Virginia Clemm

Wife of Author Edgar Allan Poe Virginia Clemm (1822-1847) was the wife of poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, who was best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. They were first cousins who married when Virginia was 13 and Poe was 27. Poe’s love for Virginia Clemm was as constant as his often self-destructive determination to work in nineteenth-century America as a professional writer. Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was one of the earliest practitioners of the short story, and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, and is credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting…

Read Article

Letitia Tyler

10th First Lady of the United States Letitia Tyler (1790–1842), first wife of President John Tyler, was First Lady from April 4, 1841 until her death on September 10, 1842. After giving birth to eight children in fifteen years, Letitia Tyler suffered a stroke, which left her unable to walk. Yet her poor physical health did not prevent her from overseeing her family’s successful Virginia plantation and raising their children. In fact, it was Letitia’s success in these roles throughout their married life that allowed John Tyler to pursue his political ambitions full time. Childhood and Early Years Letitia Christian was born on November 12, 1790 on a Tidewater Virginia plantation named Cedar Grove in New Kent County, about twenty…

Read Article

Sophia Hawthorne

Writer, Artist and Wife of Author Nathaniel Hawthorne Sophia Hawthorne (September 21, 1809 – February 26, 1871) was a writer and painter, and one of the famous Peabody sisters. She took up drawing and painting in 1829, and was an accomplished artist before her marriage to author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sophia also published her journals and some of Nathaniel’s notebooks, which she edited and published after his death. Sophia Amelia Peabody was born September 21, 1809, in Salem, Massachusetts.Her father was dentist Nathaniel Peabody and her mother was the strong Unitarian Eliza Palmer Peabody. She had three brothers; her sisters were Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Mary Tyler Peabody (later wife of Horace Mann). With a father who had originally been a…

Read Article

Helen Pitts Douglass

Educator, Feminist and Wife of Frederick Douglass Frederick and Helen Pitts Douglass Standing is Helen’s sister Eva Pitts Helen Pitts Douglass (1838–1903) was a teacher and feminist, and the second wife of former slave, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Frederick Douglass. She created the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, and spent the last years of her life trying to build a memorial to her deceased husband, who is recognized as the father of the civil rights movement. Helen Pitts was born in 1838 in Honeoye, New York. She attended school at the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in Lima, New York, and graduated from Mary Lyon‘s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) in 1859. Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)…

Read Article

Lydian Emerson

Wife of Poet and Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson Lydian Emerson was a devout Christian, witty conversationalist and a member of the Transcendental Club. A major influence on her husband’s thought, she offered commentary on current events and once wrote of the excesses of American Transcendentalism in a text called The Transcendental Bible. She opposed slavery, supported women’s rights, and considered marriage to an unfit mate to be tantamount to slavery. Image: Lydian Emerson with son Edward, circa 1847 Lydia Jackson was born in 1802 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She met Ralph Waldo Emerson – an essayist, lecturer and poet – when he gave a lecture in her hometown in 1834. On January 24, 1835, Emerson wrote a letter to Lydia proposing…

Read Article

Rachel Jackson

Seventh First Lady of the United States Rachel Donelson Jackson was the wife of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States. As a child, Rachel was brought to the homes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee, all of whom were colleagues of her father in the House of Burgesses. Although she died before President Jackson took office, Rachel Jackson is considered an American First Lady. Rachel Donelson was a child of the frontier. Born near present-day Chatham, Virginia in June 1767, she journeyed to the Tennessee wilderness with her parents when only 12. Her father Colonel John Donelson was a Revolutionary War soldier, member of the Virginia Assembly and co-founder of the new settlement of Fort…

Read Article

Olivia Clemens

Well Educated Wife (and Sometimes Editor) of Mark Twain Olivia Langdon Clemens (1845-1904) was the wife of the famous American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain; she was a major influence on his writing. Olivia was raised in the stimulating environment of Elmira, New York, and was constantly exposed to some of the most exciting issues and women of her day, including Isabella Beecher Hooker and Anna Dickinson. Early Years Olivia Langdon was born November 27, 1845 in Elmira, New York to Jervis and Olivia Lewis Langdon. Jervis was a very wealthy coal businessman, and her family participated in a branch of the Underground Railroad that came through Elmira, and socialized with leading doctors‚ theologians and suffragists. There…

Read Article

Elizabeth Grimke Rutledge

Wife of Founding Father John Rutledge John Rutledge was a delegate to the South Carolina Assembly, the Stamp Act Congress, the Continental Congress and the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he signed the United States Constitution. The Founding Father was also Governor of South Carolina from 1776-1782, Chief Justice of South Carolina and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His elder brother, Edward Rutledge, signed the Declaration of Independence. Image: John Rutledge Elizabeth Grimke was born November 29, 1741, in South Carolina, the daughter of Charleston lawyer Frederick Grimke and Martha (Emmes) Grimke. Elizabeth was the first cousin of John Faucheraud Grimke, father of the famous 19th-century abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke.

Lady Christina Stuart Griffin

Wife of Founding Father Cyrus Griffin Image: Cyrus Griffin Cyrus Griffin (1749 – 1810) was a lawyer and judge who served as the last President of the Continental Congress, holding office from January 22, 1788, to November 2, 1788. After the ratification of the new United States Constitution rendered the old Congress obsolete, he became a Federal judge. Lady Christina Stuart was born in 1751 in Peebleshire, Scotland. Cyrus Griffin was born July 16, 1748 in Farnham, Virginia, the son of Leroy and Mary Ann Bertrand Griffin. Griffin studied law at the Temple in London and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he became close friends with Charles Stuart, Lord Linton, first son and heir of the Earl of…

Read Article

Mary Pinckney

Wife of Founding Father Charles Pinckney Image: Charles Pinckney Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) was an American politician who was a signer of the U.S. Constitution, Governor of South Carolina and a member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. An ardent believer in the rights of man, he helped to establish a strong national government so that “the effects of the Revolution may never cease to operate,” but continue to serve as an example to others “until they have unshackled all the nations that have firmness to resist the fetters of despotism.” Mary Eleanor Laurens was born April 27, 1770, at Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Eleanor Ball Laurens and Founding Father Henry Laurens. Charles Pinckney was born into…

Read Article