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Mattie Curl Dennis (c.1840-1897)

A lifelong educator and advocate of literary clubs, Mattie Curl Dennis was a much loved member of the Richmond Community.  Born in Parke County, Indiana, she graduated from the Indiana State Normal School in 1874 and began her teaching career in Rockdale and Indianapolis.  In 1876, she married David Worth Dennis, longtime science professor at Earlham College.  In 1878, her only child was born, William Cullen Dennis, who would later become the President of Earlham College.  She taught at Wilmington College, then Bloomingdale Academy until her health failed in 1884.  She lived in Richmond for the rest of her life, much of the time in frail health.

Even though she was no longer a professional teacher, she was very active in a teaching role in many organizations.  She was the founder of such women’s literary clubs as the Browning Literary Circle in Wilmington, Ohio, and in Richmond, the Tuesday Aftermath, the History Class, and the North End Literary Club, and was an active member of several others, including the Tuesday Club, Contemporary Club, Variorum, and the Tourists.

The public sorrow at her death was expressed in a lengthy memorial service at the East Main Friends’ Church.  Representatives from many of the clubs read memorials or favorite poems in her honor.  The History Class published a 160-page booklet containing some of her favorite poems, correspondence, excerpts from papers presented at club meetings, and texts of the various memorials.