Woman of the Century/Julia A. Ames
AMES, Miss Julia A., editor and temperance reformer, born near Odell, Livingston county. Ill., 14th October, 1861. She was the daughter of a well-known wealthy citizen of Streator, Ill. She was a graduate of Streator high school, the Illinois Wesleyan University, and of the Chicago School of Oratory. Her work in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union began in Streator, where she proved herself a most valuable and efficient helper to Mrs. Plumb, the district president of the Woman's Christian Temperance JULIA A. AMES. Union. Her peculiar talents for temperance work soon brought her into prominence, and she was drawn into the central union in Chicago. There, in addition to her elocutionary talents and executive capacity, she showed herself the possessor of the journalistic faculty, and she was soon placed where she could make good use of that faculty for the noble organization of temperance workers. The first of the Chicago daily newspapers to publish a Woman's Christian Temperance Union department was the "Inter-Ocean." In her first interviews with the editors, Miss Ames received many charges and cautions, all of which she tried faithfully to heed. Yet, in spite of her care, everything she sent was sharply scanned and often mercilessly cut. At first only a few inches of space were given to her. This was gradually increased as the editors learned they could trust her, till, before she gave the department into other hands, she usually occupied nearly a column, and editors ceased to cut her manuscript. Other and more important work soon came to her hand. The national superintendent of press-work, Mrs. Esther Housh, found her labor too great for her strength, and Miss Ames was appointed her assistant. She performed all the necessary work in this field until her duties on the "Union Signal" forced her to give the work into other hands. Her connection with the central union brought her into intimate contact with many noble women, among whom were Helen Louise Hood, Mrs. Matilda B. Carse, Mrs. Andrew and Miss Willard. Her intercourse with them molded her views and life visibly, and her progress was rapid. Position after position called her, and in each she did earnest, noble work without stint. When Mrs. Andrew felt that, on account of her health, she must give up her work on the "Union Signal," the question of her successor was earnestly discussed. The thoughts of the leaders at once turned to Miss Ames, and despite her youth, she justified the choice of those who urged her to follow Mrs. Andrew. Up to 1889 her special province was the difficult one of news from the field and children's department. She originated the department of illustrated biography and the queen's garden. In all her work she showed a thoroughness, patience and courtesy absolutely indispensable to success, yet seldom found united in one person. Her forte was not so much writing, though she was ready with her pen, as it was that higher faculty which instinctively told her what to choose and what to reject of others' writing, and the winning power to draw from them their best thoughts. In 1889 she had sole charge of the "Union Signal" in the absence of the editor. She took a vacation trip to Europe in 1890, spending a month in London, England, and visiting Lady Henry Somerset at Eastnor Castle. Miss Ames was received with honor by the British Woman's Temperance Association. While in London, she organized the press department of that society on lines similar to those of the American organization. She traveled through Europe with a chosen party conducted by Miss Sarah E. Morgan, under the auspices of Mrs. M. B. Willard's school for girls. She witnessed the Passion Play at Oberammergau, visited Rome and other famous cities and returned to the United States refreshed in mind and body to resume her editorial duties on the "Union Signal." She attended the Boston convention in November, 1891, in her editorial capacity. She assisted in editing the daily "Union Signal," prepared the Associated Press dispatches each night, and was the chairman of one or two committees. She was not well when she left Chicago, and she contracted a severe cold, which through the pressure of her work developed into typhoid pneumonia, of which she died 12th December, 1891. Miss Ames was a member of the Woman's Temperance Publishing Association Circle of King's Daughters and was president of that organization when she left Chicago for her European tour. The silver cross and the white ribbon were the symbols of her life. She was an efficient worker, a thorough organizer and the possessor of more than ordinary executive capacity. She was direct, positive, earnest, amiable and indefatigable.