Lives of Girls Who Became Famous HTML version
Harriet Beecher Stowe
In a plain home, in the town of Litchfield, Conn., was born, June 14, 1811, Harriet
Beecher Stowe. The house was well-nigh full of little ones before her coming. She was
the seventh child, while the oldest was but eleven years old.
Her father, Rev. Lyman Beecher, a man of remarkable mind and sunshiny heart, was
preaching earnest sermons in his own and in all the neighboring towns, on the munificent
salary of five hundred dollars a year. Her mother, Roxana Beecher, was a woman whose
beautiful life has been an inspiration to thousands. With an education superior for those
times, she came into the home of the young minister with a strength of mind and heart
that made her his companion and reliance.
There were no carpets on the floors till the girl-wife laid down a piece of cotton cloth on
the parlor, and painted it in oils, with a border and a bunch of roses and others flowers in
the centre. When one of the good deacons came to visit them, the preacher said, "Walk
in, deacon, walk in!"
"Why, I can't," said he, "'thout steppin' on't." Then he exclaimed, in admiration, "D'ye
think ya can have all that, and heaven too?"
So meagre was the salary for the increasing household, that Roxana urged that a select
school be started; and in this she taught French, drawing, painting, and embroidery,
besides the higher English branches. With all this work she found time to make herself
the idol of her children. While Henry Ward hung round her neck, she made dolls for little
Harriet, and read to them from Walter Scott and Washington Irving.
These were enchanting days for the enthusiastic girl with brown curls and blue eyes. She
roamed over the meadows, and through the forests, gathering wild flowers in the spring
or nuts in the fall, being educated, as she afterwards said, "first and foremost by Nature,
wonderful, beautiful, ever-changing as she is in that cloudland, Litchfield. There were the
crisp apples of the pink azalea,--honeysuckle-apples, we called them; there were scarlet
wintergreen berries; there were pink shell blossoms of trailing arbutus, and feathers of
ground pine; there were blue and white and yellow violets, and crowsfoot, and bloodroot,
and wild anemone, and other quaint forest treasures."
A single incident, told by herself in later years, will show the frolic-loving spirit of the
girl, and the gentleness of Roxana Beecher. "Mother was an enthusiastic horticulturist in
all the small ways that limited means allowed. Her brother John, in New York, had just
sent her a small parcel of fine tulip-bulbs. I remember rummaging these out of an obscure
corner of the nursery one day when she was gone out, and being strongly seized with the
idea that they were good to eat, and using all the little English I then possessed to
persuade my brothers that these were onions, such as grown people ate, and would be
very nice for us. So we fell to and devoured the whole; and I recollect being somewhat