|Lucy Rose Mallory, circa 1875|
(Oregon Historical Society)
June 20th, 1899
They also said
Persons who think at all for themselves, who are anything beyond mere automatic retinas, or impression-receivers, must sometimes think differently from other persons, and the moment they persist in that we call them a crank.Nevertheless, she persisted.
Lucy Rose Mallory must be counted among our greatest personalities, on the all-time list of Salemites, and she has not got her due.
Though her later life was mostly conducted in Portland, for about a quarter-century during the first half of her adult life she lived in Salem on-and-off, and she was involved in 19th century movements on anti-racism, feminism, temperance, vegetarianism, world peace, and spiritualism. She started her newspaper here. She may not have left an enduring legacy in Salem, but it wasn't for lack of trying, and in her causes she was generally ahead of her time, sometimes in visionary ways. Truly, she was more radical than crank, and we should remember her better.
You might recall the name Lucy Mallory from research on early education for African Americans in Salem. From the Oregon Encyclopedia:
African American artist William P. Johnson had offered in 1861 a scholarship of $500 to one of the schools to allow his daughter-in-law to enroll, but his offer had been rejected. By March 1867, he had collected enough funds from friends and other black families in Salem to open a school with about eight students and possibly some young adults. With $430.75 in hand, he rented a room for $10 a month and engaged a teacher to conduct classes. The schoolroom may have been located at the Congregational Church, whose minister, Obed Dickinson, encouraged African Americans to join his congregation, and the teacher may have been Dickinson’s wife Charlotte, who had been teaching black women in her “kitchen school.” An adult Colored School was opened in January 1868, and those students may have begun their education in the earlier school.A kind of Who's Who on American Women published in 1912 says she started teaching Black children in 1874, but for the moment we should prefer the earlier date in the Oregon Encyclopedia. It is possible she continued teaching past 1871, of course, but we should wait for better evidence.
The Colored School had completed one six-month term when in 1868 the Salem School District opened Little Central School, a $1,500, one-story, two-room structure at the southeast corner of High and Marion Streets. The school was designated for the education of African American students and was adjacent to the larger Central School, where white students attended. The first recorded teachers at Little Central were Lucy Mallory and Marie E. Smith. The Colored School remained at this location until the end of the 1871 school year, when the school was discontinued.
|Progressive, Jim Crow, or a little of both?|
Bits for Breakfast
December 10th, 1930
She was also active in politics. Shortly after Susan B. Anthony's visit here in 1871, in 1874 she was elected an officer in Salem's Women Suffrage Association, and in 1875 elected to a County position.
|The New Northwest|
(February 2, 1874)
|Suffrage meeting with Abigail Scott Duniway|
Lucy's parlors were a frequent site of meetings
Oregonian, April 28th, 1907
In 1896 she debated her husband on money, arguing for silver against Rufus's preference of a gold standard.
|Mallorys on Silver vs. Gold|
Oregon City Courier
October 30th, 1896
The monetary pieces were published in a newspaper she herself published for over a quarter-century, The World's Advance-Thought.
|Ad in the Eugene Guard, March 13, 1886|
|World's Advance-Thought, Vol.2, No.1, March 1887|
(multiple editions archived at IAPSOP)
The World's Advance Thought was a Spiritualist paper and on the March issue from year two, its motto is "Love: The fulfilling of the law that binds atoms, words, and souls."
One collector of it says it covered:
millennialism (the New Era of women), vegetarianism..., prison reform, the single-tax, the labor theory of economic value, opposition to the death penalty, utopian socialism, "polar displacement," Theosophy, Buddhism, Islam..., spiritualism..., and the Shakers.The paper was distributed in Europe, and Leo Tolstoy became a fan, perhaps her most famous reader, who gave praise remarked on and mined often over the years.
|Praise from Tolstoy, Oregon Daily Journal, July 15th, 1907|
|Profile, Oregon Daily Journal, May 28th, 1916|
|Obituary, Oregonian, September 4th, 1920|
|Fred Lockley on Lucy, January 11th, 1915|
I loved 'Captain Jane' from the first time I saw her, and I love her still.It's hard to say anything much about her affective life with Rufus, but it seems significant she writes more about spiritual love, not any embodied love, and the way she talks about Captain Jane, even allowing for the effusiveness of expression in 19th century friendship, is a little ambiguous.
|January 12th, 1915|
|Bits on Lucy Rose and Rufus Mallory|
(June 10, 1932)
When she moved the newspaper to Portland around 1888, it appears she permanently left Salem. That leaves a quarter-century of at least periodic activity here from 1862 to about 1888.
|On a Spiritualist Convention|
Oregonian, September 3rd, 1906
C. A. Reed, who claims to be the oldest veteran in the work, was called and addressed the meeting on, "Does our Labor Pay?"This must be Cyrus A. Reed of the Reed Opera House!
And that is partial evidence for a larger, more interconnected network of Salemites casually or passionately interested in spiritualism and other progressive 19th century causes.
There are many loose ends here. We would like to know more about her teaching, about her suffrage activity, about her literary ambition leading up to starting the newspaper, and about the organization of spiritualists in Salem. The way she appears to have conducted something of a separate household in this period is also interesting. And of course once she moved to Portland there's a lot more to say about her as editor and publisher and organizer of a scene at her "parlors," and also about how her thinking might have changed over the life of World's Advance-Thought. Again, she was more radical than crank. There might be more to say in a future post about some or all of this.
Lucy Rose Mallory probably deserves a full, book-length biography, and certainly she should be remembered better as a significant and laudable Salemite.
Here are a couple of other pieces, focusing on her Portland time:
- "A Century Ago, Portland’s Elite Were Obsessed with the Occult" with a section on the "Mallory Hotel matron"
- "The Original Portland Eccentric," a little freely interpreted beyond the evidence, I think, but very colorful.