Woman of the Century/Alice Moore McComas
McCOMAS, Mrs. Alice Moore, author, editor, lecturer and reformer, born in Paris, Ill., 18th June, 1850. Her father, the late Gen. Jesse H. Moore, scholar, clergyman, soldier and statesman, who died while serving his government as United States Consul in Callao, Peru, was at the time of her birth, president of the Paris academy. He came of an old Virginia family whose ancestors were noted for their valor and love of country in the wars of 1776 and 1812. Her mother, a native of Kentucky, was a daughter of one of Kentucky's prominent families, which gave to the world the famous clergyman, William H. Thompson, and John W. Thompson the celebrated Indiana jurist, from both sides of her family she inherited literary taste. From the age of eight years she had her own opinions on social and religious questions, and often astonished her elders with profound questionings, which brought upon her the name of '"peculiar," and her aggressiveness as she became older, in clinging to those opinions, even when very unpopular, added to that the opprobrium, "self-willed and headstrong." During the Civil War, in which nearly all tier male relatives and friends, including the man whose wife she afterwards became, had enlisted for the defense of the Union, she commenced the study of politics. At that time she read of the woman's rights movement. While she had not the courage openly to advocate a thing hooted at and pronounced "unwomanly" by many in her circle, her nature rebelled against the inequality of the sexes. In school she traded compositions for worked-out mathematical problems, averaging many terms from six to ten compositions weekly on as many different subjects, changing her style so as to escape detection. At fifteen, her ambition to achieve something over-ruled her better judgment, for, thinking there was ALICE MOORE McCOMAS. little opportunity for a Methodist minister's daughter, her father being then presiding elder of the Decatur, Illinois, District, to make more of herself or to see the world, she left home one Sunday evening, ostensibly to attend church, but in fact to take the train for St. Louis to make her own fortune. There she immediately secured a situation in a dry goods store at eight dollars a week. After one delightful week of complete freedom and self-reliance, she was persuaded to give up her situation and her dream of fighting the world alone and single-handed. Much against her will, she returned and resumed her home life with a feeling of disappointment from which she never entirely recovered, for she inwardly rebelled against the stereotyped, formal and empty life a girl in her social position was compelled to live. Her main solace was in writing stories and poems, many of which were destroyed as soon as written. Others she sent secretly and anonymously to papers and magazines. Her education was finished in the Convent of St. Mary, near Terre Haute, Ind. After leaving school her time was taken up with the social duties required of a family in a prominent position, her father at that time being the representative in Congress of the seventh congressional district of Illinois. In 1871 she was united in marriage to Charles C. McComas, a young lawyer, and for the next five years she devoted herself to the duties of wife, mother and housekeeper. Financial disaster consequent on the panic of 1876 swept away home and property. Her husband, believing that he could quickly retrieve his lost fortune in a new country, emigrated to Kansas, where his wife and family, consisting of two daughters, joined him in 1877. She there resumed the half-forgotten joys of authorship, which brought her a neat little income, but she concealed her identity under a pen-name, which she still uses for fiction and poetry. After her removal to Los Angeles, Cal., in 1887, she began to write over her own name She has edited, with occasional interruptions for the past three years, a woman's department in the Los Angeles "Evening Express." During 1891 and 1893, she filled the position of vice-president of the Woman Suffrage Association, first vice-president of the Ladies' Annex to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and member of the board of directors of the Woman's Industrial Union. She secured the promise of a land donation for a public park in her neighborhood, on condition that the city would improve it, and took the matter before the city council, urging that body in a stirring speech to accept the gift, and by diligent and persistent work finally securing an appropriation of ten-thousand dollars. She occasionally addresses a public audience.