Friday, March 14, 2003

Ohio Moments

Lucretia Garfield was president's wife

Lucretia Garfield

On March 14, 1918, Lucretia Garfield, widow of President James A. Garfield, died in Pasadena, Calif. Both of the Garfields hailed from Ohio. Lucretia's father, Zeb Rudolph, was a leading citizen of Hiram, the town of her birth. Rudolph was a founder of the Western Reserve Eclectic College, (now known as Hiram College), an institution run by the Disciples of Christ. Lucretia and James both attended the school in 1851. They had a long courtship and married in 1858. Mrs. Garfield bore seven children. She expertly managed their family and household while her husband served in the Civil War and, later, began a political career that landed him in the White House. Garfield once said that "Crete," as he called her, "grows up to every new emergency with fine tact and faultless taste." She proved that to the nation after her husband was shot by an assassin in 1881. She had fallen seriously ill just a couple of months after the president took office that year. Her husband removed her to the New Jersey shore to convalesce. That's where she was when he was shot July 2. Although still sick, she took a train back to Washington and stayed at Garfield's deathbed. For 80 days, she nursed him with quiet fortitude - until he died in September.

Rebecca Goodman

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