1“The Little Corporal” was magazine founded at the end of the Civil War and devoted itself to “fighting against wrong, and for the good, true, and the beautiful.” Frances’ cousin, Helen Brace Emerson, was Assistant Editor of the magazine. The main editor, Edward Eggleston was both a novelist and historian. The magazine was not particularly renowned for its literary merit, however its messages of morality was welcoming to their audience. From “19 th Century American Children and What they Read: Some of their Magazines” http://www.merrycoz.org/MAGS4.HTM, online, accessed 18 November 2004.
2Helen Brace Emerson: Helen was born in 1838 in Rochester, NY to Captain Harvey and Hannah Thompson Brace. Both Helen’s and Frances’ family headed west at the same time to settle in Janesville, Wisconsin. Helen was a beloved cousin and life-long friend of Frances. The two attended Milwaukee Female School also known as Milwaukee Normal Institute and though their lives took different paths, a very strong bond existed between the two. Both women were heavily involved in advancing women in society and Helen decided to take on education and the art world. Helen began teaching English Literature in Milwaukee College and would later open up a private school in Evanston, Illinois. In the years leading up to her marriage, Helen had become widely known for her appreciation and knowledge of the world of fine arts. With her marriage to Professor Joseph Emerson 1884, Helen made her move to Beloit College where her husband taught..(Robert H. Irrmann, “Helen Brace Emerson”, Beloit College Archives 7/22/85) Helen continued on with her contributions to the art world by helping to establish the Beloit College art collection and museum. In addition, Helen also aided in opening the College’s doors to women. Inspired by a European trip with her new husband, Helen conceived the notion of creating a fine arts program at Beloit. It was Helen’s generous gift of her own collections that became the foundation for the museum. Slowly but surely, Helen oversaw the birth of the art department. Her role in the development of the art department and museum was quite an achievement for a women at the late 19 th century. Heather Lee Shroeder states, “…the original donation [Helen’s] was a brash insinuation into the male hierarchy of the College by a woman who alternately valued and pushed the boundaries of her ‘place’ within the ‘private sphere’ of women.” Helen worked relentlessly securing funds and writing to the College’s trustee’s, community members, and former students to aid in the creation of this department. Helen was quite successful and would oversee the art collection till her death in 1920. Her life long love for art can still be seen today in the College’s many collections. Heather Lee Shroeder, “Helen Brace Emerson and the Art Department”, Beloit College Magazine, Spring 2000.
3European Trip: Frances and her close friend, Kate A. Jackson, took an extensive trip throughout Europe and parts of the Middle East. The trip began in the spring of 1868 and the two girls traveled for about two years. It was Kate’s father who handled the expenses of the trip on the condition that Frances be the one who accompanied his daughter Kate. This spoke volumes about Frances character. The two young ladies went to Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, the Rhine, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Constantinople, the Danube, and Hungary. Frances and Kate had desires to see more then just tourist sites, the two were determined to observe local culture and customs. Frances was especially interested in interacting with local people and formed questions about the treatment of women in different societies and she wrestled with larger issues of human beings and their treatment of one another. Gordon stated, “Miss Willard returned from that wonderful trip abroad with a human picture gallery in her heart far exceeding in its riches and realities the galleries of Europe whose masterpieces crowded her brain. ‘What can be done to make the world a wider place for women?’ was the question that surged through her soul.” Gordon also commented on Frances’ experience in Paris as it affected her ideas and provided Frances with the tools that she later would use in her career. Gordon wrote, “In Paris came the prophetic inspiration which, if courageously carried out, she felt would best satisfy her resolute ideals. This brave plan was ‘to study by reading, personal observation and acquaintance the woman question in Europe, and, after returning to America, study it further in relation to her own land; talk in public on the subject and cast herself against the only foe of what she conceived to be the justice of the subject –unenlightened public opinion.’ ‘It is to be a word-and-idea battle,’ she wrote, ‘that will only deepen with years and must at last have a result that will delight all who have helped to hasten it,’” (58-59) It was Frances’ trip abroad that led to her first public speaking engagement where she discussed Egypt and the New Chivalry. Her speech was based off her extensive journal the Frances kept during the trip. Frances said this about her first public lecture, “It is chiefly made up of observations upon women in Europe-whose sorrowful estates, as I studied it, had much to do with giving me the courage to become a public speaker” (71). Throughout her life and career, Frances continued to reflect upon what she witnessed abroad and how she could contribute positively to the progress of mankind. Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, Chicago: Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1898: 58-71.
4“Henry Bannister was an Evanston neighbor of the Willard’s, and professor of theology at GBI. He and his family moved to Evanston in 1856 , when he was elected chair of exegetical theology. He remained at the school for the rest of his career. He died in 1883.” Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995) 62n1.
5Frances first attended school with her sister, Mary, in a one-room school house on the grounds of Forest Home ( 35). Her and Mary then went on to Milwaukee Female College in 1857. Here the girls’ aunt, Miss Sarah Hill was a professor of history there and was very instrumental in instilling the importance of education upon the girls ( 37). Both girls were well loved by their fellow students and professors alike. They looked forward to continuing their studies here, but Frances and Mary’s father wished otherwise. The girls were to attend North Western Female College in Evanston, Illinois beginning in the Spring of 1858 (39). Frances went on to be valedictorian of her class, proving herself again to be a wonderful and discipline student (41). Frances’ college friend and later sister in law, Mary Bannister Willard, related the following observations of both Mary and Frances during their time at school,
“None of the pupils who attended the Northwestern Female College in the Spring Term of 1858 will fail to recall the impressions made by two young girls from Wisconsin on their entrance up this school life…Frances was at first thought proud, haughty, independent-all cardinal sin in schoolgirl codes. They shyness or timidity which she concealed only too successfully under a mask of indifference gave the impression that she really wished to stand aloof from her mates. When it came to recitations, however, all shyness and apparent indifference melted away. The enthusiasm for knowledge and excellence shone from the young girl’s face on all occasions. After class her schoolmates gathered in groups in corridor and chapel, and discussed her perforce favorably. ‘My! can’t she recite? Look out for your laurels now, Kate!’ ‘The new girl beats us all,’- these were the ejaculations that testified of honest schoolgirl opinion, and prophesied her speedy and sure success.” (42)
Again, Frances reflected upon her college days with much fondness and affection. Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard (Chicago: Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1898)
6See footnote 3 for more information
7Ecumenical Council: The ecumenical council was held in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the seat of papal authority.
8Elizabeth Barett Browning was an English poet. She was born March 6, 1806 and was a sickly child. Her youth was spent sitting in a dark room writing poetry and letters. Her father was very strict with her and her siblings and forbade her to marry. However, when Elizabeth fell in love, she married in a secret ceremony in 1849. They soon ran away to Florence, Italy where their son was born. Some of Elizabeth’s best work comes from the love poems she wrote her husband, Robert. Her most famous piece comes from her “Sonnets from the Portuguese” which chronicles her relationship with her husband. Within the 44 sonnets of this piece, her best known piece began, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Besides her poetry, Elizabeth also took up many social causes including the Italian Nationalist cause, abolition of slavery in the United States and the role and place of women in Victorian society. Frances admiration of Elizabeth stemmed not only from her literary pieces but her social work as well. Elizabeth Barrett Browning died on June 29, 1861. “Elizabeth Barret-Browning: Poet,” http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96mar/brownd.html, online, accessed 18 November 2004.
9Oliver Willard: Oliver was Frances’ older brother. The two were very close to one another and Frances had many lively stories to tell of their relationship. Frances once said this about the brother and sister relationship, “A boy whose sister knows everything she does will be far more modest, genial, and pleasant to have about and it will also be an improvement to the sister as well.” (30) Anna Gordon stated this following Frances quotation, she wrote, “I believe she regarded this commerce between the lands of brother and sister, of man and woman; the association, not of bodily presence only, such as take pace around every breakfast table, but a true association of minds…” (31) Oliver was born in 1834 and he attended Beloit College and graduated in 1859. Oliver met much success as a minister after college. (Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, Chicago: Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association). Frances wrote, “You will remember that at the age of 27 he was a presiding elder in Colorado, having gone there by invitation of Governor Evans. He was instrumental in building in Denver what was then a remarkably fine church, its organ and stained glass windows being freighted across the plains. He founded there, also, a seminary for young men and women which was the nucleus of the present Denver University.”(75) For medical reasons Oliver left the ministry and began working as an editor in Chicago and took over the “Evening Post” newspaper. Oliver married Frances’ friend, Mary Bannister and the couple went on to have 4 children. Sadly, Oliver passed away unexpectedly in March 1878. His friends and family were devastated by the loss. In the letter from March 28, 1878, Frances expresses her grief and she even included part of those words in her book, A Great Mother. Parts of this letter appear on page 82 in the chapter about her brother. Frances E. Willard, A Great Mother, Chicago: Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1894.
10Mary Bannister Willard: Mary was a close friend to both Frances and her younger sister, Mary. Mary Willard was born in Fairfield, NY in 1841. She attended North Western Female College with Mary Willard (Frances’ sister) and was an Evanston neighbor. She graduated in 1860 and married Oliver, Frances’ brother in 1862. The couple had four children. When Oliver passed away in 1878, both she and Frances took over publishing and editing the Post, a paper that Oliver had working with right before his death. Financial difficulties forced the ladies to sell the paper and Mary took over Our Union, later known as the Union Signal. Though remaining close to Frances, Mary moved to Europe and opened the American Home School for Girls in Berlin, Germany. After some years abroad, her failing health forced her trip back to the United States where she passed away at age 71. Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995, page 19 note 5.
11Mary Elizabeth Willard: Mary Elizabeth Willard was Frances’ younger sister. She was born in Oberlin, Ohio. She attended school with Frances and too graduated from North Western Female College. Unfortunately she died at age 19 in June of 1862. Her death was devastating to her family. “Frances and Mary had always been close, a closeness fostered by their isolated childhood on the Wisconsin frontier, but a closeness that also reflected the duality of their personalities: Mary, the beautiful, feminine, submissive, always loving daughter; France s the strong, independent, sharp witted rebel. Frances both loved and envied Mary. She praised how ‘sweet and fair and fresh’ Mary looked, but added that ‘I felt hurt when I looked at her.’ As a young girl Mary was Frances’s sweet, soft side, a side that Frances developed in her twenties after Mary’s death,” (38) Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography, Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986. Frances even went on to write a loving tribute to her sister, in Nineteen Beautiful Years: Sketches of a Girl’s Life.
12Fifteen years passed between Frances graduation from North Western Female College and her professional relationship with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. During that time (1859-1874 approx) Frances struggled with the inevitable, “what am I going to do with my life?” and referred to this period of her life as the most difficult (32). It was during this time, Frances taught at various schools and colleges and went on extensive trip to Europe. When returning from Europe, Frances had a renewed sense of direction for her life; she was going to be an educator of women. Bordin wrote, “… during the winter of 1871 a firm choice was made. She committed herself to the woman movement and to the education of women as the vehicle through which this commitment would be executed,” (52-53).
In 1871, Frances believed her path to be education and it was for the rest of her life. However, Frances never dreamed she would be leading and educating the ladies of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. As it were, Frances’ left her the Presidency of the Ladies Northwestern College, once again leaving her future uncertain. This time though, Frances would make the right connection with the temperance cause. Prior to the 1870’s, Frances had little connection to temperance but had always been interested in the woman question. Bordin commented on the connection that would change Frances life, “Most important in stimulating Frances’ interest was the fact that during the winter of 1873-1874 the women’s Crusade transformed the temperance movement into the paramount women’s issue of the day,” (69). That summer Frances made a trip to the East Coast and began to connections in the temperance cause.
Willard rose in the ranks in the temperance cause, finding herself Vice President of the Association for the Advancement of Women in the summer of 1874 (71). She continued to make a name for herself among temperance activists such as Lillian Stevens and Neal Dow. Next, Willard found herself in second-in-command this time for the Temperance Camp Meeting Association. It was after this meeting, Willard began growing fonder of the idea of participating fully in the temperance campaign but was still torn about what career path to take exactly. Making a decision, Willard turned down an offer to head a girl’s school in Chicago and was warmly welcomed into the arms of temperance movement. Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography, Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986
Anna Gordon, secretary and close friend of Frances wrote this of her decision, “[Frances] saw the real significance of the “WCTU” as the first organization that “could, with proper leadership , be arrayed likewise against every other evil which threatens the home and strikes at our civilization. She saw it too, a great educational agency for women.” Anna Gordon, The Life of Frances E. Willard, 100-101, as quoted in Bordin, 71. In August of 1874 Frances was called to attend a meeting in New York for the purpose of creating a national organization of the Woman’s Temperance Cause. Shortly after she was elected to the office of secretary for the Illinois W.C.T.U and within five years would be the president of the National Union and as Anna Gordon stated, “…her every heart-beat from that day given to the best interests of the organization which was far dearer to than life itself,” (102). Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, Chicago: Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1898.
13Formerly Mary Hill, Frances’ mother became known as Madam Willard. Frances’ love and devotion to her mother was summed up in the book, A Great Mother. Here, Frances chronicles her mother’s life from her childhood in Vermont to her death in her eighty-eighth year of life. It was much to Madame Willard’s credit that Frances’ grew up to be such an intelligent, hard-working, religious, and kind-spirited person. Madam Willard made sure all her children were well-rounded individuals and not only sought education in school but in life. The bond between Frances and her mother was very strong and perhaps worthy of a thousand tribute books. Through Frances’ praises, the public grew very fond and attached to Mother Willard. When she passed away Frances and her public grieved together. The following tribute to Madame Willard ran in the Chicago Advance:
“Miss Frances E. Willard’s mother, who died at their Rest Cottage home in Evanston, last Sabbath morning, was in her eighty-eighth year. Nothing could exceed the loyalty of the daughter, famous the world over, in her filial devotion to her mother. From the first the mother never ceased to be the strongest human inspiration, incentive and restful satisfaction to the daughter. Every best work for ‘God and home and native land’ done by they daughter springs in the mother. No need to compare and ask whose life has been more than useful; the two have bee one, and are so still. Mrs. Willard, born in Danville, Vermont, was a teacher from fifteen to twenty-seven, when she married; but after the birth of three children, both she and her husband came to Oberlin and together studied in regular college course. In 1846, they came West and settled on a farm in Wisconsin, where she educated, trained and inspired her children, making their home to be in the truest meaning of the term ‘preparatory school’ for life. There is little danger anywhere of revering , loving, honoring too much such women and such mothers as Mrs. Mary T. Willard. Whether their names ever be ‘writ-large’ on the world’s scroll of fame or not, it matters little. Their lives, their prayers, their spirit and counsels constitute a motherhood of influences that never will cease their potencies till the world itself shall get rid of its burden of sins and sorrows.” Frances E. Willard, A Great Mother”, Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1894.
14Forest Home was Frances childhood home for twelve years (1846-1858), located in Janesville, Wisconsin. She herself described it as,
“Forest Home, a picturesque cottage, with rambling roof, gables, dormer windows, little porches, crannies, and out of the way nooks. The bluffs, so characteristic of Wisconsin, rose about it on the right and left. Groves of oak and hickory were on the either hand; a miniature forest of evergreens almost concealed the cottage from the view of passer-by; the Virginia Creeper twined at will around the pillars of the piazza and over the parlor windows, while its rival, the Michigan rose, clambered over the trellis and balustrade to the roof. The air was laden with perfume of flowers. Through the thick and luxuriant growth of shrubbery were paths which strayed off aimlessly, tempting the feet of the curious down their mysterious aisles.” Frances Willard as quoted in Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, (Chicago: Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1898), 39.
This charming farm was quite substantial. First purchased as 360 acres and would cover nearly 1,000 acres by the time the family left Wisconsin. Bordin notes that while the farm was functioning, Frances’ father, Josiah was far more concerned with the entrepreneurial side of farming. Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography, (Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986), 19. Frances held many fine memories of her family and their time at Forest Home. She stated, “I thank Thee, O bountiful God, that I have so much of happiness, of quiet enjoyment to remember. I thank Thee that I have not forgotten, cannot forget. I thank Thee that wherever I may dwell no place can be so dear, so completely embalmed in my heart, so truly the best beloved of all to me as ‘Forest Home’”. Frances Willard as quoted in Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, (Chicago: Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1898), 34.
15Sarah (Hill) Hall was Frances’s Aunt, a sister to her mother. Aunt Sarah was very influential in Frances life and Frances admired her as both an advisor, teacher and aunt. Sarah followed the Willard family westward and attended Oberlin College in 1841. She then went on to teach on at Methodist Female College in Columbia, Tennessee during the early 1850’s. Her next teaching job was in Milwaukee at Milwaukee Female College, where Frances would attend. She married in 1862 and later moved to Churchville, NY where she resided till her death in 1899. Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press) 1995, page 19 n4.
16Conventions, meetings, at the local, state and national level were routine functions of the W.C.T.U. Not only were these meetings sources for passing new resolutions, voting of leaders, news from around the country, but more importantly these conventions, especially the yearly national one, reinvigorated the ladies to their cause. In Carol Mattingly’s Well Tempered Women, Historian Elizabeth Putnam Gordon noted the benefit of such public meetings. She wrote, “In this era, before the advent of the automobile, phonograph, and moving picture, temperance mass meetings everywhere were popular, and large audiences assembled to hear the women speakers.” (62) Mattingly followed up by stating, “To assure women’s participation, WCTU not only encouraged women to make public presentations, it provided members with many opportunities for doing so. Besides numerous local and state meetings and conventions, each year members addressed national convention delegates and guests, as well as congregations in the host city.” (62)
Complete records of the national conventions could be found The Union Signal and transcripts could be ordered of the speeches made. Conventions were a time of business, a time to examine strategies and recalibrate for the next wave in the temperance cause. Though business, the energy at the national conventions was unbelievable and the women became more and more passionate about their cause. Carol Mattingly, Well-Tempered Women: Nineteenth Century Temperance Rhetoric, (Carbondale and Ewardsville: Southern Illinois University, 1998), 62.
17Anna Gordon: Anna Gordon became Frances’ lifelong companion and confidant. Anna was the daughter of a Boston banker, who was also Treasurer of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. She was a musician and resided in Newton, a Boston suburb. She attended Lasell and Mount Holyoke seminaries and prior to her initial meeting of Frances had just returned from studying music abroad. At a chance meeting at a Christian revival in Boston in 1876, Frances and Anna would begin the twenty-two year long relationship. Like Frances, Willard would dedicate the rest of her life to the temperance cause. Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography (Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986)
During her Frances’ lifetime, Anna was in Frances terms her “devoted friend, faithful secretary, and constant traveling companion.” Frances Willard, Glimpses of Fifty Years, 676 as quoted in Bordin, 92. Anna was extremely efficient as Frances private secretary to the President as her title became. She handled both business and private matters for Frances. She would do things from writing Frances’ mother while on the road to carrying Frances purse to making sure Frances’ bills were paid ( 92). Bordin stated, “Gordon was the one person privy to Willard’s private machinations and political maneuverings within the increasingly complex organization that Willard led, and she frequently acted as Willard’s agent and informant in the internal squabbles that developed over the years. Willard’s work would never have been as effective with out efficient, organized Anna Gordon at her side,” (93). Their relationship was extraordinarily close and Anna was family not only to Frances but within the Willard home as well. An example of their closeness was demonstrated in the fall of 1880 when Anna’s own sister was dying, yet Anna spent Thanksgiving with Frances, never to see her sister again. Bordin stated, “Willard and Gordon became almost two sides of a single coin as their years together unfolded and they pursued their common public and private goals,” (93). Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography ( Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986)
In 1898, Frances passed away leaving Anna devastated and with a huge hole in heart. Anna immediately, began work on a biography about Willard, entitled The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard: Memorial Edition. Despite her sadness, Anna continued on with the temperance cause just as Frances would have wanted. She just as faithfully served the W.C.T.U.’s next president, Lillian Stevens. Here too, Anna was instrumental to Stevens’ successes. Anna helped to relieve Stevens of any “petty details” and was “…no doubt influencing WCTU policy until Stevens died in 1914,” (93). Only now did Anna step into the office of presidency, but it would be under her reign that the 18 th amendment (prohibition) was passed. Anna continued with the temperance cause but was known for her support of temperance through children’s work. She also empahsised “…child welfare, social purity, and the Americanzation of the foreign-born.” (Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 199, 58 note #1) Anna remained the President until 1925 when the demands of the office became too much for her. She passed away at age 71 in 1931. Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography (Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986).
18Bess: Elizabeth (Bess/Bessie) Gordon was Anna Gordon’s older sister. She was born in 1851 and passed away in 1933. She too was involved in temperance work like her sister. Elizabeth was corresponding secretary and general organizer of the Massachusetts W.C.T.U. Elizabeth did some traveling with Anna and Frances. One particular incident took place in the Fall of 1893, as the WCTU geared up for its national convention, Frances was too ill to travel back to the US for the meeting. Anna and Lady Henry sailed back to the states and Elizabeth stayed in England and nursed Frances. Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995, 382-383, n 5).
19Originally called Our Union, this was the national weekly newspaper of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. This newspaper reached thousands of the Union’s followers weekly. Its contents covered a wide range of topics from temperance news to world events. Published by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association it was the most popular temperance journal in the country by 1884 and by 1890 it was the largest women’s paper in the world . The Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association was a company first started by Matilda Carse in 1880 to publish temperance literature for both the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the World’s Woman Christian Temperance Union. The company was made up of different stockholder’s and not only published the Union Signal but also “…over 125 million pages of literature annually.” Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995, 385, note 5.
The Union Signal was a powerful tool to launch and continue the “White-Ribboner’s” messages of reform and purity around the world. The pages were filled with current events, poems, songs, children’s and young ladies sections, field news, editorials and correspondence. In “Women and Temperance,” Ruth Bordin writes, “The printed message broadcast by the WCTU underlined and reinforced the organizers, and the Union’s publication program in the 1880’s and 1890’s held the organization together.” Prior to the Union Signal the Union had several newspapers but no single national publication that reached the entire membership. When Frances Willard became president she took “Our Union” and the local Illinois paper, the “Signal” and merged the two. Under the auspices of Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, it was not long before the Union Signal was reaching more members and within ten years became the world’s largest women’s paper. The Union Signal was a key link amongst the White Ribboners especially in between their yearly national conventions. Bordin states,
“From the beginning, the columns of the Union Signal combined education, proselytizing, and entertainment. First of all, the paper acted as the major force holding the WCTU together between conventions. State presidents reported on their more successful programs, local unions contributed items, and Willard and other national officers published regular columns that gave the reader a comprehensive view of the activities of the Union and its work across the country. Program goals were explained, implementation described and suggested. The Signal is a much richer source on the Union in the nineteenth century than official records.”
As the Union Signal carried on more and more space was given to feminist issues and focused on prominent women of the era even if they were not related to temperance. The Union Signal also took up many social issues in their quest for reform and purity. Ruth Bordin, Women and Temperance, The Quest for Power and Liberty 1873-1900 (NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990).
20Joseph Emerson, Professor of Greek at Beloit College. Originally from Norfolk, Connecticut. He attended Yale College to study Theology and graduated in 1847. He came to Beloit College with Trustee Mr. Chapin’s endorsement, and became liked by both faculty and students. To the students he was their “Zeus.” Professor Emerson was noted for both his seriousness within the classroom but also for the occasional practical joke that took place within that same classroom. One particular tale was that of his students hiding a goose in his desk drawer. When Professor Emerson opened the door he exclaimed, “I see gentlemen, that you have found a teacher worthy of you,” and walked from the room. He had quite the lasting effect on his students and the college was very much in debt to him. The Book of Beloit, published by Daily News Publishing Company pages 38-40.
Frances too was a huge fan of her dear professor as was her brother, Oliver who attended Beloit College (class of 1859). In a letter she wrote to Professor Emerson in 1897, she wrote, “Perhaps you can hardly conceive the force of a tide of honor, respect and good will that began to act toward you in our old, far house of Rock Prairie over 40 years ago, because of a gifted, generous-hearted student beloved in that home, who thought you were everything that a good and great man ought to be… ‘Prof. Emerson is the enthusiasm of us boys; he always raises his hat to us and we all are proud to do so to him and he make us doat on Greek and I’d get my lessons for him quicker than for all the rest of the lot and as for looks he beats them away out of sight and as for himself-well, we thing nobody else can be mentioned the same day.’ That’s what our Oliver said over and over to us until it was ‘there to stay.’” Frances Willard as quoted in Richardson’s article in the Book of Beloit, 1936.
21“Field Notes” became Frances’ book Woman and Temperance. The book in the archives is Professor Emerson and Helen’s personal copy that Frances signed, “To my Beloved Cousins Joseph and Helen Emerson. With Christian love and Greetings from Cousin Frank. Christmas 1897.” I made the connection between Frances mention of Field Notes and the book, through the book’s preface. Frances writes, “ This book is a collection of ‘Field Notes’, roughly jotted down by one whose rapid transit left no choice of style or method.” Since this book was the newest edition, the preface to the New Edition by Clara C. Chapin, Editor of Books and Leaflets for the Women’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, writes, “It is the only record of the origin of the Crusade and the National W.C.T.U. sent out by any of its general officers, and for a concise presentation of the movement in its inception and an illustration of its spirit and methods, there is no single volume that covers so much ground. Women and Temperance by Frances Willard, Published Woman’s Christian Temperance Publishing Association, 1897, Beloit College Archives
22“Cordelia Agnes Greene (1831-1905) was an American physician who ran a sanatorium in Castile, N.Y., where she treated women for a variety of ailments and illnesses. Greene graduated from Western Reserve University in 1855, and then attended the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She graduated from the Cleveland Medical College (which later became part of Western Reserve University) in 1856. Cordelia Greene was the daughter of Dr. Jabez Greene, who had established a ‘water cure’ sanatorium in 1849 in New York, and she worked her father in his sanitarium until he died in the early 1860s. She then founded her own sanitarium in Castile in 1865. She emphasized the importance of ‘soul health,’ through prayer, work on controlling negative emotions, and deep breathing to decrease stress. She believed in a holistic concept of health in which body, mind, and soul must be in balance.” Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995) page 362 note 16.
Dr. Greene prescribed that and more for Frances. Prior to her stay in Castile, Frances’ health was continuing to deteriorate. Physicians warned her about maintaining such a busy schedule of tours, trips, speeches and meetings (Gifford, 357). But with Dr. Greene’s advice and prescription of diet, prayer, and rest, Frances finally began to feel better in the fall of 1897, but that feeling was short-lived. Gifford noted, “The question she faced in late middle age was whether her indomitable spirit could triumph over what was, perhaps, the most formidable obstacle she had ever had to overcome: her worn-out body. In the hardest battle of her life, she was prepared, as usual, to try her best.” (Gifford, 360).
23Lady Henry Somerset: Lady Isablla (Isabel) Caroline (Cocks) Somerset (1851-1921): Lady Henry was the president of the British Woman’s Temperance Association (BWTA). She was Frances guest in 1891 to study the organizational methods of the W.C.T.U. through her work and a few conventions. She and Frances became fast friends and her visit had a positive impact of the Union in the United States (181). Though not necessarily true, the story of Lady Henry’s fateful encounter with Frances happened on her housekeeper’s table. The story went that Lady Henry first spotted Frances book, Nineteen Beautiful Years, on her housekeeper’s table (182). Critiques surrounded Lady Henry’s sincerity for the cause as she was owner of several British pubs. Bordin wrote, “The press and some WCTU members were always eager to suspect that any clear liquid in a glass that Frances Willard and Lady Henry were sipping was wine. For both of them temperance may have been as much a vehicle as a cause, but by the 1890’s there was no doubt about their commitment to temperance and broad reform goals, as well as their active interest in obtaining the greatest possible political influence.” (182) Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography, Chapel Hill: The University of Chapel Hill, 1986
24Alice was another of Anna Gordon’s sister. Alice like her sisters, Anna and Elizabeth, were very close to Frances. This information comes from the Alice Gordon Gulick Papers. Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections in South Hadley Massachusetts:
“ Alice W. Gordon was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 8, 1847. Her father was James M. Gordon. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary from 1863-1867 and was instructor there from 1868-1870. She married the Reverend Alvah B. Kittredge, who was a tutor at Amherst College, and he died shortly after the marriage. After his death she became a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and decided to devote her life to missionary service. In 1871 she married the Reverend William H. Gulick, who had spent much time working as a missionary. They had five children. She was highly recognized for her missionary activities in Spain, where she and her husband worked since 1872. She was best known for founding a school for girls called the International Institute for Girls in San Sebastian. The school was later renamed the International Institute for Girls in Spain This school taught the women of Spain until World War I when economic hardship forced it to close. After World War II, the buildings were repossessed by the American Board, and they became a place for American programs. The Institute is presently coeducational and is dedicated to nonsecretarian education (International Institute for Girls in Spain Collection, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts).. She died in London, England on October 1, 1903 at the age of fifty-six.”
25Unfortunately Frances’s health continued to deteriorate, despite following Dr. Greene’s prescription of rest, relaxation, and spiritual healing. Frances and Anna left Dr. Greene’s Castile Sanitarium and decided heading to the Jersey shore would be relaxing and rejuvenating. From here, Frances and Anna traveled up the coast to New England for the fall of 1897, for continued relaxation and also to prepare from the upcoming convention. On their way, Frances and Anna stopped and visited many places dear to Frances. They stopped at her parents old home, Frances shared a reunion with her sister-in-law, Mary Bannister Willard. She briefly returned to work given address at both the Toronto World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s Convention and also in Buffalo to the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s Convention. Frances picked up her journey down memory lane with a visit to her Aunt Sarah in New York, her childhood home in Oberlin, Ohio, and then settled in Chicago for the winter with a cousin (perhaps Helen?). On New Year’s Day 1898, Frances picked up her tour and visited Janesville, Wisconsin where her other child hood home, Forest Home, had been. Her plan was to go to the East Coast to do some fundraising for the Union and then sail to England to meet up with her friend, Lady Henry.
Frances’ plans quickly changed as she became even more ill with influenza. This time though, there would be no recovery. Her friends and family were summoned to her side at the Hotel Empire, NY where she had been staying. Gifford wrote, “Lillian M. N. Stevens, whom Willard has chosen to be her successor as president of the WCTU, other devoted temperance workers, her niece, Katherine (Willard) Baldwin, and Anna Gordon, her beloved personal secretary, and companion, were at her bedside during the last week of her life.” (427). On February 17 th 1898, Frances passed away. Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 426-427.
A friend and follower of Frances through her temperance work spoke these words after learning of the death of her beloved leader and comrade,
“We know other woman whose home-going would have left so many other women feeling as if the sun had gone. And we know no other out of all the many noble of our land whose going would so swiftly have marshaled the stars…No one could fail to feel, as that brave life drifted serenely out beyond the sunset, the overwhelming loss and gloom creeping piteously upon the great hearts that love her and the great work that she loved. The bitter loss, the sore hurt to both, could not be told in words. Genuine grief, finds refuge in silence; real heartbreak sobs itself to God.
But the light broke upon this shadow when from East and West and North and South began to gather the brave and tender souls that through many years had shared Miss Willard’s battles for all humanity, standing, some lower, some higher, in the ranks, yet all in heart side by side with their leader. As one by one, or in groups, their white, tear-marked faces shone out of the gloom we saw the stars arise; we knew that however human hearts might ache or break, Miss Willard’s work was safe. These rallying leaders, gathering in New York at the news of the chief’s departure, were representative of a great army, that would, in groups, or separately and alone, gladly have brought to their one great leader and comrade their own kind of tribute of loyal and sorrowing love.” Anna Gordon, The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard, (Chicago: Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1898), 295
Anna Gordon led the preparations for Frances’ burial. First she was removed from the Empire Hotel was she had been staying and her body brought to her niece’s home. Anna then helped prepare for a memorial service at the Broadway Tabernacle by dressing Frances in a dress from Lady Henry. Her body was placed in a silver-gray casket and Anna accompanied it back to Chicago. The casket then lay in state at the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union headquarters in Chicago where sculptor, Lorado Taft made her death mask. On February 24, 1898 she was buried. Anna wrote, “I am alone now. Ever her outward self is gone. It’s in the cold dark vault tonight and I am alone forever more.” Diary entry by Anna Gordon as quoted in Carolyn De Swarte Gifford, ed. Selections from the Journal of Frances E. Willard, 1855-1896, Writing Out My Heart, Series: Women in American History, eds. Mari Jo Buhle, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Anne Frior Scott, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 429-430.
26Rest Cottage was the name of the Willard family home in Evanston, Illinois. After Forest Home, the Willard family took up residence here. Woman’s Christian Temperance Union currently has the house and the following description comes from their website http://www.wctu.org/house.html (note they now referred to Rest Cottage as the Willard House) :
“The Willard House is both an Evanston Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It is located at 1730 Chicago Avenue in Evanston.
The south half of the Willard House was built in the Gothic Revival style by Frances Willard's father, Josiah, in 1865. After the 1878 death of Oliver Willard (Frances Willard's brother), the next year the house was enlarged to house Oliver's widow, Mary Bannister Willard, and her four children.
|Willard House, referred to as Rest Cottage by Frances Willard, was her home from the time her father had it built in 1865 until her death in 1898. Her will, which bequeathed the house to the WCTU, gave a life interest to her secretary and good friend, Anna G. Gordon and her sister-in-law, Mary Willard. In 1900, Anna Gordon persuaded the WCTU to move its headquarters from Chicago to the Willard House in Evanston. In the 1920s the WCTU moved into the new Administrative Building located behind the Willard House.|
|In the late 1980s the WCTU began the exterior restoration of the Frances Willard House, using funds raised from the sale of the Washington , D. C. Union Headquarters. Aware that the buildings at the National Headquarters and the Willard collections require extensive and ongoing attention, in 1994 the WCTU formed the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA), a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation. The FWHA is to oversee the preservation of and make available to the public the rich historic treasures of the Frances Willard House, the Library and Archives, and the Museum. “|
27The Union Signal, March 10, 1898, Volume XXIV- No. 10