Woman of the Century/Isabella S. Davis Spurlock
SPURLOCK, Mrs. Isabella Smiley Davis, philanthropist, born in Nodaway county, Mo., 21st January, 1843. Her maiden name was Davis. Her father was of Jeff. Davis's lineage and born in Tennessee, but in the day of the nation's peril his love of country sent his first-born son, Maj. S. K. Davis, against the nation's foe, regardless of the kinsman commander in gray. Her mother's name was Windom, and she belonged to a good family. Miss Davis's child-life was one of care and responsibility, instead of play and pastime. ISABELLA SMILEY DAVIS SPURLOCK. Her life has been one of suffering or service. She became the wife, 1st November, 1860, of Burwell Spurlock, of Virginia, who belonged to one of the prominent families of the South, eminent in political and church work. They began home-keeping in Plattsmouth, Neb. Her husband, connected with the church officially, aided in establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church in the new West. Her first public work was in the interest of foreign missions, organizing societies. During the temperance crusade she was one of the leaders who, with tongue and pen, waged warfare against the drink-evil. She twice represented the society in national conventions and was State superintendent of mothers' and social purity meetings. She was often a member of committees appointed to confer with influential bodies. In the spring of 1882 she was disabled physically, so that she was obliged to give up all public work, and a year of intense suffering followed. Through the prayers of herself and friends, as she believes, she was lifted out of darkness and received the command, "Go to Utah, and visit the sick and imprisoned." She heeded the call and spent two years among the women of Utah. That field of labor was one untried, and, though all doors were closed and all hearts sealed, she was gifted with the address and spirit of love that unlocked hearts and threw open doors from the "Lion House " of ex-President Brigham Young to the humblest hut of poverty and sorrow. While there, she assisted in opening a day nursery, where forsaken plural wives could leave their children and go out to earn their bread. That was the step that won the confidence of the Mormon women. She led in the movement to organize a Christian association, formed of the women of all denominations, for the assistance of the helpless women of Mormondom. In 1886 she was made trustee of an orphan's home on a farm in the West. Finally she persuaded the national executive committee of the Women's Home Missionary Society to adopt the movement, and in 1891 she and her husband were appointed to the superintendency of that work, the Mothers' Jewels' Home, near York, Neb., which they now have in charge. She is the mother of two sons, of whom one died in infancy. The other was graduated with the law class of 1892 from De Pauw University, Greencastle, Ind.