"Pioneer Oregon Suffragist Is Happy," Oregon Journal, October 11, 1912, 14.





Believes Her Life’s Fondest Dream Is Near Realization

[Pictures of Duniway at 78 and 35, as well as a picture of a house]
Above—Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway today and at 35. Below—House in Albany, Or., in which Mrs. Duniway lived about 1865.

WITH a life crowned with a multitude of great and noble deeds and with a mind as bright and clear as it was 60 years ago, Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway is giving and receiving much pleasure by greeting her seventy-eighth birthday anniversary, at her home in Clay street.

Rare indeed is the Oregonian who does not know something of the life and accomplishments of this remarkable woman. The story of her life is an additional proof of the truth of that trite axiom, “truth is stranger than fiction.”—but Mrs. Duniway herself tells it better than anyone else could, so here it is very briefly from her own lips.

“Just after I had passed my seventeenth birthday my father and mother and we children left our home in Illinois and started across the plains with a team of oxen; that was in 1852. My dear mother was stricken with the cholera and died in the Black Hills of Wyoming, leaving her motherless brood to continue their journey west with their father and settle in the wilds of Oregon territory, then compromising [sic] what is now Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

“In 1853 I was married to Mr. Duniway and we settled on a farm in Clackamas county. After four years we sold the Clackamas county farm and purchased what is now known as the Millard-Lonsdale farm, where we lived for five years in much the same fashion as we had in Clackamas county. In all probability, we would have lived and died there as it was a beautiful farm, but for a heavy debt which took the farm and its belongings and left us stranded in the village of Lafayette where my husband became a chronic invalid, the result of an accident with a team, and from which he died a few years later.

“Not knowing how to spell defeat, I opened a private school and boarding house. It being impossible to secure assistance in the home, I would arise at 3 o’clock in the summer and 4 in the winter to care for the house, family and boarders. At 9 o’clock I would open school and teach, with the intermission of noon hour, until 4 in the afternoon, when I would return to cook and otherwise care for my numerous household.

“After four years spent in Lafayette, we sold our belongings and removed to Albany, where I taught for several years. I studied very hard in order to keep ahead of my pupils and after mastering simple mathematics, I managed to conquer algebra and geometry. One of my specialties was my own method of teaching grammar.

Pioneer Advocates of Suffrage

“Finding school teaching not sufficiently remunerative for the needs of my growing family, I sold the school house and embarked in millinery, which I followed for six years with success. When I sold this business I came to Portland and established the New Northwest, a weekly paper; that was in May 1871. I published the paper for 16 years. At the end of that time I gave up active business and have since devoted my time to work in the interests of womankind, being, as everyone knows, a pioneer advocate for suffrage. The very facts and theories for teaching which I was practically ostracized, are the accepted theories of today. Many declared in my younger days that through my teachings I was preparing my children for the penitentiary, but instead, one of my sons is the state printer of Oregon, another is president of the University of Wyoming, another is a successful merchant in New York, still another is associated with the telegram here, and the fifth is a lawyer in this city.

“The great changes in this northwest country and particularly in Portland are almost beyond belief. When I came here there were only a few thousand people in Portland. The growth and expansion of the cities and country of this section has been notable and yet substantial. I have never ceased in my efforts to put women on equal footing with men and I am so happy that now in the sunset of my life my fondest dream is beginning to be realized.”

Mrs. Duniway, whose birthday and anniversary falls on October 22, is to be honored with a reception. Mrs. Duniway is recovering very nicely from a long illness and as she pluckily said: “I expect to be at the reception if I have to be carried. I went to the luncheon for Dr. Anna Shaw the other day and though I could not stand, I just had to talk, so I was like the Dutchman’s hen that ‘set a standing,’ and I ‘stood a sitting.’”


1912 October Permalink
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