King's Daughters Organization


the Past, Present, & Future of KDO

Mary E. Hansell original “lady” of the Grateful Daughters circle

Mary E. Hansell, Who is she and what did she have to do with the King’s Daughters Home?

Mary E. Hansell was many things in her 91 years.   She was a devoted only child of parents, Emily and Isaacher Hansell.  He was a cabinet maker that built many of the fine staircases for many of the city’s finest homes.  Emily was a fine woman that was an invalid for many years, a woman known for her quiet acts of charity.  (In her obituary read about her great-grandfather and the War of 1812)

Mary was a teacher, starting at the age of 19 years old starting at Mechanicsburg, then Mt. Sterling, Cottage Hill, west of Springfield and then Converse and Hay-Edwards school.  It was said she was a well-known school teacher for more than 50 years! Notably she was also a captain in the 1921 membership campaign for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Mary lived in the King’s Daughters Home from May, 1921 until her death in 1941 and was the first or original “lady” of the Grateful Daughters circle.  In 1932 it was noted in their minutes that a poem she wrote was read at the Board meeting and that if she attended a circle meeting she took a poem and even if she could not attend. We even have records of what was furnished originally in her room and then again when it was refurnished later.

Alongside her obituary was a poem that she had penned a few days before and included are several of her other poems, all worth reading. (Also check out the mention that in 1931 a number of her poems were broadcast from the national broadcasting company in San Francisco)

We found articles in the SJR archives 1910 that she was a member of the Opportunity Circle of the King’s Daughters and that she was a hostess at a YWCA summer camp that both the Golden Hour Circle and the Helping Hand circle took part in as well. 

One of the most wonderful things she did for us, KDO, as an organization, was the history which tells of the time through 1928.  Her account of history includes and tells us a story of the times up until then, the celebrations at Christmas, the gardens, the keeping of chickens and cows.  There were several stories of the matrons as well as the year by year growth of the endowment fund, and the executive board and advisory board members. 

This gives us a wonderful snapshot of what it might have been like to live there or have been a member of the organization in those years. Such things as Mrs. Marjorie Post donating $4,000 to be expended in buying hair mattresses and refinishing the interior of the home would never be known.  Or that on the occasion of her daughter’s wedding, she remembered each inmate (as the women were called in those days) with a little box of wedding cake.

In her obituary it was mentioned that despite her advanced age, she kept abreast of the times and numbered her friends in the city in the hundreds.  One of her first pupils, a girl, Mrs. Hattie Holloway, who was her companion at the home.

We are so thankful for the time and thoughtful writings of women such as Mary so that we can know what these early years at the home were like.  She enriched her community and world with her poetry and helped us to see what the origins of the home and organization were all about.  

Mary Hansell's History of KDO 

please click above for a copy of her work

Jennifer Sylvia