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Comstock, Elizabeth Leslie Rous Wright (30 October 1815–03 August 1891), Quaker minister and reformer, was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, the daughter of William Rous, a shopkeeper, and Mary Kekwick. Her parents were Quakers with family ties to the Society of Friends going back to the seventeenth century. They reared her in a strict Quaker atmosphere, an upbringing reinforced by education in Quaker schools at Islington and Croyden. In 1839 Elizabeth Rous returned to Croyden as a teacher; in 1842 she joined the staff of the Friends school at Ackworth. She remained there until her marriage in 1848 to Leslie Wright, a Quaker market gardener of Walthamstow in Essex. They had one child. After her husband’s death in 1851, Elizabeth Wright kept a shop for a time at Bakewell in Devonshire. In 1854 she immigrated with her daughter and an unmarried sister to Belleville, Ontario. Four years later she married John T. Comstock, a prosperous Quaker farmer of Rollin, Michigan, where Elizabeth Comstock and her daughter moved....

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Leavitt, Mary Greenleaf Clement (22 September 1830–05 February 1912), reformer and temperance missionary, was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, the daughter of Joshua H. Clement, a Baptist minister, and Eliza Harvey. She received her early education in Hopkinton and Thetford, Vermont. At the age of sixteen she began to teach in schools in New Hampshire and Vermont. After a year of study at the Thetford Academy, she enrolled in the Massachusetts State Normal School at West Newton. She graduated in 1851 and taught in Dover, Massachusetts, then in Boston at the Quincy Grammar School (1852–1854) and the Boylston Grammar School (1854–1857). In 1857 she quit work to marry Thomas H. Leavitt, a land speculator from Greenfield, Massachusetts, with whom she had three daughters. Her husband was a spendthrift and was incapable of supporting his family, so in 1867 Leavitt opened a private school in her home. Opposed to the school, her husband left his family to settle in Nebraska. The couple divorced in 1878....

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Way, Amanda (10 July 1828–24 February 1914), reformer and minister, was born in Winchester, Indiana, the daughter of Matthew Way, a farmer, teamster, and schoolteacher, and Hannah Martin. As a child she was painfully shy and self-conscious about being tall. She attended the local public schools and Randolph Seminary. After graduation she taught school for a time but opened a dressmaking and millinery shop when it became necessary for her to support her widowed mother in 1849....

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Willing, Jennie Fowler (22 January 1834–06 October 1916), evangelist, reformer, and church worker, was born in Burford, Canada West (present-day Ontario), the daughter of Horatio Fowler, a homesteader and participant in the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, and Harriet Ryan, the daughter of the founder of Canadian Methodism, Henry Ryan. The Fowlers settled in Newark, Illinois, following Horatio’s expulsion from Canada after the failure of the rebellion. Jennie was a sickly child and largely self-educated. Her first job was as a school teacher in Illinois at age fifteen....