Woman of the Century/Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell
CABELL, Mrs. Mary Virginia Ellet, educator, born at the "Point of Honor." Lynchburg, Va., the home of her maternal grandfather, Judge Daniel, 24th January, 1839. Her father, the eminent civil engineer. Charles Ellet. jr.. built the first suspension bridge in the United States, over the Schuylkill river at Philadelphia, presented the first plans for a bridge across the Mississippi river at St. Louis, and built the first bridge across the Niagara below the Falls. He first suggested and advocated a Pacific railroad, and his "temporary track" over the Blue Ridge, at Rock Fish Gap, was the most noted mountain railroad in the world. He was the author of the reservoir plan for the improvement of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. He invented the steam-ram and constructed and commanded the steam-ram fleet in the victorious battle of Memphis, where he was mortally wounded. Mrs. Cabell's education was directed by her father. At twelve years of age she had thoroughly read Gibbon, and at fifteen she had accomplished a remarkable course of reading, and was in fluent command of the French and German languages. She accompanied her parents to Cuba, remaining there some time. She spent nearly a year at Niagara, crossing the river repeatedly m the famous "iron basket" which first conveyed men and materials, and was the first female to view the Falls from the bridge before its completion. The years of 1854 and 1855 she spent in Europe, studying history and literature. She spent art of the winters of 1860 and 1861 in Richmond, Va., where, under the guardianship of her kinsman, Hon. A. H. H. Stuart and Hon. John B. Baldwin, the two Union leaders in the convention, she followed the proceedings and heard the views of the men who weighed the measure of secession. When the unhappy decision was reached which precipitated civil war. she returned to her family in Washington. After the battle of Memphis Mrs. Ellet and her daughter were permitted to join and nurse Col. Ellet, who sank rapidly from his wound. When the fleet moved to participate in the siege of Vicksburg. Charles Rivers Ellet, who had first hoisted tile flag in Memphis, begged to accompany it. The decision was left to his sister, who sent the boy to his brief and glorious career. Col. Ellet died in Cairo, 21st June. 1862, his body was carried to Philadelphia, lay in state in Independence Hall, and was interred in Laurel Hill with military MARY VIRGINIA ELLET CABELL. honors. His wife survived him but one week. Charles Rivers Ellet died 29th October, 1862, from exposure and fatigue. The care of the two younger children and of their aged grandmother devolved upon the solitary young girl. After the war, Mary Ellet became the wife of William D. Cabell, of Virginia. In 18S8 they removed with their family of six children to Washington, D. C., and opened a school for girls, which at once won great repute as Norwood Institute, and is now increasingly prosperous. In 1890 Mrs. Cabell aided in organizing a society of the descendants of Revolutionary patriots, the Daughters of the American Revolution. At the first meeting Mrs. Harrison was elected president-general and Mrs. Cabell vice-president-general presiding. At the first Continental Congress of the order, held in Washington 22nd to 24th February, 1892, Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Cabell were unanimously reelected.