Woman of the Century/Mary Jane Aldrich
MARY JANE ALDRICH. ALDRICH, Mrs. Mary Jane, temperance reformer, born in Sidney Plains, N. Y., 19th March, 1833. Her home was on a tract of land purchased before the Revolutionary War by her paternal great-grandfather, the Rev. William Johnson, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister who, with her grandfather, Col. Witter Johnson, was in the Revolutionary army. Her father, Milton Johnson, was a farmer possessing uncommon intellectual ability. Her mother, Delia Hull, was a well educated woman of deeply religious nature. Beyond attending a select school in early childhood, and later in the public school, three terms in Franklin Academy supplied the school privileges of Miss Johnson. Ever since her eighteenth year she has been deeply interested in Christian and philanthropic work. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church, but is in cordial fellowship with all Christians. She was married in 1855 to John Aldrich and removed soon after to Nebraska, where the first ten years of her married life were full of pioneer experiences. In 1866 she removed with her husband and two children, a son and daughter, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, her present home, where her youngest child, a son, was born. Her uneventful life was spent in caring for her husband and children and in Sabbath school and missionary work. From childhood, a "total abstainer" and in full sympathy with prohibitory law, she was never a temperance worker, not even a member of any temperance society, until the Crusade. That movement touched the deepest springs of her being. It fanned a latent interest into a flame of enthusiasm, brought out the hitherto undeveloped powers of an intense nature, and wedded her to a work for all homes. Quick in thought, fertile in expedients and prompt in action, she soon became a recognized worker. In all her labor she has had the consent and co-operation of her husband and children. At the organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Iowa, 3d and 4th November, 1874, the Raising of Lazarus was her text for more earnest temperance work by Christian people in restoring to a better life and nobler manhood those who are morally dead through drink. Later, at a county Woman's Christian Temperance Union convention, she took the place of a college professor, who had failed to appear, and delivered her first address. Made a vice-president of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union at its organization, 18th and 20th November, 1874, she visited different localities to enlist women in the work of that society, and some of the unions then formed are still doing good service. Chosen corresponding secretary of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Iowa in 1875, she held the office for one year only, leaving it in order to spend more time in the field. In different positions she has been a member of the executive committee of the Iowa union to the present time, and there are few counties in Iowa in which she has not spoken. Elected president of her State union in 1883, she declined re-election in 1885 because unable to give to the work all the time it required. She was elected corresponding secretary by the union, which office she still holds. When the National Union, at the St. Louis Convention in 1884, declared in favor of political temperance work by the union, Mrs. Aldrich, with the majority of the Iowa delegation, voted against the resolution. Subsequently, as corresponding secretary, she was, from her own intense conviction as well as from her official position, the efficient co-worker of Mrs. J. Ellen Foster, the president, who represented the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Iowa in its open opposition to political Woman's Christian Temperance Union work, and final withdrawal from the auxiliaryship to the National, on that account in October, 1890. As a temperance worker she is sanguine and practical. As a speaker she is bright, forceful, entertaining and logical. She attended the convention held in Cleveland, Ohio, 22-24 January, 1890, at which time the Non-partisan National Woman's Christian Temperance Union was organized. As secretary of the department of evangelistic work she has been a member of the executive committee from its organization.