Woman of the Century/Cynthia H. Van N. Leonard

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LEONARD, Mrs. Cynthia H. Van Name, philanthropist and author, born in Buffalo, N. Y., 14th February, 1828. She was an old-fashioned, matter-of-fact child, noted for her remarkable memory. She received her first prize for literary work when a school-girl of fourteen. She was a pioneer in many of the fields of labor invaded by the women of this century. She was the first sales-woman to stand behind a counter, and was a member of the first woman's social and literary club in her city. She was a fine contralto singer and a good performer on both violin and guitar. In 1852 she became the wife of Charles E. Leonard, connected with the Buffalo " Express." Later Mr. Leonard took a position on the "Commercial Advertiser" in Detroit, Mich., and in 1856 removed to Clinton, Iowa, where he published the "Herald." Mrs. Leonard took an active part in all projects for the establishment of schools and temporary churches in the rapidly-growing town of Clinton. When the war-cry rang through the land, she was among the foremost in sanitary work, assisting in the opening of the first soldiers' home in Iowa. She made her "maiden speech" in Keokuk, Iowa, when it was proposed to with- draw from the general sanitary commission and work exclusively for Iowa. In 1863 Mr. Leonard sold the "Herald" and established a printing- house in Chicago, where Mrs. Leonard at once gravitated to her own field of labor. She was made part of the management of the Washington House, and chairman of an extensive fair for the Freedman's Aid Commission, when all the Ladies' Loyal Leagues of the Northwest lent a helping hand. She was organizer and president of a woman's club, which held meetings each week, and subsequently, when Alice Cary was president and Celia Burley secretary of the New York Sorosis, it was arranged that the club be called the Chicago Sorosis, and for which was published a weekly paper by Mesdames Leonard and Waterman. At a woman suffrage meeting in Farwell Hall, in 1874, Mrs. Leonard advanced the idea of high license. On one occasion Mrs. Leonard was informed that the common council of Chicago intended to pass an ordinance to license houses of ill-fame, before eight o'clock that night, with her allies she was at the place of meeting with a carefully-prepared petition, which caused the prompt defeat of the measure. After the great fire in Chicago many of the "unfortunates" were shelterless and were constantly arrested for walking the streets. Mrs. Leonard made daily appeals through the CYNTHIA H. VAN NAME LEONARD A woman of the century (page 468 crop).jpgCYNTHIA H. VAN NAME LEONARD. press, and finally called a meeting in her home, the result of which was the establishment of the Good Samaritan Society, and at the second meeting a shelter was opened. At the third session a house of forty rooms was offered by a wealthy German, and great good was accomplished among those forlorn women, homes being secured for many and reforms instituted among them. In a book published by Mrs. Leonard, entitled "Lena Rouden, or the Rebel Spy," is a description of the Chicago fire. Mrs. Leonard was for many years a member of the Chicago Philosophical Society. She has contributed articles of merit to newspapers and magazines, and has been largely occupied for some time on a work entitled "Failing Footprints, or the last of the League of the Iroquois." In 1877 Mrs. Leonard took her daughter Helen (Miss Lillian Russell) to New York City to pursue her musical studies. She organized in New York the Science of Life Club. Lillian Russell's success has justified her mother's expectations. Mrs. Leonard's Jive daughters are gifted musically and artistically.