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Town of Hunter Tidbits: A cottage owner in Onteora, a friend to all children

October 10, 2018 12:41 pm Updated: October 10, 2018 12:41 pm


It is a pleasure sharing what I’ve recently learned of this talented poet and children’s author.

Mary Mapes was born in 1831 to Sophia Fuhrman and James J. Mapes, a well-known chemist, inventor, civil engineer and author. Mr. Mapes spent years dedicated to improving the conditions of farmers and to all living in rural areas.

In 1859, James Mapes patented “Mapes Fertilizer,” concentrating on drainage, crop rotations and seeding. In 1851, he became associate editor of the Journal of Agriculture, which began in Boston.

Mapes passed his gentle view of the world to his daughter, Mary. He also shared his grand love of nature.

Mary was home-schooled by tutors and at just 8 years of age was writing short stories. She spent most of her life in a literary atmosphere with music and drama.

At 20 years old, Mary married attorney William Dodge, but was widowed in just seven years. She soon was aware she needed employment as she was left alone to raise and educate her two young boys.

In 1868, Dodge became an associate editor of “Hearth and Home,” working alongside Harriet Beecher Stowe followed with the 1873 launching of St. Nicholas — an illustrated monthly magazine for children.

Mary soon became its editor-in-chief as well as contributing stories. In that capacity, she became a very dear friend of thousands in both this country and in England. Mrs. Dodge imported the name St. Nicholas from Holland.

It soon became a very successful children’s magazine. She stayed as editor of “St. Nicholas” until she passed away in her beloved Onteora Park in 1905.

Mary Mapes Dodge’s headstone reads: “Lover and Friend of Children and in Countless Homes Beloved.”

Mrs. Dodge was most famous for her 1865 novel, Hans Brinker, also known as the Silver Skates. In 1874, she wrote “Rhymes and Jingles” and “Poems and Verses” in 1904. Her poetry often contained gentle, moral lessons told in playful, rhymed verse.

She wrote: “Early to bed”; “Fire in the window”; “The Mayor of Scuttleton”; “The Moon Came Late”; “Poor Crow”; “Shepherd John”; “Taking Time to Grow.”

Mrs. Dodge was a regular contributor to many magazines and wrote numerous (18+) books for children.

“When Life was Young,” written in 1894, has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilizations as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact and remains as true to the original work as possible.

At one-point, Mary Dodge said: “I am almost sorry to confess that my career has been without a struggle. Perhaps it has been too easy-everything I wrote was kindly received.”

Thank you to Mrs. Dodge for bringing so many children hours of enjoyment with her talent and abilities.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the story. I thank the many sources I obtained this information from.

Until next week, take care. Be thankful and be kind. You never know how your act of kindness may change someone’s life.

Please send me any comments or corrections, or call 518-589-4130.

Have a good week.