historic edifice from being torn down. In 1878 the series of free lectures for children was started at her suggestion in the Old South Church, which continued informally until 1883, when the regular free course of historical lectures for young people was inaugurated.

In 1881 she established four annual prizes for High School pupils for the best essays on scientific topics and American history. She also established kitchen gardens, sew-ing schools, cooking schools and the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics; contributed duly to the support of archaeological expeditions and explorations in the Southwest and to the funds of the American Archaeological Institute; was the patroness of the "Journal of American Ethnology and Archaeology," and gave generously to the "Boston Teachers Mutual Benefit Association." After her death the trustees of her estate conveyed to the state board of education the "Boston Normal School of Household Arts," established by her, and which was subsequently transferred to Farmingham, Massachusetts. She died in Boston, Massachusetts, March 6, 1894.

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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