Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Women in Government Departments


The women who have occupied the positions of experts in the various departments of the United States Government have made for woman remarkable records. Many of these women come from the finest families of our country. Many of their ancestors were identified with the early society and important history of America. The first woman employed by the United States Government was Miss Jennie Douglas. During the war General Spinner persuaded the secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, to employ women in that department to cut and trim the treasury notes, and Miss Douglas was the first woman to be employed on this work. Among those who entered the work in that early day was Mrs. Helen L. McLean Kimball. Mrs. Kimball is dean of the government women, as she enjoys the record of the longest service of all the women workers under the United States Government. She is the widow of a Civil War officer who was killed in the field, and shortly after his death she took up her duties in the Treasury. Mrs. Kimball is considered one of the most valued employees of this department, and is a most popular, intellectual woman, who has endeared herself to all her associates. For more than twenty years Mrs. Kimball was chief of the Treasury library, which she helped to build up and make valuable. Later she became a file clerk in the office of the comptroller of the currency. Following- dose upon the record of Mrs. Kimball is that of Miss Sarah F. Hoey, who has counted money for over forty-four years, and during this long period handled billions of dollars which found their way to the redemption department of the United States Treasury, Mrs. W. A. Leonard is frequently spoken of as the most remarkable woman in the United States Government. She was appointed in 1864, and her work as chief counterfeit detector in the treasurer's office is well known. She has been called "The Female Sherlock Holmes." Mrs. Leonard has just retired from the service after over forty years' work.

There are many others who deserve mention, but these are the most prominent in their length of service.

Mrs. Brewster
Mrs. Brewster, the wife of Attorney-General Brewster who was a member of the Cabinet of President Arthur, met her husband while he was obtaining evidence for a case he was prosecuting as district attorney, in the Treasury department, where she was employed for many years before her marriage. She fulfilled her part as the wife of a Cabinet official with dignity and grace, adding much to the popularity and esteem of her distinguished husband and the social life of Washington at the time of his service as a Cabinet minister. Mrs. Brewster was the daughter of Robert J. Walker, who was secretary of the Treasury under Buchanan.

Mrs. Mary Fuller
Mrs. Mary Fuller, sister of Mrs. Vinnie Ream Hoxie the well-known sculptress, has been chief librarian in the library of the Department of the Interior for over thirty-five years.

Miss Mabel Hatch
Miss Mabel Hatch, who was for many years in the Patent office as clerk to the commissioner, was one of the highest salaried women in the government at one time. Miss Hatch has made a remarkable record for a woman in that, with but a few days' exception, she has never lost a day from her office.

Miss Caroline C. Kirkland
Miss Caroline C. Kirkland, who reached four-score years in 1908, has been employed in the Patent office for over a quarter of a century.

Miss Frances R. Lybrand
Miss Frances R. Lybrand, of Ohio, has a record of nearly thirty years in the Patent office as an expert examiner in the civil engineering division.

Miss Emma A. McCully
Miss Emma A. McCully is employed in the internal revenue service. Miss McCully's grandfather was Captain Nathaniel Haraden, who served on the "Constitution" Old Ironsides, in the war with Tripoli, and in recognition of his service, was appointed lieutenant in the navy, and afterward made commandant of the United States Navy, and assigned to duty in the navy yard at Washington. Miss McCully's most valued possession is his commission signed by James Madison. Her grandmother was an intimate friend of Dolly Madison, and Miss McCully's family were identified with the foremost of America's early social and official life.

Miss Stoner
Miss Stoner, niece of General Spinner, was among the first women appointed in the Treasury department by Secretary Chase, when women were given these positions, to take the place of the men called into service at the outbreak of the War.

The Misses Taney
The Misses Taney, daughters of Chief Justice Taney, were among the capable women who served for many years in the departments of the government.

Lizzie E. D. Thayer
Miss Lizzie E. D. Thayer was born October 5, 1857, in Ware, Massachusetts. She occupied an unusual position for a woman, that of train dispatcher. Since 1878 she has been employed in the various offices of New England as a telegraph operator. In 1889 she entered the service of the New London Northern Railroad, and on the resignation of the train dispatcher, whose assistant she had been for a year, she was appointed to the office, and filled the position satisfactorily.

Miss Amelia Tyler
Miss Amelia Tyler has been in the service of the United States Government for over thirty-five years. She is a special patent examiner and passes expert judgment on patents for tilling the soil and other agricultural purposes and appliances.

Mrs. Angeline D. Ware
Mrs. Angeline D. Ware held a very responsible position also in the Patent office for more than a quarter of a century. Mrs. Ware is a woman of great refinement and gentle birth. In her young womanhood she moved in the first circles of Ohio society. Her brother was Governor Dennison, the "war" governor of Ohio, and a member of Lincoln's Cabinet Her husband was one of the first lawyers of Ohio, and after his death it became necessary that Mrs. Ware should support herself, which she has done with cheerfulness and credit to herself and satisfaction to the government for many years.

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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