The BATTELLES had a grand big house and yard adjoining the lot where grandfather's walled garden had been. There were pear trees, plum trees, cherry trees and a long grape arbor; a vegetable garden, and a grand big barn with hay mow full of sweet smelling hay, where the children rolled and tumbled and played. "I spy"; bins for corn and feed of all kinds for the stock where the children loved to hide; a large cow barn with a whirling cock ornamenting the weather vane atop the little cupola; a carpenter shop with chopping block, saw horse, as well as tools of all kinds. This wonderful yard was a regular paradise for all children on the block.
There were six little Battelles when I was young. In the early summer when the pink and white cherries were ripe, the tall trees were as full of children as blackbirds, each trying to outstrip the other in stripping the trees of their luscious fruit. The pits were carefully preserved by the girls who scratched their fingers to the bone grinding the cherry pits on a stone to make tiny links for a necklace that was seldom finished before the cherries were gone.
Before the sun was well up on warm summer mornings the ground under the fruit trees was carefully investigated by the neighborhood children. The earliest riser caught the windfalls. Seldom was a full bunch of grapes left to ripen on the vines. As soon as a grape showed the first flush of purple, it was promptly eaten by an impatient young one.
Adjoining the carpenter shop was "a little house of great importance." A sturdy Virginia creeper twined its branches protectingly over the arbor, screening the entrance. "The little house of great importance" was big and roomy and could accommodate children of all ages and all sizes. As many as wished could find shelter and relief within its cool, dark interior at one time. There children were wont to whisper their deepest secrets, settle quarrels and hatch mischief.
A small venturesome boy whose name I dare no mention, one day conceived the idea of measuring the size of his head. He tried first one hole and then another until he found one that fitted his head so tightly that he could not free himself.
There was great excitement on the block. Mothers came from all corners to find our what the commotion was all about. There was talk of getting our the Fire Department. Someone suggested sawing a board loose, but the mother of the screaming young one was afraid that they would saw his ears off. After much argument on the part of the women, a practical mother solved the problem by advising them to grease the boy's head, and grease it they did. Out popped the poor little head, none the worse for his curiosity but he was a sadder and wiser child. His punishment was "sufficient unto the day there of."
Ellen Battelle Dietrick was the great-granddaughter of pioneers John and Mary Greene and the granddaughter of Ebenezer and Mary Greene Battelle. We are grateful to Dr. Ann Gordon of Rutgers for providing the following obituaries.
This is from the Woman’s Journal Saturday, Nov. 30, 1895. According to Dr. Ann Gordon, “this paper, from Boston, was the largest of the women’s newspapers at the time.”
The sudden and unexpected death of Mrs. Ellen Battelle Dietrick, on Monday, November 25, the result of a surgical operation, will touch a wide circle of sympathizing friends and admirers. To an attractive personality was added an affectionate nature, an amiability that could not be disturbed, a brightness that made her a delightful companion. Her genial presence was pervasive, and banished formality and stiffness. People meeting for the first time, who knew her only through her writings, were invariably surprised and charmed. The contrast between her trenchant and aggressive articles, full of keen wit and clever reasoning, and the cordial woman who welcomed you with unaffected warmth and personal interest, was a wonder to strangers. “Is it possible,” said a friend to me last summer, “that that sweet lady is Mrs. Ellen Battelle Dietrick?”
Coming to New England from Covington, KY, where her useful and active philanthropic work distinguished her, Mrs. Dietrick found a congenial field for larger and more effective effort. Already committed earnestly to the advocacy of the political liberation of women, she threw herself into the suffrage cause with ardor and enthusiasm. She possessed broad sympathies, clear insight and dialectic skill. She penetrated and exposed fallacies with an unsparing pen, but the attack was always against what she considered wrong, with no spice of personal feeling. Although a hard hitter, she received blows with an imperturbable good-nature. If her numerous and socially unknown antagonists could have been thrown into her company, they would have counted the experience a gain, and have loved their “dearest foe.” She could debate and differ in conversation in the most pronounced and lively way, for her frankness was childlike, and yet never suggest personal antagonism or ruffle the serenity of the atmosphere. Such a blessed temperament is given to few.
Mrs. Dietrick maintained a native and refreshing independence. She never reflected opinions. What she saw she reported uncompromisingly. She read omnivoursly on social and political topics. Born into the narrowness of sect, she emancipated herself, and followed reason where it led her. Made conscious of the cramped and stunted conditions surrounding women, she adopted the suffrage cause for her especial work. To it she brought an enthusiasm and mastery which made her a formidable champion. She was ever ready to break a lance against privilege, and the frequent provocation to do battle for her sex prompted her to exceed her strength, and was the proximate cause of her illness. During the referendum agitation her newspaper correspondence was excessive. At the same time she prepared and delivered a course of lectures, and wrote a yet unpublished book.
For several years Mrs. Dietrick has spent her summers at Osterville, Cape Cod, a valued and popular member of the Wianno Colony, which has included Elizabeth B. Chase, Rev. Anna Shaw, Moncure D. Conway, the Wellingtons, Tolmans, Hallowells and other progressive and reformatory people. It was the custom for many summers to meet at Mrs. Chase’s “Sabbatia Cottage” every Sunday evening to listen to a lecture or discussions on current topics and participated in by a multitude of delightful speakers. In the memories of those who have been privileged to share in these uplifting occasions, Mrs. Dietrick will ever remain an interesting and active figure, always a contributor to the debate, and an influence that made for friendliness and social ease.
The friends of woman suffrage cannot fail to hold the name of Mrs. Dietrick among the precious helpers of the reform. She spent her ripest years in its service. Her circle of personal friends will mourn the vacancy that cannot be filled. Her husband and daughters, whose sympathy and support were never failing, will find the world a different place in the absence of the loyal wife and mother, who made their home a centre of sweetness and right. Wm. Lloyd Harrison
From the Boston Journal, published as Boston Morning Journal, 11/27/1895, page 2:
Ellen Battelle Dietrick
Ellen Battelle Dietrick, aged 48, wife of W. A. Dietrick of Cambridge, died Monday afternoon.
Mrs. Dietrick had for many years devoted her energies to various causes for the advancement of women and was widely known as a contributor to the press. She came from well known New England stock, being a descendant of Gen. Nathaniel [sic Nathanael] Greene. Her father was Rev. Gordon Dietrick, [Typed a printed, but this should be Rev. Gordon Battelle.] who was prominent in the movement which the loyal section of Virginia was set apart as a new state. About 25 [Type is not clear.] years ago she became the wife of Mr. Dietrick, their home at first being in Covington, KY. Here Mrs. Dietrick established a woman’s industrial and educational union, a home for old women, a day nursery, a cooking school and a kindergarten.
Seven years ago Mr. and Mrs. Dietrick moved to Boston, and for the two years past lived in Cambridge. Mrs. Dietrick had been a Director and Vice President in the Woman’s Industrial and Educational Union of Boston and was identified with the New England Women’s Club and the New England Women’s Press Association. She had also of late been Corresponding Secretary of the Women’s National Suffrage Association. She leaves two daughters.
From Worcester Daily Spy, 11/28/1895, Page 10, location: Worcester, Massachusetts
The death of Mrs. Ellen Battelle Dietrick comes not only as a severe shock to her large circle of personal friends, but also as a great loss to the many, all over the continent, who, for years, have looked to her as a pillar of the woman suffrage movement, and a devoted friend to the advancement of women along all avenues of influence. Until within two months, she had enjoyed good health, and it was only two weeks go that it became known to her family, that she was dangerously ill.
Though born in Clarksburg, VA, Mrs. Dietrick came of New England stock. Gen. Nathaniel [sic] Greene being one of her ancestors. In Covington, KY, where she lived for nearly 20 years after her marriage, she established the Woman’s Industrial and Educational Union, a kitchen garden, a nursery, and an old woman’s home, all of which institutions are flourishing now. Since coming to Boston seven yeas ago, Mrs. Dietrick has served as a director and vice president of the women’s Industrial and Educational Union of Boston, and has been identified with the New England Women’s Club and the New England Women’s Press Association. As chairman of the committee of correspondence of the National Woman Suffrage Association, she has taken an active part in promoting woman suffrage and has written frequently and well in its interests. Most of her productions have been contributed to the press of New England and New York. She had also written several books, which remain in manuscript form. One volume, “Families of Jake and John,” had been published.
Mrs. Dietrick leaves a husband, William A. Dietrick, and two daughters, the elder of whom is a teacher of physical culture in London.
From Woman’s Exponent, Per Dr. Gordon, “This was the newspaper of Mormon women. who advocated woman suffrage.” Dec. 15, 1895:
Ellen Battelle Dietrick
The sudden and unexpected death of Mrs. Ellen Battelle, on the 25th of November last, resulting from a surgical operation, was a great shock to those who knew and loved her. The equal suffrage cause has lost in Mrs. Dietrick one of its ablest workers. Educated, cultivated and refined, Mrs. Dietrick was well calculated to support logically and from the highest standpoint the principle of equality of sex in which she so firmly believed and which she advocated with such courage in the face of the strongest opposition, yet without any display of antagonism or personal feeling. William Loyd Garrison in the Woman’s Journal of Boston says, “She was ever ready to break a lance against privilege, and the frequent provocation to do battle for her sex prompted her to exceed her strength and was the proximate cause of her illness.”
“During the referendum agitation her newspaper correspondence was excessive. At the same time she prepared and delivered a course of lectures, and wrote a yet unpublished book.”
Contrary to the general idea of women doing public service, Mrs. Dietrick was a loyal and devoted wife, and a tender and sympathetic mother. She leaves a husband and daughters, to mourn her, to them, irreparable loss; but they will have the cordial sympathy of all who knew Mrs. Dietrick’s great worth to the world of humanity.
Mrs. Dietrick was a native of Kentucky [sic], but moved to the North, when she became deeply interested in active work for women, and in Boston and its vicinity she found a congenial and helpful atmosphere. Mrs. Josephine K. Henry of Kentucky in her glowing tribute to Mrs. Dietrick says, “Since she won the title of ‘the Daniel Webster of the suffrage cause’ we Kentuckians, who only loaned her to Massachusetts, have taken special pride in the magnificent service Mrs. Dietrick rendered in the conflict for woman’s freedom,” she also adds later in her article, “The graceful symmetry of her charming personality left not a single angle, while her natural gifts and mental attainments rendered her at once the grandest type of American womanhood, and a stateswoman worthy of presidential honors. With a reverent love we pay this poor tribute to this apostle of liberty.”
Several of the Utah delegations of ladies when in the East have had the pleasure of knowing this talented and genial lady, whose wit and brilliancy, as well as her warm and tender heart and perfect manners, attracted them to her, and they will have many remembrances of her cordial greetings and kind expressions of interest in Utah affairs.
Only last winter when in Washington attending the National Council of Women, the write recalls with what enthusiasm she alluded to the near approach of statehood for Utah, and inquired as to the prospects for equal suffrage in the Constitution. When answered that it was fully expected, as both political parties had declared for it in their platform, she spoke enthusiastically of visiting here in the near future, in fact she expected to come with Miss Anthony and Miss Shaw in May when the National Suffrage Conference was held in this city.
Mrs. Dietrick was a charming woman and a delightful speaker, she had a good voice, a fine presence and her language was simply perfect.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton says, “Those who knew Ellen Battelle Dietrick best, who had listened to her scholarly lectures, and read her logical writings in journals and magazines of the day, can appreciate her loss to the public; but none of us can estimate the loss of such a presence to her family and friends.
We counted Mrs. Dietrick among our personal friends, we have had a number of letters from her, and she interested herself sufficiently in our work to become a subscriber for our little paper, and mentioned it favorably and most kindly. E. B. W.
Ellen Battelle Dietrick’s death was also noted in the Boston Herald, the Boston Evening Transcript, and the Boston Globe.
Refer to pages 94 and 95 of Shall We Gather at the River? The Methodist church in Zanesville that C. D. Battelle served in briefly: