Thursday, June 18, 2020

Lucy Rose Mallory: Publisher, Feminist, and Spiritualist

Lucy Rose Mallory, circa 1875
(Oregon Historical Society)
"earnest sucker"?
June 20th, 1899
After she'd been away from Salem for a little over a decade, publisher Lucy Rose Mallory, the Capital Journal reported, was said by some to be "an earnest sucker after the good...[and] a crank."

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.

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.
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.

Progressive, Jim Crow, or a little of both?
Bits for Breakfast
December 10th, 1930
Though in 1930 the school could be described as a "Jim Crow" school, there is reason to think Rev. Obed and Charlotte Dickinson were much more progressive on race, and Mallory was likely also.

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)
We should assume more or less continuous political activity. Once in Portland, she had an office and "parlor" that provided important and woman-operated meeting space for multiple organizations and causes. That she offered a place to meet might be one of her very most important contributions.

Suffrage meeting with Abigail Scott Duniway
Lucy's parlors were a frequent site of meetings
Oregonian, April 28th, 1907
Towards the very end of the state campaign in 1912, I didn't find any notice of her celebrating with Abigail Scott Duniway, and perhaps her advocacy had dwindled or others had surpassed her. Her spiritualism and newspaper had been her first priority, not suffrage. But even in a secondary position, there is evidence still for over a quarter-century of suffrage advocacy.

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
Rufus Mallory was a prominent politican and lawyer. He was an Oregon Representative and Speaker of the House, represented Oregon in Congress for one term, and for about a decade was United States District Attorney. Earlier, in the 1865 murder of Daniel Delaney (and here on the Delaney House outside Turner), he had also prosecuted George Beale and George Baker, who were found guilty of the murder and hanged downtown.

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
In 1886 she'd started it in Salem, from an office in the Reed Opera House. It is interesting to imagine, then, that she must have been around Leo Willis occasionally. It's hard to think of two more different characters in Salem at this time.

World's Advance-Thought, Vol.2, No.1, March 1887
(multiple editions archived at IAPSOP)
Publishing in Salem did not last, and by the issue of Vol. 3, No. 7, in December, 1888, the newspaper was published from Portland. 

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
She was well off, with her husband had built the Mallory Hotel (now a Sondland property, interestingly) and by the end of her life was a notable character in Portland.

Profile, Oregon Daily Journal, May 28th, 1916

Obituary, Oregonian, September 4th, 1920
It is hard to say exactly how long she lived in Salem. In a couple of biographical notes written by former Salemite Fred Lockley, she says that Rufus had married her at 13 and she was 15 when gave birth to son Elmer, and it appears that Rufus lived and worked in Portland and elsewhere during Lucy's period of activity here in Salem. It seems likely they had separate households for at least some periods, and Rufus' location and residence does not look like a reliable guide to her residence. Her mother also had died in childbirth, she described her stepmother as "cruel," and it would not be surprising if she saw marriage and family as especially perilous to women, even if it was also a way to escape the stepmother and any other problems or dangers.

Fred Lockley on Lucy, January 11th, 1915
On the second day of the Lockley piece, she talks about an enduring friendship with Captain Jane, whom Mallory described as "a woman in man's apparel."
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
A Salem "Bits" column from 1934 also hints at separate households.

Bits on Lucy Rose and Rufus Mallory
(June 10, 1932)
In this look back, Hendricks is a little patronizing about her "literary flare" and "spritely magazine," an unworthy instance of pot meeting kettle by the "Bits man." But it does also give some locations and further detail on the Mallorys Salem activities.

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
Mallory's ties to the Reed Opera House are also interesting. In 1906 at a "session" of the State Spiritualists Association,
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:

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