Harriet McEwen Kimball was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 2 November 1834.
She was the daughter of a chemist, David Kimball. Her mother, Caroline, a woman of “unusual attainments,” helped to develop her appreciation for literature. She demonstrated an early talent for writing poetry, and her first volume of poems, “Hymns,” was published in 1867; “Swallow-Flights of Song,” in 1874; “The Blessed Company of all Faithful People,” in 1879, and her complete works in 1889.
The New York Times of October 21, 1890 noted that Miss Harriet McEwen Kimball of 4 Austin Street, Portsmouth, NH won the first prize of $100 from the Hospital Saturday and Hospital Sunday Association for composing “the best hymn suitable to be sung in churches and synagogues…” Through her life, Harriet continued to write poetry. She was friends with many poets of the time, including John Greenleaf Whittier, who often exchanged letters with her.
Although you will not find mention of her name on the Portsmouth Regional Hospital web site history page, several sources indicate that she was primarily instrumental in funding the original hospital, called the Portsmouth Cottage Hospital that was located on Court Street, and opened 1884-1885. That building is now called the Aldrich House after the original owners, and is part of Strawbery Banke.
The Boston Herald of July 18, 1895 under heading “A Deserved Tribute,” relates how the trustees of the Portsmouth Cottage Hospital named the western wing of the new hospital building the Harriet McEwen Kimball Pavillion (when it moved to Junkins Avenue). That act in itself should act as corroborate that Harriet was instrumental in funding either the original hospital, the new building, or both.
Although usually considered a writer of religious poetry, she did also often write about nature. One of her poems is shown below. Harriet died in her family home on Austin Street in Portsmouth NH on 3 September 1917.
by Harriet McEwen Kimball
PIPE, little minstrels of the waning year,
In gentle concert pipe!
Pipe the warm noons; the mellow
The apples dropping ripe;
The tempered sunshine, and the softened
The trill of lonely bird;
The sweet, sad hush on Nature’s
The sounds through silence heard!
Pipe tenderly the passing of the year;
The summer’s brief reprieve;
The dry husk rustling round the
The chill of morn and eve!
Pipe the untroubled trouble of the year;
Pipe low the painless pain;
Pipe your unceasing melancholy cheer;
The year is in the wane.
**GENEALOGY OF HARRIET McEWEN KIMBALL**
–Kimball Family Genealogy–
Harriet was the daughter of [#1426] David Kimball-8 (Benjamin-7, Jacob-6), found on page 685
Harriet’s mother was Caroline Rebecca Swett, who was a Clarke descendant