Pansy’s Busy Schedule

As the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Isabella moved house frequently, depending on when and where the Presbyterian Church assigned her husband. One of those moves occurred in 1876 when Isabella was 37 years old.

For a period of three short years (from 1876 to 1879), the Aldens lived in Greensburg, Indiana, where her husband had the ministry of Greensburg’s Presbyterian congregation.

A view of Greensburg Indiana, from the 1894 Illustrated Souvenir Book of Greensburg, Indiana.

In typical Pansy fashion, Isabella probably got right to work in her new community, serving the members of her husband’s congregation, writing stories intended to win souls for Christ, and speaking out on matters of importance to women.

In addition, Isabella maintained a very busy travel schedule. Here are just a few entries from her calendar that year:

February 28:

Isabella was in Cincinnati, Ohio, delivering a lecture “for the benefit of the Benevolent Society.”

The Cincinnati Daily Star, February 21, 1878.

June 26:

Her schedule took her to Indianapolis, Indiana, where she read a paper titled “What I Know about Boys” at the state’s annual Sunday-School Convention:

From the St Louis Globe-Democrat, June 27, 1878.

August 1:

The first week of August saw Isabella at the Methodist Sunday-School Assembly at Lakeside, Ohio, where she was one of a number of teachers who led daily children’s classes throughout the week.

The Tiffin Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio), August 1, 1878.

September 26:

Isabella was in New York in her home town of Gloversville, where she read one of her short stories—“What She Said and What She Meant”—to an audience at the Baptist Church.

From the Gloversville Intelligencer, September 26, 1878.

November 15:

Isabella was back in Indiana, this time giving a temperance reading to an audience in Indianapolis, about forty-eight miles from her Greensburg home.

The Indianapolis News, November 9, 1878.

At a time when the fastest way to travel was by train or horse-drawn carriage, Isabella sure got around!

By the way, Isabella’s story “What She Said and What She Meant” was published in 1880 and you can read it for free! Just click on the book cover below to begin reading.

Pansy and the Orphans

As the wife of a Presbyterian minister, Isabella moved houses fairly regularly, depending on when and where the church assigned her husband.

In the early 1890s Isabella, Ross, and their son Raymond were living in Washington D.C., where Ross was assistant pastor at Eastern Presbyterian Church.

Church listing in an 1892 issue of the Washington, D.C. Evening Star newspaper

While living in Washington D.C., Isabella became involved with the Washington Hospital for Foundlings, which, at the time, had been in operation for about five years.

The Washington Hospital for Foundlings

Knowing how much Isabella loved children, it’s not surprising she would work diligently on behalf of the foundling hospital; but Isabella didn’t stop there. She went one step further and got her “Blossoms” involved, too.

The foundling hospital playroom in 1905

“Blossoms” was the name Isabella called the children who subscribed to The Pansy Magazine, a weekly magazine Isabella edited for children. Children from around the world subscribed to the magazine, and when Isabella mentioned in an issue of the magazine that the foundling hospital was in need of funds, her little Blossoms went into action.

An illustration from The Pansy magazine, 1885.

For a period of about four years, children from around the world sent contributions to the hospital.

Their individual contributions were as large as a 25 cent-piece and as small as a 2-cent postage stamp. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but over time their total contributions amounted to $440.88.

That’s the equivalent of $13,783.00 in today’s money!

In return, Isabella wrote regular descriptions of her visits to the foundling hospital, which were published in the magazine. You can click on the following image to read one of Isabella’s accounts.

Click on this image to read one of Isabella’s reports from 1892.

When you stop to think how hard a child had to work to earn so much as a penny in the late 1800s, the children’s total contribution is astonishing; but they were such devoted readers of Isabella’s magazine, they never failed to answer her call for help.

Interestingly, around this time, Isabella and Ross adopted a baby girl, whom they named Frances. From Federal Census records we know Frances was born in Washington D.C. around 1892, the same time period in which Isabella was regularly involved with the foundling hospital. It’s possible Isabella came across Frances during the course of one of her visits and fell in love with the infant Frances to such a degree she decided to take her home.

You can read more about Frances’ life in a previous post by clicking here.

And you can read a 1906 newspaper article about the Washington Hospital for Foundlings by clicking on the image below:

From The Washington Post, Sunday, April 22, 1906.