Open main menu

Woman of the Century/Jeannetle Du Bois Meech

MEECH, Mrs. Jeannette Du Bois, evangelist and industrial educator, born in Frankford, Pa., in 1835. Her father, Gideon Du Bois, was descended from the French- Huguenots He was a deacon in the Baptist Church for nearly half a century. Her mother, Annie Grant, was a Scotch woman and came to this country when a girl. She is still living. JEANNETTE DU BOIS MEECH A woman of the century (page 507 crop).jpgJEANNETTE DU BOIS MEECH. Jeannette learned to read when she was four years old. The first public school in Frankford was built opposite to her home, in 1840, and she attended it as soon as it was opened. She went through all the departments, and afterwards was graduated from the Philadelphia Normal School. She then commenced to teach in the Frankford school, and taught there eight years, resigning her position in 1860. In 1861 she became the wife of Rev. W. W. Meech, then pastor of the Baptist Church, in Burlington, N. J. In 1869, during her husband's pastorate in Jersey Shore, Pa., she opened a free industrial school in the parsonage, with one-hundred scholars, boys and girls. The boys were taught to sew and knit, as well as the girls. She provided all the material and utensils and sold the work when it was finished In 1870 her husband was chosen superintendent of the Maryland State Industrial School for Girls. There she had an opportunity to develop her ideas The materials were provided, and they taught cooking, canning and housekeeping as well as sewing, reading, writing, drawing, arithmetic and music. Her husband lost his health, and they were obliged to give up the work. They went to Vineland, N J., in search of health in 1873, and have lived there ever since. Her oldest daughter was an invalid and could not be sent to school at that time, and Mrs. Meech invited a few of the neighbor's children to make a class in her home, that she might have companionship for her daughter in her studies. She continued that "Cottage Seminary" till the daughter was able to go from home to school, and then she started an "Industrial Society," composed mainly of scholars from the Vineland high school, in 1875. The boys were taught to make a variety of articles in wood and wire work. The girls cut and made garments and fancy articles. In 1887 Mrs. Meech was appointed by the trustees of the Vineland high school to introduce there and to superintend the department of manual education. This plan was only partially carried out Mrs. Meech was converted in 1850 and became a member of the Baptist Church in her fifteenth year. During the Civil War her husband was a hospital chaplain. She was with him in Louisville, and while there helped in a mission school in the suburbs. He was afterwards stationed in Bowling Green, Ky., and there she had a Sunday-school class in the convalescent ward of the hospital. While they were in the industrial school in Maryland, she had to conduct the religious meetings with the girls, on account of her husband's loss of voice. A remarkable revival began in the school and all but four of the girls became Christians. After moving to Vineland, Mrs. Meech started a Sunday-school in Vineland Center, in the face of obstacles, and conducted it for ten years, serving as superintendent, collecting a library and training teachers for the work. Many of the pupils were converted, and the school became known far and wide. In connection with her Sunday-school work she organized a society for missionary information in 1877. A correspondence was opened with missionaries in China, and she set to work to study up the customs and religions of China, Japan and India, in order to interest her scholars in the work in those countries. They always had a full house on missionary Sunday. Her lectures have been given by request in a number of churches, school-houses and conventions. One young lady, a member of one of her societies, is now a missionary in Japan. Mr. Meech has been pastor of the South Vineland Baptist Church for seventeen years. During his vacations Mrs. Meech frequently filled his place. She addressed an audience for the first time in Meadville, Pa., in 1867, in a Sunday-school convention. In 1890, in company with Mrs. Ives, of Philadelphia, she commenced a series of cottage prayer meetings in Holly Beach, N. J. They visited from house to house, talking with unconverted people and inviting them to the meetings. The religious interest was great Since then she has frequently held Sunday evening services in the Holly each Church, which is Presbyterian in denomination, and which years ago refused her the use of their church for a missionary lecture, because she was a woman. In March, 1891, the South Vineland Baptist Church granted her a license to preach. Since receiving that license, she has held a number of meetings on Sunday evenings in Wildwood Beach, N. J., and in Atlantic City, N. J. She held aloof from temperance societies till about three years ago. As the church did so little, and the evil increased so fast, she joined the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1889. She was made county superintendent of narcotics the first year. Two years ago she received an appointment as national lecturer for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in the department of narcotics. She edited the Holly Beach "Herald" in 1885, but could not continue it for want of means. She has been engaged in business as a florist and art store-keeper for some years.