Woman of the Century/Betsey Ann Stearns
STEARNS, Mrs. Betsey Ann, inventor, born in Cornish, N. H., 29th June, 1830. Her maiden name was Goward, and she was the youngest of nine children. Her father and mother were born in Easton, Mass., and removed from there in their early married life to New Hampshire, where they engaged in farming, clearing the new lands and raising stock and wool. From the wool they grew her mother spun, wove and made up the clothing for her family. At the age of fourteen years Miss Goward, with an older companion, left home to earn her own living, and engaged herself as a weaver of cloth in a cotton factory in Nashua, N. H. Through her industry and frugality she not only provided for herself comfortably, but put in the savings-bank what she could spare each month, so that she soon had two-hundred dollars saved. Desiring to improve her education and wishing to visit her old home, she returned to Cornish, and afterwards attended the schools in Meriden, N. H., and Springfield, Vt. From there she was called to teach a district school in East Mansfield, Mass. After two terms of work she decided to return to her studies. After that a relative in the tailoring business made her a good proposition, and she decided to learn the trade. When her engagement was through, she became the wife of Horatio H. Stearns, of Acton, Mass., 5th June, 1851. They lived in Acton until 1875, and since that time her home has been in Woburn, Mass. Three daughters were added to their family. She had felt the need of a method by which she could cut her own and her daughters' dresses, and when opportunity offered she learned a system, though very imperfect, that was a help, and that she imparted to others. Having an inventive turn of mind, she resolved to bring before the public something more reliable and accurate in its proportions, and in 1864 her first invention was made. After the Civil War closed, she taught many helpless widows, enabling them to support themselves and families. In 1869 her invention received from the Massachusetts Mechanical Association a silver medal and diploma. It next received the highest award in the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, in 1876, for its accuracy, simplicity and economy. In 1877 the American Institute, New York, awarded it a special medal for excellence, and in 1878 the Massachusetts Mechanical Association awarded its second medal for an improvement made. She then organized the BETSEY ANN STEARNS. Boston Dresscutting School and several other branch schools in other States, so that now the Steam's tailor method for cutting ladies' and children's garments has Income a household word.