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[ Transcript for: The Indomitable Mary Easton Sibley: Pioneer of Women’s Education in Missouri ]

The Indomitable Mary Easton Sibley: Pioneer of Women’s Education in Missouri Video Transcript

Introduction

MS. ROBIN CARNAHAN: This is Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan. The following program is sponsored by Friends of the Missouri State Archives and the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. The State Archives hosts free monthly programs, like this one, at our office in Jefferson City.

We’re now offering these programs on-line as well so that even more Missourians can learn about the rich history of our state.

We hope you enjoy this presentation and thank you for your support.

(Applause.)

Presentation

:27 Introduction

MS. KRISTIE WOLFERMAN: It’s a pleasure to speak to you today at the Missouri Archives about Mary Easton Sibley, a woman who made a significant contribution to women’s education and who witnessed and played a part in many important events in early Missouri history.

:41 Lindenwood

Mary Sibley’s most remarkable achievement is that she founded Lindenwood, the first college for women west of the Mississippi, now, Lindenwood University with 14,000 students, which is located in St. Charles, Missouri.

She’s very much remembered at Lindenwood today. A new headstone marks her grave, 1800-1878 in a little cemetery that her husband George laid out for her behind the first college building, which is still a girls’ dormitory.

During my visit to Lindenwood, last fall, to speak at the University’s Homecoming some of the girls who live in Sibley Hall invited me in and invited me to take a tour of their dormitory. They showed me their rooms. They showed me the little chapel where Mary worshiped. They showed me her sewing table and her piano forte and they also showed me where her ghost appears on a regular basis.

(Laughter.)

MS. KRISTINE WOLFERMAN: Perhaps, those girls really do see Mary Sibley because during the end of her life she became an ardent Second Adventist and she assumed that she would be translated back to Earth to complete any work that she had left undone.

The title of my book: The Indomitable Mary Easton Sibley reflects Mary’s take-charge attitude. As Mary’s great-niece Louise Gibson Conn recalled in 1919 after Mary had been dead more than 40 years. Aunt Mary was quote, “Always a very original dominate character. What she wanted, she got. She went after it and got it irrespective of everything else,” end quote.

I actually wanted to call my book, “Clear the Way, Aunt Mary’s Coming,” which was the title of a song that the Lindenwood girls wrote while Mary was in the east trying to raise money for her school.

The song, which was of course a parody and was very insulting, did not insult Mary Sibley. Instead she came back, she made -- had the girls make copies of “Clear the Way” to sell for the benefit of her dear Lindenwood.

As -- as Mary’s great-niece explained, Mary Sibley did not let anything stand in her way to achieve her objective to promote educational opportunities for women and minority groups including African-Americans, Native Americans and immigrants. Education she believed empowered and equalized people and should be available to everyone, ideas that were way ahead of Mary’s time.

Besides education, Mary Sibley was outspoken about a variety of topics including slavery, women’s political and social roles, temperance and religion. She had definite opinions.

3:14 Mary’s Diary

When Mary was 32, she found religion and zealously as she did everything took up Presbyterianism. At that time, she also began keeping a religious diary in order to write an account of her opinions and her feelings on her progress in her Christian career.

Mary kept her journey (sic) -- journal fairly regularly in 1832, then more sporadically the second year, and then made scattered entries until 1858.

I found this journal at Lindenwood before the current archivist, Paul Huffman, arrived to organize and preserve the collection. And from Mary’s diary, I developed an understanding of her. I also found George Sibley’s diaries to be most informative about -- along with many primary documents located at the St. Charles Historical Society and Office of Deeds and Records, the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, the Missouri Historical Society, the State Historical Society in Columbia and Lindenwood’s Butler Library.

My esteemed editor, whom some of you may know, Rebecca Schroeder provided invaluable contributions to the effort of trying to demystify Mary Easton Sibley, which was not an easy task. As much that had been written about her centered around erroneous information that had been passed down by word of mouth and then published during the Lindenwood Centennial.

This misinformation was further proliferated in magazine and newspaper articles and led me on a few wild goose chases. I’m sure there’s still some mysteries out there to be solved about Mary Sibley, but I did go on a four-year quest to try to understand how this strong woman came to exist on the American Frontier and how she accomplished so much.

4:56 Mary’s Origins

To understand Mary Easton Sibley, we have to go back to Mary’s origins. She was born January 24, 1800, so it’s really easy to remember with being born in 1800 exactly how old she was when certain things happen, to Rufus Easton and Alby Abial Smith Easton in Rome, New York.

Mary was the first of 11 children. And her position as first born was important. At the time of her birth, Mary’s father was practicing law in New York, but he had ambitions for government positions. After various unsuccessful applications, including making a trip to Washington to talk with President Jefferson, Easton pinned his hopes on finding a job once the Louisiana Purchase was announced in 1804.

Through a complicated series of events and a certain amount of serendipity, in 1804, President Jefferson appointed Easton the Attorney General and also the Postmaster of the District of Louisiana, which is what the Spanish had called upper Louisiana.

And the Easton family set out for the capitol of that district, which was in St. Louis. Shortly after their arrival, the formal transfer of upper Louisiana from Spain to France and then from France to the United States was made in St. Louis. And Lewis & Clark, at this same time, were preparing to embark on their famous voyage of discovery.

Mary was just four years old when she and her parents and her two younger sisters arrived in St. Louis in 1804. St. Louis was a French town. It was built originally around the fur trade with the Indians, but the town was quickly changing into a hybrid mix of French, Spanish, Americans and Indians, as well as free Blacks and slaves. At an early age, Mary learned French from her friends, especially Nancy Anne Lucas whose father was a territorial judge.

Although Nancy Anne was almost three years older than Mary, they became inseparable and became known as the, “Bells of the Village.” Mary had long dark hair, which she pulled up into a French roll with curls framing her face and falling down her neck.

Okay. This one was better before. You can get the picture.

(Laughter.)

She was described by both her family and friends as beautiful and also very gay and full of health and spirits. According to her great-niece Mary and Nancy Anne quote, “Used to go to the dances at surrounding forts, which were the points of interests. They rode on horseback with their party clothes in a bundle behind them and they danced all night and came back the next day,” end quote.

Mary and Nancy Anne were 12, 13 and 14-years-old at the time. And dangers were abundant and, yet, life was different on the frontier. In 1812, Missouri became a territory, but St. Louis was still on the edge of the frontier.

During the winter of 1811 and 1812, further dangers lurked. The residents of St. Louis were worried about war with England and they were also worried about Indian uprisings. And they braced themselves against a series of earthquakes. The most severe being the New Madrid quake that occurred on February 7th, 1812. With the fear of war with Great -- when the fear of war with Great Brittan became reality on June 18th, 1812, a St. Louis committee of seven made preparations. Apart from some records being burned, St. Louis escaped disaster and apparently the Easton Family was unscathed.

8:48 Mary’s Education

Meanwhile, Mary apart from attending dances and socializing was interested in learning. She received most of her education from her parents. Her father who opened a private law practice after giving up his job as Attorney General, although he retained his position as postmaster often took Mary with him on business rounds. He taught her about law and about politics. He fostered her appreciation in music and even bought her a piano.

And he listened to and valued her opinions. As the oldest child, Mary and her father formed a deep bond which lasted until his death in 1834. Mary’s mother helped her gain an appreciation for literature and passed on her belief in equal educational opportunities for both boys and girls.

It is probable that her mother helped Mary to develop the idea that girls should not be as Mary wrote in her journal, quote, “helpless, dependent creatures, mere Doll babies…for exhibition decorated with external accomplishments, very pretty to hold in the Drawing room or Ball room but of no manner or use either to themselves or their fellow creatures, when called upon to take their stations in life as wives, mothers, and heads of family. Then they need to be practically and experimentally and what is more -- worth more than all habitually acquainted with all the various duties of domestic economy and arrangement. When this is combined with a liberal education then women become the pride, the comfort, the stay of their relatives and friends,” end quote.

Thus, Mary learned basic housekeeping skills which she knew were necessary, but never really liked. And she also learned to tend to her younger siblings and help to educate them, her first teaching job. But she also knew she needed to be educated and so did her parents. So to provide for Mary’s finishing, her parents decided to send her to a boarding school. And this is her student hat.

According to the Easton Family genealogy published in 1899, Mary Easton received a liberal education attending a female college in Lexington, Kentucky, which was at the time also known as the Athens of the West and this is what it says in the genealogy, quote, “to which place and back to St. Louis she made the journey on horseback,” end quote.

Presumably her father accompanied her on these trips and possibly once, at least, on route to Washington D.C. because he had been elected in 1814 to serve as the second Missouri Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress.

11:27 George Chaplin Sibley

After a year or two of finishing school, Mary returned to St. Louis where she met her future husband, George Chaplin Sibley. She was 14, he was 32. George, whose family had deep New England roots like Mary’s parents did, had arrived in the area in 1805 to serve as assistant factor for the trading post or factory set up at Fort Bellefontaine near St. Louis.

He subsequently, in 1808, became the head factor at Fort Osage. The fort was closed temporarily during the War of 1812 and Sibley opened a post near Arrow Rock and spent time in St. Louis presumably courting Mary. They married on August 19th, 1815. She was 15.

The day after their wedding George wrote to his father and brother to relate the news, quote, “I was married yesterday evening at seven p.m. to Ms. Mary Smith Easton, the eldest daughter of the Honorable Rufus Easton of this place,” end quote. He went on to say, quote, “I anticipate the question from you-all. Do you intend to take this charming wife with you among the Indians? Yes. She has long ago expressed her willingness to live anywhere with me. Until I can withdraw from the Indian Service she will willingly share with me the privations of a forest life. She will be 16 next January.” He was kind of pushing it. Okay. George also told his family that he, quote, “had the singular good fortune to obtain a young lady to be my friend and companion through life who will not deceive my hopes for happiness,” end quote.

Apparently, Mary’s marriage to George was a love match. They were married for 48 years. George supported Mary’s many causes. And in their journals and correspondence to each other they always had kind and loving words to say. And they missed each other when they were apart.

13:21 Fort Osage

In April, 1816, Mary moved from her parents’ home in St. Louis to Fort Osage. The garrison had returned to the fort and the factory or trading post had reopened. She and her husband took a trip along the -- a 300 mile trip by keelboat, but Mary was undaunted about making that journey to Fort Osage. The reason she was undaunted is she was not going to leave anything behind, any of the comforts of home. She traveled with her books. She traveled with her furniture, her piano with its fife and drum attachment and her saddle horse, which George had given her as a wedding present and also her wardrobe. She did leave a few silks, satins behind and she took some serviceable clothing and hats. Hats were usually decorated with flowers.

She read to her father after safely arriving at the Fort. And those of you, who are parents, I’m sure, would be really comforted if you got this kind of letter from your daughter, quote, “We could only go four or five miles a day because of the current. The bank of the Missouri are covered -- banks of the Missouri are covered with timber. Occasionally an Indian would shoot an arrow behind a tree, but never hit us. We never saw a White settler from the time we left until we got within a mile of the fort. Although our trip in our big, roomy flatboat up the Missouri was fraught with danger and excitement and discomforts, it was fascinating to me and I shall never forget it. As you know, I’m only 15 and very fond of adventure,” end quote.

George had built what he described as a large and comfortable house, which they named Fountain Cottage. Although she was never very domestic, Mary made the house a home. Because of her fondness for bright colors, she planted flowers including red geraniums, her personal trademark. George wrote to her brother that, quote, “My wife seems much pleased and quite content. Our quarters are very comfortable. And with the aid of very fine gardens, a well stocked poultry yard and a nice house we’re able to live very well,” end quote.

The men at the garrison, however, took bets on how long the spoiled Mrs. Sibley would last on the frontier. But the Indians who visited the factory, which were much taken with her; they admired her beauty, her colorful clothes, her garden and her book collection. They were impressed with her horseback riding ability and her piano playing, especially with that fife and drum attachment, became legendary.

15:55 Mary the Educator

Since Mary’s younger sister Louisa had come with her to the fort, Mary began teaching her as well as some of the Indian children and some of the settlers’ daughters, offering lessons in reading and writing, as well as piano.

I’m now going to put on my teacher’s hat. Those early classes marked the beginning of Mary’s career as an educator. In 1821 though, just five years after she’d arrived at Fort Osage with George, there were not as many Indians around the fort. And the United States government had decided to open a sub-factory closer to where the Osage were living near the great Osage Village on the Marais des Cygnes River. George hired a sub-factor and he stocked the sub-factory himself. Much to Mary’s delight, a mission school was also established near the big Osage Village. She’d been teaching English to some of the Indian children for years. But their visits to her were sporadic.

When the missionaries began working with some of Mary’s former students, however, they didn’t realize that they’d already had previous lessons from Mary. They were totally dumbfounded by the fact that a 12-year-old daughter of an Osage chief knew all her letters and was reading and writing well after six days. They really thought the Indians were a little bit smarter than many of the American children. Mary had obviously given this child and some others a very good head start.

Besides the opening of a sub-factory and a mission school in 1821, Missouri became a state in 1821. And Missouri’s first governor, Alexander McNair, appointed Mary’s father Rufus Easton to be the first Attorney General of Missouri. A position he held from 1821 to 1826. The new Capitol of Missouri was located in St. Charles just temporarily until this city, called the City of Jefferson could be built.

17:55 Fort Osage Closes

In 1822, the United States government came to the conclusion that the factory system was not working and they decided to close it. In August 1822, Fort Osage closed. George who had purchased the goods for both the factory at Fort Osage and the sub-factory at the Great Osage Village was in serious debt. The Sibley’s decided to remain in their home in Fort Osage and to concentrate on farming. However, their work was not profitable. They fell into deeper debt.

In 1825, however, a new opportunity arose for George Sibley when he was chosen to be one of three commissioners to map out the Santa Fe Trail. He was given a reprieve on his debt for the two years it took him to work on the trail. And he set out diligently on the survey becoming known as Mr. Santa Fe.

Mary continued to take care of the farm and also to teach while George traveled. However, when the survey was -- was completed the Sibley’s debts were due and they couldn’t pay them. In 1827, Fountain Cottage Farm was auctioned off. Archibald Gamble who had married Mary’s sister Louisa in 1821, bought the property. And 10 years later, he would layout a town to honor Mary and George Sibley, which is now the town of Sibley, Missouri.

19:24 Move to St. Charles

Meanwhile, Mary and George needed to move and they decided to move to St. Charles were her father was serving as Attorney General for -- for -- for the State, and they did. In 1828, Mary who is was now 28 and George reversed the trip up the Missouri River that they had taken in 1815. They found a house at 230 S. Main in St. Charles just down the street from Mary’s parents who were at 201 N. Main. Those two houses still exist today if you go St. Charles.

A year later on August 4th, 1829, according to the deed on record in St. Charles County, the Sibley’s purchased 280 acres of land. Property that had originally had been part of the common fields for the town of St. Charles. On this property they would build Lindenwood.

However, here’s one area in which myth has been -- has replaced the facts. According to the History of St. Charles County on the first day the Sibley’s acquired their property, quote, “The Major and his wife … stood on the brow of the hill overlooking the town and a widespread and beautiful landscape including the Missouri River and resolved that upon this spot they would lay the foundation for a school for young ladies,” end quote. It’s very unlikely that the Sibley’s had moved to St. Charles to open a girls’ school. George Sibley was devoted to government service. And although Mary had recognized her ability and her affinity for teaching, her 1832 journal indicates that the idea of a girls’ school simply evolved.

George wrote in his diary that after viewing their tangled and overgrown property with its plethora of linden trees, thus the name Lindenwood. They borrowed money and with a stated purpose of clearing the land, opening a farm and making improvements. They transported livestock from St. Char- -- from -- to St. Charles from Fort Osage and on December 23, 1829, they quote, “moved out to Lindenwood, having so far completed the cabin and outhouses to winter comfortably,” end quote.

21:28 Boarding School

At Lindenwood, Mary began teaching in the same way that she had begin -- begun teaching at Fort Osage with her sisters. Having moved into the Lindenwood cabin in December of 1829, in the fall of 1830 her 12-year-old sister Alby began her studies with Mary. In 1831, the first two paying students came to Lindenwood. One was Theodosia Hunt, the daughter of Mary’s childhood friend Nancy Anne Lucas Hunt. And in early 1832, the Sibley’s made plans to expand their house to create a boarding school for women; hoping to board and teach about half-dozen young ladies the following fall.

22:10 Spiritual Awakening

1832 was the same year that Mary Sibley had her spiritual awakening, corresponding to a nationwide Evangelistic movement called the “Second Great Awakening.” Mary not only opened a Sunday school to preach her Presbyterianism, but she began to convert -- or try to convert everyone she knew beginning with her parents, her mother, her father, her sisters, her friends, her students. She wasn’t very successful, but she continued to proselytize, although she claimed not to.

Mary’s spiritual enlightenment became a driving force for her. She actually had several students’ parents express their concerns about the Evangelical disease, fearing that religion was an unfit subject for immature minds.

Nancy Anne Lucas Hunt, her friend, worried about Theodosia thinking Mary would exert undue influence on her daughter and cause her to abandon her Catholic religion. Mary, however, wrote her friend a letter stating that she was not of the quote, “Disposition to take particular pains to make a convert of Theodosia unless the simple assertion of what I believe truth should have that affect,” end quote.

Mary stated that the goal of her little school was on the plan. “I’ve longed thought necessary for the good of the rising generation, that is that women instead of being raised helpless and dependent beings should be taught a habit of industry and usefulness,” end quote.

23:38 Lindenwood Curriculum

Mary made sure that the parents who enrolled their students in Lindenwood understood the course of study. And after that she expected no, I love this word, intermeddling. She was -- she was either what we would call; a take charge person or a total control freak. By the end of the 1830s, the school at Lindenwood had a very definite curriculum, literature, grammar, writing, spelling, elocution and for additional fee French, music and piano, landscape painting, flower painting and needle work.

All girls were required to take physical education, which included walking in the warm months and dancing by the piano in the winter months. Also, the school had a very established routine. Basically, Mary regulated all the young ladies’ waking hours, both their recreation and their studies. She took great pleasure in reading to her students and playing the piano for them.

The 1839 circular, which George Sibley wrote, and in fact he did all their advertising and most of their correspondence, stated, quote, “as all the people’s admitted must necessarily be boarders at Lindenwood, they will consequently be at all times under the care and observation of their preceptress. Their health, apparel, expenses, recreations, amusements, associations, manners and behavior will all be regarded with parental watchfulness,” end quote.

25:06 Clothing Requirements

Specific clothing requirements were instituted, which included substantial walking shoes. In the winter, the girls wore black silk or black worsted dresses with green cloaks and black hats that were trimmed in green. In summer, they wore white dresses with pink sashes and bonnets that were trimmed in pink.

Although drab colors were the norm of the day, Mary’s love of bright colors was manifested in ribbons, which she also used to adorn her own clothes. It’s kind of surprising that she had a summer dress because Lindenwood classes began in the fall and they ended in the spring, yet, Mary still had summer dress requirements. Her students were always her students.

25:53 Mary’s Advice

For example, when she learned that Martha Russell was to wed a Mr. L, Mary wrote to advise her. She said she had no objection to Mr. L except for the fact that he was a Catholic, which meant that she would not only be denying her savior, but it would also be problematic with regard to the tenaciousness of Catholics regarding children.

She wrote to Martha, quote, “Understand me. I am not requiring you to break an engagement, I am simply showing you that you are bound to secure yourself in any who may be under control the right to become a member of a Protestant church,” end quote.

Likewise, Mary sent a several page letter of advice to a former student named Addie, advising her about securing the attention of the appropriate kind of man. Ending quote, “I have written much more than I intended on this subject, but all girls of your age are in danger of making an unwise choice and you will forgive me for being so prosy for the sake of the love I have for you and my desire for your usefulness as a Christian and happiness as an individual,” end quote.

27:06 Financial Difficulties

In 1839, several years after the first paying students started at Lindenwood, the enrollment of “The Boarding School for Young Ladies at Lindenwood, Missouri,” was at is mic- -- maximum, 30 students. The wooden structure that had served as the Sibley’s home had been added on to as necessity required with many narrow passageways, new dormers and porches that had been converted into rooms. Throughout the 1840s, the school was plagued by financial difficulties. Mary made many trips back east to try to solicit funds. She sold copies of “Clear the Way, Aunt Mary’s Coming” and she accosted friends and neighbors for contributions to her school.

The year Mary turned 40, 1840, she decided to give up horseback riding and to buy a carriage because she thought it would be more dignified. Her students nicknamed her carriage, the “Ship of the Zion.” And that carriage inspired fear in all. For whomever, was being approached doubtlessly was going to be asked to either contribute time or money or both. Mary loved driving and she took daily trips into St. Charles driving fast and with zest as she did everything.

28:18 Adopted Daughter Betty

In 1850, after a -- the end of a very troublesome decade of trying to keep Lindenwood afloat, Mary experienced the loss of her mother, but also in the same year the gain of a daughter. Figure now that she’s 50; she doesn’t have black hair anymore. Mary and George had never had any children of their own, but they adopted little Betty who was the daughter of Mary’s brother Langdon and Elizabeth Lloyd Beall Easton who had died shortly after Betty’s birth.

Betty became Mary’s personal student to whom she would soon be able to give her almost full-time attention, because in 1853 when Lindenwood seemed to about to fold, Mary decided to ask the Presbyterian Church to take over. The Presbyterians granted the funding for the school. But Mary herself raised $8,000 among her friends and her husband’s friends, more than half of what was needed to construct the new building, which was named Sibley Hall, the building that is still the girls’ dormitory today.

29:23 Presbyterian Lindenwood College

On September 6th, 1857, Lindenwood College opened as a Presbyterian school with 80 students; 40 boarded and 40 day students and they had an adequate core of teachers. The rigorous four-year curriculum included elocution, orthography, history, Bible study, Latin, Greek, geography, science, philosophy and literature. The mission statement of the new Lindenwood was close to Mary’s original, quote, “To prepare young ladies for the responsible positions they will fill -- to fit them for usefulness here and happiness hereafter,” end quote.

30:01 Charitable Causes

With the Presbyterian Board of Governors and a Reverend Schenck at the helm of Lindenwood, Mary didn’t need to be in constant attendance. She began spending more time on her many charitable causes. She belonged to the Temperance League and was very outspoken against drinking. She also belonged to the Female Benevolent Society. And took under her wing any girl or any woman she thought needed help. She founded a chapter of the American Colonization Society in St. Charles and was very -- very concerned and willing to work for this. She also worked at a Black school that was -- the Sab- -- a Black Sabbath school and thought it was important for all Black students to learn how to read and write.

One of her major causes was the Presbyterian Church. Even though her --

MS. KRISTIE WOLFERMAN: husband George was the one who was on the Board of the Presbyterian Church, Mary took it upon herself to tell the Board of Governors of the church exactly what they should say and do in order to raise money to build a new church. And she was successful in finally getting this done as the Old Blue Presbyterian Church that’s in St. Charles today.

31:08 The Sibley Home

She also spent more time with her husband who is now an invalid, and with little Betty. When the Sibley Hall was built in 1857 and finished in 1858, the Sibley’s moved to a new home, which they built close to the Lindenwood property. A good friend of Betty’s recalled visiting the Sibley home and how going there meant very appetizing meals and a complete program of studies.

This friend of Betty’s, now, Mrs. Charles Goss or then Mrs. Charles Goss remembered the beautiful grounds of the Sibley home and how she and Betty, quote, “Were called in from play to spend some time in sewing or reading or to listen to Mrs. Sibley as she gave us religious instruction. It was intended for our good, but I’m afraid the time seemed to us tedious and tasteless with a real pony to ride and a sure enough vine covered playhouse in the background,” end quote. She also remembered Mary’s piano playing with the fife and drum attachment going.

32:07 The Lindenwood Emblem

With Mary’s sixtieth birthday, fear of Civil War approached. And by spring of 1861, war had come to Missouri. Lindenwood suffered as parents feared sending their children away from home. Mary, however, was undaunted and optimistic. She herself painted a huge flag 8 feet by 6 feet long. In the center was a small blue circle in the middle of which she painted the word “love”, surrounded by a second circle painted in red with 34 white stars in it. Two olive branches crossed beneath the design. Mary had the flag hung over the college and it became known as the Lindenwood emblem.

32:48 George Sibley Dies

Mary’s can-do determination, however, was really sorely tested when her husband George died in January 1863. After burying him in the little graveyard he’d laid out behind Sibley Hall, Mary pretended as if nothing had happened. She refused to wear black, saying that it would upset the girls. And then surprisingly almost overnight, she sold her house in St. Charles. And she moved to St. Louis to be near her sister Louisa Gamble and her niece Virginia Gamble Gibson.

Virginia’s daughter Louise remembers great Aunt Mary as a very pretty old lady. She took to wearing a lace hat on her graying hair and continued to act in a determined although evermore eccentric manner.

Louise said that Mary would come into one of her niece or nephews’ house admire something and then say, “Well, I’ll just take that.” And she did. Although Mary had many relatives in St. Louis, she was not completely happy away from her beloved Lindenwood and in 1866 she moved back. She remained involved with the school, especially the Sibley Debate Society and also took up several new causes.

34:07 New Causes

She decided to join the Second Adventist Church as I told you earlier and she also became involved in the House of Bethany, which was an Evangelical organization for women. This really took a lot of effort on her part because the house -- as the House of Bethany ladies were required to wear gray and gray hats. And she never liked gray or black and liked color, so it was a real sacrifice for her to dress in this drab gray.

At the age of 71, Mary endeavored to take a mission trip to Japan. Although her friends advised against it, Mary went to New York. She sailed to Panama and then traveled to San Francisco before she decided that the sea voyage to Japan would be too much for her. Instead she went back to St. Charles and raised money to bring Japanese girls to Lindenwood, and succeeded in bringing two of them to study there.

Mary Sibley’s late years were very -- very little different from her early ones -- early ones, although she became more eccentric. But she remained vital and strong, mentally alert and opinionated as always and deeply dedicated to her causes.

When she died in her sleep on June 20th, 1878, at the age of 78 she left her mark, a major legacy in the form of Lindenwood. The St. Louis paper remarked that she was, quote, “As well and widely known as any lady in this state.” She had never sought public recognition, but she certainly deserves it.

Anybody else?

(No response.)

MS. KRISTIE WOLFERMAN: Thank you all.

(Applause.)

Finale

MS. ROBIN CARNAHAN: Hi, this is Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, again. I hope that you enjoyed our program.

For more information about Friends of the Archives or to find out more about other on-line programs and upcoming presentations please visit our website at www.sos.mo.gov.