Emelda Junkin Donaldson (1840-1922) wrote the following article. She presented this speech {written here in part} at the George Washington Banquet at the Fort Steuben Hotel (Steubenville) on the first celebration of the D.A.R. in response to the toast to “Women of the Civil War.” Sixty-one years ago last Tuesday, February 14, 1861 a most remarkable family appeared in Steubenville. They reached Steubenville at 2:30 in the afternoon. The entire countryside, an immense crowd of citizens, also many Virginians came across the river to greet the President – elect, the wonderful man who became the outstanding figure, the greatest man that the nineteenth century produced, Mr. Lincoln. He came out of the car and was greeted with the wildest enthusiasm.

Every local citizen wanted to show Lincoln’s patriotism after his visit to Steubenville… Informal meetings were held and there was great excitement. Meeting places were thrown open and volunteers began to sign the roll and enlist. Of course the women wanted to do their part, and in the midst of intense interest, the Women’s Soldier’s Aid Society came into being. Our first meetings were held in an office building, which stood, on Market Street just below Munker’s store. It had been the private residence of Mr. James Means…we promptly went to work with absolutely no idea of what was expected of us. The boys and men were volunteering rapidly, and our effort was the arranging for the presentation of a flag to the first company that would leave. Mrs. Mary K. Means presented the flag, which contained 35 stars.  It was received by Captain Anson G. McCook, Mother Beatty having previously presented each one with a copy of the New Testament… The Soldier boys volunteered for the limit of the call, which was for one hundred days, and there were people who told them they would not be gone three weeks. With manufacturing plants in our midst for making jeans and all woolen goods as well as a cotton factory, there need be no delay for we had much of the needed materials right at hand. An election was held and Mrs. Thomas L. L Jewett was elected President, Mrs. W.R. Allison and later Mrs. James Sterling, Vice Presidents; Miss Jennie Davidson, secretary, Miss Mattie Sterling and Miss Lizzie Turnbull (afterwards Mrs. Major Sarratt), treasurers, and executive committee composed of Mrs. Fred Fry, Mrs. Mary Jane Beall, Mrs. Barr, Miss Alice McDonald, Mrs. Dr. Semple, Mother Oliver and Mary Jane (Poll) Hull.

The schoolgirls came in between sessions to help along. Ella Allison, afterwards, Mrs. Torrence, Sue Barr, who married Mr. Warnock, Benn Hawkins, Sallie Collier, Emma Elliott, now Mrs. Hayes of Chicago, Allie Oliver, now Mrs. Hutchins of California, and many others. Mrs. Rebecca Hammond, Miss Ellen Mary Junkin, accompanied by Mr. Hammond in response to an appeal from Gen. Kelly, went to Grafton, Virginia (now WV) and did some good service in the hospital in caring for the sick and wounded, remaining several months.

Considering that almost everything, even the uniforms had to be made by hand, our cupboards and closets were ransacked for linens and muslin’s which we scraped into lint. Tailors cut the trousers and blouses. It seems a wonder that there were any records, and yet, Mrs. Capt. O’Neal, Fannie’s mother, Mrs. Dunbar, Aunt Cindy Hartford, Mrs. Ralph Huscroft and others had records of shirt making of which anyone might be proud. We needed a permanent meeting where we could store our jams, jellies, and fruits as they would be brought in and made ready for the hospitals so we met for years in the Draper building next to Grant School.

Every one hundred days boys would pass through Steubenville on their way to be mustered out at Columbus. Crowds would gather at the station carrying hot coffee and eatables for their supper.

Some of the boy’s reenlist for the war was still on, and the old ship of state was still in great danger and the Great Commander called for more men. Aside from the knitting and sewing, conserving of jellies and fruits during the years of conflict there were lonely hearts to cherish as the days were going by. It was necessary for the city to be districted and visitors appointed to look after the comfort of families where the breadwinner had gone into the army. Thirteen dollars per month Soldier’s pay in those days did not always keep the wolf from the door. These visitors were expected to give advice, secure employment for those able to work, letters were to be written, and there were many perplexing questions to be resolved. But be it recorded that these women who had given their husbands, sons, brothers and dear ones to fight for these United States in most cases manifested a spirit of resignation and courage which was hardly to be expected in those trying times. The homes of the soldiers were visited systematically and regularly by what was known as the Civilian Relief. A memorial tablet was dedicated in our cemetery in 1918 to the women whose lives have been immortalized by their service to the Soldiers of the Union whose memory can never die. It is a tribute to the loyal, patriotic women of Steubenville, and upon its marble base is inscribed this sentiment, “the world is better because they sojourned here – working in Aid Societies.”

In making up the roll of honor of course we give praise to the noble sons, brothers, husbands and others who marched away to the inspiring strains of the fife and drum. It was Fred Grant who expressed this eloquent sentiment, “to the mothers who gave their sons, to the wives who gave their husbands, to the sisters who gave their brothers, to the women who became nurses, to those who, in the privacy of their homes, gave their earnings and the work of their hands – to one and all let us erect a noble memorial of national character, and in payment of a long delayed debt, let our memorial be more beautiful than any memorial known to man. Let it stand for all that women have done in American History.

Bob Burdette quoted a verse of song he heard his mother sing, “if I were King of France or still better Pope of Rome, I’ll have no fighting men abroad, no weeping maids at home. All the world would be at peace, and if Kings would show their might, I’d have them that make the quarrels be the only ones to fight.”

Funds were needed to carry on our Soldier’s Aid Society, and from time to time every honest scheme known or that could be devised to extract money from our citizens was resorted to in order that our treasury might be replenished. Our festival in the old Kilgore Hall (now the Rex Theater) was given for the benefit of the Soldiers and Sailors Monumental Association.

Many, many women won national fame. Mother Holiday spent much time in the tented fields and in hospitals ministering to the sick and suffering; her pathetic reports would move the stoutest heart to tears. I would love to tell you about Kady Brownell, or Miss Anna Maria Ross and many others… The story of the Civil War will never be fairly written if the work of the women is untold. Their experiences are varied including sufferings and adventure.

“The bravest battle that ever was fought,

Shall I tell you where and when?

On the maps of the world you will find it not,

 ‘Twas fought by the mothers of men!”