Friday, November 27, 2015

The Other Livingston Women

by Linda Farmer Harris

Do you have famous people in your family? My sister, Marsha, and I have researched our family for years. We have a lineage of successful, educated, and prominent community people, but no U.S. presidents or writers of the constitution. Our ancestors met the folks landing at Plymouth Rock.

We do have a legacy of educators, public school teachers and principals, plus fiction and non-fiction writers.

It's not uncommon for families to follow in the same profession. Note the number of "...and Son(s)" business signs or advertisements stating "family owned" you see in your city. Is your family part of this tradition?

My February 27, 2015 HH&H Blog, about pioneer Christian fiction author Grace Livingston Hill (1865-1947).
Grace Livingston Hill
courtesy of Daena M. Creel
Grace Livingston Hill
Her book The Obsession of Victoria Gracen introduced me to her novels, and her family.
Family Members of Grace Livingston Hill
courtesy of Daena M. Creel
Read more about Grace online at

My March 27, 2015 HH&H Blog, talked about Grace's maternal aunt, Isabella Macdonald Alden (1841-1930), known internationally by her nom de plume Pansy. She was a frequent speaker at Chautauqua meetings and Sunday School conferences. 

She wrote, "I dedicate my pen to the direct and continuous efforts to win other for Christ and help others to closer fellowship with him." This resolve was definitely shared by Grace and the other Livingston women.

She not only authored nearly twice as many books as Grace, she wrote and edited "The Pansy" her own weekly children's magazine from 1874-1894.
Isabella Macdonald Alden

Courtesy of
The Pansy Magazine - July 1886
Read one of her stories — Sing a Song of Years, chapter twenty-eight in Four Mothers at Chautauqua

Read more about Isabella at:

Grace came from an impressive family of writers and artists. Her mother Marcia Macdonald Livingston (1832-1924) wrote several children's books and a Christmas play as C.M. Livingston. 
Marcia Macdonald Livingston
courtesy of Daena M. Creel
Marcia was a regular contributor to her sister's "The Pansy" magazine. She and Isabella wrote five books together, plus two family effort books. Their sister Julia Macdonald also contributed to The Pansy magazine.

Read one of their collaborative stories:
• Circulating Decimals

Everyone in the sisters' families, as well as a few close friends, contributed to the books, A Sevenfold Trouble and The Kaleidoscope.

Grace's fraternal aunt Margaret Livingston Murray (1810-1910) was one of the earliest women's rights leaders in America. Her home in the country district of East Twenty-Third Street, New York City, became the center of a group of people that included Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dr. Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Seward Webb. Chester A. Arthur, John D. Archbold, and Gen. James Watson Webb. Her passing at age 100 was noted in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. CLXII (162), No. 15, pgs. 508-509, January-June, 1910.

Grace's daughters, Margaret Livingston Hill Walker (1893-1946) and Ruth Glover Hill Munce (1898-2001) were also writers. Margaret published three books - Bible Stories for Children, The Children's Lamp, and A Handful of Corn.

Margaret Livingston Hill Walker
Ruth's was an accomplished concert violinist who studied at Juliard under Thaddeus Rich, Concert Master of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
Ruth Glover Hill Munce
Her pen name was Ruth Livingston Hill. Ruth finished Grace's last book, "Mary Arden" and wrote several in her mother's style. Her publisher commented that her style was so close to her mother's he couldn't tell the different. Ruth wrote Bright Conquest, Morning is for Joy, The Homecoming, The South Wind Blew Softly, The Jeweled Sword, John Nielson Had a Daughter, and This Side of Tomorrow.

At age 70, Ruth began an eight-year teaching position at Nairobi Bible Institute in Kenya. She based her book What Happened? A Study in Genesis, A Textbook for Christian Schools or Home Bible Study Groups on her teaching experience in Kenya. She was still active until her death at 103.

Have you written a book with your family members? Maybe contributed to a family cookbook?


Linda Farmer "Lin" Harris

Lin and her husband, Jerry, live on the P Bar R Ranch West in Chimney Rock, Colorado. She writes historical fiction for adults and children. Her novella The Lye Water Bride is included in the California Gold Rush Romance Collection (Barbour Publishing, 2016).


  1. This was really interesting, Lin. I've several of Grace's books in the past. I haven't written about any of my family members--nothing too exciting in the recent past. I did discover one of my paternal grandmother's ancestors served as an officer during the Revolutionary war.

    1. Hi Vickie, thank you. I've read everything available that Grace and Ruth have written. I'm working on Pansy's. I don't have any exciting relatives, several have done interesting one time things.

  2. Interesting how the writing talent was isolated to the women in the Livingston family. Good post on information not known to me before this. In my family it is my brother who is the writer and I don't know of any others in our family tree so far. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Hi Sharon - wait until you hear about the men! Those talented folks seemed to find each other. What does your brother write?

  3. My mother cherished her set of Grace Livingston Hill books. I had no knowledge that she was part of such a brilliant family. Loved learning more! ... as to writing about my family ... I am just beginning a memoir, so I will be writing about family ... for family ...

    1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing. In our family, we each have our niche, but none of us overlap, yet. A lady in our critique group started in January doing her family memoir and has found some exciting stuff. She was surprised at the wealth of info she's found. Good luck.

  4. I'm really glad to find your blogs. I was privileged to meet Ruth Livingston Hill in St. Petersburg, FL, living on the 15th floor of a retirement high rise. She was 92 and involved in teaching 5 different Bible studies each week. She gave me a copy of her book on Genesis. I hadn't read much by Isabella Alden until I was in the Slough of Despond in January and February of last year. I discovered that someone had published a number of Isabella Alden books on Kindle for 99 cents each. I downloaded 10 or more and started reading or having my Kindle read them to me. I was too despondent to get out of bed (except for church) for the better part of two weeks. I fell in love with Chautauqua and was really strengthened in faith by her books. I was fascinated by "The Browns at Mt. Hermon" and checked online to see if there was such a place in the redwoods of California. And if it was, was it still a thriving Christian campground. It was and it was. I was thrilled to find it a year-round Christian conference center. I also discovered that the 45th Christian Writers Conference was about to be held there. Long story short, I attended it! It was amazing and helped me over a huge dread of writing. I also found that Isabella Alden and her husband had helped to found Mt. Hermon in 1906 and she actually wrote "The Browns at Mount Hermon" there on the grounds.