Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Women for the Good of the Country

 

Mrs. Louis Mclean
In the letters of Washington Irving we find Mrs. Louis McLean mentioned as a prominent leader in the fashionable society of Washington City. She was the eldest daughter of Robert Milligan and in 1812 married in 1829 was sent by President Jackson as minister to England. In 1831 he returned to accept the portfolio of the Treasury in Jackson's cabinet and two years later was made secretary of state. While Washington Irving was on a visit to this country he was entertained at Mr. McLean's home. Irving also mentions a Miss Barney as a great belle and Miss Butt of Norfolk.

Lady William Gore Ouseley
Mrs. Roosevelt's sister was also conspicuous in social life. Her husband was Sir William Gore Ouseley, connected with the British legation in Washington in 1829, when they were married. His life as a diplomat to the various European courts and those of South America was interesting. During Lady Ouseley's stay in Washington she took a prominent part in the social life of that city.

Maria (Mayo) Scott
The wife of General Winfield Scott was a prominent figure in social life. She was a Miss Maria Mayo, the daughter of Mr. John Mayo of Richmond, Virginia. General and Mrs. Scott had seven children.

Mrs. (Wickliffe) Merrick
Mrs. Merrick, the wife of Judge Merrick of the District of Columbia was the daughter of Charles Wickliffe and was a leader in the social life of Washington.

Mrs. Daniel Webster
The wife of Daniel Webster, Caroline Leroy, accompanied her husband in 1839 when he went abroad and was received at the courts of Europe. They spent their winters in Washington, where Mrs. Webster became prominent socially. Mrs. Webster not only shared his wanderings but was a helpmeet in every sense of the word to her distinguished husband both in public and private affairs. She assisted him in his correspondence and Mr. Webster relied on her in all matters where sound judgment and discretion were required. During his secretary ship both under Presidents Tyler and Fillmore she was his efficient aid, at the same time she made his house the center of a brilliant society, drawing about them the finest minds of the century and those of high position in our country's history.

Mrs. (Daylond) Slidell
Mrs. Slidell, the wife of the senator from Louisiana, was conspicuous abroad among the ladies devoted to the Confederate cause and her influence in society was remarkable. Mrs. Slidell was Miss Daylond of Louisiana. Her home was on the Mississippi coast

Mrs. Duvall and Others
Another of the brilliant and intellectual women from the South was Mrs. Duvall, the wife of Mr. Duvall, a planter from. Louisiana and son of former Chief Justice of Maryland. Among the social queens of the Confederate court in Richmond Virginia, was Mrs. James Chestnut of Camden, South Carolina, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Clement Clay. Mrs. Reverdy Johnson was a prominent leader of the society of Baltimore. She was very beautiful and queenly woman and helped greatly to advance the fortunes of her husband. Mrs. Myra Clarke Gaines was another southern woman prominent in the social life in Washington. Her name is familiar to everyone and her romantic history well known. The history of her claim to her father's estates, prosecuted under various discouragements for thirty-five years, and granted in her favor only a few days before her death, is considered one of the most extraordinary cases as well as one of the most interesting, in the annals of American jurisprudence.

Lucy Crittenden
Miss Lucy Crittenden who was the sister of John J. Crittenden, the distinguished senator, was a woman possessed of superior intellect and extensive social influence. She married Judge Thornton, a member of Congress from Alabama, the first land commissioner of California, and they made their home in San Francisco.

Mrs. Thomas Addis Emmet and Mrs. Dubois
Among other social leaders prominent in the charitable work of the city of New York may be mentioned Mrs. Thomas Addis Emmet and Mrs. Dubois, who was Miss Delafield, at that time quite a noted artist in sculpture and cameo cutting. Mrs. Emmet was the widow of Thomas Addis Emmet, the son of the distinguished Irish patriot who was a prominent lawyer in New York City. Mrs. L Emmet, father was John Thorn, of the firm of Hoyt & Thom, noted East India merchants. Mrs. Emmet was a noted leader in the best circles of the metropolis, who devoted much of her time to public and private charities.

Adelicia Acklen
Mrs. Acklen, the daughter of Oliver D. Hayes, a native of South Hadley, Massachusetts, was a prominent leader in the social life of Nashville, Tennessee. Her mother was Sarah T. Hightower, the daughter of Richard Hightower, of Williamson County. Their daughter Adelicia married when quite young Mr. Isaac Franklin, a planter of Louisiana, who lived but a few years. After his death she married Colonel Joseph Acklen, of Huntsville, Alabama, who also lived but a few years. After his death Mrs. Acklen spent much time in Europe. After her return to this country she married Dr. W. A. Cheatham, making her home in Nashville, where she became noted for her cordial hospitality and her house a resort for the celebrities of that section.

Mrs. Hills
Mrs. Hills lived for many years in the city of New York where her morning receptions were quite noted. Her great passion was the cultivation of music and the promotion of the best and highest in art. The daughter of Mrs. Hills was Mrs. John Schermerhorn who inherited her mother's talent in music; and it is said that Gottschalk complimented Mrs. Schermerhorn on the playing of his compositions. Mrs. William Schermerhorn, who was also a prominent figure socially, in New York City, was a Miss Cotinet, and gave during the winter of 1867 three of the most splendid receptions ever given in that city.

Wife of Judge Huntington of Indiana
Was esteemed as one of the bright ornaments of western society. She was a daughter of Dr. Christopher A. Rudd, a prominent physician of Springfield, Kentucky, who was descendant of the Carroll family of Maryland. Mrs. Huntington's first husband was Clarke Fitzhugh, of Louisville, Kentucky, a nephew of General George Rogers Clarke. While a widow Mrs. Fitzhugh went to Washington with her cousin Mrs. Florida White and became one of the well-known belles of the Capital city. It was during this visit that she met with Honorable E. M. Huntington, then commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington, and they were married soon afterward. Mr. Huntington was an especial friend of President Tyler, who appointed him to the position of Judge of the United States Court in Indiana, and they removed to that state, making their home in Terre Haute, and Mrs. Huntington became the center and leader of social life in that part of the state.

Ellen Adair
The daughter of Governor Adair, of Kentucky, was noted throughout the Golf states for her accomplishments and charm and became one of the belles in Washington City in later years. She married Colonel White, of Florida, and was often called Mrs. Florida White in allusion to the state represented by her husband in Congress. After Colonel White's death, while on a visit to New Orleans, she met Mr. Beattie, an Irish gentleman whom she married. Her sister, Mrs. Benjamin F. Pleasants, was well known and greatly admired in Washington City and always took a great interest in public affairs.

Pamela Williams
Was another prominent woman in the social life of Washington. She was born in Williamston, Massachusetts, in 1785, and at eighteen married General Jacob Brown, and they went to reside at Brownsville, in Jefferson County. During their residence in the Capital city their house was the center of a cultivated circle where were welcome the statesmen and scholars, the gifted and distinguished, with the less fortunate who were in need of sympathy and encouragement.

Mrs. Eliza Garfield
Mrs. Eliza Garfield, the mother of James A. Garfield, was an admirable illustration of the true nobility of the women of the earlier days of the Republic. Her devotion to the memory of her husband, her struggle for the maintenance and education of her family, her pure Christian character, native generosity and sympathy with those about her, her self-denial, her humility, her pride in her illustrious son, make her a remarkable woman of her time. She is the only mother of a President who ever resided in the White House. The nation was deeply impressed by the honor paid her by her son after he delivered his inaugural address. Embracing her in the presence of the multitude immediately after he had pronounced the last syllable of that wonderful address, was the greatest tribute a son could have paid a mother and does credit alike to the son and the venerable mother. She survived her distinguished son but a few years.

Mrs. Joshua Speed and Mrs. Ninian Edwards
Mrs. Joshua Speed and Mrs. Ninian Edwards, of Springfield, Illinois, were conspicuous leaders in their home city, the capital of Illinois. They gathered about their table and in their drawing-rooms such men as Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, John J. Hardin, James Shields, the Edwards, John Stuart, David Davis, and Edward D. Baker, all distinguished men in the history of our country. At this time all the women were interested in politics and national affairs. Throughout all the West, indeed, there flowed an enthusiastic spirit which made up for everything else. The women of the West were a part of the great growth of that country. They felt their responsibility in the westward movement, the obligations which had been laid upon them as wives and mothers, the obligation of establishing homes while their husbands established the towns and cities, of looking after the education of their children while their husbands made the money to pay for these opportunities, and of preserving and developing the morals not only of their children but of their husbands and the men about them.

Elizabeth Palmer Peabody
The persistency and skill of Miss Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, called ''The Grandmother of Boston" in keeping an open house for social gatherings was one of the really valuable contributions to the social life of Boston. Her little shop has been called ''a kind of Transcendental Exchange" and her home was the same, and it is said she was the first woman in Boston to give a regular evening to her friends, and to the last days of her life she continued these delightful social gatherings.

Bertha Honore Palmer
Bertha Honore Palmer was born in Louisville, Kentucky, where she passed her childhood, receiving a common school education. She afterward took a course in the Georgetown, D, C. Convent, where she graduated in 1871. Shortly afterward she became the wife of Potter Palmer, the Chicago millionaire, who was many years her senior. Since her marriage she has been a recognized social leader of that city. She is an accomplished linguist, musician and woman of marked executive ability. She was chosen president of the Board of Lady Managers of the Exposition of 1893, and in 1891 went to Europe in the interest of this section and succeeded in interesting many of the prominent women of Europe in the women's department of the World's Fair, and much of the success of this department is due to her work. Since the death of her husband she has spent much of her time abroad, and during the reign of King Edward, of England, occupied a house in London, where she entertained extensively gaining for herself a high position among the social leaders of the most exclusive and royal circles. She keeps her residence in Chicago, Illinois, where her large interests are located.

Ida Lewis
Is better known as the "Grace Darling of America." She was born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1841. Her father was Captain Hosea Lewis, and was keeper of the Lime Rock light-house in Newport harbor. She early became her father's assistant in his duties at this station. She made her first rescue when but seventeen years of age, saving the crew of a boat lost in a storm near the lighthouse, and landed them in safety at Fort Adams, when even men did not venture to launch a boat to aid the helpless men. She received from the United States Government a gold medal, the first ever given to a woman; a silver medal from the Humane Society of Massachusetts, and also one from the Life-saving Benevolent Society of New York, and her home is filled with testimonials in recognition of her heroism. She is one of the most distinguished examples of American heroism among women.

Mary Elizabeth (Clyens) Leese 1853 ~
Born in Pennsylvania, September 11, 1853. Her father was Joseph P. Clyens and her mother, Mary Elizabeth Murray Clyens. In 1873 she married Charles L. Leese, and has since been a resident of Wichita, Kansas. She took up the study of law, and has been actively engaged in politics of recent years. The political revolution in Kansas brought her to the front and she became prominent as a Populist leader and through her bitter opposition to the re-election of Senator John J. Ingalls. During the campaign of General Weaver, the Populist candidate* she accompanied him and spoke in his interest from public platforms. She has occupied the position of president of the board of trustees of some of the charitable institutions of the state of Kansas, and other public offices. Her items are radical and her cause has been most aggressive, which has brought much criticism upon her methods.

Elizabeth Tillinghast Lawton
Elizabeth Tillinghast Lawton, a direct descendant of Elder Pardon Tillinghast, the noted Baptist Divine, was born July 15, 1832, and died March 1, 1904. Mrs. Lawton was one of the most widely known and highly respected residents in Newport County, Rhode Island, and was always prominently identified with the educational progress of Tiverton, Rhode Island. She was one of the first women in the country on a school committee, serving as chairman and superintendent of schools, and for years was the only woman holding the office of superintendent. She was an unusually strong character with a keen intellect which she retained up to the time she was stricken with apoplexy which almost immediately caused her death. It was always said that in all action she showed the marked characteristics of her distinguished ancestor, who succeeded Roger Williams in his labors in the First Baptist Church, Providence.

Margaret (Stewart) Sherman
Mrs. Sherman was the only child of Judge Stewart of Mansfield, Ohio. She was well educated. On December 31, 1848, she married John Sherman then a young lawyer of some prominence, a brother of General W. T. Sherman, and later U. S. Senator from Ohio. During President Hayes' term. Senator Sherman was Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State in President McKinley's Cabinet Mrs. Sherman fulfilled with dignity and credit her part in all the positions of honor to which her husband was called by the people of his state.

Clara Harrison Stranahan 1879 ~
Mrs. Clara Harrison Stranahan was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, and in 1879 she became the wife of Hon. J. S. T. Stranahan, of Brooklyn, New York. In all the active career of her husband, both political and municipal, Mrs. Stranahan has been a powerful factor and a recognized leader in the city of Brooklyn. Mr. Stranahan received an unusual mark of esteem from the people of Brooklyn who erected, while he was living, in June 1891, a bronze statue to his honor under the title "First Citizen of Brooklyn.''

Katherine (Wescott) Tingley 1852 ~
Mrs. Tingley was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, July 6, 1852. Was descended from one of the early colonial families and was the daughter of James P. and Susan Wescott. She attended the public schools and had private instruction. In 1879 she married T. B. Tingley, an inventor. She is the leader and official head for life of the universal brotherhood of the Theosophical Society throughout the world, ''an outer head'' of the inner school of theosophy, the successor of Blavatsky. From 1896-7 she conducted two theosophy crusades around the world, established relief work for Indian famine sufferers, and founded the International Brotherhood League and a summer home for children at Spring Valley, New Jersey, in 1897. Her claim for fame rests upon the society and academy, or as she calls it, the School of Antiquity and the Raja Yoga Academies, located at Point Loma and San Diego, California. She has founded three academies for boys and girls in Cuba; was one to organize relief corps in New York, and helped to establish a hospital at Montauk Point, New York, for the sick and wounded soldiers of the Spanish American War. She was quite active in carrying on this humanitarian work in Cuba, where the Government granted her permission to establish hospitals both in Cuba and Manila, P. I. She is the owner of the Isis Theatre in California, and of large properties in California, Sweden, England and San Juan Hill, Cuba. She is the editor of the Century Path, a theosophy publication, published at Point Loma, California.

Mrs. Charles Emory Smith
Was the granddaughter of the late Hon. Charles Nichols, United States Minister to The Hague, and great-granddaughter of Benjamin Romaine, at one time second comptroller of New York City. Her husband, Hon. Charles Emory Smith, was at one time United States Minister to St Petersburg, and afterwards in the cabinets of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt as postmaster-general.

Caroline E. Poree 1842 ~
Was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 30, 1842. One of her ancestors was John Baptiste Poree, Counsel of America, in 1812. She was for thirty-eight years assistant in the Boston Public Library, in charge of the Men's Reading Room, Periodical Department. For many years she has been an assistant in the new Library of Copley Square.

Mary R. Wilcox
Was the daughter of Hon. John A. Wilcox and Mary Donelson Wilcox. Her mother enjoyed the distinction of being the first child born in die White House. She is the granddaughter of Major Andrew J. Donelson, Minister to Prussia in 1846 and Mrs. Emily A. Donelson, who presided over the White House during the administrations of Andrew Jackson, her uncle. She was for some years the recording secretary-general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and is today a clerk in one of the departments of the United States Government.

Kate (Semmes) Wright
Wife of the ex-Secretary of War was Miss Kate Semmes, daughter of Admiral Semmes, C. S. N. Mrs. Wright is one of the many charming Southern women who have served in the official social coterie at Washington. Mrs. Wright is an experienced hostess and versatile woman, and wherever her lines have been cast she has taken a leading place in society. Mrs. Wright is the mother of three sons, who were in service during the Spanish- American War; and two daughters, one of whom is Mrs. John H. Watkins, of New York, and the other, Mrs. Palmer.

Amey Webb Wheeler
Mrs. Amey Webb Wheeler was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Her father's name was Henry Aborn Webb; her mother's, Amey Gorham Webb. She is descended from Roger Williams and Gregory Dexter. Married June 24, 1881, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, the distinguished university professor. Mrs. Wheeler lived in Germany for four years; one year at Harvard (1885-6); at Cornell University, 1886-99, and since 1899, at Berkeley, California.

Mrs. Martin
The wife of a former instructor in the Harvard Aeronautical Society and later instructor in the Grahame-White School of Aviation in France. Though an Englishwoman she is an American by adoption. She has not only made many flights with her husband in the machine which he designed, belonging to the Harvard Society, but she is now flying in Grahame-White's Baby Biplane, a small copy of the Farman machine.

Harriet Quimby
Miss Quimby is the first woman to have her own monoplane and take up seriously the science of aviation. She is an enthusiast in this sport and has entered the Moisant School of Aviation at Garden City, Long Island. Several other women have made short flights alone at Mineola, namely, Mrs. E. Edwards, Miss Mary Shea, who was winner of the Bridgeport (Connecticut) post competition and made a flight, on May 14th, of about five miles from the Bridgeport Aerodrome out over Long Island Sound and back.

Lillie Irene Jackson
Miss Lillie Irene Jackson was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She is descended from one of the leading families of the South. Her father. Honorable John J. Jackson, was Federal District Judge in West Virginia for over a quarter of a century, and her grandfather. General Jackson, was connected with the distinguished Stonewall Jackson of Confederate fame. She is one of the leading women of the South in the progressive work of the present time. She was a member of the Board of Lady Managers from the state of West Virginia, at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Florence Pullman Lowden 1868 ~
Born Florence Sanger Pullman, August 11, 1868, eldest daughter of George M. and Harriet Sanger Pullman. Mrs. Lowden is a woman of rare talents and attainments. Her qualities of head and heart are of the highest order. From the day of her graduation from Miss Brown's school in New York in 1889, she was the constant companion of her father, entering into all of his philanthropic plans with enthusiasm. Since his death she has conscientiously carried out many of his expressed wishes. April 29, 1896, she was married to Frank O. Lowden, a promising young lawyer of Chicago.

It would be impossible for any young woman to enter more heartily into all the aspirations of her husband than does Mrs. Lowden, and notwithstanding her youth and the fact that she was the daughter of affluence all her life, she took upon herself the multiplicity of interests that are supposed to devolve upon persons embarking upon the sea of public favor. She nobly seconded every movement made by her husband upon his election to the Congress of the United States, from the day she made her debut into Washington official and social circles to that of Mr. Lowden's retirement, March, 1911, Mrs. Lowden was a decided leader. Her dignified and yet cordial manner, her perfect equipoise under all circumstances, her culture and quick intelligence, won for her the admiration of all who knew her. Mrs. Lowden is the mother of four beautiful children, one son and three daughter to whom she is a wonderfully devoted mother, not forgetting meanwhile that her companionship means much to her widowed mother in her invalidism and loneliness.

Eliza Franklin Routt
Was born in 1842, in Springfield, Illinois, of Kentucky ancestry. Her grandfather, Colonel William F. Elkin, was one of the famous "long nine" that represented Sangamon County in the legislative session of 1836 and 1837. Each of these men were six feet tall. Abraham Lincoln was one of these stalwarts, whose efforts that year secured the location of the capital of the state for their county. Her father, Franklin Pickerell was a noted Kentuckian.

She was given an excellent education, which was completed by travel and study abroad. When Colonel John L. Routt was second assistant postmaster-general in 1864, he married Mrs. Routt in her uncle's home in Decatur, Illinois, and she became an addition to the social circles of Washington City. In 1875, General Logan secured the appointment of Colonel Routt as territorial governor of Colorado from President Grant. In 1876, Colorado became a state and Colonel Routt was made its first governor and was reelected. Mrs. Routt was a woman of remarkable ability, strong character and great culture, adding much to the luster of her husband's administration. She brought up the daughters of Colonel Routt by his first wife, with devotion and care and they were among Denver's most prominent women.

Mary A. Woods
Miss Woods, known as 'The second Betsy Ross," has charge of the making of the American flags for the United States Navy in the equipment department. Miss Woods was formerly a well-known dressmaker of New York City when she decided to take up this work, and applied for the position at the New York Navy Yard, receiving the appointment of "quarter-woman" in the equipment department, where she has been for more than a quarter of a century. She superintends the cutting of all of the flags, the stripes and stars and every portion which must be most exact. In this bureau is made not only the flags of our own country for use on all our ships and navy yards of the United States, but the flags of other maritime nations. Miss Woods, herself, has taught her assistants all they know of flag-making. In one year 140,000 yards of bunting were used and $70,000 expended in this work by the Government. When our fleet started for the Pacific all the signals were changed, and all the flags had to be altered accordingly, 408 in all, and forty-three foreign ensigns. The most complicated flag in existence today is that of San Salvador, and the one flag on which the front is not the same as the back is that of Paraguay.

Mrs. John S. Ford
The splendid work done by the Young Woman's Christian Association is well known in every city in the United States. In Youngstown, Ohio, Mrs. John S. Ford, president of the local Young Woman's Christian Association, deserves especial mention for her efforts in raising, during the year 1910, for their homework, the magnificent sum of $182,000. This magnificent result shows what can be done by the energy, perseverance and executive ability of an able woman aided by enthusiastic supporters. Mrs. John S. Ford is the wife of one of the leading business men of Youngstown, Ohio and one of its conspicuous social leaders.

Sallie Logan
Mrs. Logan was born Sallie Oliver, April 15, 1853, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father, Thomas Oliver, came to Pittsburgh in 1826. Her mother, Sarah Ann Hancock, came from Louisville, Kentucky, and was a graduate of the famous Female Seminary at Shelbyville, Kentucky. Miss Oliver became a school teacher, having taught a term before she was fifteen years old. She was married to Thomas M. Logan August 27, 1873. Mrs. Logan has been one of the most active women in church work, charities, educational associations and civic organizations for more than thirty years in Jackson County, Illinois. She is a member of the Commercial Club of Murphysboro, Illinois, her residential city, and is also one of the directors of a local bank.

Harriet (Sanger) Pullman
Harriet Sanger Pullman, widow of George M. Pullman, was born in Illinois. She was the only daughter of James P. and Mrs. Sanger, who were early settlers in Chicago. Mrs. Pullman's mother was a McPherson of stanch Scotch descent

Miss Sanger was one of the celebrated beauties of the fifties. She married George M. Pullman in 1866, and at once became a social leader in Chicago, taking always an active part in all movements for philanthropy and hospital work. She is probably one of the most consistent and generous contributors to charity of the wealthy women of her residential city. She distributes her benefactions privately, not allowing her left hand to know what she does with her right. She has an aversion to having her good deeds heralded.

Mrs. Pullman has traveled extensively since the death of her husband, but maintains her residence in Chicago, continuing to support many of the benefactions established by her husband. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church. One daughter, Mrs. Frank O. Lowden, lives in Illinois; the other, Mrs. Frank Carolan resides at Burlingame, California.

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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