Skip to main content
A Woman of the Century:   A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries

January 15 - January 21

Women of the Week

Author, novelist, and playwright Frances Courtenay Baylor, who was born on January 20, 1848, and author and lecturer Lepha Eliza Bailey, who was born on January 21, 1841, this week's Women of the Week   

  • To learn about them by viewing their items, please click on their images.  

  • To read their biographical sketches in A Woman of the Century, please click on the highlighted page numbers to the left of their images.

Frances Courtenay Baylor (2).jpg

BAYLOR, Miss Frances Courtenay

January 20, 1848

author, novelist, and playwright

Fayetteville, AR

p. 66

Author, novelist, and playwright Frances Courtenay Baylor, who was born on January 20, 1848, hailed from Fayetteville, Arkansas.  During her lifetime, she also called San Antonio, Texas, England, and Winchester, Virginia, home. 

She wrote pieces such as "Small Courtesies" in Lippincott's Magazine.  In addition, readers would have found her work in The Atlantic Monthly, The Princeton Review, and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Her "In the Old Dominion" was written for The Atlantic Monthly during 1883, when Frances was living in Winchester, Virginia. 

Frances penned a play, "Petruchio Tamed," early in her career and found success with novels such as On Both Sides and Behind the Blue Ridge.

Her A Woman of the Century profile concludes: "Miss Baylor deservedly ranks high as an author of remarkable powers of observation, of judgment, of humorous comment, and of philosophic generalization"(66).

She married George Barnum in 1896, but quickly became a widow.  Frances passed away in Winchester, Virginia, on October 19, 1920.

Lepha Eliza Bailey.jpg

BAILEY, Mrs. Lepha Eliza

January 21, 1841

author, lecturer, and reformer

Battle Creek, MI

p. 45

Author, lecturer, and reformer Lepha Eliza Bailey was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, on January 21, 1841.  She began her writing career by contributing to newspapers.  Lepha married Lewis Bailey in 1873 and started a family.  They lived in Battle Creek for many years.

Lepha edited Our Age and was a contributor to Grange Visitor.  She was a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, The Sovereigns of Industry, Independent Order of Good Templars, Grangers, National Prohibition Alliance, and the Prohibition Party.

Beginning in the 1880s, delivered temperance lectures throughout the country. In January of 1901, when she was living in New York City and was scheduled to speak in Johnson City, Tennessee, that city's The Comet described Lepha as the National Organizer for the W.C.T.U., praised her achievements, mentioned her work with Frances Willard, and listed positive comments from other newspapers.  The article finished by noting, "If you fail to hear this noted speaker you will miss a rare opportunity."  Later that year, Rev. C. E. Scudder praised her work in Pennsylvania at length in The Pike County Press.  Scudder wrote:

"One could hardly conceive how a human being could put forth such untiring efforts, speaking in colleges and public schools, and holding ladies' parlor meetings during the day, traveling and speaking to crowded houses, frequently so full that standing room was impossible.  Yet her brain never seemed to weary while dwelling upon the all absorbing theme, the crushing out of the liquor traffic.  Her clearness of thought as regards methods, her kindly, though energetic, forcible language, so convincing, won many, to action and duty.  May God send more such lecturers into the whitened field."
When Lepha and her daughter Viola visited her son Victor and his family in Caribou, Minnesota during the first decade of the twentieth century, she learned that the area lacked a church and Sunday school.  Lepha purchased land to summer there, and church services were held on her property. Eventually, she had a church built on the property.

By 1920, Lepha was living with her daughter Viola in Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Florida. Lepha passed away in Lake Worth on May 1, 1924, and was buried in Lake Worth's Pinecrest Cemetery.