Encouraged by the presence of  prominent Olympia, Washington, clubwoman (and Scott Duniway’s close friend), Abigail Howard Hunt Stuart, the Portland Woman’s Club was organized on December 19, 1895. A temporary organizing committee was appointed, including as president Georgiana M. Burton Lewis, wife of Oregonian owner and paper-making industrialist Henry Lewis Pittock. However, to Jane C. Jackson Card would fall the honor of serving the first full term as president of the newly-established club. With at least seventy-eight charter members, the Portland club quickly became the largest in the state, and the third to affiliate with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (in 1896). It offered departments of American literature, English literature, French, German, music, home, and education; later, departments of Shakespeare, philanthropy, library, parliamentary law, and art would form.1

In June, 1902, much to her astonishment, Scott Duniway was elected the club’s seventh president.2 Seemingly, this speech was to have been given early in her term, on October 11, 1902.  However, events intervened, and a complete, radically revised address apparently was not actually given until the end of her term, about a year later.3 The speech pays homage to Abigail’s predecessors and their legacy. It is a unifying, not divisive, effort, celebrating home, toleration, duty, will, womanliness, and the harmonious blending of differences. Nonetheless, an undercurrent of anything but harmony and tolerance in the Club is unmistakable; Scott Duniway’s unifying themes are intended to transcend evidently deep divisions.

The text is from a combination typescript/manuscript in folder “Duniway, Abigail. Papers. MS. Address: Women’s Club 1902,” in the Abigail Scott Duniway Papers. The script has been heavily edited by hand, including substantial deletions that signify its fitful composition. The better to reveal its history, I have reconstructed the entire text. Additions to and revisions of the typescript have been incorporated, and deletions have been retained in “<>”.

During the six years of our existence as a Club, six <past> presidents have graced this Chair, each of whom has not only performed her public duties faithfully but has at the same time neglected none of those <higher> domestic obligations which it is always the aim of a good Club Woman to honor, as having their seat of usefulness within the home, which is and always must be the keystone to the arch of our highest public institutions.

I suppose it is only natural that I should find myself today in a reminiscent mood. And, since some president of the future will, doubtless, write me up in her capacity of “present president,” I now proceed to my self-imposed task, pausing only to add, in the words of the poet, “That mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.”4

As I turn the search light of reminiscence through the receded years, I see the plump, comely and comfortable figure of our first president, a matronly, mild mannered, public spirited woman, wielding the gavel over an untaught, untried body of her peers, whom she controlled and led by such rare qualities of diplomacy and will as are seldom combined in one individual. How much the masterly power of Mrs. J. C. Card5 had to do for a number of years in moulding into shape and cementing into a harmonious whole the different factors, factions and dispositions of undisciplined womanly will, brought together for the first time in a homogeneous body, some of us may never know.

<Mrs. Card’s public duties were not confined to, nor did they begin with Women’s Clubs. She had fairly earned the title of “Rose Queen” through her work in the Floral Section of the Horticultural Society before she became a Club Woman; and much of the advanced position in horticulture occupied by Portland today is the direct result of her pains-taking leadership in this, the sweetest and most beautiful of all the finer arts of civilization.>

Mrs. Card was the first Oregon delegate to a <great> biennial meeting of the General Federation of Woman’s Clubs,6 before which she acquitted herself in a masterly manner; and, although some of her views on fundamental questions have not been shared by the majority of her constituents, as has been proved by subsequent developments, all of us may profit by the spirit of toleration she has always shown to other people’s opinions when her own have been set aside within our ranks by a popular vote.7

<It now becomes our duty to allude with deep sorrow to the heavy hand of affliction under whose pressure this first of our beloved past presidents is suffering as I speak. Let the tender solicitude of her co-workers go out to her in this hour of tribulation; and let our united petitions ascend to Heaven in her behalf, asking for her a speedy deliverance from those bodily ailments that are today holding her in thrall as a prisoner of hope.>

In our second President, Mrs. Levi Young8, we were blest with a chief magistrate of commanding presence, inflexible willpower, much parliamentary skill, and devoted attention to duty. <Of medium height, clear complexion and charming voice,> Mrs. Young led us with firm steps along the paths marked out for us by her predecessor and carved for us higher niches in many of the by-paths that were opened <for us> as the work proceeded.

Mrs. Young attended the Biennial meeting of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in Denver in 1898, and came back to us from that august gathering on the crest of the Rocky Mountains, an ardent Equal Suffragist <as ardent an Equal Suffragist as the Mayor of Denver9, or the Governor of Colorado himself10>.

Idaho now claims <our second past president> Mrs. Young, she having been transferred from our midst to a high position in the University of this State; and it is pertinent to this occasion to say that she now enjoys the still higher position of an enfranchised citizen–a position which is yet to be bestowed upon the less fortunate members of the Woman’s Club of Portland, or upon any other Woman’s Club of the state of Oregon, unless she follows Mrs. Young’s example by moving into an enfranchised state within the next two years.

Of all our <past> presidents none has excelled in brilliancy, wit, wisdom and womanliness, our third incumbent, Mrs. Cleveland Rockwell11, who was elected to the chief magistracy at a time when we had set sail upon a widening sea of divergent opinions, upon whose yeasty waves she poured the oil of harmony, <while> waving above us, <as> with one <a> hand <of velvet, and with the other on the helm,> which she guided our rocking craft to harbor with the skill of a veteran sea captain. Mrs. Rockwell was the first woman in our Club to take a step toward the foundation of our present free library system.12 Although to Mrs. S. A. Evans13 belongs the honor of guiding the measure through the State Legislature, to Mrs. Rockwell is due the credit, as our third President, of first calling public attention to its needs. She appointed the first Library committee and has the honor of opening her parlors to its first meetings.

<Mrs. Rockwell is still our leader on many a ceremonious occasion. Busy as she is in philanthropies, charities and literature, and withal, a perfect home maker, and one of the proudest of grandmothers (though she doesn’t look forty) we bow to her in matters of etiquette and adornment, well knowing that we’ll make no mistake in any of these things when obeying her mandates.>

There now rises before my mental vision our fourth <past> president, Julia Bodley Comstock14, a first class presiding officer, whose impartial rulings, distinct enunciation and womanly demeanor charmed us all. <Nonassertive and yet firm, just and yet kind, she managed always to have her own way–according to her interpretation of the Constitution–whether we thought it our way or not.> Buckeye by birth and a Webfoot by adoption, Mrs. Comstock soon graduated from school ma’am to matrimony <as is the habit of the craft, and for some years made an ideal home, with her late lamented husband, J. J. Comstock, Esq., in a picturesque mountain valley in the Southern Oregon foothills, which still bears his honored name.15 In this mountain fastness, through which the Southern Pacific railway runs like a thread of illuminum16, while below it trickles a busy stream like a ribbon of liquid silver, our Julia caught inspirations from nature which she now distills for us in judicious doses from her eyrie in the Oregonian tower, where> She now wields a facile pen as associate editor of the Club Journal, a magazine of value to Club Women, which I hope you all patronize.

Our next chief magistrate was <our own, inimitable> Grace Watt Ross17, a Shakespearian among Shakespearians, a parliamentarian among parliamentarians. <and in everything else an originality on her own account. Strong minded as is our Grace in her own individuality, she is rightly named as to her personality; for in dress, manner, repartee, and even in sarcasm (of which she is master), she is Grace itself. Filling the Chair with dignity, ruling with decisive firmness and impartiality, always ready to back her opinions in a way of her own, or plume her fancies with the un-looked for and unexpected, this brilliant native daughter of Oregon, though not our president this year–the more’s the pity–> Mrs. Ross yet remains among us, an active member and an abiding joy. She is now the popular president of the civic federation of Women’s Clubs, the first of our <past> presidents to achieve that honor.

My next and last, but by no means least in honor, is our amiable and accomplished sixth <past> president, Julia A. Marquam18, the youngest of our historic sextet <whose expiring incumbency was regretted by none more sincerely than myself.

Mrs. Marquam modestly imagines, as do all of her predecessors, that she has achieved nothing worthy of historic mention; but the fact remains that not one of these past presidents is a proper judge in this particular case, however faultless they may be in others.

While I am compelled by the time limit of our Calendar to deviate from my first intention to give a sort of biographical personal history of each of these predecessors,> I am proud to say that Mrs. Marquam is the second native daughter of Oregon to occupy the president’s chair, and when her life-work is fully written, no year of her beautiful existence will shine with more radiance than illumes the one she spent as our presiding officer. It was during her incumbency that the famous Cooking School was formed, as an integral part of our Club work, out of which has grown the Federated Association of Domestic Science, toward which the entire Pacific Northwest is now eagerly looking as one of the most important measures yet inaugurated by our Woman’s Club <since the great problem of how to feed, clothe and shelter our husbands in the best and most approved and improved sanitary ways is emphatically woman’s work, and must be done by her if successfully done at all, no matter what else she may undertake or accomplish in any other channel whatsoever.>

Now, what shall I say of our future presidents? If I were gifted with the spirit of prophecy I should portray them as occupying the Chair of authority in a commodious, well-appointed Club House of our own, where every department of Club work may find a home adapted to its needs, supported by a constituency of happy, healthy, contented wives, <daughters,> mothers and grandmothers, who have solved the problem of <a> successful home building and are ready to spend the remainder of a happy existence, not in growing old in a corner, as their mothers and grandmothers did, feeling themselves “in the way” at the fire side, but keeping their bodies young and their spirits happy and contented till their time shall come to hear the welcome call, “it is enough! come higher!” The Club President of the future will be known on her own account “in the gates, when she sitteth among the rulers of the land.” It requires no spirit of prophecy to foretell the inevitable.

<Let it be our duty, as Club Women of the present, to lay aside all animosities, all personal ambitions and petty exhibitions of selfishness, forgetting in the infinite possibilities of the future the bitterness of the ills that sometimes now beset us. Thus, by keeping our spirits sweet we will be able to emulate at all times the example of the “virtuous woman” of King Solomon’s time, of whom he said, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”>

As the retiring President of the Woman’s Club of Portland, of which I have the honor of being the seventh, <who has occupied this chair> I come before you with regret as its first Executive who has been the victim of a lingering and dangerous illness, that has seriously interfered with her duties.

That I was compelled to hand over the banner of leadership to our Vice President, now, happily your President-elect19, was of course, a personal disappointment to me; but it was so much alleviated by her admirable administration of the Club’s affairs, assisted as she was by her able coadjutors, the Board of Directors, each of whom is worthy of special commendation, that I can only say to the Club, <that> My loss was your gain.

My thoughts were with you daily as I lay at the point of death in a San Francisco hospital; and the cheering reports that reached me of your progress and prosperity must have acted as a tonic; for I bear in sorrowful remembrance the fate of at least two prominent men of my acquaintance, who, taken with the same malady–an abscess in the ear–about the same time that I was stricken–died under the surgery that restored my health and hearing, and unfortunately for their loved ones’ sakes, consigned them to transition.20

Of the little flurry in our ranks of which rumors reached me while disabled in a neighboring state, I am happy to say that nothing came of it but the opportunity it afforded our brethren, the newsgatherers of the daily press, to freshen their columns by a little fun at our expense–an experience of which I was for many years the only burden bearer.

As the reports of the Club’s doings for the current year will be given in the proper place I need not enlarge upon them here. But I must speak, with love and tenderness, of our three departed members, Mrs. J. C. Card, Mrs. Rosa  F. Burrell21 and Mrs. R. A. Miller22, all of whom have stepped to the beyond within the year.

May the Oregon Grape, our own State flower bloom with <the> Oregon roses to their memory forever; and may it be our aim to emulate their virtues until it may be said of us at last, “It is enough; come higher.”

While I much regretted my inability to brave the Oregon rains at the last moment, and so missed the annual meeting of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs at Astoria during the week, I have been a deeply interested reader of the proceedings, and am most happy to have with us the leading representatives of the meeting for whose greetings I am glad to cut my message short.


    1. First Annual Report; Writer’s Project; Croly 1017-18. Abigail, her daughter, Clara Belle Duniway Stearns, and daughter-in-law, Cora Parsons Duniway, were charter members (Writer’s Project). Because she was identified so closely with the suffrage cause, Abigail declined to host the initial organizational meeting at her home, or even to attend. She admitted that her relationships with antisuffragist club women, even those she considered personal friends, often remained prickly (A. Duniway, Path Breaking 213-14; “Greeting and Reminiscence”). []
    2. She “could not have been more astonished at this election than if I had been suddenly appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of King James.” Not in good health and preoccupied with suffrage work, she did not even attend the meeting until summoned, and arrived after the ballots had been counted (A. Duniway, Path Breaking 217). As she relates here, she would become even more seriously ill during her term, requiring the delegation of many duties. []
    3. Its folder and a notation on the script date this speech as October 11, 1902, and a second notation describes it as her “inaugural” address. In addition, paragraph six describes Jane C. Jackson Card’s ill health; indeed, Jackson Card died on October 28 after a lengthy illness. However, other internal evidence points to a much later date. Paragraphs nineteen through twenty-one describe her own life-threatening illness while traveling in California in 1903, which demanded that she relinquish her duties as president. They also indicate that the speech was given as she was “retiring,” and following the election of her successor. Further, paragraph six was stricken subsequently, and paragraph twenty-three memorializes the passing of not only Jackson Card but also Rosa Frazar Burrell (April 9, 1903), and Sarelia Griffith Grubbe Miller (June 19, 1903). Apparently, the speech took a hiatus, and drastic changes were dictated by intervening events. []
    4. From Alexander Pope’s The Universal Prayer (1738). []
    5. Jane C. Jackson Card (?-1902): daughter of Rev. Timothy Jackson and Mary Ann Rhees Jackson; sister of Col. James Jackson of Portland; great granddaughter of Benjamin Loxley, who resigned royal office of Keeper of the King’s Stores in Philadelphia during Revolutionary War, achieved rank of Colonel, and wintered with Washington at Valley Forge; charter member, Daughters of the American Revolution, Multnomah chapter, 1896; charter member, Portland Woman’s Club and first president, 1896-97; president, floral section, State Horticultural Society; organized large display of roses for National Editorial Association, forerunner of Portland Rose Festival, 1899; died October 28, 1902, after illness of several months (Gaston, Portland 2: 480; History and By-Laws of Multnomah Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Portland, OR, 1903, in folder “Societies–Daughters of the American Revolution-Multnomah Chapter, Portland,” Vertical File, OR Hist. Soc.; Writer’s Project; Scrapbook #37: 162, OR Hist. Soc.; Morning Oregonian 30 July 1910). []
    6. May 25, 1896, in Louisville, Kentucky (First Annual Report). []
    7. Some of these contrary opinions belonged to Abigail, whose autobiography singles Card out as “a capable and useful leader, and my personal friend, over whose prejudice against votes for women, I would sometimes rap her with good-natured raillery” (A. Duniway, Path Breaking 214). []
    8. Mary E. Young: charter member, Portland Women’s Club; president, 1897-98; headed department of American literature; active in Oregon Emergency Corps, organized in Portland, April, 1898, “to assist the military board in providing material comforts for the Second regiment, Oregon volunteers, and to soften the transition from civil to army life for the raw recruit”; first vice-president, state Red Cross Society, successor to Corps, September, 1898; initiated course of instruction in domestic science, University of Idaho, c. 1902 (Writer’s Project; First Annual Report; Levi Young, “History”; Levi Young, “Oregon”; M. Young). []
    9. If at the time of Young’s trip: Thomas S. McMurry, 1895-99. If at the time of Scott Duniway’s remarks: Robert R. Wright, 1901-04. []
    10. If at the time of Young’s trip: Alva Adams, three times Democratic governor, 1887-89, 1897-99, and 1905 (Jason Brockman, “Biography of Alva Adams“). If at the time of Scott Duniway’s remarks: James B. Orman, Democrat, 1901-03 (James O. Chipman and George Orlowski, “Biography of James B. Orman“). []
    11. Cornelia F. Rockwell (c. 1860-1922): charter member, Portland Woman’s Club; president, 1898-99; industrial committee, Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1903-05; active in philanthropy, including Children’s Home, Oregon Humane Society, and Florence Crittenton Home; husband Cleveland Rockwell (1836-1907) was a marine captain, surveyor, and painter (Writer’s Project; Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs Yearbook, 1903-05; Morning Oregonian 23 Mar. 1922; Gaston, Portland 3: 368; Hines 598). []
    12. Eminent Women I Have Met” also refers to this Woman’s Club project. The Morning Oregonian, which published “Eminent Women” as part of its coverage of the convention of the Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs, also reported: “A movement was set on foot to secure an appropriation from the Legislature for free traveling libraries. The discussion of the library subject was led by Mrs. A. S. Duniway, of Portland, and Mrs. E. A. Ivanhoe, of La Grande. Mrs. S. A. Evans, of Portland; Mrs. Emily Wakeman, of Silverton, and Mrs. S. A. Lowell, of Pendleton, read papers and spoke on the subject” (2 June 1900). []
    13. Sarah Ann Shannon Evans (1854-1940): born Bedford, Pennsylvania; attended Lutherville College (Maryland Woman’s College); married William M. Evans, 1873; three daughters; lived in North Dakota, where collected Indian relics; moved to Oregon, 1894, settling in Oswego; co-founder, Portland Woman’s Club, 1895; president, 1903-04; co-founder, Oregon State Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1899; president, 1905-15; chaired committee on free public libraries, 1899, and lobbied legislature for tax bill enabling same in Portland; organized financing of Sacagawea statue for Lewis and Clark Exposition, 1905; proponent of trade schools and domestic science education (founded cooking school in South Portland that led to public school curriculum), humane care for mentally ill (campaigned for certified nurses to accompany insane when transported to state hospital in Salem), child labor reform, and pure food laws; appointed Portland city market inspector, first in U.S., and policewoman, August 17, 1905 (position held until 1935); appointed state Liberty Loan coordinator by President Woodrow Wilson; an active Democrat, sought to ally Portland Woman’s Club with Clara Dorothy Bewick Colby and Anna Howard Shaw, and to undercut Scott Duniway’s suffrage leadership, after 1906 debacle (Corning 81; Downs 220-23; Gaston, Portland 2: 718-19; Oregon Lung Association; First Annual Report; Oregonian 11 Dec. 1940; Writer’s Project; Agnes Holt, “Sarah A. Evans (1854-1940),” in H. Smith, With Her Own 229-30; Moynihan, Rebel 213, 215). []
    14. Julia A. Bodley Comstock (1851-1937): born Cincinnati,  Ohio; daughter of Thomas J. Bodley, carpenter; came to Oregon with parents, 1872; taught at Harrison Street School; married James J. Comstock of Eugene, July 14, 1875; moved to Portland, 1885; charter member and recording secretary of group that organized Portland Woman’s Club, December 19, 1895; president, 1899-1900; charter member and president, Portland Women’s Union; for six years, national vice-president, Unitarian Society of Boston; president, Portland Alliance of Unitarian Society and Atwood Club; Multnomah chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (Daily Oregonian 15 July 1875; Samuel’s Portland Directory, 1875; Morning Oregonian 1 June 1900; First Annual Report; Writer’s Project; Oregonian 25 June 1937). []
    15. He was a sawmill operator for whom the Comstock station on the Southern Pacific Company line in the north part of Douglas County was named (McArthur 172). []
    16. aluminum []
    17. Anna Grace Watt Ross (1861-1929): born Yamhill County, near McMinnville; daughter of Ahio Scott Watt (1824-1909; came overland from Ohio, 1848; farmer for twenty years; in later years, became Unitarian and favored woman suffrage) and Mary Elizabeth Elder Watt (1829-1889 or 1890; came overland from Ohio, 1849; housewife); lived in Portland for thirty years; married Charles D. Ross, widowed by 1902; charter member, Portland Woman’s Club, head of parliamentary laws department, lecturer in “physical expression” (gestures), president, 1900-01; president, Portland Federation of Women’s Clubs; active in Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs and New England Musical Conservatory of Portland (Writer’s Project; Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs Yearbook, 1901-02, 1903-04, 1903-05, 1912-13, 1913-14; Portland Directory, 1902; “Second Annual Announcement of the Woman’s Club of Portland, Oregon, 1897-8,” Mss 1084, OR Hist. Soc.; “Third Annual Announcement of the Woman’s Club of Portland, Oregon, 1899-1900” 6, Mss 1084, OR Hist. Soc.; Morning Oregonian 9 Dec. 1929; Oregon Daily Journal 9 Dec. 1929). []
    18. Julia Groner Marquam: daughter of John Groner (1832-1891; pioneer from Germany by way of Missouri and California who walked to Portland from Victoria, B.C., 1853) and Ellen McKernan (or McKerrian) Groner (pioneer from Ireland via Panama, 1853) of Scholl’s Ferry in Washington County, who married in 1862 and owned a prosperous thousand-acre farm; in 1886, married U. S. Grant Marquam (1863-1905), prominent Portland attorney specializing in land titles, and son of Philip A. Marquam, also prominent attorney, Multnomah County judge, state legislator, builder of Marquam Grand Theatre and owner of Marquam Hill residential district, and Emma Kern Marquam; lost everything including home in panic of 1893, but recovered; president, Portland Woman’s Club, 1901-02; chair, civics committee, Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1902-03 (Writer’s Project; Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs Yearbook, 1903-04; Gaston, Portland 3: 539-41; Hines 899-900; Hesse; “Genealogy–Marquam Family,” Vertical File, OR Hist. Soc.; Pioneer File Index, OR Hist. Soc.). []
    19. Sarah Ann Shannon Evans (supra, n. 13). []
    20. On a trip to California in 1903, to see her son, Clyde, and new daughter-in-law, Caroline Cushing, a long-lived ear infection hospitalized Abigail. A mastoidectomy was performed, she nearly died, and remained deaf in one ear (Moynihan, Rebel 210). []
    21. Rosa (Rosetta) Frazar Burrell (1842-1903); born Massachusetts; came to Oregon, 1853; daughter of Thomas (1813-1890; Multnomah county and territorial assessor, Portland city treasurer) and Frances Ann Adams Bradford Frazar, founders of Portland Unitarian church and prominent in establishing Portland public schools; married Martin Strong Burrell (?-1885; bookkeeper, agricultural implement dealer and banker, came to Oregon from Ohio, 1856), 1862; trustee, Unitarian Society; charter member, Children’s Home, Portland Free Kindergarten Association, Women’s Union (also first president), Boys and Girls Aid Society, Oregon Humane Society; founded and almost entirely supported Frazar free reading room as memorial to parents; evidently died of complications of a nervous breakdown; her obituary says, “There is probably not another woman in Portland whose death would leave such widespread sorrow. . . it would be hard to find any philanthropic enterprise which has not known [her] sympathy and help” (Oregonian, 10 Apr. 1903, in Scrapbook #66: 68, OR Hist. Soc.; Portrait and Biographical Record of Portland 820-21, 856-58; “Pioneers from New England”; Pioneer File Index, OR Hist. Soc.). []
    22. Sarelia Griffith Grubbe Miller (1859-1903): born Marion County; graduate, Willamette University, 1877; first marriage to Quincy A. Grubbe, 1878; after his death about nine years later, became a grade school teacher, then high school principal, and finally superintendent of Salem schools, a position she resigned in 1893 to marry Col. Robert A. Miller (attorney; state legislator; Democratic nominee for Congress, 1890; six years as Aid-de-Camp to Governor Sylvester Pennoyer; four-term president, Willamette Valley Chautauqua Association; president, Oregon Pioneer Association, 1912); they moved to Oregon City and she became a Shakespeare scholar; first president, Native Daughters of Oregon; active in Portland Woman’s Club; led Avon Club of Oregon City for four years; delegate, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Los Angeles, 1902; Eastern Star; Methodist; enthusiast of Oregon history (Portrait and Biographical Record of Portland 677-79; Oregon Native Son 1 (1899): 174-75; Scrapbook #125: 98, OR Hist. Soc.). []

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