Open main menu

FUSSELL, Miss Susan, educator, army nurse and philanthropist, born in Kennett Square, Pa., 7th April, 1832, and died in Spiceland, Ind., in 1889. Her parents were Dr. Bartholomew and Lydia Morris Fusscll, both of old Quaker families, and both in advance of their time in intelligence and ideas. The daughter Susan was the woman of the house in her early years, as her mother died when she was only a child. The death of the mother broke up the home cirle. Susan, when fifteen years old, began to teach school, and from that time she was her own supporter. In 1861 her oldest brother, then living in Fall Creek. Ind., entered the Union Army as a volunteer, and she offered her companionship in his home so long as her brother should be at>sent. She was thus introduced to western life, resuming her occupation as a teacher and continuing until 1862. By that time the Civil War had grown to vast proportions. A call came for more nurses for the army hospitals in the South, and Susan Fussell at once volunteered. She started south in April, 1862, and under the auspices of the Indiana Sanitary Committee she went to their station in Memphis. The nature of her work there may be judged from the fact that one-hundred-twenty sick were under her personal care ; that for sixty of these she was to see that a special diet was MYRTLE E. FURMAN.jpgMYRTLE E. FURMAN. prepared; that in addition she had the giving out of the food to be prepared for all, with a personal supervision of all the medicines and stimulants administered. In Memphis eight hospitals had been fitted up preparatory to the siege of Vicksburg. Her brother, under General Grant, had charge of the engineering operations of that siege, and until Vicksburg had fallen Susan Pussell remained at her post in Memphis, a period of eight months. A much needed rest of five, weeks followed, and then she was sent to Louisville. Ky. She labored in other hospitals in Tennessee and in Jeffersonville, Ind. She became sick, and her brother removed her to Fall Creek, Ind. Restored to health, she again entered the service and remained until the war ended. She then devoted her attention to soldiers' orphans' homes. George Merritt, of Indianapolis, Ind., hoping that the Suite would adopt the "Family Plan." if it saw the experiment, resolved to establish such a home at his own expense, and he requested Susan Fussell to take charge of it. She entered upon the work in December, 1865. and continued until the children were grown and settled in life, a period of eleven years. Miss Fussell was teacher, seamstress, florist and horticulturist for the family. After a time the Soldiers' Home Association purchased the Knightstown. Ind., Home, ami the Family Home of Mr. Merritt was invited to use a cottage on the grounds. The Government, while not adopting Mr. Merritt's plan, assumed the support of the children, but Mr. Merritt still continued to employ Miss Fussell. He further manifested his appreciation by bestowing upon her the remainder of the sum he had set apart for the maintenance of his family home. In 1877, to secure additional school advantages, Miss Fussell removed her family to Spiceland, Ind. With that change of residence the government support ceased, but the children's pensions, hitherto untouched, were made available for their education. Four of the children were married from their home in Spiceland. A legacy bequeathed to Miss Fussell by a relative of her mother greatly w idened her opportunities for doing food. She secured a sufficient number of acres of and to supply a bounteous home. During the first year of her residence in Spiceland, Miss Fussell, impressed with the importance of good, pure home influences in rearing children to be honest, useful men and women, applied to the county commissioners for the pauper children of Henry county. Her request was for a long time held under consideration. Fending the decision, she determined to secure the establishment of a school in which feeble-minded children might be taught. To gain that end, she promised to secure the needed statistics, if the representative in the Indiana Stale legislature would present the bill. She fulfilled her promise, and under the care of Charles Hubbard the bill was secured, and the Knightstown Home for the Feeble-Minded is the monument of her work. After two years the county commissioners of Henry county agreed to permit Miss Fussell to take the children from the almshouse, provided she would furnish a home and board, clothe, nurse and educate them for twenty-three cents each per day. So earnest was she to secure for the experiment a fair trial, that she consented to the unjust and ungenerous terms. The manliness of the county would not long endure this, and the sum was speedily raised to twenty-five cents, and finally to thirty. Thus was begun the home for the unfortunate children in Spiceland. Its success is now assured, and other homes of a similar character throughout the State are largely due to the influence of Miss Fussell. She died in Spiceland, mourned by thousands. She had been elected an honorary member of one of the Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, and six of the members were chosen as her pall-Karers. She was interred in the Friends' Burial Ground, in Fall Creek, Ind. She was a member of the Friends' Society and always valued her right of membership, but she belonged to mankind and knew no bounds of sect in doing good.