Alva Belmont was a wealthy socialite who used her fortune to advance the women’s rights movement in the early 1900s. Born on January 17, 1853 in Mobile, Alabama, and educated in France, Alva settled in New York City in the 1870s with family. A few decades later, Alva would be known as one of the foremost leaders of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. and internationally.

After returning to the States from France to live in New York, Belmont married William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of multibillionaire tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1875. While exceedingly rich, William and Alva were initially excluded from New York high society. Eventually with her never-give-up spirit,  Belmont would win her place in society with a legendary costume ball in 1883, where she invited all of New York’s elite.

After her husband’s death in 1908, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont dedicated herself and fortune to the struggle for women’s rights, specifically suffrage. To that end, she founded the Political Equality Association, affiliated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association  in New York City in 1909.

The same year, Belmont traveled to England where she attended suffrage rallies and was inspired by the work of other stalwart suffragists. Embracing the more aggressive tactics employed by those suffragists she met in England, Alva took those tools and her passion to fight the good fight at home in the U.S.

In 1914, she left the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), later became known as the National Women’s Party (NWP), and focused her efforts on the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, founded by Alice Paul. Belmont served on the organization’s board and allowed it to use her summer estate at Marble House for events as a headquarters.

After American women won the legal right to vote in 1920 via the 19th amendment, Belmont took over the leadership of the NWP. Under her stewardship, and with the help of her fortune, Belmont helped the NWP establish a foothold with headquarters in Washington, D.C. Aside from suffrage movements, she also supported such causes as the Women’s Trade Union League, and donated funds to women run organizations who were on the verge of going bankrupt.

In her later years, Belmont became more focused on women’s rights on an international scale, and spent most of the mid-1920s in France. She created the International Feminist Committee. Although known to have an eccentric, surly disposition, Alva was well-respected by her peers and those of whom who fought alongside her for women’s rights. Among the women in history who would carry the torch for the battle towards women’s rights, Belmont will always be remembered for her dedication to the fight for women’s equality.



Mississippi and the blues go together like gravy and mashed potatoes, or Scarlett and Rhett from Gone with the Wind. Melancholy, soulful blues music and the genres it has inspired were shaped by the early African American voices of Mississippi, a state rich with musical history and sites that honor it.

Today, most of the original Delta Mississippi bluesmen have passed on — but at least one, Lou “Bud” Welch, is still kicking. At 83 years old, Lou recently released his first ever CD, entitled “I Don’t Prefer No Blues.”

Delta Blues: A brief history

The blues as we know them are widely thought to have been  born in the Mississippi Delta, a section in the state’s northwest between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. But the blues’ story extends back much further: notably, as far as the coasts of Africa, when men, women and children were taken as slaves to American plantations. Various musical traditions from African tribal music and cultures blended together in America, manifesting as songs of hope and despair, which slaves sang without instruments to get through grueling work and cruelty.

Post-slavery, African Americans developed this music further, incorporating influence from Christian hymnals and American instruments, all the while enduring hardships under Jim Crow laws and Klu Klux Klan oppression. Music was an escape, and during the Civil War it emerged as part work-chant, part sorrow song. At the turn of the 20th century, the blues were a distinct and recognizable style performed by bluesmen at venues around the Mississippi Delta region.

Record companies first realized the potential market and began to record and produce blues musicians in the 1920s. Artists spread the style throughout the country, where it influenced almost every later genre including jazz, hip-hop, country, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Mississippi Blues Trail

Mississippi is full of sites that hold significance in the world of blues music. For blues enthusiasts, tourists, or general music lovers, the Mississippi Blues Trail marks historical sites related to the birth, growth and influence of blues music throughout Mississippi, with the largest concentration in the Delta region. Some markers are located outside of Mississippi, if they are important enough — like the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.

What exactly can one hope to find along the trail? Roadtrippers eager to follow the history of blues music can travel between over 170 markers, which honor individuals, venue, recording companies, historical events, radio stations and other hubs of blues activity.

First implemented in 2006, the Mississippi Blues Trail tells the stories of the talent behind one of the most important genres of music in America, perhaps of all time. From B.B. King to Charley Patton, individual pioneers and the places they created and performed at live on through these markers.

Lou “Bud” Welch may be among the last bluesmen, but the genre is sure to outlive even him. The blues have been immortalized as much in Mississippi Blues Trail, but more importantly, they persist continuously in their influence of over a century of musical evolution.

When the calendar flips from December 31 to January 1, people around the world clink champagne flutes, kiss their partners, watch shiny orbs freefall, or any combination of the above — if they aren’t already sleeping soundly that is. The moment can be a magical one, but then the reality sets in: it’s a whole new year, and you’ve got some changes to make.

Resolutions are as much a staple of New Years as sparklers and parades — typically, they represent a unique opportunity to start fresh and improve one’s self for the better. If you think about it, the most common resolutions are often conceived with tunnel vision, focusing on the self above all else. While it’s great to set goals to lose weight and watch less TV, wouldn’t it be nice if more resolutions addressed the ways we can help others, as well?

Generally speaking, resolutions are hard to make and harder to keep; for some, charity may be a better incentive for positive change because the impact is larger, and more is at stake. So, from me to you, here are 5 ways anyone can make resolutions that emphasize giving over taking.

Commit to a cause (or several)

It’s easy to say you support a cause, but how many of us put our money where our mouths are? The vague resolution to “donate more” is about as useful as “exercise more,” which is to say, not very. If you want your resolution to stick, you need to be ultra-specific and make a tangible commitment. The stronger you feel about certain issues, the better this will feel when you follow through.

So take a minute and write a list of the causes you care most about. Pick one or two, and do some research on the best organizations out there. Figure out what you can afford to offer, in terms of time and/or money, make sure funds are being used to your liking, and pull the trigger. A small monthly donation is likely cheaper than a gym membership, and will go a longer way too.

Give the gift of charity

One thing many of us do periodically throughout the year — out of obligation, mostly — is give gifts to others. Sure, candles, clothes and money are nice for some, but think about it — how often do small tokens end up re-gifted or closeted? How many are more trite than they are thoughtful?

If you know your friends and family well enough to give them presents, you probably know what they care about, too. For example, if your best friend’s grandmother is struggling with a disease, a donation in their name is a meaningful and heartfelt gift. Does your sister love animals? You can “adopt” an endangered creature for a small cost, and give her a beautiful certificate or stuffed animal as a representation of the donation.

Turn trash into treasure

Here’s an idea that may be as good for your closet as it is for those in need.

Countless first world families have more than they need, and end up throwing away vast quantities of perfectly good food, clothes and other goods every year. It’s hard to admit to ourselves that we could do just fine, perhaps even better with less stuff — but truth be told, cutting down on nonessentials can be extraordinarily beneficial. A minimalistic approach encourages sustainable living, cleanliness, and the donation of excess to underprivileged individuals.

This month, try taking an inventory of your belongings to figure out what you actually use, what you don’t, and what you could probably do without. For clothes, here’s a trick: arrange items with hangers facing a particular direction, then flip them when you wear something. After a month or two you will have a pretty good idea of what you don’t wear, which you can give to Goodwill, Dress for Success, or local shelters and churches.

Digital donations

If you’re the technologically savvy type more comfortable with apps than checks, there are more options available than ever to integrate charity into your everyday routine at little cost. For example, Charity Tap lets users donate rice to the United Nations World Food Programme through simple tapping, and compete with friends to donate the most grains — for free. Instead encourages donations in lieu of small expenses like coffee, while One Today lets you donate to a different charity every day if you like what they stand for.

For gym-goers, athletes, and anyone wanting to be more active, Charity Miles will donate a certain amount of money per mile to a charity of your choice — so you can keep that healthy lifestyle resolution afloat as well. Then there’s Tinbox, an innovative app that gives money (from a corporate sponsor) to a cause of your choice in exchange for ad placement on your smartphone.

Social Support

Lastly, social support goes a longer way than you might think at no cost to you up front. By liking and following the causes you support on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, you and your online acquaintances will be updated on their activity regularly, increasing the frequency of views, shares, and donations. It’s all a matter of staying tuned and informed, and all it takes is a couple of clicks.

These are just a few of many options out there that can be implemented to pay it forward instead of holding it back, whether the “it” in question is effort, passion, money or goods. Feel free to give it a try, or allow these ideas to inspire your own charitable resolutions!

Featured image: San Jose Library via Flickr 

Not all charity comes in the name of generosity. Meet Rosamond Gifford, an enigmatic woman, musician and farmer who donated all of her money to charity post-mortem. It’s been surmised that the large donation was made to keep her funds away from the IRS, whom she referred to as the “Infernal” Revenue System.

Rosamond’s story is a unique one that paints a picture of a confident, no-nonsense woman that worked hard and loved money, in spite of a not-so-lucrative passion for music. Born in 1873, Rosamond attended boarding school in Boston, and assumed a pseudonym Violette LaVigne in her first and only marriage to a man from Montreal at age 22. The ill-advised union ended in divorce five years later thanks to her husband’s pattern of abuse, gambling and womanizing.

After reassuming her maiden name, Rosamond attended school to study concert harp, through which she made a frugal living giving lessons. Her father William likened her musical affinity to his own love of raising trotting horses, or “chasing shadows,” as he called such activities. By his reckoning, the best practice is to “live like a hermit and work like a horse” in order to build a hefty financial estate.

William told Rosamond as much when he struck a deal with her: if she took care of his farm and managed it for him, he would leave her his entire estate when he died. She took the bait, allowing William to retire in Syracuse before dying from a stroke. But unbeknownst to Rosamond, her father changed the terms of their 1913 contract in his will, which stipulated that she was to $60,000 per year for 10 years before gaining access to his entire estate.

Though the amendment would have certainly been more than enough to live off a century ago, Gifford wasn’t having it. So she sued the trust and its executors and won an inheritance of $1,000,000, which amounts to over $16 million in today’s dollars. This wouldn’t be the last time she fought in court over money — Rosamond proved to be just as protective of her nest egg as her father.

Rosamond continued to work on the farm until 1929, when she sold and divided the land and moved into a large house in central New York. She lived a fairly isolated life there, and was occasionally spotted donning riding boots and a leopard skin coat. Though there is no record of donations when living, she may have contributed to charity anonymously.

By the time of her death in April of 1953 (ironically, on tax day), Rosamond had acquired 33 goats and almost 50 cats and built her estate to what would be about $48 million in today’s money. With no heir to speak of, and reasons she kept to herself, just about all of her money was donated to establish a charitable corporation for “religious, educational, scientific, charitable or benevolent uses.”

Whether or not her motivation was to stick it to the IRS, the Gifford Foundation has done a lot of good in the world since its establishment, benefiting countless worthy causes and organizations. Today, the foundation focuses on community grantmaking, and in fitting with her cat and goat collection, there is also a zoo in her name.

Elizabeth Creekmore is a Southern philanthropist, humanitarian and mother. Follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress for more on Southern culture and philanthropy. 


This week is Thanksgiving, a holiday famous for food, family and… philanthropy? Absolutely! In fact, I’d argue that the last phonetic F in this holiday trio can be the most valuable of all.

The point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for all of the wonderful things in our lives. An essential part of this is acknowledging how lucky we are to be blessed with families that care, shelter over our heads, and food to enjoy alongside the ones we love most — even if they do drive us crazy sometimes. We often take simple things for granted, while there are many people out there without family let alone cranberry sauce.

For those that want to extend their Thanksgiving celebration to those less fortunate, there are so many charities out there to help you do just that. I’ve compiled a short list of the ones in my state of Mississippi as an example of causes to choose from.

Note: For some of these, volunteer applications are required weeks in advance. Remember this for next year!!


This nonprofit is located right in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Operating since 1981, Stewpot is unique in that it offers a hot meal to anyone, 365 days a year, no questions asked. This November Stewpot participated in a daylong turkey drive along with iHeartRadio to encourage food donations. They have a food pantry and community kitchen open to donations and volunteers, as well as a “Meals on Wheels” initiative that delivers hot meals to elderly and disabled folks that can’t make it to lunch at Stewpot.

Gulf Coast Rescue Mission

This nonprofit in Biloxi, MS is planning a free Thanksgiving meal on premises, where they will be serving meals to the public between 12pm and 4pm — the latest of their annual feasts. Volunteers need only show up by 11:30. As for food, the mission is welcoming extra hams, turkeys, cornbread, potatoes, yams, stuffing, veggies, rolls and desserts — basically just about anything you’ve got could be put to great use.

Mississippi Food Network

If you’re more comfortable donating via check, you can get meals to the needy that way too. The Mississippi Food Network (MFN) accepts donations of all sizes and tells you how many meals your money will account for. Because every $1 accounts for an entire seven meals, a tiny $10 can feed seventy, and $100, 700. Now that’s a rewarding use of finances. MFN distributes food to 150,000 people a month, or 1.8 million a year.

Elizabeth Creekmore is a philanthropist, humanitarian, mother and Southern culture enthusiast located in Jackson, Mississippi.

ellen browning scripps

“Charity begins at home,” American philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, known for her southern California charity initiatives, once said. But it also begins with intellect, motivation, hard work, and a passion for change.

These crucial factors combined helped Ellen Browning Scripps transform herself from a young book lover and farm worker into a teacher and university student; then, into a newspaper journalist, and finally an influential philanthropist and donor.

Born on October 18, 1836 in London, Ellen grew up in Rushville, Illinois as one of 13 children. Intellectually curious from a young age, she was the only sibling to attend college. Later, she moved to Detroit to work for her younger brother’s newspaper The Detroit Tribune.

After being promoted from copy editor to journalist, Ellen penned a daily column that summed up local news succinctly for readers, and her continued investments in the newspaper business earned her a fortune. In fact, the New York Times later recognized her as “one of the pioneers in modern American journalism.”

As a financially independent woman of her own making, Ellen travelled the world in the late 19th century and eventually settled in southern California with a few of her many siblings, with whom she shared land, home, and seaside contentment.

It was here her philanthropic ambition came to fruition in a number of diverse fashions. A supporter of women’s suffrage and education, Ellen donated land for a college preparatory for girls in 1909, then endowed the Scripps College. She also commissioned what became one of the country’s first public playgrounds, the La Jolla Community Center, which she stipulated must be open to anyone regardless “of race, creed or opinion.”

Ellen was also a lover of the world’s many wonders: she was a member of the Egypt Exploration Fund, worked to preserve California pines, and gave the San Diego Zoo an aviary and animal research hospital.

It’s true that Ellen’s charity started close to home (and in some cases, close to body) — for example, dissatisfaction with the treatment of her own broken leg prompted her to found the Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic in 1922.

Despite being initiated from and for her region, it’s clear that the impact of Ellen’s philanthropy was felt not only locally, but spanning history, causes and continents.

After her death in 1935, just weeks from her 96th birthday, she was described as a master of “living and giving” — an accurate account of a remarkable woman’s fruitful time on Earth.


American South

The cities of the American South make up the bulk of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Northerners are rediscovering what southern locals have known for hundreds of years – our cities are some of the friendliest, most desirable places to live in the world.

Though southern cities share a lot in common, they each have a strong identity and culture all their own. This list of southern cities is by no means exhaustive – just a guide to introduce you to what each has to offer.


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta boasts the 9th largest metropolitan area in the US and the transportation hub of the Southeast. It is only in the last few years that national media has caught on to Atlanta’s vibrant & diverse culture. Residents enjoy the city’s world-class cultural scene – outstanding museums, high-profile sports, and active nightlife. Sometimes referred to as ‘the Manhattan of the South’, Atlanta is an economic beacon of the area, with fast-paced city life unparalleled in the region.

Atlanta Georgia


Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston has always had a reputation for its deep-seated tradition of art & fashion, a leader in the kind of easy elegance we know as ‘southern charm.’ In more recent years, the coastal city has become one of the most popular tourist destinations of the south. Civil War sites, romantic antebellum architecture, and lush plantings of jasmine, gardenia, and honeysuckle continue to attract travellers, and now they’re joined by young people seeking the energized nightlife of the pristine beachfront.

Charleston, South Carolina


Houston, Texas

Houston is the most populous city in the American South, and will one day surpass Chicago to become the 3rd largest city in the country. Behind the rapid growth rate are industries like oil and technology. Only New York City has more Fortune 500 companies within its city limits, and NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the hub of the country’s space program. Houston’s got everything a big city has to offer, including a range of neighborhoods and subcultures that offer residents a diversity that’s hard to match. Where else can you see luxury cars next to pick-up trucks at rodeos and live theatre?

Houston, Texas


Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson is known in the South for its soul, the birthplace of numerous blues, gospel, and jazz musicians. It’s one of the most affordable cities in the country, making it desirable for young people who are revitalizing the culture with new businesses in the hip Fondren neighborhood, whose authentic vintage appeal is perfectly preserved. Culinary traditions of the South like shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, fried bread and butter pickles are all staples of Jackson dining. Among many cultural offerings is the International Ballet Competition, which has run in Jackson every four years since 1979. Fun fact – Jackson is the only US capital city located on a volcano. Don’t worry – it hasn’t erupted in over 75 million years!

Jackson, Mississippi


Kansas City, Missouri

You may think BBQ when you think of Kansas City, and with good cause. The city offers over 100 BBQ joints, some among the best-rated in the world. New Yorkers will be surprised to find that the Kansas City Strip Steak is even better than their own! Kansas has always been a major city in the region. The most centrally located big city, it was an early transportation & shipping hub. More than just BBQ, the city is known regionally for its lively jazz scene and numerous fountains. It is also the birthplace of some of the biggest American institutions, including Walt Disney, McDonald’s, and Anheuser-Busch.

Kansas City, Missouri


Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachians, steeped deeply in its bluegrass roots. Named after France’s King Louis XVI, aristocrats come every year to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. But it’s the historic and blue collar neighborhoods where the city really shines. The Old Louisville neighborhood is one of the largest collection of Victorian homes in the country, and you’ll never make fun of a drive-through chili restaurant once you’ve experienced one for yourself. Tip to visitors – it’s pronounced ‘Loo-ah-Vill’.

Louisville, Kentucky


Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the country music capital of the world, and live music permeates the culture everywhere you look. The rocker scene gives the city an edgy vibe, from boot-stomping honky tonks to the bright lights of lower Broadway. The Grand Ole Opry House has seen country music mature over the last 100, and you can still catch the biggest acts there today. Southern hospitality still abounds, as does fried chicken, a lively university population, and blues bars.

Nashville, Tennessee


New Orleans, Louisiana

Of all the cities of the south, none is as independent and unique as New Orleans. Being pigeon-holed as a party spot for its annual Mardis Gras celebration is a shame – the city has so much to offer throughout the year. It’s historic roots are still lived in, from the architecture to the street culture, it’s almost like stepping back in time. Visitors will find New Orleans bursting at its cultural seams – the birthplace of jazz, a playful approach to cuisine, and satyric parades nearly weekly.

New Orleans


Savannah, Georgia

When people think of the south – southern belles, horse-drawn carriages, palatial mansions surrounded by oaks dripping in spanish moss – they’re thinking of Savannah. Sometimes known as the ‘beautiful lady with a dirty face,’ the city balances its manicured parks and charming cobblestone streets with an unbridled & debaucherous nightlife. So after roaming the pedestrian-friendly historic district (one of the largest in the country), there will be plenty of options to explore the city’s cocktail bars.

Savannah, Georgia

Vanessa Rogers Photography

Vanessa Rogers Photography

If you were a fan of AMC’S Mad Men then meet Myra Daniels. Daniels was president of Draper Daniels Inc, which served as a model for the illustrious Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. From the boardroom to the hallways of foundations, Myra Daniels is a woman who has it all.

Daniels has always been involved in philanthropy. In an interview with the Philanthropy Roundtable site, she tells the story of how her grandmother gave her an allowance as a child. When her grandmother asked young Myra how she would share Myra thought about it and eventually gave away a few coins, to friends who needed it in a secret envelope marked “to a friend from a friend.”

Myrna eventually went on to build the legendary Draper Daniels Inc. which would go on to serve as the model for the fictitious Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

It is interesting how Daniels’ advertising skills contributed to her philanthropic work. In both careers, tasks such as  brainstorming, and selling a creative and potentially life-altering idea  are important.  The need to create buzz around an idea as well as having creativity and having a true sense of entrepreneurship are imminent in both fields.

Another venture close to Daniels’ heart is working with Ava Maria University as she says, “the need is great and the students are compelling.” Daniels was interested in working with the University to make a difference in the college community as well as put the school on the map for its arts program and build the Mother Teresa Museum at the university.

Daniels was also the founder and longtime CEO of the once struggling  arts center that is now home to the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Davis went through the phone book calling people when she first started.

It is noted in her interview with Philanthropy Roundtable that on one of her first calls she said, ““Hello, I’m Myra Daniels. I have an idea that I think will change the lives of people in this community, and I’d like to talk about it.”

This woman was Frances Pew Hayes, who had a family foundation and at the end of the call she donated $2500. And later said to me, “I have a couple of ‘mil’ that hasn’t been spent this year, and I’ll give you that

Now considered one of the most financially stable orchestras in the U.S., the philharmonic now occupies occupied a new hall and was debt free from Davis’ hard work.

Daniels credits Mother Teresa with being a personal hero as well as a great saleswoman and good humanitarian.


Bernice P. Bishop

Bernice P. Bishop

Bernice Pauahi Bishop was a Hawaiian princess and last descendant of Royal House of Kamehameha. She eventually became one of the most prosperous landowners in Hawaii due to her royal heritage. Her legacy contained generous endowments to the Kamehameha Schools, which continues to educate the children of native Hawaii to this day. Bernice became a much beloved patron of education and a cherished philanthropist.

By 1857, Bernice had already inherited from her family an estate of 16,011 acres.  Throughout her mid-20s, Bishop served her community in any way she could by offering advice and assistance to any who sought her out. She spent much of her time receiving visits from locals and neighboring islanders, and worked tirelessly to ease their troubles in her generous manner.

Aside from caring about her native Hawaiians and giving time and money to improve their stations in life, she was also a leader in several American charitable organizations, including the Stranger’s Friend Society, which aided sick travelers, and the Women’s Sewing Society, which provided clothing for the poor.

In 1883, Bishop was to inherit an even larger fortune, when her cousin Ruth Keʻelikolani, who was the royal governess of Hawaii, died leaving Bernice 353,000 acres of land. With the inheritance, Bernice became in possession of about 9 percent of the Hawaiian landmass, making her one of the most powerful and wealthy landowners in Hawaii.

Upon being bestowed the large estate, Bernice drafted her will, making individual provisions for a number of charities, friends and servants. The bulk of her estate, 378,569 acres, was held in trust for the purposes of opening two schools to be called the Kamehameha Schools. The timing and provisions of her will was fortunate though bittersweet as Bernice died a year later of breast cancer.

Today the schools have campuses on Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui, educating nearly 7,000 children annually.

Nettie Fowler was born in 1835, the youngest of three children. After her father died, her mother ran the business until she herself died a few years later. Nettie went to live with her uncle and grandmother who were both devout Methodists and philanthropists in their community. These early tragedies and relationships with her grandparent’s religion and philanthropy shaped Nettie’s beliefs. Raised as an active member of the Methodist church, she felt her responsibility was to be a servant of God and give back to her community.

The philanthropist Nettie Fowler McCormick

The philanthropist Nettie Fowler McCormick

Her uncle Eldridge Merick’s money gave Nettie vast opportunities for young Nettie. Her uncle’s business savvy, philanthropy and shrewd business sense, had a lasting influence on Nettie. His wealth provided her advanced education and training, and she was able to attend the best seminary schools.

At the age of 21, Nettie met Cyrus Hall McCormick, a businessman and faithful Presbyterian. Though he was well over 40, the couple married a year after they met in January 1858.

Being Cyrus’ closest confidante, Nettie was also actively involved in her husband’s philanthropic activities., which were mostly religious organizations.

After the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the McCormick plant in 1871, Cyrus gave up running the company, while Nettie became the untitled head of the company up until her husband’s death.

Upon her husband’s death, Nettie was to keep their estate intact for five years, making donations only to charitable purposes targeted at Cyrus Sr.’s beliefs. After the five years passed, she turned her attention to her own philanthropy. This allowed Nettie to broaden her patronage beyond religious organizations to orphanages, educational institutions, and relief agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

A careful and deliberate woman, Nettie stayed involved in her philanthropic donations, taking an active role in the organizations that received her contributions. When Nettie died, she left $1 million to various charities. In her life, Nettie Fowler McCormick gave away millions, and always as a humble servant of God, without need for praise or recognition — the true definition of a philanthropic patron.


Photo Credit Wisconsin Historical Society