Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Women's Equality Day

Me, as Dick Cheney

Activism is in my blood. Really. And along the female line on my mother's side – the Campbell/Schindlers. It began for me with feminism, but I was steeped in that so early that I didn't even know to call it “activism.” It was simply what I learned at my mother's knee. 

My mother, Claire Schindler Collier, a born feminist

When the Feminist Movement came along in the early 70's, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Didn't everyone know that stuff? Of course, I had more to learn, but youth often thinks it knows everything.

Julia and Ellen, more activists in the family

Last weekend The Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women held a public event for Women's Equality Day. It was all about getting women to not only vote, but to run for office. It was not very well-attended (what's new?) and there were few men. Susan Chunco and I were tabling for the Green Party and our female presidential candidate, Jill Stein. The Green Party has run a woman for president in the last three elections!

Jill Stein for President, Green Party

The gathering gave me an opportunity to share the activist/feminist history of my family. At some point during the 1870's, my great-great-grandmother, Rachel Hutchinson Campbell (born in Scotland) took two of her daughters to hear Henry Ward Beecher. He was an abolitionist, who also supported women's suffrage and temperance, as well as being the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Rachel was there because she was a supporter of the temperance movement. It was primarily a women-led movement because drunk men make very poor husbands!

Rachel Hutchinson Campbell

Her daughter, my great-grandmother Isabelle, was so taken with Beecher's talk that she, along with her sister, followed him back to his hotel and engaged him in conversation for a couple of hours in the lobby. And thus, a suffragist was born!

Saturday's event was the perfect opportunity to pull out my blow-up of Isabelle Campbell Schindler marching with other suffragists in Connecticut (photo undated). She was the hit of the day. Many women had their pictures taken posing with the suffragists – after all, Women's Equality Day was made possible by their struggle. The Press Democrat sent a reporter and he took our picture and that's what made it into the Sunday paper to illustrate the event.

Here's the link to the article and photo:

You can tell from my blog and from my Facebook page that I love to take photographs and have an immense collection of my work. I come by it honestly because my family has a huge collection of family photographs – more on my mother's side, but plenty on both. The earliest portrait of my great-grandmother Isabelle was taken during the Civil War. Her older (immigrant!) brothers fought in the war. One of them earned the Medal of Honor for action at the Battle of Vicksburg. (I have ancestors on both sides in this war.)

Isabelle during the Civil War

Before marrying, Isabelle was a teacher. She went on to become a speaker for the Suffrage Movement – in addition to raising seven children (two others died in infancy) all across the country because her Unitarian minister husband, John, moved them a lot. She was a much loved mother judging by the writings by her children that I have. They called her “Mumpsie.”

Isabelle and John with all of their children
My grandfather, John, is the young boy in the middle

The only picture I have of her in her role as suffragist is the one I blew up and take with me to events. I also have the frayed remnants of a “Votes for Women” sash! Written on the back of the photo is:

Miss Fanny Lawson – a little NYC girl, who is dubbed “The Little Mouse” but who does good canvassing
Miss Hare – leader of the county and principal of one of the Troy (NY) schools
Mrs. Elsie Benedict of Colorado, leader of the squad she brought here
Mrs. Hovine, whose place I am to take in this county
(Isabelle Schindler) It is “I”. Be not afraid.
Miss Freeman, local worker
Mrs. May Belle Morgan, southern beauty
Miss Freeman, local worker

Two of her daughters, my great-aunts Jessie and Helen never married and lived their lives outside the norm. Both worked – Jessie taught English and I have her editions of Shakespeare's plays (with margin notes) and Helen did a number of things, including working as a “spy” for her father and brothers' detective agency.

After my great-grandmother died in 1929, my great-grandfather, John Franklin Schindler, went on to fight to abolish the death penalty; just one of the causes he worked on. He traveled extensively speaking and writing.

In the early 1930's, a letter of his was published in The New York Times predicting that, if allowed to carry guns, sheriff's deputies would end up killing innocent people. Little did he know! As part of that work, he and his sons developed a lie detector. 

John F. Schindler on the right, sons Raymond in middle and Walter on left

One of his sons, my great-uncle Raymond Schindler, was one of the founders and a member of the Court of Last Resort, which helped in the administration of justice in cases of persons who have exhausted the ordinary legal remedies in efforts to prove themselves innocent of crimes. He also appeared in a 1950's television show of the same name. It had a short run, but we always watched it.

Great-uncle Raymond C. Schindler, standing, white hair

Okay, I guess I'm going to have to acknowledge that there's some activism on the male side, as well!

In a future post I'll elaborate on my mother. For now, no poem, no recipe, instead excerpts from Isabelle Campbell Schindler's obituary and eulogy. You'll see why I'm proud to claim her as family.


Isabelle Campbell Schindler was born in New Philadelphia, Ohio, on January 31st, 1858; she was 71 years of age. Her parents, James Campbell and Rachel Hutchinson, came to the United States from Ayr, Scotland about 1850 [1848], and located in Ohio.

Belle Campbell, as she was affectionately known to her schoolmates and friends, graduated from the New Philadelphia High School, then took a two year's course in Worthington College, Worthington, Ohio, preparing herself to teach school. She taught school for nearly four years.

On February 21st, 1880, Mr. and Mrs. Schindler were married in New Comerstown [I have the wedding announcement that appeared in the local paper], Ohio, where Mrs. Schindler was then a teacher in the village schools. Mr. Schindler was at the time a freshman in St.Lawrence University, Canton, New York. Mrs. Schindler joined her husband when he began his junior year, and took post-graduate work in the second oldest co-educational college in the United States, admitting women to all the privileges accorded to men.

Mr. and Mrs. Schindler have reared a family of seven children, six of whom survive the mother. She was from the days of their birth to the day of her passing, their most beloved and precious possession. Her understanding mind and devoted companionship won their continuing affection. Mother was always first in the Schindler household, and in the mind of every member of the family.

From early girlhood to the day she was last taken ill, Mrs. Schindler was always interested in some dort of work for the relief, or assistance, of others outside of her own family. Her mother was a leader in the Militant temperance crusade in Ohio over fifty years ago; and the daughter became a worthy successor as a leader in the work of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

In 1884, at a meeting in Marshalltown, Iowa, called to consider the claims of Cremation as a method of disposing of the dead, Mrs. Schindler and two liberal ministers spoke in favor of the startling and altogether unpopular proposal. She was advanced in her thinking, conservative in statement, considerate of differing opinion, and had the full courage of her convictions [she was cremated].

Early in her life Mrs. Schindler became a believer in and advocate of Woman's Suffrage. Before she was 20 years of age she, with one of her sisters, heard Henry Ward Beecher advocate of what was then called Women's Rights. The two girls called on Mr. Beecher at his hotel and asked him questions regarding the then new and strange doctrine.

Later on, when a resident of New York City, Mrs. Schindler became a leader and public speaker, under the direction of Carrie Chapman Catt, in the strenuous and finally successful Woman's Suffrage Campaign. One of her notable achievements was a tour she made as speaker to open air meetings in the final suffrage campaign in Ohio. In that campaign she spoke from the same platform with Richmond Pearson Hobson, and acquitted herself with credit to her cause and to herself.

(This eulogy from Dr. Frederick W. Roman, lecturer and writer.)

My friends, we are met to do homage and pay our last respects to our departed friend. Her life as a record of exalted devotion and consecration to the great duties of home and citizenship. Her example will be to all of us a lasting memory, a challenge and call t the highest potentialities of our lives. We will miss her in our intimate circles. She leaves vacant a position in our minds and hearts that cannot be filled. There will be left, however, the rich and cherished memory of one who knew the art of being loyal; who took joy in the service of things worthwhile; who was solicitous for the welfare of all who had the privilege of crossing her life's pathway.

It was my good fortune to pass many delightful hours with Mrs. Schindler. For the last several years we have been in the closest cooperation in talking of the needs of our immediate society and the world at large. During these contacts I was made to realize what a busy life she had always led. She was deeply interested in the homes of our country. She was a sympathetic and understanding friend to ambitious boys and girls. She was ever solicitous of discovering new modes of thought and action that would lead to enriched forms of behavior and more responsible attitudes.

She had an alert mind. Its capacities and potentialities passed the circle of her immediate environment. It led to her entrance into various reform movements, and finally it accounts for the progressive role she was already playing here in the city of Los Angeles; and we who are members of the “Parliament of Man” will always be cognizant of the loss of one who was to us an ever ready challenge to the highest that in nature we could be.

Mrs. Schindler was a woman who read widely. She had clear conceptions of the capacity of men who hold responsible positions. She had a comprehensive grasp of the great political and economic questions of our time. She was always actuated by wise and firm decisions, moderated by tolerance, and ever ready to change a point of view in the light of new findings. She was a woman who never grew old.......

The sum total of her sympathies makes us feel our loss at this hour all the more. She has left us a life that will be regarded as a rich heritage. In this age of social disorder her life will be looked upon as one of those rare human values that become the stabilizer of the best forms of human conduct. She was a model to all mothers. Her resplendent attitudes toward life, and her continues striving toward the larger responsibility of both the home and the State make her forever an outstanding example to all women.

Our friend shared the common thought of the large majority of thoughtful men and women in the belief of some sort of immortality. She was not disposed to talk much on these matters because her life was spent at all times in a rich measure of service to others. She was winning immortality, not by remembering herself, but by a constant forgetting in a devotion to something that was larger than mere existence. She was engaged in evolving conceptions of truth that can never die. She was absorbed in the formulation of newer and richer life processes that would be calculated to reduce social waste, and that in the end would result in newer and better conceptions of living. This is itself would accelerate the growth and extension of a permanent civilization.....


  1. Hi there, regarding your uncle, Raymond C. Schindler. Is he the one who lived in the Spratt Mansion in Tarrytown? I am a fan of the TV show Dark Shadows and his old house was used for exterior shots as "the old house." I have been searching for years for any shots from the interior of that house, they are extremely rare to run across. Is there any possibility that anyone in the family might have any to share? My regular email address is I appreciate your time and any consideration. Mitch Kirsner

    1. Sorry to be so slow on this. Yes, the same Schindler. I do not have any interior shots of the house. I'll ask my cousins, but we've been sharing lots of old photos - nothing inside. I'd love to see some. I remember, as a child, how huge it seemed with a curved banister in the main hall - we did lots of playing on those stairs. My other principle memory is of huge beds and lots of animal skin rugs from Uncle Raymond's hunting.