Poetry, the Paris World’s Fair, a Battleship, and John Philip Sousa: “The Ohio Poet” Ida Eckert Lawrence

April is U.S. National Poetry Month, and in recognition this blog post explores a renowned poet who was born in Richland County, just outside Belville, although later in life she lived in Kansas, Toledo, and finally Los Angeles.

Ida Eckert was born just outside of Belville to Daniel S and Nancy A Eckert around 1861, and her family lived there until she was about 6 years old. At that point, the family moved to Wayne County, and by 1880 the family had moved to Topeka, Kansas. In Topeka in 1880, Ida married her first husband, Thomas Brower Peacock, and in 1883 they had a son named Aubrey [1-7].

In Kansas, Ida became very involved with the local writers’ scene, from press to poetry. She was a member of both the Kansas Editorial Association and the Kansas Women’s Press Association, and wrote for both newspapers and magazines [8].

Photo from A. J. Baughman, A Centennial History of Richland County

In 1897, already recognized as “a well known writer of short stories and poems,” she married again, this time to Fred A. Lawrence, of Chicago. They were married in Kansas, but shortly thereafter moved back to Ohio, this time to Toledo, where Fred was a partner in the J. Melvin & Co. clothing company [9].

Successes in Poetry

While in Toledo, Ida’s recognition as a poet continued to grow, and in 1900 she published a volume of her poetry with the Robert Clark Company of Cincinnati under the title Day Dreams. The book was fairly successful, and had three print runs at the time [10].

Ida was also honored in 1900 to be chosen as one of the Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition, also known as the Exposition Universelle or World’s Fair [11].

While at the Paris Exposition, Ida was further selected to speak to the International Women’s Congress on the topic of women in American literature. Her talk was apparently very well received, and it was reported that she spoke of such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott. She also spoke about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of the women’s suffrage movement and women in journalism [12].

“Brains, industry, and tact are the necessary qualifications, and we have proved successfully that women are no longer children but are representing themselves along all lines of thought and work. In Frances E. Willard, Clara Barton, and Jane Addams our authors may find the heroic souls heroines are made of.”

Ida Eckert Lawrence, speech as quoted in “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.

The next year, returning to the United States after attending the Paris World’s Fair, Ida was chosen to write and read a poem to commemorate the launch of the Battleship Ohio (third of its name) from San Francisco. She traveled to San Francisco to read the poem as part of the launch, and on her way west she stopped in Kansas to visit with her family and speak to the Ohio Association there, where she was also well-received [13].

In 1902, Ida’s poetry achieved yet another mark of renown: it was set to music by another Richland County native, Lulu Genet, and arranged for orchestra by John Philip Sousa. The poems that were set to music included “Way Down South” and “Day Dreams,” the title poem of Ida’s poetry volume. Sousa’s arrangements of the music and poetry were performed in Pittsburgh with a full band and a vocalist of Sousa’s choosing [14] .

A Divorce, and a Move to California

The next “newsworthy” event of Ida’s life was her divorce from Fred Lawrence in 1907. Various newspapers described the reasoning for the divorce somewhat differently: the Stark County Democrat reported that she divorced him “because he clipped unfavorable criticism of her poetry from newspapers,” while the Wooster Republican stated that Ida “claimed cruelty…[and] claimed he ridiculed her literary productions,” and finally the Defiance Daily Democrat reported briefly that she filed the divorce “alleging extreme cruelty” [15]. Whatever the reason for their divorce, Ida was not unmarried for very long. She moved to Los Angeles in June of that year and was married to James K. Connor, a “train man,” but they chose not to tell anyone of their marriage until word got out in October when Ida returned to Kansas to visit her family [16]. In the 1920 census Ida was reported as a widow living with her son, still in the occupation of authoring verse [17]. She herself passed away in 1931, and was buried in Los Angeles [18].

Sources

  1. “Noted Poet Visits County,” Wooster Republican (Wooster, OH), 10 Apr 1907, p 6.
  2. 1870 United States Federal Census, Canaan, Wayne, Ohio, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,” Ancestry.com.
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Mission, Shawnee, Kansas, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,” Ancestry.com.
  4. 1895 Kansas State Census,
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Toledo Ward 9, Lucas, Ohio, digial image, s.v. “Fred A Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California, digital image, s.v. “James K. Connor,” Ancestry.com.
  7. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  8. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  9. “Ohio Women Commissioners at Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900.
  10. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  11. “Ida Eckert Lawrence,” Bellville Messenger (Bellville, OH), 5 Jan 1900.
  12. “Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900, p 28.
  13. “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.
  14. “Sousa Arranges Orchestration and His Band Plays Music Composed and Worded by Former Residents of this City,” Mansfield News (Mansfield, OH), 27 Sep 1902, p 6.
  15. “Late Ohio Specials,” Stark County Democrat (OH), 26 Mar 1907, p 5; Defiance Democrat (OH), 4 Jan 1907 p 8; Wooster Republican (OH), 10 Apr 1907, p6.
  16. “Secret Marriage Announced,” Los Angeles Herald, 30 Oct 1907 p 12.
  17. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,” Ancestry.com.
  18. California Death Index, digital image, s.v. “Ida E Eckert,” Ancestry.com.

Women’s History Month Roundup

For this, the last Saturday in Women’s History Month, we are going to explore some of the historical women in and from Richland County. There have been many blog posts previously describing their individual accomplishments and contributions to the community, so I am going to round them up here. Click on any picture in this post to view the blog post about the woman. While certainly not exhaustive, this roundup features some of the early female doctors, librarians, and other community leaders who have helped to shape the Richland County we know today.

Happy exploring!

Martha Mercer

Know other interesting or important women from Mansfield and Richland County you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!

Olive San Louie Anderson: “Being a Woman, What Shall I Do?”

Hugh Pease Anderson was born in Pennsylvania about 1815 and arrived in Richland County, Ohio in the late 1830s or early 1840s. Shortly after his arrival, on December 29, 1842,[1] he married Alice Cook, the daughter of Richland County Pioneer Jabez Cook, who arrived in the area in 1815 with his father Noah Cook. The Cook’s trace their ancestry back to Francis Cooke, who came over on the Mayflower.[2] Anderson was a respected doctor and surgeon and built a good life for himself in Troy Township, Richland County, Ohio. The couple had 5 children: Alfred Galen (b. 1844), William (b. 1847), Mary (b. 1849), Olive San Louie (b. 1852) , and Abby (b. 1857).[3] When the Civil War began, Dr. Anderson enlisted and was made captain of Company C of the 64th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His son, Alfred, enlisted alongside his father. A short time later, on November 27, 1861, Anderson was appointed Assistant Surgeon and Robert C. Brown took over command of Company C. Alfred would also be promoted to Hospital Steward on March 13, 1863.[4]

Dr. Anderson would die in Iowa on April 30, 1869 and his body would be returned to Mansfield to be interred in Mansfield Cemetery.[5] That same year, his daughter, Olive, would graduate from Mansfield High School. At commencement Olive, or Louie, read an essay titled Being a Woman, What Shall I Do?[6] The words and reaction to her essay are unknown. The only mention in the Mansfield Herald notes all the essays were “good, and worthy of notice.”[7] However, the title and her actions after high school indicate that she would not allow her future to be defined by her gender. Two years later, Olive would enroll in the University of Michigan.

In January of 1870, the university allowed its first female student, Madelon Stockwell. The following fall of 1871, 33 more women were admitted. Olive was one of the 13 women enrolled in the Department of Science, Literature, and Arts. She would graduate in 1875 and be the only woman to speak at commencement that year.[8] The next year she would make news again along with four other women. The group would set out to hike from Santa Barbara, California to the Gaviota Pass, causing the men to shake their heads and the old ladies to hold up their hands in horror. They would hire a “quiet, gray-haired teamster” to assist them on their journey.[9] The group collected over 40 birds on the 2 day expedition. “Jo,” as Olive was called by her friends, most likely named after Josephine “Jo” March from Little Women, shot the birds while the other skinned them and prepared them for stuffing.[13]

Olive San Louie Anderson

Olive would spend the next 10 years teaching in California, briefly at Santa Barbara College and later in San Rafael, California. It was during this time in California that she wrote her book titled An American Girl, and Her Four Years in a Boys’ College in 1878. The autobiographical work of fiction chronicles her experience at the University of Michigan. The book was published under the pen name SOLA, and anagram of her initials. The book also looks at “women’s struggles for higher education, courtship customs, and contemporary views of liberal religion and the women’s rights movement.”[10]

Miss Anderson had a promising and successful life ahead of her and was regarded as one of “the most interesting and intellectual women that ever blessed“ her community. She had planned to travel in the hopes of honing her writing and teaching skills and, in 1882, helped in opening the San Rafael Institute, a boarding school for girls, where she served as principal. Unfortunately, tragedy struck on June 5, 1886 when Anderson drowned in the Sacramento River at Rio Vista California. While on a yachting excursion with the Art League of San Francisco, a few of the members decided to go for a swim. Miss Anderson, along with a 12-year-old girl, swam down the river a short distance, staying close to the bank. Suddenly the other in the party heard a scream and turned to see Anderson going under. Every effort was made to rescue her, but the third time she sank she could not be found. After her body was recovered it was discovered there was a 20 foot deep hole which created an eddy which pulled her under. She was only 5 feet from the bank.[11]

After Olive’s death, her mother and sister, Abby, who had been living with her in California, moved to Topeka, Kansas, where Abby’s brother, William, was living. While there, Abby would carry on her sister’s spirit and become editor of a weekly newspaper titled “Equity.” The paper was devoted to solutions to the “social, economical and political problems of the day” and was said to not be “conducted on partisan lines.”[12] William died on August 29, 1896, in Kansas, and is buried in Topeka Cemetery. His mother, Alice, died on January 23, 1901. Her body was sent back to Mansfield to be buried next to her husband. Abby continued to live in Topeka, dying on November 26, 1915. She is buried in Topeka cemetery. Alfred Galen, who was living in Merrick County, Nebraska, died on May 17, 1909. It is unknown what happened to their sister Mary.


Sources:

  1. Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
  2. Baughman, A. J. A Centennial Biographical History of Richland and Ashland Counties (1901). P. 520-523.
  3. Year: 1860; Census Place: Troy, Richland, Ohio; Page: 262; Family History Library Film: 805029
  4. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion (1887). P. 443-444.
  5. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 06 May 1869, p. 3.
  6. Mansfield High School Commencement (1869). Retrieved from https://shermanroom.omeka.net/items/show/716
  7. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio), 17 June 1869, p. 3.
  8. Olive San Louie Anderson, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_San_Louie_Anderson
  9. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio), 20 July 1876, p. 3.
  10. Olive San Louie Anderson, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_San_Louie_Anderson
  11. Marin Journal (San Rafael, Ca), Vol 26, No 14, 17 June 1886, p. 3.
  12. Bellville Messenger (Bellville, Ohio) 01 February 1901, p. 8.
  13. Pacific Rural Press (San Francisco, Ca), Vol 12, No 4, 22 July 1876, p 62.

Dr. Ada Ford

Ada Ford was born on March 16, 1877 to Samuel Nelson Ford and Elizabeth Cook.[1] The couple had one other child, Ada’s brother Hoyt Ford, on January 5, 1880.[2] Elizabeth died on November 28, 1885 from congestive fever[3] and Samuel remarried on September 13, 1877.[4] His new wife was Mrs. Anna Jane Beverstock, Elizabeth’s older sister. Anna’s husband, Charles H Beverstock, had died of “a fever of a malignant type” on August 26, 1872.[5] In 1881 Samuel Ford built an 11 room, 2-story frame home on North Diamond Street for $3,000.[6] Samuel Ford was a prominent figure in Mansfield business circles and started from humble beginnings, being born on a farm in Washington Township, Richland County, Ohio. After serving in the Civil War as one of the “Hundred Days’ Men” at the age of 17, Ford entered the lumber business at the age of 18. By 1869 he was in business for himself manufacturing lumber, sash, doors and blinds.[7]

1882 City of Mansfield Map

This work ethic was handed down to his children. Hoyt found success in the banking business, while his sister, Ada, would take a more unconventional path for women in her time and become a physician. Along with this work ethic, Ada had natural talent as well. She was an exceptional speaker, even at a young age. At 12 years old she was praised in Mansfield newspapers recitations given at local churches. After completing courses at Mansfield High School, Ada improved on these natural talents by attending the Emerson School of Oratory at Boston. She would then study osteopathy in Kirksville, Mo., then anatomy and physiology under Dr. William T. Eckley at Chicago. In 1909 she would receive her diploma from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Cleveland, part of Ohio Wesleyan University. That same year Dr. Ford would be hired as an Assistant Physician at Athens State Hospital; one of, if not, the first women in that position. Dr. Ford would be in Athens for less than two years before returning to Mansfield where she would open her own practice.

Dr. Ada Ford and others, Athens State Hospital, from Ohio University Libraries Digital Archives Collections (https://www.ohio.edu/library/collections/digital-archives/amhc)

Upon her return to Mansfield, she would live with her father and step-mother on North Diamond. Since the building of his home, Samuel had acquired more property including the former home of James A. Hedges. Sometime between 1902-1909, Hedges’ home was razed and a new home was built. Hoyt Ford would move into the home with his new wife, Carrie Ella Kerr, in 1907. A short time later, Hoyt Ford would build a new home at 425 Sherman Place. Dr. Ford and her parents would move into the new home, while the older home built in 1881 was sold to Dr. G. W. Baughman.

The Ford family home at 24 North Diamond (1913). The address would later be 32 North Diamond.

Dr. Ford continued to live with her parents and spent time traveling. She never married. She was involved in many local societies and civic organizations. In an interview in the Mansfield News on July 10, 1921, Dr. Ford spoke of many of the advancements women were making in professions at the time saying: “being a physician isn’t the only thing, of course, that women are succeeding at. I should think women would make the best juvenile judges. There is a broad field for the woman lawyer. For that work needs just a woman’s touch to make it most successful.” Dr. Ford went on to say that she was fortunate and didn’t have to experience the difficulties that many women in her position had to, but she did highlight the struggles and unpleasantness women had to endure to become a success in their field saying that any girl who “can go through all the unpleasantness, and get to feel just casual and indifferent toward it all,” can succeed “but she must learn not to even blink, she must look the bull right in the eye, even if sometimes she wishes the earth would open and swallow her.”

Dr. Ada Ford

Dr. Ford would retire from medicine around 1936 and spend the next twenty years traveling and working in the community. She was president of the Mansfield Telephone Co. and vice president of the Mansfield Building and Loan Association until her death on September 27, 1956, in her family home at 32 North Diamond. She was the last of her immediate family, as her brother Hoyt had died in 1945. At the time of her death, her estate was worth 1.8 million dollars. Her will stated that the money was to go into a trust fund established by her father and that the executors of the estate were to set up numerous philanthropic ventures. The S. N. Ford and Ada Ford Foundation was created.


Sources:

  1. Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., Births and Christenings Index, 1774-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
  2. The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147
  3. Mansfield Cemetery and Mansfield Catholic Cemetery, Mansfield, Ohio, Vol. 1, p. 197.
  4. Richland County, Ohio Marriages 1872-1900, p. 108.
  5. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 29 August 1872, p. 3.
  6. Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 12 May 1881, p. 6.
  7. Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 August 1930, p. 1.