Mary Young Cheney Greeley

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Mary Young Cheney Greeley
Born Mary Young Cheney
1811 or 1814
Litchfield, Connecticut
Died 29 October 1872
New York City, New York
Cause of death Tuberculosis
Resting place Green-Wood
Education "Privileged" (no details)
Known for Wife of Horace Greeley; suffragette
Movement Suffrage
Children 7 (5 died in childhood)

Mary Young Cheney Greeley (1811 or 1814 – 1872) was the wife of American newspaper editor Horace Greeley.

They married in Warrenton, North Carolina, on July 5, 1836. Little is known of her early life. She was briefly a schoolteacher, and later an intermittent suffragette and spiritualist. She is reported to have been mentally unstable for much of her life. The date of her birth is uncertain; while her tombstone reads 1811, her obituary gives it as 1814.[1][2]

Early in their marriage he used her $5000 in savings to fund his first private newspaper.[citation needed]

The marriage was not a happy one, and her oppressive relationship with her husband colored her life. He had little say in the running of the house, and avoided his wife and their house. However, he kept her almost constantly pregnant, but took no responsibility for the children. Five of their seven children died quite young, at least some of them of neglect.[3]

Greeley was an advocate of the Graham Diet and a Spiritualist. Her behavior suggests she may have had clinical depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.[3] She believed her son Arthur Young Greeley, known as "Pickie",[4] was a spirit medium. She kept him isolated from the world and from other children, and constantly demanded that he relay communications from the afterlife. As he grew older he began to express a fierce anger towards his mother.[3][5] After his death at age five from cholera, she hired the 11-year-old Kate Fox to stay at her house and contact him. Ms. Fox later wrote that she too disliked Mrs. Greeley intensely.[3]

She suffered from "consumptive lung disease" for the last 20 years of her life, and died from it on October 30, 1872. Her husband, who was running for President of the United States at the time, died 30 days later.[1]


  1. ^ a b "OBITUARY.; Mrs. Horace Greeley". The New York Times. New York, NY, US. October 31, 1872. Retrieved 21 October 2013. OBITUARY
    Mrs. Horace Greeley.
      The wife of Mr. Horace Greeley died in this City yesterday morning, at the residence of Mr. Alvin J. Johnson, No. 323 West Fifty-seventh-street. The immediate cause of death was a very severe attack of lung disease, a complaint which had caused her much continued suffering for nearly twenty years. Mrs. Greeley's maiden name was Mary Young Cheney, and she was born in Litchfield, Conn., in the year 1814. Enjoying unusual educational advantages, Miss Cheney became a school-teacher of rare abilities. Becoming an ardent believer in the hygienic teachings of Dr. Graham, the famous dietist, she frequented the Graham House Hotel, in this City, and there made the acquaintance of her future husband. In the beginning of 1836 she accepted an engagement as teacher in Warrenton, N. C., and married Mr. Greeley at that place in July of the same year.
      During her last illness, Mrs. Greeley was attended by Mr. Greeley and her two daughters, the Misses Ida and Gabrielle. Form the first it was feared that the attack would have a fatal tendency, and her death was anticipated this week as inevitable, so that her friends were fully resigned to the worst. The funeral will take place in Dr. Chapin's church, on Friday, at the hour of noon, and will be quite private. the body will be conveyed to Green-Wood and buried there in the modest vault which belongs to the family. Her loss will be deeply felt by her family and a large circle of friends.
  2. ^ "Mary Young Cheney Greeley" Check |archiveurl= value (help). Find-A-Grave. Brooklyn, NY, US. 1 June 2004. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. Plot: Section 35, Lot 2344 
  3. ^ a b c d Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull. 1998-04-21. ISBN 9780060953324. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  4. ^ Hon. S.S. Randall, "Personal Recollections of Mr. Greeley." New York Telegraph, reprinted in the Chicago Tribune, December 25, 1872, p. 7.
  5. ^ Marvin Olasky, Central Ideas in the Development of American Journalism: A Narrative History (Routledge, 2015), chapter 7. Entire text online at