Mary Abigail Dodge 1833 -1896
(James, Jonathan, George, Jonathan, John, William)
Mary Abigail Dodge was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, on March 31, 1833,
the seventh child and third daughter of James Brown Dodge and Hannah
Stanwood Dodge. She was brought up on a farm and being an active girl,
living the country life suited her. Being very bright, Mary was sent to
Boarding School in Cambridge when she was twelve. The next year she was
admitted into the Ipswich Female Seminary, from which she graduated in
1850. After graduating, Mary taught at the Seminary for the next four
years before accepting a teaching job at the Hartford (Connecticut)
Female Seminary. From there she moved on to the Hartford High School,
where she became a most cherished teacher.
Though her teaching career was met with great success, Mary grew dissatisfied with the long hours and low salary and longed to try her hand at writing. In 1856 she sent samples of her poetry to the antislavery publication "National Era" in Washington. Because of her fresh and individual style, her work impressed editor Gamaliel Bailey. Two years later she was offered a job as governess to Mr. Bailey's children, so Mary moved to Washington to take the job and spend the time there establishing herself as a writer. She made contributions to such publications as the "Independent", "Country Living and Country Thinking", "Summer Rest", and the "Atlantic Monthly".
Because she was shy, Mary didn't like publicity or attention. So while she was in Washington, Mary chose a pen name. She chose the name "Gail Hamilton", taking it from the last part of "Abigail" and "Hamilton", her place of birth.
Mary had a cutting wit and was known for her stinging criticism of men. An example of that wit is this quote: "Some men dole out money to their wives as if it were a gift, a charity. a man has no more right to his earning than his wife has. What absurdity, to PAY him his WAGES and GIVE her money to go shopping with!" She often made comments that made many a man wince!
In 1895, while in Washington to verify the last pages of her biography on James Blaine (Speaker of the House in 1871), Mary suffered a stroke that left her unconscious for weeks. She recovered enough to go home to Hamilton, but died there in August 1896 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Patricia Chadwick is a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnist in several online publications as well as editor of two newsletters. Parents & Teens is a twice-monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. History's Women is weekly online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women.