Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Women in Business


Ella Maria Ballou 1852 ~
Miss Ballou was born in Wallingford, Vermont, November 15, 1852. She was educated in the Wallingford schools and commenced life as a teacher, but finding the compensation for women in this vocation so small, she took up the study of shorthand and became so proficient that she went into the courts and wrote evidence and arguments until she became noted among attorneys, and in 1885, upon the numerous applications of the Rutland County Bar, Judge W. G. Veazey in the Supreme Court of that state appointed her Official Reporter of the Rutland County Court. She was the first woman to hold such a position in the state of Vermont, and it is believed, in the United States. She has done some work in the line of literature, but her particular claim to distinction is in the line of her profession.

Annie White Baxter 1864 ~
Mrs. Baxter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on the second of March, 1864. After graduating from the public schools in 1882; she went to work as an assistant in the County Clerk's office of Jasper County, Missouri. She performed these duties with such satisfaction to everyone that in 1885 she was appointed and sworn in as Deputy Clerk of the County Court, with authority to affix the clerk's signature and the county seal to all official documents, and performed other official acts. The duties of this office embraced the tax levy and extension in a county of five hundred thousand people, the custody, computation and collection of interest on public school funds of over two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, keeping of the accounts and making settlements with the State Treasurer, State Auditor, County Treasurer, County Collector, and of the County township officers entrusted with the collection and custody of State and County revenues, the keeping of the records, and the executing of the acts and orders of the County Court. She was found equal to all of these arduous labors and demonstrated so high a standard of mental ability, that she was soon appointed and qualified as principal deputy. At the time of her marriage in 1888, she withdrew from all public work, but owing to the ill health of the County Clerk she was persuaded to again resume the duties and in 1890 was nominated for County Clerk by the Democrat County Convention and was elected in what had always been a strong Republican district She was the first woman in the United States elected by the people and qualified under the law to fill the office of the Clerk of Court. Notwithstanding her long occupancy of public office she is a modest; refined and retiring woman, and has the respect and admiration of all those who know her.

Mary Averill Harriman
Wife of the late Edward Henry Harriman, the great railroad magnate. She takes a position among men through her ability as a business woman. During her husband's life she was his constant adviser and shared in all his great enterprises. He frequently spoke of the regard which he had for her judgment and ability, and after his death it was found that his will in a few simple words had placed most of his great estate in her hands, and directed that she should have control and management of more than one hundred million dollars. Mrs. Harriman was the daughter of a wealthy financier of Rochester, New York, and before her marriage her name was Mary Averill. The management, not only of this vast estate, is in the hands of Mrs. Harriman, but the completion of their home at Arden, on the crest of the Ramapo Hills, an estate half in New York and half in New Jersey, of forty-six thousand acres. Mr. Harriman wished to give employ-ment to the country people and he had laid out this estate on the most extensive plans. This is being carried out in strict accordance to his wishes. Mrs. Harriman is essentially a woman of sound common sense and judgment. The tasks that confront her she is handling with energy and courage. She is devoting much of her time to the shaping of the career of her only son, Walter, a student at Yale, whom his father had already apprenticed to the railroad.

Ella Maynard Kelly 1857 ~
Miss Ella Maynard Kelly was born in 1857 in Fremont, Ohio. She began telegraphy at the age of fourteen, having been given charge of a night office in Egg Harbor on the Lake Shore Railroad. Here for four years she worked as a railroad operator and was responsible for the safe running of the trains on that road. Later, she was engaged in commercial telegraphy in Atlantic City, N. J., Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D. C, and in the Western Union Office in Columbus, Ohio. She has won unique rank as a woman distinguished in active telegraphy in the United States, and had charge of the first wire of the Associated Press circuit She was the first woman to use the vibrator in the telegraph service.

Margaret V. Kelly
Miss Margaret V. Kelly holds a position in the office of the Director of the Mint in the United States Treasury Department, and draws one of the largest salaries paid a woman by the government. She is third in rank in the big mint establishment presided over by George E. Roberts. She has been for many years in the office of the Director of the Mint, and recently Secretary MacVeagh designated Miss Kelly as Acting Director in the absence of Mr. Roberts and Mr. Preston. This is the first time her position has been officially recognized, she being placed on an absolutely equal footing with her chief.

Lucy Stedman Lamson 1857 ~
In defiance of the tradition of women's inefficiency in money and business matters, the career of Miss Lucy Stedman Lamson stands out as a woman educator and business woman. Born in Albany, New York, June 19, 1857; in 1886 she was graduated from the state normal school in Albany, New York, and in the following years she studied with special teachers in New York City. In September, 1888, she accepted a position in the Annie Wright Seminary, Tacoma, Washington, but during 1888-89, much excitement prevailed in regard to land speculations, and Miss Lamson borrowed funds and purchased city lots, which she sold at a large profit. In March, 1889, she filed a timber claim and a pre-emption in Skamania County, Washington, and in June, at the beginning of her summer vacation from school, she moved her household goods to her pre-emption and, accompanied by a young Norwegian woman, began the six months residence required by the government to obtain the title to the land. Having complied with the law and gained possession of the timber claim and pre-emption, Miss Lamson sold both at an immense advantage, investing the proceeds in real estate. On this as Tacoma advanced, she also realized handsomely, and the home of this shrewd business woman became one of the landmarks in that prosperous western city.

Miss C. H. Lippincott 1860 ~
Was born September, 1860 at Mount Holly, New Jersey. In 1801 she entered a new field for women, opening a seed business and issuing a circular which in two years brought her twenty thousand orders. She originated the plan of stating the number of seeds contained in each packet, which compelled all prominent seed houses to follow her example.

Mary D. Lowman 1842 ~
Was born January, 1842, in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. In 1866 she became the wife of George W. Lowman, and removed to Kansas. In 1885 she served as Deputy Register of Deeds in Oskaloosa, and was elected mayor of that city in 1888; with a Common Council composed entirely of women and they were again re-elected in 1889. During her administration the city was freed from debt and many public improvements were brought about.

Cassie Ward Mee 1848 ~
Much has been written in recent years of the relative rights and wrongs of capital and labor. But there have been few people who could discuss in private or from the platform these matters in an unprejudiced way. Yet such a platform speaker was Mrs. Cassie Ward Mee, labor champion. She was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, October 16, 1848. Her parents and ancestors belonged to the Society of Friends, and many of them were prominent accredited ministers of the society. She came with her husband, Charles Mee, to the United States in 1882 and settled in Cortland, N. Y., where she gained considerable prominence by her writings. She first appeared on the public platform in the cause of temperance. It was in August, 1885, that she first spoke on the labor question. On the twelfth of August, 1886, she addressed ten thousand people on Boston Common, and she received a splendid illuminated address from the Knights of Labor, in token of their appreciation of an address made by her in March, 1887. After lecturing extensively among the miners of Pennsylvania, she finally settled to her life work, which is the education of the members of that powerful organization, "The Knights of Labor."

Vivia A. Mowat
Mrs. Vivia A. Mowat deserves mention as one of the self-made women of America. She has demonstrated her ability by the success which she made of a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley, California. On this she has grown the grapes which have established for her a large raisin business. The women of this valley are among the controllers of this product in our country.

Mrs. L. H. Plumb 1841 ~
Mrs. Plumb was born June 23, 1841, in Sand Lake, New York, but has been a resident of Illinois since 1870. Her husband was a prominent business man and politician of Illinois, at one time a member of the Legislature of that State. Her husband's death occurred in 1882; when Mrs. Plumb took the active management of his large estate. She was elected vice-president of the Union National Bank of Streator, Illinois, of which her husband had been president for years. In 1890 she moved to Wheaton, Illinois, to give greater advantages of education to her children. Mrs. Plumb is a woman of liberal education, sound business judgment, great tact and wade experience. In practical affairs. She has always been one of the foremost workers for the cause of Temperance in her state, being one of the charter members and originators of the Temperance Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

Ida Hall Roby 1867 ~
Was born March 8, 1867, in Fairport, New York. She graduated from the Illinois College of Pharmacy in the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois. Her father's death occurred one year before she graduated, which necessitated her providing for her own support. Having a natural fondness for chemistry, she held a position in a drug house for several years, then started a pharmacy in Chicago, attending the college on alternate days. She is the first woman to graduate from the Pharmaceutical Department of that institution, and has won a unique reputation as a successful woman in a line of business generally left to man.

Ellen Alida Rose 1843 ~
Born June 17, 1843, in Champion, New York. In December, 1861, she married Alfred Rose, and in 1862 they moved to Wisconsin, where her life has been spent on a farm near Broadhead. She is one of the first and most active members of the Grange. Through Mrs. Rose's efforts and the members of the National Grange Organization, the anti-option bill was passed. She was a prominent member of the Patrons of Industry and by her voice and pen has done much to educate the farmers in the prominent reforms of the day, in which the advancement of women is one which has always claimed her first interest. Mrs. Rose has been an active worker in the Woman's Suffrage Association, and in 1888 was appointed District President of that organization.

Mary Sophie Scott 1858 ~
Born October 17, 1858, in Freeport, Illinois. Her father Orestes H. Wright was a native of Vermont, her mother, Mary M. Atkinson, of England. In 1863 Miss Wright became the wife of Colonel John Scott, of Nevada, Ohio. In 1875 she was invited to collect and exhibit the work of Iowa women at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia. Later she performed a like service for the Cotton Exposition in New Orleans. Her most useful work was the publication of her book ''Indian Corn as Human Food.''

Ina Shepherd
Miss Ina Shepherd, of Birmingham, Alabama, is the only woman who holds the place of secretary to a clearing-house association in this country. She has held this position for the city of Birmingham for over five years, handling the clearings of eight banks, amounting to between ten and fifteen million dollars a month. She is a fine musician and a most accomplished woman.

Jessie Waterhouse
Is president of the Women's Association of Retail Druggists. Other officers are: Mary S. Cooper, Gertrude Gammon, Winifred B. Woodrow.

Charlotte Fowler Wells 1814 ~
Born August 14, 1814, in Cohockton, New York. Her father, Horace Fowler, was an able writer. Her brothers, O. S. and L. N. Fowler were among the first to study and believe the doctrines of Gall and Spuzsheim and to develop an interest in the science of phrenology. Their sister Charlotte became deeply interested in this subject, teaching the first class in phrenology in this country, and joining her brothers in New York City they established the Fowler-Wells Publishing House. O. S. Fowler entered the lecture field, and L. N. Fowler established a branch of their house in London, leaving Charlotte to manage the large and complicated business in New York. In 1844 she became the wife of Samuel R. Wells, one of the partners in their business. On her husband's death, in 1875 she was left sole proprietor and manager, and later when this business was made a stock company, she was its president. She was vice-president and one of the instructors of the American Institute of Phrenology, which was incorporated in 1866. She was one of the founders and later one of the trustees of the New York Medical College for Women, which was founded in 1863.

Nettie L. White
Born near Syracuse, New York. She is descended from old Revolutionary stock of Massachusetts. About 1876 she began her first regular work with Henry G. Hayes, one of the corps of stenographers with the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C, at a time when very few women were engaged in practical stenography in Washington. She was engaged in this work for thirteen years. After several years of the most difficult work in the Capitol, she desired to work as official stenographer for one of the Congressional Committees and decided upon the Committee on Military Affairs, of which General Rosecrans was the chairman. Her first work was a report on heavy ordnance which was being made to the committee by General Benet. When finished her report was accepted by the committee, and she had no further difficulties to overcome because she was a woman. Miss White served with Clara Barton in the Red Cross work for the relief of the flood sufferers in Johnstown, and while here she received her appoint-ment to the Pension Bureau as an expert workman gained through civil service examination.





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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