Woman of the Century/Missouri H. Stokes
STOKES, Miss Missouri H., temperance worker, born in Gordon county, Ga., 24th July. 1838, in the old home of her maternal grandfather, Stevens, which had been occupied by the missionaries to the Cherokee Indians. Her paternal grandfather, Stokes, was a native of Ireland, who fought on the side of the Colonies in the Revolutionary War, and at its close settled in South Carolina. His family was a large one. The Stevenses were planters, and the Stokeses were professional men. Rev. William H. Stokes, a Baptist clergyman and an uncle of Miss Stokes, edited in 1834-1843 the first temperance paper ever published in the South. Her father was a lawyer and in those pioneer days was necessarily much away from home. He was killed in a railroad accident, while she was yet a child. She was tutored at home until she was thirteen years old, with the exception of several years spent in Marietta, Ga. Her mother and her sister were her teachers. The family moved to Decatur, Ga., where she attended the academy. She then became a pupil of Rev. John S. Wilson, principal of the Hannah More Female Seminary, from which institution she was graduated after a three-year course in the regular college studies. In 1853 she became a member of the Presbyterian Church. She had been religious from childhood, and was early a Bible-reader and Sabbath-school worker. She became interested in foreign missions, from reading the life of the first Mrs. Judson. She showed an early liking for teaching, and after graduating, in 1858, she taught for several years, including those of the Civil War. Her only brother, Thomas J. Stokes, was killed in the battle of Franklin. Tenn. Her mother died soon after the close of the war. Her widowed sister-in-law and little nephew were then added to the household, and she gladly devoted herself to home duties, abandoning all teaching for several years, excepting a music class and a few private pupils. MISSOURI M. STOKES. In 1874 she took charge of the department of English literature and of mental and moral science in Dalton College, which she held till 1877. In 1880 and 1881 she taught a small private school in Atlanta. Ga., and for the next four years she was in charge of the mission day school of the Marietta Street Methodist Church, working earnestly and successfully in that real missionary held. She was at the same time doing good service in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, which she joined in Atlanta in 1880, a member of the first union organized in Georgia. She was made secretary in 1881, and in 1883 she was made corresponding secretary of the State union organized that year. She has held both those offices ever since. She worked enthusiastically in the good cause, writing much for temperance papers, and she was for years the special Georgia correspondent of the "Union Signal." She took an active part in the struggle for the passage of a local option law in Georgia, and in the attempts to secure from the State legislature scientific temperance instruction in the public schools, a State refuge for fallen women, and a law to close the bar-rooms throughout the State. She and her co-workers were everywhere met with the assertion that all these measures were unconstitutional. Miss Stokes was conspicuous in the temperance revolution in Atlanta. She has made several successful lecture tours in Georgia, and she never allowed a collection to be taken in one of her meetings. The last few years have been trying ones to her, as her health, always delicate, has been impaired. Since 1885 she has lived in Decatur with her half-sister, Miss Mary Gay.