Woman of the Century/Frances Eleanor Townsley
TOWNSLEY, Miss Frances Eleanor, Baptist minister, born in Albany, N. Y., 13th September, 1850. Her parents were Gad Townsley, a commission merchant, large-hearted, free-handed and a strong abolitionist, and Charlotte Davis Townsley, of whom Frances says: "Of my mother there are no 'first memories.' FRANCES ELEANOR TOWNSLEY. She was always there. She always will be. A tiny, heroic, devoted woman, my saint. In her early widowhood she toiled for her children till midnight, and then eased her grief-smitten spirit by writing choice bits of prose and verse, which she modestly hid in her portfolio." Frances' "call to preach" was sudden, positive, undoubted. Once, when asked where she was educated, she said: "Partly in a village academy, partly in Wheaton College, partly in the studies of individual pastors, mainly in the University of Sorrow." Truly, from time to time one afflictive blow after another has fallen upon her heart, but she is known as "the happy woman." She spoke her first piece when rive years old, the twenty-third psalm. To the faithful teaching of her mother she owes much of her training for a public speaker. Among the things committed to memory the first ten years of her life were Willis' "Sacred Poems," parts of "Paradise Lost," Pollock's " Course of Time, " "The Miracles and Parables of Christ," His "Sermon on the Mount," the choicest portions of Hebrew poetry and prophecy, and many patriotic selections. She became a professing Christian before she was eighteen years old, after most turbulent struggles, mental and spiritual. She became a preacher against her previous ideas of woman's sphere, but has never held her work more holy than the ministry of home-life, considering that woman's first and best kingdom. She was licensed by the Shelburne Falls, Mass., Baptist Church in 1874, after preaching a year, and after twelve years of work as an evangelist in Maine. New Hampshire, Vermont. Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska, she was ordained by a council of Baptist Churches, after an examination spoken of as "most searching and satisfactory," which lasted three hours, on and April, 1885, in Fairfield, Neb. Her pastorate was greatly blessed in the upbuilding of the church in spirituality and members. She is a woman of rare consecration, of spotless character, especially remarkable for intensity, keen perceptions, tender sympathy, ready wit and broad love for all mankind, with strong common-sense, tact, eloquence and a great command of language. In addition to her special calling, she has been State evangelist for the Nebraska Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and a lecturer and a writer in prose and verse. Her present home is Ashland, Neb . where she is now pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church.