Nellie Blessing Eyster

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Nellie Blessing Eyster
Nellie Blessing Eyster.png
BornPenelope Ann Margaret Blessing
December 7, 1836
Frederick, Maryland, U.S.
DiedFebruary 21, 1922(1922-02-21) (aged 85)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Occupationjournalist, writer, lecturer, and social reformer
LanguageEnglish
Alma materBarleywood Seminary
Spouse
David A. S. Eyster (m. 1853)

Nellie Blessing Eyster (December 7, 1836 – February 21, 1922) was an American journalist, writer, lecturer, and social reformer.[1]

Eyster, the first President of the Pacific Coast Women's Press Association, was a grand-niece of Barbara Fritchie. Her first book, Sunny Hours of the Child Life of Tom and Mary, received the endorsement of Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 1870, she published "A Dame of the Quakers" in Harper's Magazine, and later, "How the Star Spangled Banner Found Its Tune". "The Colonial Boy" was published in 1890 and was adopted by most of the school and church libraries in the United States. "A Chinese Quaker", published in 1902, was quoted as introducing a valuable history of the Chinese immigration in San Francisco.[2] Other books included, Chincapin Charlie, On the Wing, and Tom Harding and His Friends.[3] She wrote for the New-York Tribune and Riverside Magazine; and edited with Gail Hamilton.[4]

Eyster assisted In the purchase of Mount Vernon (George Washington's home) for the U.S.; and served as an officer of the Great Sanitary Commission during the American Civil War.[5] Eyster's teaching extended to California's Chinese immigrants; she was also a teacher of music, rhetoric and belles lettres in various seminaries; and was a state lecturer on scientific temperance in colleges and public schools. She was State President of Juvenile Work of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of California,[6] president of the California Women's Indian Association, and president emeritus of the League of American Pen Women.

Early years and education[edit]

Penelope Ann Margaret Blessing was born in Frederick, Maryland, December 7, 1836. Her parents were Abraham and Mary M. E. Blessing.[3] Her ancestry included Huguenot and Anglo-Saxon background. On the maternal side, she was a granddaughter of Captain George W. Ent, a commander at Fort McHenry in the war of 1812 and a friend of Francis Scott Key. On the same side, she was related to Barbara Frietchie. Abraham Blessing, Eyster's father, who died when she was 10 years old, was the youngest brother of George Blessing of Maryland, who served during the American Civil War, and was known as, "The Hero of the Highlands." The mother had poetic taste, and was a devout Christian.[4]

The eldest of the five children, Nellie, baptized Penelope, showed early promise of literary ability.[4] She was educated by private tutors and at Barleywood Seminary, Virginia.[3]

Career[edit]

Eyster's first work was assisting with the purchase of Mt. Vernon, and she was active in the Sanitary Commission during the American Civil War.[3] She became a newspaper correspondent and wrote reminiscences of the war and its notable people for Harper's Magazine. She wrote for California journals, including stories for the Overland and Illustrated Californian.[7] She was associated with Gail Hamilton in the editing of Wood's Magazine,[6] and was also the editor of The Pacific Ensign, the organ of the State WCTU.[3]

Eyster wrote the "Sunny Hour Series",[6] and after moving to San Jose, California, she wrote "A Colonial Boy" for children in 1890.[4] She helped in the education of Chinese residents in California; her work, "A Chinese Quaker", attracted wide attention in Europe and the Orient.[8]

Active in woman suffrage and other movements for the advancement of women, her temperance lectures on the subject of the "House Beautiful and the Man Wonderful" made her well known.[7] She also served as California state lecturer in public schools on scientific temperance.[3]

She was president of the San Jose Ladies Benevolent Society, president of the California Women's Indian Association, first president of the Pacific Coast Women's Press Association,[3] State President of Juvenile Work of the WCTU of California,[4][6] and president emeritus of the League of American Pen Women.[9] She was also secretary of the Woman's Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church,[6] and treasurer of the Political Equality Club of Berkeley, California.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1853, when she was 16 years old, she married her private tutor, David A. S. Eyster, a young lawyer of, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.[3][4] They had one daughter, Mary, born a year after the marriage, and one son, who died at the age of 10, in 1872. David was employed as a financial clerk of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. The death of the son and her mother the following year caused Eyster's health to fail. In 1876, the family moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,[5] to San Jose, California, which helped Eyster rally from her depression and regain interest in religious and benevolent work. In Pennsylvania, the family had been members of the English Lutheran Church, but in San Jose, they became connected with the Presbyterian denomination, and Eyster was linked with some of its enterprises.[6]

In 1900, after the death of the husband, Eyster moved to San Francisco to live with her daughter, Mary A. Elder.[6] Her grandson, Paul Elder, became a San Francisco publisher and bookseller. She passed away at the home of her daughter at Berkeley, California, on February 21, 1922.[10]

Selected works[edit]

  • 1867, Sunny Hour Stories. Chincapin Charlie ... Illustrated by George G. White
  • 1867, On the wing
  • 1866, Chincapin Charlie
  • 1867, Sunny hours, or, Child life of Tom and Mary
  • 1870, Robert Brent's three Christmas days
  • 1874, Tom Harding and his friends
  • 1899, A colonial boy; or, The treasures of an old link closet
  • 1902, A Chinese Quaker : an unfictitious novel
  • 1905, Older than Adam; the wonderful petrified forest of California
  • 1909, A Noted mother and daughter
  • 1912, Friends with Lincoln in the White House
  • 1912, A beautiful life : memoir of Mrs. Eliza Nelson Fryer, 1847-1910

References[edit]

Attribution[edit]

  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bookseller and Stationer (1922). Bookseller and Stationer (Public domain ed.).
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Californian Publishing Company (1893). The Californian. 4 (Public domain ed.). San Francisco: Californian Publishing Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Fourth Estate Publishing Company (1922). Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising Agents and Allied Interests (Public domain ed.). Fourth Estate Publishing Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Leonard, John William; Marquis, Albert Nelson (1906). Who's who in America (Public domain ed.). Marquis Who's Who.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Leonard, John William (1914). Woman's Who's who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915 (Public domain ed.). American Commonwealth Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Mighels, Ella Sterling (1893). The Story of the Files: A Review of California Writers and Literature (Public domain ed.). Cooperative printing Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: New York Central & Hudson River R.R. (1903). The Four-track News (Public domain ed.). Passenger Department, New York Central & Hudson River R.R.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Pinney, Laura Young; Eichen, Augusta Friedrich Van; Mitchell, Ruth Comfort (1905). Pacific Coast Women's Press Association, ed. La copa de oro (Public domain ed.). Press of George Spaulding & Company.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Willard, Frances Elizabeth; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice (1893). A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life (Public domain ed.). Moulton.

Bibliography[edit]

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