Woman of the Century/Rosa Miller Avery
AVERY, Mrs. Rosa Miller, reformer, born in Madison, Ohio, 21st May, 1830. From her maternal grandfather, James McDonald, she inherited a strong love of animals. Cattle-shows and horse-fairs are a special delight to her, and the name of Henry Bergh is immortalized in her calendar of saints. Her father, Nahum Miller, was an insatiable reader of biblical and political history and a man of broad humanitarian views. His love of children was the ruling passion of his life, and he adopted two in addition to live children of his own. His wife cheerfully bore the burden his benevolence imposed upon the household, only hinting, now and then, that "the laws pertaining to property and the holding of children were as oppressive for women as for negroes" Rosa pondered these sayings in her heart, and always speaks of her mother as her inspiration to work for woman's advancement Reared in the atmosphere of such a home, she went forth to radiate the light she had received, and bless the world, but her anti-slavery sentiments and essays met with derision and abuse. Years later two class students confessed to her that her anti-slavery papers induced them to ROSA MILLER AVERY. give up their ambition for the pulpit to study law and politics. They became famous on the battlefield and did signal service throughout the Civil War. She never charged the sin of slavery to the door of the Southern people, but maintained that the spirit of slavery was every where present in any and every form of injustice. It was confined and sectional in the case of the poor blacks, because "Cotton was King" and so controlled New England manufactories, and the manhood of the entire nation paid tribute. Rosa was married ist September, 1853, to Cyrus Avery, of Oberlin, Ohio. During their residence in Ashtabula, Ohio, she organized the first anti-slavery society ever known in that village, and not a clergyman in the place would give notice of its meetings so late as two years before the war; and that, too, in the county home of Giddings and Wade, those well-known apostles of freedom. The leading men of wealth and influence were so indignant because the churches would not read a notice of her missionary effort for our black heathen, that they counseled together and withdrew from their respective churches and built a handsome brick church edifice for the congregational sentiment of the town, which was decidedly anti-slavery. During the years of the war Mrs. Avery's pen was actively engaged in writing for various journals on the subject of union and emancipation, under male signatures, so as to command attention. Her letters and other articles attracted the notice of Gov. Richard Yates, of Illinois, James A. Garfield, James Redpath and Lydia Maria Child, all of whom sent her appreciative letters, with their portraits, which are still preserved as sacred souvenirs of those stormy days. During ten years' residence in Erie, Pa., besides writing occasional articles for the newspaper world, she disseminated her views on social questions, love, matrimony and religion in romance to the high-school graduates, of which her son was a member, in their organ, the "High School News," over the pen-name, "Sue Smith." work which produced much and rich fruition in the years following. About that time her husband was appointed by the Young Men's Christian Association of Erie as visitor to the criminals confined in the city prison. Mrs Avery usually assisted her husband in this work and became much interested in the underlying motives and allurements to crime. As the result of her investigation, she has ever since maintained, "that there is not a criminal on this broad earth but that there lies back of him a crime greater than he represents and for which he, we, and everyone suffers in a greater or less degree." For the last fourteen years Mr. and Mrs. Avery have resided in Chicago. Mrs. Avery's special labors have been largely for social purity and suffrage work. The many and ably written articles and responses to the opponents of franchise for women, which have appeared from time to time in the Chicago "Inter-Ocean" under her signature, have sown much seed broadcast in favor of equal suffrage and have borne much fruit in favor of municipal and school suffrage. Mrs. Avery is very domestic in her tastes, and few can equal her as a caterer or excel her in domestic economy. Her "Rose Cottage," facing Lake Michigan, is an ideal home.