Woman of the Century/Emily Howland

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HOWLAND, Miss Emily, educator, philanthropist and reformer, born in Sherwood, N. Y., 20th November, 1827. Her ancestors on both sides were members of the Society of Friends, and she was reared according to the strict requirements of that sect regarding speech, dress and conduct. Her father was a Garrisonian Abolitionist. Her home was open to the anti-slavery lecturer, and as a station on the underground railroad for the fugitive slave. Besides the writings of friends, the weekly visits of the "Liberator," the "North Star," the "Philanthropist "and the "Anti-Slavery Standard" furnished the literature of the family. Her interest in the anti-slavery cause and sympathy with the oppressed, thus fostered, without the distracting influences of the social gaieties of life or fashion, wrought an intensity of feeling that forbade her to continue to lead a purposeless life. EMILY HOWLAND A woman of the century (page 408 crop).jpgEMILY HOWLAND. A free school for colored girls in Washington. D. C, which had attracted attention, both friendly and hostile, needed a teacher. Impelled to work, she offered herself for the position, and in the fall of 1887, without the approval of her friends, she took the conduct of that school and taught with interest and profit until the spring of 1859. Secretary Seward, then a Senator from the State of New York, and his family gave her the powerful influence of their cordial kindness and hospitality. In 1863, just after the Proclamation of Emancipation, she returned to Washington and worked among the freed people, crowded into rude barracks, which had been built and used for cavalry horses. There, teaching, giving out clothing and caring for the sick were her absorbing work for many months. In the fall of the same year the government built a village on the Arlington estate, and on New Year's Day, 1864, moved thither about a thousand of these people. Her next field of work was on this estate, in a camp of fifty-two log houses, which were given the freedmen. She taught there and had the supervision of other schools near Falls' Church, Va., until, fearing a raid from General Early's command, the government issued an order for the destruction of the houses and the removal of the people. In the autumn of 1S64 she gathered a school in a rude building not far fr< »m the ruins of the camp. There, in 1865, the sudden mar of cannon from all the surrounding forts told her and her group of sable pupils that the war was over. She fount! many of the freedmen anxious for the future, and with a feeling that they had earned a little of the land on which they had toiled. This led Miss Mowland's father to buy a tract near the mouth of the Potomac, and early in 1867 a few families from the camp went down the river and settled on the land. It is now nearly all divided into small farms and owned by the colored people. She opened a school at once, and has supplied it with teachers from that time to the present. .Miss Howland exerts a wide influence in her own community for the progressive movements of woman suffrage, temperance, liberty in religion and prevention of cruelty to animals. She has worked earnestly and effectively by distributing literature and by speaking the telling word at the right moment. Her interest in education has not been limited to the colored race. In 1882 she erected a handsome school-house for the children of her native place, and equipped it with complete physical and chemical apparatus. She has also clped many young people to a professional education. In 1890 she was made a director of the First National Bank of Aurora, one of the first women to fill such a position in the country. At the present time she is a trustee of the Wimodaughsis Club, president of the Cayuga County Woman Suffrage Society and of the Sherwood Ramabai Circle, a prominent worker in the local equal rights club and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and has the settling of several estates.