Woman of the Century/Melissa Elizabeth R. Banta
BANTA, Mrs. Melissa Elizabeth Riddle, poet, born in Cheviot, a suburb of Cincinnati. O., 27th March, 1834. Her father, James Riddle, was of Scotch descent, and her mother, Elizabeth Jackson, a Quaker, was of English origin. Melissa Elizabeth is the sole daughter of the house. She attended the Wesleyan Female Institute in Cincinnati until her fourteenth year, when, on the removal of the family to Covington, Ky., she was placed in the Female Collegiate Institute of that city, where she was graduated at the age of seventeen years. The same year she made a romantic marriage with Joseph I. Perrin, of Vicksburg, Miss. The young couple lived in Vicksburg, where the bride was a teacher in the public schools. A few days after the first anniversary of the wedding day, 11th September, 1853, Mr. Perrin died of yellow fever. That was the year when the fever was epidemic in the South. Mrs. Banta's recollections of that time are vivid. Her poem, "The Gruesome Rain," embodies a grief, a regret and a hint of the horrors of that season. Mrs. Sophia Fox, hearing of her situation, sent her carriage and servants a distance of twenty-five miles to carry the young widow to her plantation at Bovina, Miss. There she remained for two months, until her parents dared to send for her. Mrs. Fox, with characteristic southern warm-heartedness, had supplied all her needs and refused all proffered remuneration on the arrival of Dr. Mount, the old family physician. After the death of Mr. Perrin, a little daughter was born, but in a few weeks she faded from her mother's arms, and the child-widow took again her place in her father's house. For the sake of an entire change of scene her father disposed of his home and business interests in Covington, temporarily, and removed to Bloomington, Ind. It was there Mrs. Perrin met David D. Banta, to whom she was married 11th June. 1856. Soon after the wedding they went to Covington, Ky., and in October, 1847, to Franklin, Ind., where they have since lived. They MELISSA ELIZABETH RIDDLE BANTA. have a beautiful home, and this second marriage is an ideal one. Mrs. Banta is the mother of two sons and one daughter. She has been twice to Europe and has visited all the notable places in the United States. Her letters of travel are only less charming than her poetry. She inherits her literary talent from her maternal grandmother, who, though not a writer, was a highly intellectual woman.