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Mary Osmond ( 1843 - 1921 )


Posted By: Barry Mateer (email)
Date: 12/1/2017 at 12:51:40

After a lingering illness Miss Mary Osmond answered the call of the death angel at the Osceola Sanitarium at 2:15 a.m. last Sunday. Since last August she had been confined to her room at the Sanitarium. The funeral services held at the Christian church in the city Tuesday afternoon were largely attended. The floral offering was beautiful and the services comprised of a sermon by the Rev. Mr. Ross, the memorial services by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and the selections rendered by the ladies quartette were all fitting tributes to the beautiful life of the beloved deceased. Following the last sad rites the body was taken to the Hopeville cemetery where interment was made.

The following sketch of the life of Mary Osmond taken from the Blue Book of Iowa Women, was read by the Rev. Ross.

Miss Mary Osmond, for eighteen years a magazine editor and for four years a newspaper editor, and one among the first women in Iowa elected to the office of county superintendent of schools, was born near Philadelphia. She was the daughter of William R. and Ann Samms Osmond, coming when too young to have any memory of it to Iowa. Miss Osmond lived the life of frontier people all poor people and all working hard – laying the foundation for Iowa’s prosperity. In her girlhood she was blessed by having access to books and the best magazines and newspapers. She read everything, educating herself in a large measure that way, being possessed of a vigorous mind and an insatiable desire to learn. Her father “entered” a farm in Hopeville in Clarke county, and there was little of primitive farm work that she did not learn. Se attended the Southwestern Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, for several months and began teaching school.

For several years she taught in the country school, then in the graded schools of Osceola and Murray. She was a remarkably successful teacher and was elected on the Republican ticket as county superintendent of school in Clarke county and held the office for two terms. She was the first woman to hold the office in his county and among the first elected in the state. During all of those years of teaching she had been writing stories and sketches and news for various periodicals. At the end of her term of office as superintendent she decided to take up newspaper work as a vocation and became associate editor of the Osceola Sentinel. She later became sole editor and proprietor of the Osceola Gazette, a paper she started herself and ran for fifteen months, when it was merged in the Osceola Sentinel of which she was then half owner. For three years she was editor of this staunch republican paper. It was at this time that the editorship of the P.E.O. Record literally “fell into her hands.” She was elected editor without her knowledge at the state P.E.O. convention in 1890

In 1891 she took the magazine, then in its third year, to Osceola and published it here for three years. She gave up the work for a few years but in 1898 became its editor and had charge of it continuously until January 1914. During those years she gave all her time to the magazine, having a knowledge of all the details of printing and publishing and having at some time or another done everything on the magazine from writing editorials to inking the rollers. She was a practical newspaper woman with a knowledge far beyond the average man in that business. While she was editing the P.E.O. magazine, quite unconsciously to herself, she was doing something else – she was making friends in that great sisterhood of splendid women. Until today she has a circle of friends as wide as this nation;. When she resigned as editor of the magazine the sisterhood in appreciate made her a life member of the national convention and of the Iowa convention. She belonged to the Iowa Press and Author’s Club of Des Moines, to the Research Club, the Chautauqua Circle and W.R.C. of Osceola, and to the P.E.O. sisterhood. She was a member of the Christian church. For years she has believed sincerely in equal suffrage and has advocated the justice of its principles. Born of a race of abolitionists and war-haters, her sympathies inherited, seem to have turned to the love of animals, and no cause was nearer her heart than the humane treatment of animals.

Tribute to Mary Osmond
Editor Abbott

Just a word in appreciation of the life of Miss Osmond, my former partner in ownership of The Sentinel.

She truly lived a life of earnest endeavor and high ideals. With the handicap of pioneer days, such as obtained in Iowa in the 60’s and the 70’s, she developed an intellect that studied deeply in all that was truest and best. A love of books, a love for education and the refining things about her, characterized a long, useful career.

Her sympathies were always with the weak and helpless. Thoughtless abuse of dumb animals aroused her kindly feelings, and she was quick to condemn these acts.

Always a student, she followed closely the progress of affairs, both in state and literature, from her earliest girlhood days. She had pronounced views on Shakespeare works when there were few copies of these poems and fewer libraries in southern Iowa.

I read with much interest the biographical sketch published in our columns. Those were lively days in Iowa politics. A woman editor was a novelty then, but Miss Osmond’s many friends and her reputation as a scholar carried her name as editor for years.

The local politicians became restless under the peculiar turns of sentences and phrases used that betrayed a woman’s writings and sometimes the attitude of independence from domination of party leaders and finally a change was made.

In her long career as editorial writer she did much for the cause of women. She did much for the community in which she lived and was an inspiration to those with whom she came in contact.
F.L. Guches. Springfield, Mo. March 5, 1921
Osceola Sentinel March 10th, 1921


Clarke Obituaries maintained by David Dinham.
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