William Jennings Demorest

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William Jennings Demorest (aka W. Jennings Demorest) (1822–1895), from New York City, was an American magazine publisher, national prohibition leader, and, in collaboration with his second wife, Ellen Demorest, née Curtis, attained international success from his wife's development of paper patterns for sewing fashion apparel of the day. Together, they built a fashion manufacturing and merchandising empire from it.

He and his wife launched five magazines and started a cosmetics company. He individually patented a sewing machine and a velocipede.

Demorest harbored lifelong political and religious aspirations. He is widely known for being a Prohibition activist and ran for Mayor of New York City on the Prohibition ticket. He also organized the Anti-Nuisance League.[1]

Town named for Demorest[edit]

In 1889, a group of people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Indiana moved to Georgia to found a community which would have high moral standards. They decided that anyone who permitted drinking alcoholic beverages, gambling, or prostitution would forfeit their property. [William Jennings] Demorest formed the Demorest Home, Mining, and Improvement Company to make that dream a reality. On November 13, 1889, the town was incorporated and named "Demorest" in honor of the great Prohibition leader.[2][3]

Demorest For President 1892.jpg


  • 1860: Mme Demorest's Mirror of Fashions was first published as a quarterly
  • Summer 1863 — Mirror of Fashions became a monthly
  • January 1864 — Demorest purchased New York Illustrated News
  • September 1864 — Demorest combined New York Illustrated News with the Mirror of Fashions
  • January 1879 — Changed the name to Demorest Family Magazine
  • October 1899 — Final publication of Demorest Family Magazine
  • Demorest Monthly Magazine, The
  • Demorest's Illustrated News
  • Demorest Illustrated Monthly Magazine
In 1873, Demorest joined the printing firm of Little, Rennie & Co. (founded in 1867 by Joseph James Little). In 1876, the firm became known as J.J. Little & Company.

Location of operations[edit]

Political party affililations[edit]


  1. In 1845, Demorest married Margaret Willamina Poole (1823–1857), daughter of Joseph and Jeannette Poole. While living on Varick Street, they had two children: (i) Vienna Willamina Demorest (1847-?) and Henry Clay Demorest (1850–1928).
  2. On April 15, 1858, Demorest married Ellen Louise Curtis (1825–1898) — a US fashion arbiter. She was a successful milliner who invented mass-produced tissue-paper dressmaking patterns. With her husband, she established a company to sell the patterns, which were adaptations of the latest French fashions, and a magazine to promote them (1860). She was born in Schuylerville, New York. Her dressmaking patterns made French styles accessible to ordinary women, thus greatly influencing US fashion.


  1. ^ Ishbel Ross (1895-1975), Crusades and Crinolines: The Life and Times of Ellen Curtis Demorest and William Jennings Demorest, Harper & Row, New York (1963).
  2. ^ The National Statesman (Prohibition Party newsletter, discontinued 2003), p.4., December 2003.
  3. ^ Lane, Mary C. (1997). A Centennial History of Piedmont College: 1897-1997. Demorest,Ga: Piedmont College. pp. 4–5.