Highlighting Women

The Female Charitable Society

Although not much is known about Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) before she arrived in Morristown, NJ in 1810, her dedication to her adopted community for over 50 years is a testament to the power of collective community efforts!

She and her husband, George Macculloch, were instrumental in the founding of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown. Church services were held in their home prior to the church being built.

Serving as first-directress (president) of The Female Charitable Society from 1830 to 1863, Louisa Macculloch’s work included collecting funds to provide assistance to the community. The Female Charitable Society donated food, clothing, and household items to the poor, sick and widowed in Morristown. In the 1830s, The Female Charitable Society worked to eliminate the Morristown debtors’ prison and to liberate the remaining enslaved people living in northern New Jersey.

Early records of The Female Charitable Society, later known as Family Services of Morris County, listed the names of those who received assistance, including freed African Americans and new immigrant populations, like the Irish. In the words of Jacob W. Miller, Louisa Macculloch’s youngest grandchild, “The Female Charitable Society worked hard and consistently, distributing to the needy, irrespective of party, creed or church.” The Female Charitable Society continues to inspire community action today.

Today, The Female Charitable Society is known as Cornerstone Family Programs and Morristown Neighborhood House. They continue to serve over 6,000 children, families, adults, veterans and seniors each year. Altogether, their work impacts the lives of over 30,000 Greater Morris County Area residents.

Louisa Macculloch could not have known the impact that her service, nearly 200 years ago, would have on Morristown today. She could not have envisioned that children and staff of these organizations would visit and learn in her house on Macculloch Avenue in Morristown each summer!

Activities

Find out the history of a service organization in your town. When was it founded? Who helped to start it?

Draw a picture or write a letter or email to thank a community leader. Your encouragement will help them continue their work.

A Time for Heroes

In 1918 Dorothea Post (1878-1947), great-granddaughter of George and Louisa Macculloch, coordinated the efforts of the Women’s Land Army in the Morristown area. At the same time, she cared for her three young sons James, Edward and Richard while her husband, James Otis Post, served overseas during World War I.

It was a moment in history when Americans pulled together under the campaign “Food Will Win the War,” a campaign promoted by the head of the United States Food Administration, Herbert Hoover.

The Morristown unit of the Women’s Land Army was located at 23 Maple Avenue in Morristown, NJ. Coordinators asked farmers to give women, called farmerettes, “clear instruction and an opportunity to prove our value.”

Today, all Americans are asked during COVID-19 to be heroes by pulling together, encouraging and supporting one another in any way they are able.

Resources:

Victory Garden poster from sebsnjaesnews.rutgers.edu.

Color in a Garden Poster and display it in a window in your house to show your heroic step to grow your own food. (PDF Document)

Discover Women’s Land Army posters from the National Women’s History Museum.

Read about the importance of gardening from Rutgers University.

Learn everything you need to know about growing your own victory garden from Forbes.com.

Highlighting Mary Louisa Macculloch

Mary Louisa Macculloch Miller (1804-1888) grew up at Macculloch Hall and raised her children and grandchildren there. She was remembered by her family as “simple in all her tastes, humble in all her thoughts, refined in all her instincts, charitable in every word and deed, gifted with a beautiful intellect and a wondrously sound judgement…”

Life was not always easy. Her sons fought in the Civil War and she became the matriarch of the Macculloch-Miller family after the deaths of her father, George Macculloch (1775-1858) and her husband, Jacob Miller (1800-1862).

We are thankful for women who are role models through their actions.

Resources:     

Celebrate book week and listen to the book Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman.

Make a card for someone you love at www.greetingsisland.com.

Thank You Teachers

Teachers, thank you for your time, talent, and dedication to your students especially during this unprecedented time in American history.

We appreciate all you do!

Today we honor Madame Heloise Desabaye Chegaray (1792-1889), teacher to two generations of Macculloch-Miller women.

Image by http://civilwarquilts.blogspot.com.

After arriving in the United States from France in the 1800s, Madame Chegaray first taught French in a girls’ school in New Brunswick, NJ. She opened her own school in New York City near Union Square in 1814 where she oversaw the education of generations of young women.

Mary Louisa (1804-1888), daughter of George and Louisa Macculloch, attended classes and lived at the boarding school in New York. As parents, Mary Louisa and her husband, Jacob Miller, made the decision to send their daughter Elizabeth (1828-1852) to Madame Chegaray’s School For Young Ladies. While still a student, Mary Louisa made this theorem-painted fire screen as a gift for her parents. This fire screen is an irreplaceable object in the collection at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum.

In an interview with The Sun on Decemeber 25, 1887, Madame Chegaray shared her views on education. She believed it was most essential for a young girl to learn “To speak her own language with elegance and purity.”  She also shared: “If I had to give up all books but two, I would choose the Gospel and LaFontaine’s Fables.  In one you have everything necessary for your spiritual life. In the other you have the epitome of all worldly wisdom.”

Resources:

Image by the American Antiquarian Society.

This 1848 brochure explains what the costs were for students and what classes students could study. (PDF Document)

Do you take the same classes today? Can you find when the school year started and when it ended? What did the school supply to students who lived, or boarded, at the school during the school year?

Highlighting Alice Duer Miller

Just before MHHM closed to the public in mid-March, the Museum opened “Living, Learning, Working, Serving: The Women of Macculloch Hall.”  Exploring the accomplishments of the notable women from the Macculloch family, the exhibition also celebrates the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Alice Duer Miller, circa 1920.

Alice Duer Miller (1874-1942) is remembered as a poet, novelist, screenwriter, and activist in the battle to gain rights for women. She married Henry Wise Miller, George Macculloch’s great-grandson, in 1899. From 1914 to 1917, her weekly column, “Are Women People?” in the New York Tribune brought attention to arguments for and against women’s right to vote. She was a member of the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s and 1930s. One of her most famous works, The White Cliffs, published in 1940, was adapted into the 1944 motion picture, The White Cliffs of Dover.

Alice Duer Miller (left) and Caroline King Duer (right) with their mother (center), photographed in 1906. From the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

Both Alice Duer Miller (1874-1942) and her sister, Caroline King Duer (1865-1956), were proactive in following their passions. Alice Duer Miller graduated from Barnard College in 1899. After graduating, she served as a trustee and wrote the book, Barnard College: The First Fifty Years. Caroline King Duer volunteered in a hospital in France during World War I and returned to devastated France in 1917 to help after the war. Caroline would later become an editor at Vogue magazine.

Here is some timely advice from their book, Poems, published in 1896:

WASTED TIME.

Now, some people there be
Who would argue with me
On the pleasure of working for working’s sake,
Of the joys that you find
When you force your mind
New mountains to climb and new pathways to take.

Now they learn how to cook
From a cookery book;
They nurse the poor sick, or go visiting crime:
Seven fads in a day
Are not too much, for they
Would do anything rather than waste their time.

There are classes, indeed,
Fit for anyone’s need:
To play cards, the piano, or, sometimes, the deuce!
To make Browning seem plain.
To paint castles in Spain—
But if you’ve no talent, why, what is the use?

And a few collect things,
Such as butterflies’ wings,
And I collect words into versatile rhyme;
Yet I think, on the whole,
For the good of my soul,
I should rather do nothing than waste my time.

C. D.

What new hobbies you have started or pursued during COVID-19? Share with us on social media!

Resources:

Hear Alice Duer Miller and Caroline King Duer’s poems read aloud.

Read about the importance of hobbies from The New York Times.