Woman of the Century/Mary Ross Banks
BANKS, Mrs. Mary Ross, author, born in Macon, Ga., 4th March, 1846. On her father's side she is from Scotch ancestry. Her grandfather, Luke Ross, was a man of large wealth for his day, and had a sumptuously appointed home, the furniture of which was hauled in wagons from New York City to North Carolina. A man of unblemished integrity, having stood security for a friend and lost, he sacrificed all his possessions and moved to Jones County, Ga., when the present beautiful city of Macon was a small trading port. Mrs. Banks' father, John Bennett Ross, was one of seven brothers and three sisters. The Ross brothers clung together and established themselves in trade about the year 1832. A talent for business and the clannish Scotch blood that kept them together resulted in a splendid commercial success. There were changes in the course of time, some of the brothers embarking in other kinds of business, but John B. Ross continued in the wholesale and retail dry goods and planters' supply business till the end' of his days and made so MARY ROSS BANKS. large a fortune that he was known as "the merchant prince of the South." His home was the center of elegant entertainment, and his children were reared in luxury. He was married three times. His first wife was a Miss Holt; his second, Martha Redding, descended from the Lanes and Flewellens, was the mother of Mrs. Banks; his third wife, a charming woman who still survives him, is a sister of Judge L. Q. C. Lamar, of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mrs. Banks was educated in Wesleyan Female College, in Macon, Ga., and in the private school of Mrs. Theodosia Bartow Ford. She was married at seventeen years of age to Edward P. Bowdre, of Macon, at that time a captain in the Confederate army. She went to the army with her husband and did noble service in the hospitals. At twenty-five years of age she was a widow with three sons, and much of the fortune that should have been hers dissipated by the hazard of war and the scarcely less trying period of reconstruction. In June, 1875, she was married to Dr. J. T. Banks, of Griffin, Ga., a gentleman of high standing socially and professionally and lived with him in unclouded happiness for four years, when she was again a widow. Crushed by her grief, she realized that her only hope for peace of mind lay in employment and as soon as she had partly recovered from the shock, she went courageously to work to help herself and her boys. With no training for business, and no knowledge of labor, frail in body, but dauntless in spirit, she accomplished wonders in many lines. She was a successful farmer and turned many of her talents and accomplishments into money-making. After raising her sons to the age of independence, she accepted a position in the Department of the Interior at Washington, where she has been assigned to important work in the office of the Secretary, a position she finds both lucrative and agreeable. Her literary fame came to her suddenly and is the result of one book, "Bright Days on the Old Plantation" (Boston, 1882), and a number of sketches and short stories published in various newspapers and periodicals.