Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1706
Elida Rumsey Fowle
[from a clipping from some unknown, undated publication, from the 2nd half of the 19th century]
Of all the women who devoted themselves to the soldiers in our late war [Civil War], perhaps none had a more varied experience than Elida B. Rumsey—a girl so young that Miss Dix would not receive her as a nurse. Undaunted by seeming difficulties, she persisted in “doing the next thing,” and so fulfilled her great desire to do something for the soldiers, for wherever she saw a soldier in need her ready sympathies were enlisted, little caring if the heart bets stirred a coat of blue or gray.
She was engaged to Mr. John A. Fowle, of Jamaica Plain, Mass., who was employed in the Navy Dept, Washington, but who devoted all his spare time to philanthropic enterprises, and their work was supplementary from the first. In Nov. ’61, she began to visit the hospitals and sing to the soldiers, and the knowledge of how little the boys had to look forward to from day to day, while under such depressing influences, first inspired the thought of supplying them with pictures and books. One of the fist things established was a Sunday evening prayer meeting in Columbia College Hospital, in an upper room in Auntie Pomroy’s ward. That room was crowded night after night, and over flow meetings were held in a grove nearby. The interest steadily increased, and the enthusiasm of the soldiers could not be repressed, when Miss Rumsey’s sweet voice stirred their souls, and rekindled the noble self-sacrificing spirit that had brought them to such a place. The soldiers planned what they wanted her to sing from week to week, and she three into the songs all her great desire to bring the boys to their better selves and help them to feel they were not forgotten and alone.
Miss Rumsey was the means of founding a Soldier’s Free Library, the first one hundred dollars was given by Mrs. Walter Baker, a greater part of the remainder was earned by Miss Rumsey and Mr. Fowle, giving concerts.
Mr. Fowle and Miss Rumsey, on March 1st, 1863, were married in the Hall of Representatives, about 4000 being present, the marriage ceremony was performed according to the rights of the Episcopal Church, by the Rev. Mr. Quint, pastor of the church which Mr. Fowle attended in Jamaica Plain, and Chaplain of the 2nd Mass. REg.
Mr. and Mrs. Fowle now reside in Dorchester, Mass.
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