Open main menu

AMORY, Mrs. Estelle Mendell, educator and author, born in Ellisburgh, Jefferson county, N. Y., 3d June, 1845. She is better known as a writer by her maiden name, Estelle Mendell. Her childhood was passed on a farm. In 1852 her family moved to Adams, a near-by village, where her father, S. J. Mendell, engaged in mercantile business. The Mendell home was a home of refinement and culture, and Colonel and Mrs. Mendell entertained many prominent persons, among whom were Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas Starr King, Edwin H. Chapin, Frederick Douglass and Gerrit Smith; and intercourse with those brilliant men and others did much to inspire the young girl with a desire to make a mark in literature. When the Civil War broke out, Mr. Mendell raised a company of soldiers, took a commission as captain and went to the South. He served throughout the war, rising to the rank of colonel by brevet. Estelle had developed meanwhile into a studious young woman, and had taught her first school. She studied in the Hungerford Collegiate Institute in her home town, and in Falley Seminary, Fulton, N. Y. In 1866 the family moved to Franklin county, Iowa. There Estelle continued to teach. In 1867 she returned to the East and re-entered Falley Seminary, from which institution she was graduated with honors in 1868. Her family—there were eight brothers and sisters—had been placed in financial straits by the war, and Estelle was obliged to earn the money, aided by some devoted friends, with which to complete her seminary course. Then followed seven years of earnest work as a teacher, she holding successively the positions of governess in a family in Chicago, and principal and preceptress of seminaries in the East. In 1875 she became the wife of J. H. Amory, of a prominent family of Binghamton, N.Y., and they went to Elgin, Ill., to live. During all those years Mrs. Amory had written much but done little in the way of publication. At length she began to offer her work. Ready acceptance encouraged her, and soon she became a regular contributor to standard periodicals. Her literary productions consist mainly of domestic articles, short stories for children, essays on living themes and occasional poems. Her well-known "Aunt Martha Letters," published in the Elmira "Telegram," in 1882, and later the more famous "Aunt Chatty" series in the Minneapolis "Housekeeper," have made her name a household word. Among the journals that have given her articles to the public are the "Ladies' Home Journal," "Mail and Express," "Epoch," Cincinnati "Enquirer," "Journalist," "Union Signal," "Babyhood," "Golden Days" and a score of others. In addition to her family cares and literary work, Mrs Amory has often had classes at home and in the school-room, besides classes in music. Her family consists of two children, a son and a daughter, and her home is now in Belmond, Iowa. From her mother Mrs. Amory has inherited qualities of soul and mind that have endeared her to a large circle of friends; and from her public-spirited, talented father, a broad, enthusiastic nature, that allies her actively with the advance thought and movements of the day.