Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Passion, Purpose, and Persistence

 Passion, Purpose, and Persistence

 An Excursion on the Ohio Literary Trail: The Harriet Beecher Stowe House


This year, our chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) made a decision to visit some of the sites listed on the Ohio Literary Trail. Yes. It is a real thing. There are seventy sites identified in Ohio marking contributions to literature including homes of some of America’s most honored and beloved authors. A few writing festivals are on the tour as well.


Ohio has been home to many authors. Remember Erma Bombeck? James Thurber? Toni Morrison? Robert McClosky? Rebecca Waters (Oops, sorry about that. It’s late. I’m dreaming as I write.)


The latest excursion took place in my neck of the woods. Six of us met for lunch then headed to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Stowe authored numerous books, plays, and articles. She penned poems and lyrics to hymns. I knew all of that. Hey, I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in school. 


I wasn’t looking to learn more about her publications. I wanted to know more about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the woman and the writer. 


I knew from a preliminary search on the internet that after graduating from the Hartford Female Seminary in Connecticut, the unmarried Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati and lived with her father, stepmother, and siblings when her father was named president of the Lane Theological Seminary. As such, she was privy to the famous Lane Debates on slavery. Harriet’s experiences in Cincinnati proved to be powerful in shaping her course in life.


Harriet Beecher Stowe started honing her craft while living in Cincinnati. 


She was part of a writing/literary group called the Semi-Colon Club. Being a part of a writing group is powerful. Writers gather to share ideas, critique each other’s work, brainstorm, edit, problem solve, and applaud each other. The Semi-Colon club members included Salmon P. Chase who would later become the Chief Justice of the United States, James Hall who became the editor of the Western Monthly Magazine, novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, and Daniel Drake who founded the first medical school in Cincinnati. There were of course others, but I find the mix of men and women for that era to be interesting and the caliber of people in the group is amazing. 

Calvin and Eliza Stowe were also members of that group. Eliza and Harriet became great friends. A little over a year after Eliza succumbed to cholera, Calvin and Harriet married.

In the parlor of the house we visited in Cincinnati, Harriet Beecher became Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Stowe's had seven children together. SEVEN. I don't know about you, but I think continuing to write articles and editorials as well as books, plays, and short stories is a fairly great accomplishment for a woman with even one or two children. And she didn't have a computer. Go figure.

So what did I learn?

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote because she was passionate about what she believed and had something to say. She learned early on the power of the printed word. And...she never gave up.


Funny, but as it turns out, its what we all need to succeed as authors. 

We posed for a pic with a
Life-Sized cutout of
Harriet Beecher Stowe.
And yes, she was a mere 4'11" tall. 

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