Throwback Thursday – Eliza Calvert Hall
This week we’re in downtown Bowling Green at 1353 Chestnut Street. This was once the home of Eliza Calvert Hall, one of the most famous women’s rights leaders of the early 1900s. Celebrated by President Teddy Roosevelt, this Bowling Green native was a visionary ahead of her time.
Born in 1856 in Bowling Green, Lida Obenchain was the daughter of a wealthy Bowling Green businessman. Educated and taught southern hospitality, she used her writing skills to become one of the biggest proponents of women’s rights and suffrage at the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1900, Laura Clay from the Kentucky Equal Rights Association recruited Lida to be the group’s Press Superintendent. During her tenure in office, more than 500 of her news articles were printed across the Commonwealth in favor of women’s rights. The only newspaper in Kentucky that didn’t print the editorials was the Louisville Courier-Journal, as editor henry Watterson was extremely against the suffrage movement.
She wrote under the pen name Eliza Calvert Hall and published several short story collections over the course of two decades. Some of her most famous collections can still be found on eBay and Etsy, especially Aunt Jane of Kentucky, Clover and Bluegrass, The Land of Long Ago, and A Book of Hand-Woven Coverlets.
Her writings reflected on Kentucky living, but within the simplicities of the stories were also undertones of women’s equality and societal changes. Her books reached over one million readers.
Eliza Calvert Hall’s family was reduced to poverty when she was a teenager when her father lost his fortunes. Her family was shamed, but her wisdom and wit proved stronger. She married William Alexander Obenchain, who became President of Ogden College.
The Eliza Calvert Hall historical marker sits on Chestnut Street where her home once stood.