Character Sketches of Grace Livingston Hill and Her Husband

As a popular author, Isabella received plenty of publicity and media coverage, and she was probably used to seeing her name in print.

In 1893 her niece, Grace Livingston Hill was just beginning to garner some publicity of her own. A few of Grace’s stories had been published in magazines, including The Pansy, so she was already building a following of loyal readers.

Then, in April 1893, the following article about Grace appeared in a Christian magazine:


THE REVEREND AND MRS. FRANKLIN HILL

Pansy’s niece, Grace Livingston (now Mrs. Franklin Hill) has perhaps almost as warm a corner in the hearts of our readers as their older friend “Pansy,” and therefore we are glad to give the photographs of herself and her husband. Mr. Hill. [He] is pastor of a flourishing church in one of the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—a young man of noble character and fine intellectual gifts.

To quote from a paper giving an account of their recent marriage:

“When two souls such as these, energetic, consecrated, and peculiarly gifted, unite their lives and aims, there is promise of much good work for the Master.”

Doubtless thousands who never saw Grace Livingston’s face, feel acquainted with her, and really are acquainted with her through her writings, for a true author’s true self goes into her works. She has a bright and charming style, which reminds one of that of her aunt, Mrs. Alden (“Pansy”), and of her mother, Mrs. C. L. Livingston, who is often a collaborator with Mrs. Alden.

Mrs. Hill is not an imitator, however, or an echo of anyone else, but has a genuine style and literary character of her own. She is, moreover, much more than a mere writer. The daughter of a Presbyterian Minister, trained from her earliest days to work for the Master, she has thrown herself enthusiastically into His service.

“She has,” writes a friend, “a passion for soul-saving, and will not give up a bad boy when all others do, but pleads with him, and prays, and has patience, and often has the joy of reward, in the changed character of boys who will remember her gratefully through life. She sometimes gathers about her on Sabbath afternoons a group of older boys, and leads them on to discuss Christian evidences and the moral questions of the day, amusements, etc. On these subjects she takes high ground, setting them to search for the opinions of master minds in religious thought, and to learn what Scripture teaches on the themes under discussion. This will go on for months, each of the informal meetings delightful to the boys.”

The work of the Christian Endeavor Society is very near her heart, and she has given much time and strength to it, as her writings prove. Of late she has been especially identified with the Chautauqua Christian Endeavor reading course, whose success in the future will be largely due to her energy. While in Chautauqua during the summer, she spends much of her time in promoting the interests of the Chautauqua Christian Endeavor Society.

How can we end this brief sketch better than by quoting the words of a friend, who says:

“She loves dearly to have her own way, and yet she is one of those rare characters who knows how to yield her will sweetly for peace sake, and so for Christ’s sake.”


What a lovely article! It gives readers hints of the great work (in addition to her writing) that Grace would accomplish in the years to come.

The article appeared only four months after Grace and Thomas Franklin “Frank” Hill were married. After their marriage they both stayed involved in the Christian Endeavor Society. Together they wrote The Christian Endeavor Hour with Light for the Leader, a guide book that contained lessons and Bible verses CE societies could use in conducting their meetings. The book was published in 1896.

Grace’s “passion for soul-saving” flourished, as well. In later years she established a mission Sunday School for immigrant families in her community. It was just one of the many endeavors Grace undertook that resulted in “good work for the Master.”

A Chorus of Four-Thousand Voices

Isabella Alden was deeply involved in the Christian Endeavor movement that took root in America and swept around the world in the late 1800s. She regularly contributed to the Christian Endeavor newspaper; and she wrote about Christian Endeavor in of her novels Chrissy’s Endeavor, Her Associate Members, and others.

E-book cover of Chrissy's Endeavor by Isabella Alden.
Image of e-book cover of Her Associate Members by Isabella Alden.

Isabella’s family was involved in Christian Endeavor, as well. Her niece, Grace Livingston Hill, served as president of a Christian Endeavor chapter. One of Grace’s early novellas was a Christian Endeavor story called “The Parkerstown Delegate;” and with her husband Grace published a guide for Christian Endeavor leaders that was widely used by C. E. chapters.

Cover of paperback edition of The Parkerstown Delegate by Grace Livingston Hill.

The Christian Endeavor Society held regular annual conventions in the U.S. that were very well attended by people from all over the country; but in 1896 the society held an international convention in Washington D.C. Thousands of Christians of all ages, nationalities, and denominations, descended upon the U.S. Capitol for five days of non-stop meetings, worship services, training classes, and Bible studies.

Image depicting American woman with Bible open in her lap speaking to people dressed in attire Africans, Middle Easterners, and Native Americans. "World Wide Endeavor" is written above the drawing. "Christian and Moslem" is written below the drawing; and below that "Mission Work Discussed at the Morning's Meetings in the Tents."
Newspaper headline about the convention, from the Evening Star, Monday, July 13, 1896.

Isabella knew Washington, D.C. very well. She and her family lived there for three years when her husband served as assistant pastor of The Eastern Presbyterian Church, located just blocks from the Capitol building (read about her D.C. home here). In early 1896 the Aldens moved to New Jersey, just a short train ride away from Washington; so it’s entirely possible the Aldens attended all or part of the international convention that year.

The convention opened on Thursday, July 9 and ended the following Monday. Convention attendees were given a schedule of events and a map to help them travel from venue to venue, most commonly by foot.

The Christian Endeavor Society distributed this map of Washington, D.C. to conventioneers in 1896.

Attendees braved the heat, the humidity, and the stifling crowds of fellow Endeavorers that thronged the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building.

Sepia photo of a crowd of people packed tightly together.
“The Army of the King.” Christian Endeavorers crowd Washington, D.C. in 1896. From the New York Public Library Digital Collection.

On The Ellipse, located between The White House and the Washington Monument, enormous tents were erected where meetings and lectures were held.

Black and white photo of two large tents set up at the base of the Washington Monument.
A newspaper photo of the meeting tents, with the Washington Memorial in the background.

Each tent was designed to hold hundreds of people, but some evening gatherings drew enormous crowds. At times there were so many people, and the interiors of the tents became so hot, the tent sides had to be raised to allow fresh air to circulate.

Drawing showing oval shaped tents. On one end is a stage flanked by two rows of chairs. Behind the stage and in front of it are tightly placed rows of seating for audience.
A tent interior layout, printed in the Evening Star on Wednesday, July 8, 1896.

But of all the activities that took place over the five-day convention, there was one event that stood out and was talked about for months afterward.

On Saturday evening, July 9, a patriotic service was planned to take place on the east front of the Capitol Building.

The east front of the United States Capitol building, photographed in 1904.

The service was described as “a great song service” of patriotic songs and hymns led by a chorus of four thousand voices.

There will be afternoon meetings today. At 5 o'clock there will be a great song service at the eastern steps of the Capitol building, with music by a chorus of four thousand voices and by the Marine Band. This will be followed by a march of the Army in Tent Endeavor.
An announcement of the service in the Evening Star on July 11, 1986.

A photographer captured this image of the chorus assembling on the steps of the Capitol:

A large crowd of people fill the steps of the Capitol Building.

One newspaper enthusiastically wrote that the patriotic service was “grand music to listen to, and something to remember.”

At the conclusion of the service, the chorus, the Marine band, and the audience left the Capitol steps to march down the National Mall to the Ellipse, where they gathered at Tent Endeavor.

Map showing the streets around the National Mall. The Capitol Grounds and The Ellipse are circled in red to show their locations and distance.
The Ellipse and the Capitol Grounds shown on a map published in the Evening Star.

The song service was a tremendous success! While there was no official count, attendees believed there were just as many singers among the audience as there were on the Capitol steps.

If that’s true, there were over eight thousand people at the service, all raising their voices together in songs of praise!


What do you think it was like to sing hymns with thousands of other people?

Have you ever participated in an outdoor sing-a-long where your voices could be heard for blocks?

Grace’s Chautauqua Delights, Part 5

This is the fifth and final installment of Grace Livingston Hill’s 1894 article about Chautauqua. If you missed them, you can read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here. Read Part 4 here.

Recreations at Chautauqua

The Chautauqua Christian Endeavour Society should not be forgotten as a helpful influence in bringing not only the young, but all classes of people together, and making them acquainted. This society not only includes all members of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavour who visit at Chautauqua, but also members of any denominational societies doing similar work.

A Christian Endeavor group, 1905

Here, in the white-pillared Hall of Philosophy, they meet for an hour just at early evening, every week, and hold their prayer-meeting; and the voice of prayer and song or words of cheer, of comfort, of consecration, come from many. One other hour each week is also given to a conference, where the members compare notes on the best ways of working in various lines.

In 1892 Grace was president of the Chautauqua Endeavor Society.

Last summer the plan was enlarged and a Working Committee formed. The grounds were divided into districts, and each Member of the Executive Committee became responsible for the work in one district; putting a topic card and notices in every cottage on the grounds, and giving to all strangers invitations to Meetings and Socials of the Society. Much good work was accomplished, and many strange young people made to feel at home.

The banner on the wall reads, “You are invited to attend the Y.P.S.C.E. meeting this evening.”

There was also a room used as Headquarters, where were books and other literature relative to young people’s Christian work, and where could be found stationery and a quiet place to write or read. The registry book showed that a goodly number of young people availed themselves of this privilege.

A quiet place to read.

This Society held an Autograph Social during the season in the parlours of the hotel, which was a great success.

The Athenaeum Hotel, about 1915

Here and there you might have seen some favourite professor backed up against the wall with a double semicircle of his devoted students about him, eagerly holding their cards up, and he writing as if for dear life. But it was everywhere noticeable with what heartiness each one entered into the spirit of the hour, and demanded a name on his own card in return for every one he gave.

A collection of autographs from the early 1900s.

From this gathering it was difficult to send the people home, even after the solemn night-bell had rung; and the small boy who collected the pencils was very sleepy when the last couples left the parlour, smiling and chatting of the pleasant evening spent.

And the chimes make a beautiful ending to a day at Chautauqua. Whether you are wandering by the lake shore, or through the lovely avenues, it matters not; they are sweet. Sweeter, perhaps, just a little, as they ring out over the water, calling you in from a moonlight row or yacht ride. “Bonnie Doon,” “Blue Bells of Scotland,” “Robin Adair,” “Long, Long Ago,” all the old airs, and by-and-bye growing more serious— “Softly Now the Light of Day,” “Silently the Shades of Evening,” “Glory to Thee, my God, this Night,” and the “Vesper” hymn for good-night.

The Miller Bell Tower.

In 1894, when Grace wrote this article, collecting autographs was a popular way to preserve memories of an event. It wasn’t until 1900 when Kodak introduced their Brownie box camera that the average American could commemorate travels, celebrations, and other events with photos they took themselves.

Did you enjoy this tour of Chautauqua through Grace’s eyes?

Hopefully, her words gave you a sense of what it must have been like to visit Chautauqua 127 years ago!

Grace’s Chautauqua Delights, Part 4

This post is Part 4 of an article Grace Livingston Hill wrote about the delightful offerings for young women at Chautauqua Institution. The article was published in an 1894 issue of the YWCA newspaper.

If you missed them, you can read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here.

Recreations at Chautauqua

Chautauqua has attractions and social possibilities all her own. There are innumerable receptions and class gatherings, where one meets not only one’s own associates, teachers and leaders, but also many distinguished men and women from all parts of the land.

The gymnasium holds its annual reception generally with some entertainment.

The choir, under Dr. Palmer, has a reception.

Occasionally a class in botany or geology takes a day off and goes in a body to Panama, or some other interesting place, for a good time with a little study mixed in.

A Natural Science class trip, 1906.

There are receptions of all sorts and descriptions. Two years ago, one was given in honour of several returned missionaries.

To the members of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle—and there are many—there is no more interesting night on the whole programme than the one given up to their class receptions.

CLSC Class of 1913 and grads of earlier years in the Hall of Philosophy, 1913.

One of the latest developments of this place of many new ideas is the Girls’ Outlook Club.

Five mornings in a week last summer, the girls and young women gathered in a pleasant room and discussed things useful, ornamental, or nonsensical, about “Ourselves, Our Homes, and Our Neighbours.” There they compared notes on all sorts of hobbies, and carried away many helpful hints for life, the gaining of which had been but the pleasant passing of an hour together; their talk interspersed with music by some of their number, or bright, interesting speeches of a few minutes from different notable men and women.

This club filled a long-felt need in the heart of every girl who attended it. But this was not all. The entire membership was divided into small circles, with a leader at the head of each, and with some certain work for each to do. These circles were named from well-known women.

A girls’ club in 1911.

And this charming company did not keep all their good times to themselves. Once a week they had a social; a Colonial Tea, or a Cap and Gown Tea, or a Musical Tea, or a Tennis Tea, to which they invited all their friends, men and women. These were most delightful occasions. At the Cap and Gown Tea a number of college girls were attired in their caps and gowns, and were ranged in a row and called a library. The volumes were all named, and anyone in the room was allowed to draw a book and talk with her for five minutes, provided the theme of conversation was her college. Each girl had bits of ribbon in her college colours to give as souvenirs to the friends with whom she had conversed. Tiny paper caps were given as badges to all college people. The tea was voted a success.

None the less so were the entertainments which followed in the next few weeks. The Colonial Tea, where all the girls were transformed into ladies of that old-time period, with high powdered hair and short-waisted dresses, and where one circle had some mysterious symbolic puzzles arranged, was most charming.

A 1906 Colonial Tea, with guests dressed in period costume.

Indeed, both the young women and young men of Chautauqua were delighted with the Girls’ Club.

wasn’t it a clever idea to arrange college grads in a row like a library? what’s the most clever party idea you’ve ever encountered?
join us tomorrow for the final post in the series when Grace focuses on a subject dear to her heart: the young people’s society of Christian endeavor.

Grace’s Chautauqua Delights, Part 3

In 1894 Grace Livingston Hill wrote an article for the YWCA newspaper, in which she described Chautauqua’s many offerings for young women.

Today we present Part 3 of the article. If you missed them, you can read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.

Recreations at Chautauqua

Chautauqua has her Field Day now, when you can see wonders in high jumping, hurdling, sprinting and the like, owing to the fact that many of the college athletes spend much time here, some as teachers, some as pupils and one thing or another, and many as pleasure-seekers.

Watching a foot race on Field Day at Chautauqua

Then there is the baseball ground, and many an exciting game may be watched; for Chautauqua’s team is a good one and seldom beaten, partly because the players are picked college men, and partly because of the excellent training they have undergone.

A baseball game at Chautauqua, 1910.

Bicycles are numerous at Chautauqua now. There is a bicycle club, which makes long and short excursions around the country. Sometimes you see two or three wheelmen or wheelwomen taking their machines on board the steamers. They ride from one point to another, and when tired, or their time has given out, they take the next steamboat back home again.

There are horses on the grounds, and there is not a little horseback-riding, and driving also.

One of the pleasures which must be had as a matter of course every year is a trip to Panama Rocks, ten miles from the Assembly Grounds.

The people go in parties, large or small for the day. The drive is a most enjoyable one, with a good, hard road all the way. The village of Panama, not far from the Rocks, is a dainty, clean little place dropped down among the green hills, away from any railroad, and bearing that mark of restfulness and almost Sabbath peace which one reads about occasionally in ancient books, but seldom sees. There are some white houses set amid its green, with tiny window panes, green blinds, porches with straight benches on either side, and a high door knocker, where one expects to see ruffled dimity curtains at the windows, and a dear little old lady appearing at the door with white bordered cap and snowy kerchief crossed over her bosom; and surely there must be a spinning-wheel or two stowed away in those attics.

Buses transport visitors to nearby towns and attractions.

The rocks are intensely interesting to a geologist, and many go there to study their formation; but they are also attractive to the mere pleasure seeker, for there are lovely places to scramble up and down, or sit and talk; and many broad, flat rocks for dining-tables, with the trees and birds and squirrels for company.

“The Sinking Ship” formation at Panama Rocks.

It is also a pleasant drive to Hogsback Gulf, and further on to Westfield, and about the shore of Lake Erie, where one of the old lighthouses still stands.

Hogsback Gulf, near Chautauqua.

But the loveliest ride of all is to the brow of the hill beyond Mayville, just at early evening, when the sky is flushed with those soft sleepy tones, and the “night is wide and furnished scant, with but a single star.” There you can see both Lake Chautauqua and Lake Erie, held in the arms of the sky, with delicate etchings of farmhouses and haystacks standing in clear relief against it all.

Sunrise on Chautauqua Lake.

After all, such things can be had at almost any summer resort, though you ought to know that Chautauqua is as rich in them as is any other place in our beautiful land. But she has attractions and social possibilities all her own. There are innumerable receptions and class gatherings, where one meets not only one’s own associates, teachers and leaders, but also many distinguished men and women from all parts of the land.

in tomorrow’s post Grace talks about Chautauqua’s girls’ clubs and the different entertainments each club hosts.
what do you think of Grace’s descriptions so far of the many things to do in and around Chautauqua?

Grace’s Chautauqua Delights, Part 2

In 1894 (at the age of twenty-nine) Grace Livingston Hill wrote an article for the YWCA newspaper, in which she described Chautauqua’s many offerings for young women.

Today we present Part 2 of the article. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Recreations at Chautauqua

Quite near the bath-houses on the shore stands the gymnasium. You have heard all about that. That is where physical culture teachers go to be taught how to teach, and wear themselves out with listening to lectures on physiology, anatomy and orthopedics.

Coaches, athletes and teachers at the Chautauqua Gymnasium

But you have “come to rest, and want nothing of this kind”? Have you not learned that even the children take rest and pleasure here? If you do not know the delight of exercise in unison with others, in time to music, enter a class “just for fun,” and try it. You will surely gain health and strength, and probably be perfectly fascinated by the club-swinging or fencing, or the hoop drill, or the slow, graceful movements of the Delsarte. It is real pleasure to those initiated.

There are the inviting tennis courts, a goodly number, and in fine condition. By the lake or on the hill you may play to your heart’s content.

Tired of tennis? Would you like to walk? The new grove is a cool, delightful place in which to walk or sit and rest and talk a little. There are no houses there, and few people to interrupt the loveliness of nature. Even the tall trees bend and whisper when they wish to talk, and the birds and the breezes have it all to themselves.

Under the rustic bridge, 1907.

Off at one side you see the Hall of Philosophy, with its company of eager listeners at almost any hour in the day; on the other side a quiet ravine with the tiniest of brooks for picturesqueness; and beyond the high boundary fence and white road rise the blue and purple wooded hills.

The Hall of Philosophy

There are lovely walks outside the gates, too, when you care to take a long walk, with the most bewildering and charmingly old-fashioned, cool, dark woods, filled with ferns and mosses of all descriptions.

Among the beeches at Chautauqua. (From the New York Public Library)

A pleasant company one summer started out in the morning with lunch baskets and the usual picnic trappings, and spent the day in this beautiful retreat. They blazed the way with red and white strips of cloth embellished with poetry written by the entire company, for some of their party who were to follow later.

“Picnic” by Harold Slott-Moller

In sight of Chautauqua’s towers they were, with a good view of her lovely blue lake, and in sound of her hourly bells, but as utterly shut away from all the busy working place as if they had been in the heart of the North Woods.

The Miller Bell Tower at Chautauqua.

The day was one to be remembered by all, but they nevertheless were, every one, glad to get back to the grounds as evening drew on.

A walk by the lake, 1906.

There are walks by the lakes, up hill and down dale; by pleasant cottages, where you catch glimpses of the restful, or busy life, as the case may be, going on within.

A row of Chautauqua cottages, 1912.

Some groves and parks are hung thick with hammocks from the surrounding cottages. Oh, people have a good time at Chautauqua!

Fun at Chautauqua, 1906.

Occasionally, as you walk, you come upon a little group of photographers from the School of Photography, taking their first lessons in the art, perhaps; or here and there one more advanced in its mysteries is able to go by himself and pose with a black cloth over his head, trying to take a better view of the Amphitheatre than anyone else has yet succeeded in doing.

From a 1913 Kodak Camera print ad.
Grace was an excellent athlete and even taught sports and physical culture in her days at Rollins college. In tomorrow’s post, Grace describes the “wonders in high jumping, hurdling, sprinting and the like” at Chautauqua.
You can read more about Grace and the athletic classes she taught at Rollins College by clicking here.

Grace’s Chautauqua Delights, Part 1

We most often associate Chautauqua Institution with Isabella Alden because of the vivid way she brought the place to life in many of her novels.

But her niece, author Grace Livingston Hill, also loved Chautauqua. She famously wrote her novella A Chautauqua Idyl at the age of twenty-two to earn the money to go to Chautauqua when her family’s already tight budget could not stand the expense.

Like her aunt Isabella, Grace was an excellent ambassador for Chautauqua. In 1894 (at the age of twenty-nine) she wrote an article for the YWCA newspaper, in which she explained Chautauqua’s many offerings for young women.

Throughout the article you get a sense of Grace’s love for Chautauqua, as well as her thorough knowledge of the place.

It’s a rather lengthy article, so we’re going to break it down and share a portion of it every day this week. So, without further ado, here’s Part 1 of “Recreations at Chautauqua” by Grace Livingston Hill:

Recreations at Chautauqua

“Did you do nothing but study all last summer at Chautauqua?” asked one young woman of another a few days ago.

“I did nothing but have a good time this year. I was all tired out, and needed a frolic, so I had one,” was the reply.

“But,” said the first in a puzzled tone, “you always go there to study something. I thought Chautauqua was just a big school. You did not call it a frolic to attend lectures and classes all the time, surely?”

“Nothing of the kind,” said the other girl; and then she launched into such a glowing account of the attractions of the place as every true Chautauquan knows how, and well loves to give.

There is a side to Chautauqua about which very little has been spoken or written. In that charmed spot, as nowhere else, can a summer of varied delights be spent. It is by no means all lectures and study and “deep” talk.

The crowd at an open air lecture.

In the first place, of course, there is the lake.  The waves that roll about this fair point are not so thoroughly impregnated with wisdom that the sunlight does not glance from them as merrily, or they do not carry the many boats as daintily, as the waters about many other points on the lake. Neither are the fish thereabouts too intellectual to bite, occasionally at least, for the benefit of an amateur.

There are some shy water lilies not too far away, which can be found if diligent search be made. And there is the cool, quiet inlet for days when the water is a little rough, or the sun warmer than is pleasant.

A still, quiet inlet on Chautauqua Lake.

Occasionally there is a bit of excitement in the way of a race between a ladies’ crew and a men’s crew which have been drilling under the eye of a skilled oarsman. Then, if you do not care for the rowboat or a sail, there are those delightful trips on the great steamers. Why, one may spend the whole day—in fact, the whole summer—on the lake if one chooses, and then not go to the end of its beauties.

You must see it early in the morning, when the white mist the night has spread over it is being removed, and the distant banks look like a pictured fairy land; or later, when the sun has kissed the waves into dancing brightness. See it when the day is drawing to its close, and perhaps you will hear the voices of Chautauqua’s great chorus in the distance.

Chautauqua Lake at Sunset

You must not forget to get in the lake some day, and join the merry bathers.

Bathing at Chautauqua.
In tomorrow’s post, Grace describes the “health and strength” to be gained by visiting Chautauqua.
If you haven’t yet read Grace’s charming book A Chautauqua Idyl, you can click on the excerpt below to read it for free.

No Pockets? No Problem!

During Isabella’s lifetime women dressed modestly. Their clothing covered them from head to toe, with high collars at their necks, long sleeves that extended to their wrists, and skirts with hemlines that brushed the floor.

An 1877 reception gown (from the Minnesota Historical Society)

With so much of the body covered, a new gown—even one with a simple design—was a big investment. The average dress in 1900 took eight to twelve yards of fabric to construct.

This day dress from 1882 illustrates how much fabric a dress required.

But even with all that fabric, women’s gowns lacked one essential convenience modern women today take for granted: pockets.

The slim silhouette of a 1913 ladies’ gown left no room for pockets.

When you think about all the things we carry in our pockets—from keys and eye glasses to reminder notes and smart phones—it’s hard to imagine life without those small but handy additions to our shirts, skirts, and pants.

Ladies fashions in 1900, from The Designer magazine.

So how did Isabella and other women of her time carry around small but necessary objects so they were always close at hand?

They used a chatelaine.

A chatelaine was a piece of jewelry with chains from which accessories were hung.

Some chatelaines were ornate and expensive; others were purely practical.

If you watched episodes of the TV show “Downton Abbey,” you may have seen Downton’s housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes, wearing a plain and utilitarian chatelaine.

From her chatelaine she suspended a few essentials she probably used regularly throughout the day in such a large household: a small pair of scissors, and keys to the silver closet, perhaps, or maybe the wine cellar.

Some women customized their chatelaine for a specific purpose. For example, a seamstress or a mother who regularly found herself mending her children’s clothes might accessorize her chatelaine with needles, thread, and other sewing essentials.

This chatelaine carried (from left to right) scissors with a protective sheath, a scent bottle. sewing kit, and a whistle.

Inside the sewing kit was a dowel with thread, a small thimble, and a cylinder for holding needles.

Here’s another example of a silver-plated chatelaine customized with five sewing tools:

It was accessorized with a needle holder, a thimble, a pin cushion in the shape of a book, a tape measure, and a scissor sheath.

Artist Franz von Defregger depicted a chatelaine in his painting, The Letter (1884).

The chatelaine below was accessorized for a nurse, and contains (left to right) a pencil, an ivory notepad, pill box, scissors, tape measure, and a whistle.

A nurse’s chatelaine (from Wikimedia.org).

Scent bottles were common components of a lady’s chatelaine. Because women’s corsets often left them short of breath or feeling faint from heat or exertion, a small bottle of smelling salts was essential.

A silver and crystal perfume bottle from an 1898 chatelaine.

Sometimes women filled the bottles with perfume, which they held to their nose to ward off foul odors that were common at a time before deodorants and reliable sewer systems. In such cases, these bottles were often called “vinaigrettes.”

A whistle was another common accessory. Since well-mannered ladies never raised their voices, even in times of danger or emergency, a whistle was the best way for a woman to summon help.

Many women added small bags to their chatelaines. Made of metal mesh, fabric or leather, they held handkerchiefs, coins, and eye glasses.

A silver and leather chatelaine bag from Tiffany and Co. (courtesy of MetMuseum.org).

During Isabella’s lifetime, chatelaines were popular enough to draw criticism and comedy. One newspaper lamented the number of chatelaine accessories women were willing to wear, and printed this illustration of a wife who went a little overboard with her accessories:

The same publication poked fun at mothers who over accessorized their chatelaines:

But chatelaines came in all shapes and sizes. The lady in the photo below is dressed for the out of doors; her short chatelaine looks like a piece of jewelry and is accessorized with a watch and a whistle, among other things.

While many chatelaines were clipped to a woman’s belt or waistband, some small chatelaines were designed to be worn as a brooch. The young woman in the photo below is wearing a small chatelaine accessorized with a dainty little scent bottle.

Ladies in Isabella’s circle also used chatelaines. Here’s a photograph of Isabella and her family members at Chautauqua Institution. Seated left to right are Isabella’s husband Dr. Alden, Isabella, Mrs. Christensen, Isabella’s sister Julia Macdonald, Grace Livingston, and Dr. Hannah B. Mulford. Standing are Miss May Williamson and Isabella’s son Raymond.

A closer look at Julia and Miss Williamson shows that both ladies were wearing small chatelaines, although it’s difficult to make out what accessories they wore.

What do you think of chatelaines? Would you wear one?

If you had a chatelaine, what kind of accessories would you have?

A final note: Not all chatelaines were metal. An 1894 issue of The Youth’s Companion magazine published a simple pattern for a chatelaine you can make from fabric and ribbon. Click on the image below to see a larger version of the instructions.

 

GLH and The Story of a Whim

Have you read The Story of a Whim by Isabella’s niece, Grace Livingston Hill?

It’s a tale about mistaken identity, good intentions, and false assumptions. It’s also a story about the power of God’s healing love when we need it most.

The original 1903 cover for “The Story of a Whim”

The Story of a Whim was first published in 1903; then, in 1924 publishers J. B. Lippincott reprinted the novel for a whole new generation of readers.

To celebrate the re-release, Lippincott promoted both the book and the author to newspapers across the country.

Here’s one of those articles; it appeared 95 years ago in the Oakland Tribune (California) on Sunday, November 23, 1924, and summarized the plot of the novel very well:

The article reads:

Grace Livingston Hill has written a story that will take its place beside “Daddy Long-Legs,” for it is that kind of book. It concerns a lonely young man who spelled his name “Christie” and who thereby won happiness.

When a young girl wrote him an affectionate letter, believing he was another girl, Christie fell to the temptation of replying in the role. Representing himself as a spinster of 28, he kept up the writing friendship, adding details. Obligations followed, for the girl gave him work to do. After she had insisted upon his starting a Sunday school and has sent him an organ and music, she came down to investigate the stories she had heard concerning his success. One may guess at the conclusion.

It is a story with plenty of opportunity for gentle humor, a gay and wholesome tale fitted as a gift or a friend. It will be a favorite with a large number of readers.

The article was accompanied by a very nice photo of Grace:

That was 95 years ago! And readers today are just as enthusiastic about Grace’s “gentle humor” and “wholesome tales” as they were when her novels were first published.

Have you read The Story of a Whim? What do you think? Did the newspaper give an accurate summary of the book’s plot?

Isabella Goes West!

This is Part 2 of a story about Isabella’s farewell to Chautauqua in the Autumn of 1901. You can read Part 1 by clicking here.

When Isabella’s friend Frances Hawley wrote about the Aldens packing up their Chautauqua cottage, she ended her account by saying that the Aldens left for “a prolonged stay in the west.”

For Isabella and her family, “the west” meant California.

Their decision to make the journey had been in the works for some time. By autumn of 1901 the Aldens—Isabella, Ross, and their daughter Frances—were living in Philadelphia, and some key events had taken place in their lives:

  • Isabella’s husband Ross had retired from the ministry.
  • Isabella’s son Raymond had completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and had already moved to Palo Alto, California
  • Isabella was beginning to feel the passage of time. She was about to turn 60 years old, and Ross was already 69.

Of her advancing age Isabella wrote:

I am really growing old very fast now, you know. It seems to me that I have changed a great deal lately. I cannot do anything as quickly as I once could and I tire very easily.

Their decision to retire to California was probably based on a number of things, the most important of which was that they had always been a tight-knit family; and with the exception of one or two short periods of time, they had always lived together as a family, too.

Since Raymond had already moved west, he might have written to them about California’s clean air and warm temperatures. And maybe he had written about the Presbyterian church he was attending and the welcome he received there. By November 1901 he was already teaching a Bible class at church.

From the Palo Alto Press, November 27, 1901.

A Cross-Country Trip

Whatever their reason for make a change, Isabella and Ross finished packing up their belongings at Chautauqua and immediately set out for California to join Raymond.

From the New York Daily Tribune, December 33, 1903.

The first leg of their journey was probably from New York to Chicago. If they took one of the many “express” or “limited” trains, they would have made the journey in about 24 hours. From there, they would have taken a train to California.

From the New York Tribune, December 8, 1903.

A “limited” train, like the one in the ad below, would have taken a direct route from Chicago to San Francisco, and would have made as few stops as possible, bypassing many of the towns on the route.

New York Tribune, April 24, 1902.

On a “limited” train, their journey across the country would have taken about 66 hours, or almost three days. By contrast, travel on a regular train, making all the stops along the way, would have doubled their travel time.

This 1895 map from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company shows the dizzying number of stops a regular train would have made en route from Chicago to San Francisco. Click on the map to see a larger version.

By Christmas 1901 the Aldens were in southern California, staying with their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Johnson.

Isabella’s fame followed her there. A local newspaper, The Los Angeles Herald, caught wind of her visit and arranged to interview her.

In addition to asking Isabella the usual questions (e.g. “How did you get the name Pansy?”) the article listed all Isabella’s work, and noted that in addition to writing novels, Isabella was still:

  • Editor of the Herald and Presbyter
  • Associate editor of Christian Endeavor World
  • Wrote stories every month for The Sunbeam (the Y.W.C.A. Gazette published in London)
  • Wrote for the Junior Christian Endeavor World
  • Composed Sunday-school lessons for the Presbyterian church’s “intermediate quarterly”

It’s no wonder Isabella was beginning to feel tired!

The article ended with news that Isabella was going to do a reading the following week from “an unpublished story,” titled David Ransom’s Watch (which was eventually published in 1905).

The interviewer must have asked Isabella what her plans were for the future, because the article ended with this prophetic sentence: “It is probable that the Aldens will make California their home.”

The Aldens continued their stay with the Johnsons through at least the end of January of 1902. Their visit was reported in the Los Angeles Times society page:

From The Los Angeles Times, January 1, 1902.

A New Life in Palo Alto

Sometime in early 1902 the Aldens left Los Angeles and returned to Palo Alto, and they settled into their new life in the Palo Alto community.

They joined the same Presbyterian congregation that had welcomed their son Raymond. By April, Isabella was in San Francisco where she delivered a speech on one of her passions: Mission work at home and abroad.

Around that time the Aldens also began a search for a home large enough to accommodate their entire family and expected houseguests. In the end, they decided to build a custom home that would satisfy their many and unique needs. They purchased property in Palo Alto, hired an architect, and began designing their dream home.

A few years later Isabella and Ross joined other Christians in attending the Mount Hermon Christian Camp when it opened in 1905.

The rustic Mount Hermon train station, about 1910.

Mount Hermon was the first Christian camp west of the Mississippi, and it must have reminded Isabella and Ross of Chautauqua’s early days. Isabella fell in love with the place. She wrote:

I wish I could give you a picture of Mount Hermon, a blessed place where I have spent precious weeks living out under the great redwood trees. It was wild and quaint and beautiful. I have many happy memories connected with it.

For the next few years they made annual trips to Mount Hermon until health concerns prevented them from traveling there.

From Daily Palo Alto Times, 1907.

Through all these new experiences Isabella kept busy writing books. Between 1901 and 1908 she published eight books, most of which were written with her adult readers in mind:

Mag and Margaret: A Story for Girls (1901)
Mara (1902)
Unto the End (1902)
Doris Farrand’s Vocation (1904)
David Ransom’s Watch (1905)
Ester Ried’s Namesake (1906)
Ruth Erskine’s Son (1907)
The Browns at Mt. Hermon (1908)

Isabella Returns to Chautauqua

Isabella also found time to return to Chautauqua on probably two occasions, where she stayed with friends or relatives who had cottages there.

In May 1912 Isabella and Ross traveled to New York, where they first visited her dear friend Theodosia Toll Foster (who co-wrote a number of books with Isabella under the nom de plume Faye Huntington). It is very possible the Aldens went from there to Chautauqua in June when the 1912 season commenced.

from the Rome New York) Daily Sentinel, May 14, 1912.

In 1914 the Aldens were again at Chautauqua, where Isabella and her niece, Grace Livingston Hill were among the authors honored at a C.L.S.C. reception.

By August of that year they were back home in California, where they were “welcomed by many of their friends.”

The Palo Altan, August 21, 1914.

It’s possible Isabella visited Chautauqua again in the years following, but no record of those visits survives.

Whether Isabella visited Chautauqua again or not, her friends at Chautauqua and in New York certainly kept track of her as a favorite daughter. In 1916 the newspaper in Rome, New York (located near the town in which Isabella was born and raised) covered Isabella and Ross’s golden wedding anniversary celebration with this article:

The Rome Daily Sentinel, June 6, 1916.

The article’s mention of their prominent place in Palo Alto society is a testament to the loving friendships the Aldens formed in their new home in California.


You can read more about Isabella’s dream home in Palo Alto by clicking here.

You can read more about Isabella’s adopted daughter Frances by clicking here.