Open main menu

Woman of the Century/Harriet M. Rathbun

RATHBUN, Mrs. Harriet M., author and business woman, born in Port Jefferson, Suffolk HARRIET M. RATHBUN A woman of the century (page 607 crop).jpgHARRIET M. RATHBUN. county, N. Y., 18th May, 1840. Her maiden name was Harriet M. Lee. She was the youngest of a family of twelve children. Her father died in 1842, and the large family were left in the mother's care and dependent upon their own exertions, as those who should have been friends, through persuasion and misrepresentation, wrested from the widow all her property. At fourteen years of age the studious little girl began to teach in Bellport, N. Y., while attending the village academy a portion of the year. At the beginning of the Civil War she resigned her position in the Brooklyn public schools, in order to be an assistant in a publishing house in New York City. Near the close of the rebellion Miss Lee became the wife of Captain E. H. Fales, of the 131st Regiment New York Volunteers. At the end of the war Capt. Fales purchased the magazine named "Merry's Museum," founded by Peter Parley. Disease contracted in the army blasted all his hopes of personal success, but the business was not allowed to suffer. With energy extraordinary Mrs. Fales came to the front, and with the help of a literary friend, during the decline of her husband, lasting more than a year, she assumed charge of both the departments, editorial and publishing. Finally, with the hope of prolonging his life, the business was allowed to pass into other hands, while Capt. and Mrs. Fales, with their babe, sought a milder climate in the West. Writing done by the wife, which she could not have secured in her own name, appeared under that of her husband, and procured for his last moments most grateful luxuries. At last husband and child were laid at rest, in 1868, and Mrs. Fales returned alone to New York City. Again she entered a publishing house, and at a salary which would have been paid to a man holding the same position. She was probably one of the first women in the metropolis to receive her just dues. It was while faithfully fulfilling her duties there, she met Milton Rathbun, now of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., whose wife she became in 1873. Soon after, she began to write for the weekly press, and at various times has contributed tales, sketches, essays and articles on ethics to a variety of weekly journals. She is favorably known on local platforms as a speaker upon temperance and ethics. She is noted for incessant activity, benevolence and cheerfulness; and is interested in every phase of woman's work and in all sensible reformatory movements. She has a family of two sons, the older a student in Harvard University.