Woman of the Century/Catharine A. F. Stebbins
STEBBINS, Mrs. Catharine A. F. reformer, born in Farmington, near Canandaigua. N.Y., 17th August. 1823. Her father, Benjamin Fish, and her mother, Sarah D. Bills, were of the Society of Friends, the former of Rhode Island and the latter of New Jersey Both families removed to western New York about 1816. They were farmers. When Catharine was live years old, her family went to Rochester, N.Y. Her parents helped to form the earliest anti-slavery societies. Their moral and intellectual life was devoted to emancipation, total abstinence and moral reforms. CATHARINE A. F. STEBBINS. Catharine was educated for the most part in the select schools of Rochester, but enjoyed the advantages of an excellent Friends' boarding-school in a near town for six months of her fifteenth year. She afterwards taught her brothers and several neighbors' children in her home. She was requested to go before the board of examiners, that the people of the neighborhood might draw the school moneys to educate their children. Receiving a certificate, she took charge of the first public school in the ninth ward of Rochester. Her first reform work was in gathering names to anti-slavery petitions, between her twelfth and fifteenth years. For several years before and after marriage she was secretary of a woman's anti-slavery society. When she was fifteen years of age, Pollard and Wright, from Baltimore, total abstinence Washingtonians, held meetings and circulated the pledge in Rochester, and from that date her mother banished all wines from her house. A few years later Miss Fish and her sister kept on the parlor table an anti-tobacco pledge, to which they secured the names of young men. She became the wife of Giles B. Stebbins in August, 1846. She attended the first woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N. Y., in 1848. She spoke a few words in the convention and contributed a resolution in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. The resolution was passed the next week in Rochester. She was one of the secretaries of the Rochester convention. While in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1849 and 1850, she published her first letter, in the "Free Democrat." in protest against the subordinate position of women. The letter was much discussed. In the early part of the Rebellion she wrote for the Rochester dailies a number of short letters on the conduct of war-meetings and of the war, criticising men and methods, and urging that more stress be put upon "Freedom" and less upon "Union." he visited the camps, when men were to be sent forward, and wrote letters to officers, suggesting what duties were likely to be overlooked! She occasionally organized both anti-slavery and woman-suffrage societies in southern New York and Michigan, and worked in aid societies in both States, and in 1862 and 1863 entered zealously into Gen. Fisk's work for clothing the refugees on the Mississippi and west of it. During winters spent in Washington, and since 1869 the years in Detroit, Mich., one of her methods to further woman suffrage has been to write articles for the press and have slips struck off for distribution, and at other times to have able arguments of distinguished advocates put in that form for circulation in letters and meetings. She has always been an active member of the National Woman Suffrage Association from its beginning, and was most of the time on its executive board, proposing many measures, and taking part in hearings before judiciary committees of the House of Representatives and other bodies, and has repeatedly written letters to National nominating conventions in behalf of the equal representation of women in the State. She is also identified with the Association for the Advancement of Women, and signed the call for its first meeting.