Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ellen Hardin Walworth Believed in Learning from History

Ellen Hardin, author, lawyer and activist, was born on October 20, 1832. Not a time when empowering women was prevalent. She is a woman I admire because she believed in the importance of studying history and in historic preservation.

At the age of 20, Ellen married Mansfield Tracy Walworth, her stepfather’s youngest son. She had eight children with Mansfield but he was a violent man who physically abused her. The last assault was when she was pregnant with her youngest child, Sarah, and at that point, she obtained a “Limited divorce,” giving her the right to live separately but not remarry.

Unfortunately, Mansfield continued to threaten Ellen and, in 1873, her eldest son, Frank, shot his father to death and was sent to prison. Ellen studied law to find a way to get her son’s conviction overturned and was successful in 1877, on the grounds he was insane.

Needing a stable income for her family, Ellen opened the family homestead in Saratage, New York, as a boarding school for females and then later as a summer hotel.

Now, one would think this difficult, busy life would have been enough for Ellen, but like most great women, she strove to make the world a better place in many, many ways, which I will talk about in my next blog.