New Hampshire Tidbits: A Valentine Party, A Poem, and Family History

My research projects often take me on a journey down one or more rabbit holes. What I mean by this (and any seasoned family historian would agree) that we may start off focusing on one person or event, when suddenly due to some interesting news or discovery, we find ourselves investigating something or someone entirely different.

This story began with my looking at Valentine Day events in New Hampshire which led me to a pre-suffrage (1915) women’s party which in turn led me to some fascinating women–one of which was a noted poet, and another a well-known author.

The Valentine Day Party
in this story was held on 14 February 1915, a half decade before women could vote or run for office. The party-goers were members of the New Hampshire Daughters of Boston, a social club made up of women from New Hampshire who had moved to, or had a presence in or near Boston.

Mrs. Eleanor Porter, author.

The story printed in the Boston Daily Globe on that Valentine’s Day of 1915 read as follows:  HOLDS VALENTINE PARTY.  Ex-Club of New Hampshire Daughters Has Mrs. Porter and Mrs. Kilburn as Guests. At Hotel Lenox yesterday afternoon, the Ex-Club of New Hampshire’s Daughters gave a valentine party, among the guests being Miss Jennie De Merritt, president of the New Hampshire State Federation of Women’s Clubs; Mrs. Eleanor H. Porter, the author, and Mrs. Daniel W. Kilburn, the oldest member of the club, who has passed her 80th birthday.     This social club of Boston is made up of ex-members of the executive board of New Hampshire’s Daughters. Mrs. Adelaide M. Godding who presided, was formerly president, and the recording secretary, Miss Jessie M. Fisher of Newton, is now president.     After an informal reception, luncheon was served in the rose parlor. The tables were decorated with red and white carnations and at each plate was an old-fashioned valentine. The reading of these original

Author, Kate Sanborn. Photograph from a book written about her life, by her brother Edwin Webster Sanborn in 1917.

valentine verses, written by Mrs. Mabel W. Johnson of Roslindale, furnished much merriment after lunch.     Mrs. Joseph H. White of Brookline presented Mrs. Godding with a handsome basket of crimson carnations. With the basket was an old-time nose-gay and a quaint valentine.     Miss Barnes sang a group of songs, and among those who responded to the toasts were     Mrs. Mary E. Eastman of Manchester, N.H. the club historian; Miss Fisher, president of New Hampshire’s Daughters; Miss DeMerritt, president of New Hampshire State Federation; Mrs. Eleanor H. Porter and Mrs. Daniel W. Kilburn.     The committee having charge of the arrangements were Mrs. Godding, Miss Fisher, Mrs. Eastman, Mrs. Florence L. Cadieu, Mrs. Porter, Mrs. Clarence L. Glazier, and Mrs. Mabel W. Johnson. The festivities closed with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”   Among those present were Mrs. Sarah F. Dearborn and Miss Deaborn of Brookline and Suncook, N.H., Mrs. Carrie C. Virgin, Mrs. Edward F. Wilder, Miss Annie S. Head, Mrs. Woodbury, Mrs. Elizabeth M. Buntin, Mrs. Mary F. Gilman of Brookline, Mrs. Sarah E. Odlin, Mrs. Kate R. Warren, Mrs. Emma J. Merrill, Mrs. William W.C. Spencer of Brookline and Mrs. George F. McIndoe. [end of newspaper article].

The noted author in attendance was Eleanor H. Porter (of ‘Pollyanna’ fame).
Upon investigating this mysterious women’s group (at least to me) I discovered that the very first president of this organization was Kate Sanborn, another prolific author of the same time period. She had composed a tongue-in-cheek poem in 1895 about the role of New Hampshire women in history.  Of course I had to share this with you.

—–A POEM—-

New Hampshire Daughters meet tonight,
With joy each cup is brimmin’;
We’ve heard for years about her men,
But why leave out the wimmin?

In early days they did their share
To git the State agoin’
And when their husbands went to war,
Could fight or take to hoin’.

They bore privations with a smile,
Raised families surprisin’–
Six boys, nine gals, with twins thrown in–
O, they were enterprisin’.

Yet naught is found their deeds to praise
In any book of hist’ry;
The brothers wrote about themselves,
And–well, that solves the myst’ry.

But now our women take their place
In pulpit, court and college,
As doctors, teachers, orators,
They equal men in knowledge.

And when another history’s writ
of What New Hampshire’s done,
The woman all will get their due,
But not a single son.

But no, on sober second thought,
We lead, not pose as martyrs,
We’ll give fair credit to her sons,
But not forgit her Darters.

Now, this is where genealogy comes in to my story. Many history stories are only surface deep, but with a bit of family history, hopefully some of my readers will be able to connect with these amazing women. As I know I’m cousin to everyone, it does not surprise me that I am related to some of them either by blood or by their marriage. Perhaps you are too.

–Abbie B. (Brockway) Kilburn—
Abby/Abbie Brockway was born May 1834 in the town of Bradford, New Hampshire, daughter of Tilly & Mary “Polly” (Brockway) Brockway [her parents were cousins], granddaughter of Col. Martin & Nancy (Hoyt) Brockway, and great-granddaughter of Asa & Hephzibah (Hodgman) Brockway.  She married on 25 November 1852 in Clinton MA to Daniel W. Kilburn [my distant cousin], son of Cheney & Sarah (Blood) Kilburn, and a descendant of Thomas Kilborn of England & Wethersfield CT.  Daniel W. Kilburn was born about 1832 in Sterling MA.  At the time of his marriage he was a manufacturer, and later was important in the life insurance business, a one-time president of the Boston Life Underwriter’s Association (1889).  Abbie (Brockway) Kilburn died 8 Feb 1921 in Boston MA, and her funeral was held from her residence at 98 Huntington Ave,  Boston MA.

—Kate Sanborn—
Katherine Abbott Sanborn was born 11 July 1839 in Hanover, New Hampshire, daughter of Prof. Edwin David & Mary Ann (Webster) Sanborn. [And a 6th cousin 3x removed to me through her Webster-Eastman line]. She was grand-niece of the orator Daniel Webster and a descendant of Capt. Ebenezer Webster, a veteran and hero of the Indians Wars and the American Revolution. Marion Howard who wrote a biography of her for The Granite Monthly magazine in 1894 stated: she is a writer of marked individuality, a lecturer of rare magnetism, a teacher, compiler, reviewer, essayist, a typical New England housekeeper, a practical woman, earnest, yet full of wit and humor.” She began her education in local schools and under tutelage of her learned father, a professor of Dartmouth College. At the age of 19 she was a teacher at the Mary Institute, St. Louis, Missouri, and attended Washington University there for two years. When she returned to Hanover NH she opened a day school of young boys and girls, and at the same time began writing for The Youth’s Companion. Kate taught elocution for two years at the Packer Institute at Brooklyn NY. At the same time she became acquainted with a Mrs. Anne Lynch Botta who established a salon visited by distinguished persons such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant, and others. Kate Sanborn began teaching classes on literature, but was called to Smith College as a professor of literature. She stayed there four years, lecturing twice a week. All through her life she was a prolific writer and poet. Kate Sanborn was also the first president of the above-named New Hampshire Daughters, .  She died 9 July 1917 and is buried in Dartmouth College Cemetery.

A stereoview card of Robinson Female Seminary in Exeter New Hampshire.

—Miss Jennie DeMerritt—
Jennie Mabelle DeMerritt was born in Madbury, New Hampshire, daughter of Ezra Edric and Louisa M. (DeMerritt) DeMerritt; She died on 29 July 1936; She was a graduate of Robinson Female Seminary, Exeter; Unitarian; chapter historian, vice-regent, and chairman of various commitees on historic work [1924]; D.A.R. state library 1923-1925, and was instrumental in establishing the state fund for the purchase of historian and genealogical books for Memorial Continental Hall Library.  Miss DeMerritt was for many years an active member of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs; chairman of literature and library extension committee; chairman of reciprocity and club extension committee; second vice-president, 1907-1911; first vice-president 1911-1913; and president 1913-15; state secretary General Federation 1915-1917; chairman of forestry committee in the Federation; resident of the Dover Women’s Club and the Durham Woman’s Club. Miss DeMerritt is a descendant of both paternal and maternal lines from the immigrant Elle de Merit, 1669-1747; is a great-great-granddaughter of Major John DeMerritt, of the American Revolution, who was one of the party to go from Durham by boat at night under General Sullivan and took part in the capture of Fort William and Mary at New Castle, December 1774, afterwards secreting a part of the ammunition on his own premises at Madbury. Miss DeMerritt is a member of the National Society, Daughters of Foundrs and Patriots of America, New Hampshire Chapter; is a director of the Children’s Aid and Protective Society of New Hampshire; New England Wild Flower Preservation Society; Boston Browning Society, and affiliated member of the New Hampshire Daughters in Boston. [from Daughters of the American Revolution. New Hampshire News-letter Press, 1924].

–Mrs. Adelaide M. Godding–
Adelaide Marguerite Smith was born on 23 Oct 1857 at Epping NH, daughter of John G. R. & Sarah E. (Carr) Smith. She moved to Boston with her family as a child, her father owning a fish and oyster business.   She graduated from Roxbury High School, Boston in 1874. She married John Granville Godding of Boston 1 Sep 1880.   He was a graduate of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and proprietor J.G. Golding & Co. Apothecaries.  Both were active in local and national pharmaceutical organizations, where she championed the role of women pharmacists.  As a widow she moved to  Newton MA in 1921.  She was deeply interested in women’s clubs and was a member of Sarah Hull Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and Old North Chapter, Daughters of the Revolution. Mrs. Godding was also a former president of the New Hampshire Daughters of Boston, and the Ex Club, New Hampshire Daughters, and a member of the Women’s Organization, Boston Association of Retail Druggists, and past director of the Mass. State Federation of Women’s Clubs. She was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston MA.

–Miss Jessie M. Fisher–
Jessie M. Fisher was born 4 Sep 1852 in Henniker NH, daughter of Oliver Childs & Eliza Eaton (Campbell) Fisher; grand-daughter of John & Sarah (Noyes) Campbell; great-grand-daughter of Oliver & Mehitable (Eaton) Noyes.  She was a member of the Daughters of the Revolution–a direct descendant of Oliver Noyes of New Hampshire.  In 1920 she was single and residing on Church Street in Newton MA.  She was greatly involved in women’s clubs being the one time president of the New Hampshire Daughters.  She lectured, and was a strong proponent of supporting New Hampshire’s forest land. She is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge MA.   In a Sunday Herald (Boston) newspaper interview of October 1914, she described the New Hampshire Daughters club as follows [excerpt]: “New Hampshire’s Daughters one of the largest clubs in the Massachusetts Federation was formed 29 years ago by women born in the “Old Granite State,” who lived in Massachusetts. Its object is “To promote loyalty to the mother state, to cultivate a knowledge of her interests, and to seek to further them; to make our meetings opportunities for her daughters to know each other pleasantly and socially, and for the establishment and maintenance of a place for social meetings.” The club has in its membership many talented women including authors poets, educators and musicians and not one of the more than 400 on the membership list but is loyal to the home state… the conservation of the forests is of vital interest, and to keep this matter to the fore in New Hampshire the club has a traveling library on forestry which is circulated from town to town where such information is most needed.”

[end of biographies]

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2 Responses to New Hampshire Tidbits: A Valentine Party, A Poem, and Family History

  1. Amy says:

    I love that poem! It’s hard to believe that it was written so long ago. It’s also hard to believe we are still fighting some of those same battles.

  2. Pingback: 2020 Recap: More Remarkable Women of New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

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