Anna Murray Douglass

Anna Murray Douglass

Wife of Former Slave Frederick Douglass Anna Murray Douglass was an American abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and the first wife of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her life illustrates the challenges faced by women who marry famous men. Early Years Anna Murray was born free to Bambarra and Mary Murray in Denton, Maryland in 1813. Anna was ambitious; by the age of 17 she had moved to Baltimore and established herself as a laundress and housekeeper and was earning a decent income, especially for someone so young. Murray facilitated Frederick’s second escape attempt by providing money for a train ticket and a sailor’s disguise. She followed him to New York City, where they were married by the prominent…

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Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith

Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith and her husband Gerrit Smith were wealthy activists and philanthropists who committed themselves to the movement to end slavery in 1835. They were prominent members of antislavery societies in New York State and on a national level. Image: Gerrit and Ann Fitzhugh Smith Mansion This house was a refuge for the many escaped slaves who received food and comfort on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Early Years Ann Carroll Fitzhugh was born January 11, 1805. Her father William Fitzhugh, a colonel in the Continental Army, built a home near Chewsville, Maryland which he called The Hive because of the many activities carried on by his twelve children and…

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Eunice White Beecher

Wife of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher Eunice White Beecher was also author of a novel, From Dawn to Daylight, and several books about housekeeping. Her husband, Henry Ward Beecher of the illustrious Beecher family, became one of the most famous men in the United States during the 19th century. Early Years Eunice White Bullard was born August 26, 1812 in West Sutton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Lucy White Bullard and Dr. Artemas Bullard. Eunice was educated in Hadley, Massachusetts. In the meantime, Henry Ward Beecher, almost a year younger than Eunice, had a stammer and was considered one of the less promising of the brilliant Beecher children. THIS MY 500th POST !

Mary Peabody Mann

Activist, Educator, and Wife of Horace Mann Mary Peabody Mann was a teacher, author, and wife of education reformer Horace Mann. Mary carried a passion for education, especially of young children, in her breast from her youngest days. She was well educated by her mother and role model Eliza Palmer Peabody, who ran a school from their home and was an early advocate of women’s rights. Early Years Mary Tyler Peabody was born November 16, 1806 in Cambridge and grew up in Salem, both in Massachusetts. Her parents, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Peabody were schoolteachers when they married; after the wedding, they reserved one room in their home as a classroom.

Elizabeth Jarvis Colt

Woman Who Ran the Colt Firearms Factory When firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt died in 1862, majority ownership in the Colt Fire Arms Company passed to his wife, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt. Called the Grande Dame of Connecticut, she worked tirelessly to preserve her husband’s accomplishments and safeguard his legacy. The company continued to thrive under her leadership for almost forty years. Image: Elizabeth Jarvis Hart Colt With her son Caldwell Portrait by Charles Loring Elliott Early Years Elizabeth Hart Jarvis was born October 5, 1826 in Saybrook, Connecticut to Episcopal Minister William Jarvis and Elizabeth Jarvis, the eldest of five children in an affluent and socially prominent family. Samuel Colt, born July 19, 1814, was an inventor and arms manufacturer in…

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Lucy Bakewell Audubon

Educator and Wife of John James Audubon Lucy Bakewell met Frenchman John James Audubon when he came to America in 1803 to oversee his father’s estate, Mill Grove, next door to Lucy’s family home, Fatland Ford. Audubon was eighteen; Lucy was sixteen, and she might have been jealous of his new passion: American birds. She was educated and physically strong, and she sometimes observed birds in the forest with Audubon. Image: Lucy Bakewell Audubon in 1831 Early Years Born January 18, 1787 in England to a wealthy family, Lucy was the daughter of William Bakewell and Lucy Green. The family immigrated to the United States in 1801 and settled on an estate called Fatland Ford near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John James…

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Abigail Brooks Adams

Wife of Charles Francis Adams Abigail Brown Brooks was born April 25, 1808 in Medford, Massachusetts, the youngest of three daughters of Peter Chardon Brooks and Ann Gorham Brooks. Peter Brooks was one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he and his wife were highly regarded in Boston society. Image: Portrait of Abigail Brooks Adams By William E. West, 1847 Third son of John Quincy and Louisa Adams, Charles Francis Adams was born August 18, 1807 in Boston. He spent most of his early childhood abroad, where his father had diplomatic appointments. Charles Francis, like his father and grandfather, attended Harvard College, graduating in 1825. He spent the next two years studying law in Washington DC while his family…

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Ellen Arthur

Wife of 21st President Chester A. Arthur Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was the wife of the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur, but she would not join him at the White House. Ellen died on January 12, 1880, before her husband was elected vice president November 2, 1880; and before James A. Garfield‘s assassination would have made her first lady, but she has been honorably credited with the role. Early Years Ellen Herndon, nicknamed Nell, was born August 30, 1837 at Culpeper Court House, Virginia, the only child of Frances Elizabeth Hansborough and naval commander William Lewis Herndon. When her father was assigned to help establish the Naval Observatory in September 1842, the family moved to Washington,…

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Ida McKinley

First Lady of the United States Ida Saxton McKinley, wife of William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, was First Lady from 1897 to 1901. She and her husband developed a unique way of coping with her epileptic seizures during her public appearances, and the love they shared during the early years of happiness endured through more than twenty years of illness. Image: Ida McKinley Photograph from the 1896 Presidential Campaign Early Years Ida Saxton was born June 8, 1847 in Canton, Ohio, the second of three children born to Katherine DeWalt and James Saxton, a prominent Canton banker. The Saxtons were a prominent family in Canton: Ida’s grandfather founded the Ohio Repository, the first newspaper in Canton, and…

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Lucretia Clay

Wife of U.S. Senator Henry Clay Lucretia Hart was born March 18, 1781 in Hagerstown, Maryland into a wealthy and socially prominent family. She moved to Kentucky with her parents in 1784. Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia to a middle-class family. Clay studied for the bar with the eminent George Wythe [link], and at age 20, moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he developed a thriving practice and met his future wife. Image: Lucretia and Henry Clay After a brief courtship, Lucretia Hart married Henry Clay April 11, 1799 at her family home in Lexington, Kentucky. Though Lucretia was not physically attractive, neither was Clay. Far more important were her family connections, which placed…

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