On January 18, 1897, Frances Davidson took out her journal, a small brown-covered notebook that she had long turned to in significant moments. Following a lengthy period of uncertainty, now looking towards her 37th birthday, Frances had recently been engaged by McPherson College, the Brethren (or Dunker) school in the Kansas town from which it took its name. Her contract duly signed, she had invested in a personal library that she deemed adequate. Then suddenly, everything changed. A conversion that she compared to the Apostle Paul’s would dramatically alter her direction. A deep experience of God’s love seemed to resolve the conflicts that had troubled her, as she had confessed them in her journals for so many years.
I first encountered Frances’ Davidson’s diaries over 40 years ago, when I was completing my undergraduate degree. The Brethren in Christ Archives had just acquired them from one of Frances’s nephews who had talked more protective family members out of destroying them. At that time, I knew precious little about this woman. I knew that she was my mother’s great aunt coming from a line of strong and intelligent women; I was aware of her missionary travelogue that sat in my mother’s small library. And recently, I had learned that she was one of the few in the denomination in her era to seek higher education. Quaker scholar Parker Palmer once asked, “Why do we study the dead past?” The latter brief encounter validated my own deep desire to study. I experienced the truth in Palmer’s answer, “it lives in us today.”
What do we know about Frances Davidson? In 1978, E. Morris Sider, who has given the Brethren in Christ the generous gift of many biographies featuring significant women and men in the denomination, included her biography as one of two women featured in his Nine Portraits. He also published her journals in Brethren in Christ History and Life. Wendy Urban-Mead’s relatively recent work has provided a welcome scholarly analysis of Frances Davidson’s role as missionary in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, including gender dynamics, and the latter’s part in the colonialism that shaped missionary ardour. As Urban-Mead and Sider have both said so well, the missionary enterprise provided a place where a woman of Davidson’s formidable strength and talent could take leadership and live out her calling, in a context far from the constraints of her home community.
Davidson was a complex individual. She was a product of her time and place; but she was also an individual, as Sider has put it, who was able to “conceive ideas boldly and carry out plans with decision and strength of will.” As Wendy Urban-Mead has sensitively articulated, Davidson’s journals suggest that hers was a “continuously evolving individual, heartfelt response to a sense of divine authority.” It was her conviction and experience of the divine that “led her, first, to a periphery of the British colonial empire and then, to test—but not defy—the limits of obedience to patriarchal church authority.”
Hoffman et al have suggested that “[w]omen and spirituality is a topic that certainly could—and perhaps should—be based in the study of journals recording religious experience.” For purposes of this paper, I have chosen three significant moments that give glimpses into the deep spirituality that gave rise to Frances’ Davidson’s dramatic call: The conflict she experienced with her growing awareness of herself; her diary as a place where she could confess her awakening to her potential; and the mystical experience of the call that would shape the remainder of her life.
For the young Frances, her journal was friend and confidant, a place where she could identify her joys and her sorrows, a place where she could turn when she felt alone. Like other women diarists, Frances found her journal to be “life-sustaining, when no one [was] near from whom [she could] draw support.” Her journal became a safe place where she could explore the conflict she experienced as she grew in self awareness. In January 1881, just a few months after she had enrolled in the recently established Church of the Brethren’s Ashland College,13] 20 miles northeast of the Davidson home in Green County, she opened a small note book. Dipping the nib of her pen into her ink well she wrote, as she put it, “the most important events of my life or at least events connected with it. . . . I intend to write the truth and nothing but the truth.”
Similar to the women treading new paths that Betty Jane Wylie has introduced in Reading Between the Lines, Frances’s journal provided a place she could discover “something [she] couldn’t put [her] nib on, something hiding there in the blank sheet of paper, waiting to be discovered and expressed, waiting to be told.” She seems to have been telling herself “what it’s like to be human from a female perspective, what it’s like to be a woman—in short, the truth about [herself].”
Denominational history tells us that Frances was the daughter of Henry B. Davidson, the Scotch-Irish Brethren in Christ minister who lobbied for a denominational paper and served as the founding editor of Evangelical Visitor. Genealogical records reveal that she was also the daughter of Frances (Fannie) Rice Davidson, whose ancestry included Anabaptist roots in Alsace-Lorraine. The eighth Davidson child, Frances became the third in Henry’s second family. Birthed on the eve of the Civil War in the family home in Green, Wayne County, Ohio, she had been set apart from birth. She was the daughter chosen to become the fourth generation in her maternal line to carry the name Frances. She was also named Hannah, a living memory of the mother of five of her older siblings.
I wonder what it meant for Frances, her parents, and her five half-siblings for her to be the designated daughter carrying the memory of Henry’s first wife Hannah Craft Davidson. How was Hannah’s story of having succumbed to typhoid fever in winter 1855—only three years after she and Henry joined thousands of Americans in the trek west—woven into the fabric of the family, as she lay at rest in the nearby cemetery in Wooster? What did Frances know of her mother’s close friendship with Hannah, and what it meant to leave her home in Fayette County to follow her new husband west to Wayne County where she would take on the heavy burden of feeding, clothing, and nurturing emotionally and spiritually the five young children left in her care when their mother was taken suddenly after contracting typhoid fever?
Social change in mid-nineteenth-century America gave women more possibility of choice than their mothers had had. Unlike Fannie, who grew up in an era when women’s options were more limited, the possibility of higher education was realized with the founding of a Brethren College not far from the family home. To be sure, the Brethren in Christ had recently legislated against women speaking publicly, but as M. J. Heisey and D. Ray Heisey have pointed out, Frances was one of a number of women who continued to pursue an education. Frances’s first months at Ashland were a time of growing awareness, and confirming to herself her academic potential in relationship to others:
Well I was pretty well satisfied with my last terms work my grade in Trigonometry and Latin was ninety-six. There were several in the class has the same grade but no one had any better grade. In the last examination in Latin I made no mistakes. In Greek and Old Testament History my grade was ninety-eight, the best in each class.
It was also a time of wrestling with what she named pride, as she began to emerge as one with a strong intellect and leadership potential. Struggling with her abilities, and what they might mean, the young Frances revealed:
We are having a reading circle every Saturday night to discuss the topic of the week. . . My subject was the Inauguration of the Pres. . . .  I heard that some one said that mine was the best of any. But that is a mistake. I wish that if any one does think such a thing that they would not tell it so that I would get to hear it. I hear too much such things. It is not good for me. I am afraid that I am getting to think too much of my own powers. . . I am growing so proud and I am afraid that I am becoming conceited and selfish. May the Lord cleanse my heart from every thing contrary to his will and make me humble. . . .
Frances returned to her journal time and time again in her loneliness for her family and the humble spiritual expression of the Brethren in Christ. In February she wrote:
May the Lord help me to live nearer to him. Last Saturday and Sabbath I was to meeting in the country. It does me so much good to get to our own meeting. it warms me up. Although they are very kind to me here. Yet there does not seem to be so much spirit in their meetings.
Even while feeling drawn to the warmth of Brethren in Christ experiential worship, it would appear that Frances’s parents’ United Brethren in Christ background, with its Reformed and Methodist roots, shaped her thinking. The latter denomination was more inclined than either the Brethren in Christ or the Church of the Brethren to follow the larger societal trends. Indeed, the Davidson family identified as Republican. The inauguration of a Republican candidate, Ohioan James Garfield, 12 days before, had captured Frances’s imagination. Distancing from the Brethren in Christ and Brethren avoidance of federal politics, with their Anabaptist beliefs that caused them to see a sharp divide between government and what it meant to follow Christ, Frances ably held her own in the debate among Ashland College students.330]
Spiritual conflicts that emerged as she experienced the world outside of her home community are a recurring theme in her journal. As she negotiated her new world, she relied on the support of her parents and large family with their letters, prayers, and occasional visits home:
I should so like so much to be with father and mother brothers and sisters tonight. May the Lord bless them all and help my brothers and sisters to early turn to him. If they only knew how much better it is to serve the Lord they would not put it off. Oh! My God; what would I do without thee. To Thee I may unbosom all my troubles, and thou wilt always hear me.
External conflict between liberal and conservative factions in the Brethren Church would deeply affect Ashland College. Unsettled by the modernism that came to characterize the college’s ethos, Frances would leave and return home. By that point the Davidson family had moved to White Pigeon, Michigan, where her father hoped to engender more support for his vision for a church paper. Frances would complete her Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree at Kalamazoo College close by, while assisting her father in editing the new paper from the editorial office in their home.
Seven years later in fall 1888, Frances would return to a Church of the Brethren academic institution. In the boom that followed the expanding railroad system, boosters had invited Ashland’s former President S. Z. Sharp to come west to open a new college in McPherson, Kansas. Seemingly unaware of the injustice and heartbreak experienced by indigenous peoples as they were pushed onto reservations, Sharp was among the large number of Brethren in Christ and Church of the Brethren that followed the railroad west. Frances’s father Henry Davidson had purchased several farms in the Abilene community, 40 miles from McPherson, and Frances’s younger brother Henry and his wife Elizabeth farmed there. 
Three years after Frances’s move to McPherson, Henry and Fanny would join the family already in Abilene. Denominational histories and family lore suggest that the move was inspired by hope for greater support for the Evangelical Visitor. Henry’s Scottish restlessness, combined with the lure of the potential of a healthier climate for Fanny, who by this point was quite ill with cancer, and perhaps a longing to be closer to her daughter, may have also played into the decision. With the uncertainty in the west triggered by drought and declining student numbers,  Frances would resign from her teaching position so she could care for her mother during her last days.
Dark days of grief followed Fanny’s death in October 1894. Days before her 35th birthday, Frances reflected on the painful events of the past months:
I have left McPherson because many things there became distasteful to me. and I found I was fast losing interest. . . . I am glad I resigned and went home to be with that dear mother in her last days. . . that I could be with dear dear mother during those long months of pain and anguish and minister to her . . . . Now I can do no more for her and my eyes overflow as I think of the broken home. What is home without a mother? No home! None! True dear father still lives and I do think of him, but the link that keeps the family together is broken.
Historian Nancy Theriot has noted that the late nineteenth-century generation was the least married group of women in United States history, with a record 13 percent remaining single.”2 On Fannie’s death, four of her eight adult children—Frances, her older sister Lydia, and younger siblings Ida and Albert—were living at home.43] Lydia would soon relocate to Chicago to work with Sarah Bert at the Brethren in Christ mission there. Despite social wisdom being that there were “positive virtues” in remaining single, Lydia and their younger sister Ida would soon marry. On Henry’s part much to his disappointment, church leadership would soon place the editorship of the Evangelical Visitor in other hands. As Frances put it in her journal, leaving “his affairs” unsettled, Henry, now age 73, would return east to start a new life. With the support of a new wife, Kate Brenneman, 51, a career woman who served as matron of the Messiah Home for the Aged in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Henry would continue to exercise denominational leadership until his death seven years later. Frances was at a total loss as the family moved on. Relief came with her maternal uncle Cyrus Rice’s invitation to come to Chicago to study at the university there where as she put it, “I so longed to be.” For her, this was an answer to heartfelt prayer.
Feminist scholars have highlighted the significance of intimacy and supportive relationships among nineteenth century women, and the power that they held in home and community. Reading between the lines of Frances’s grief, it is fair to say that with her mother’s passing, that world was gone. Although the details are largely hidden in the silences of history, what we do know of Henry and Fanny Davidson’s large family tell us that Frances had grown up participating in the women’s world of the nineteenth-century farming community in Wayne County. In their growing up years, she and her 12 siblings had found stability in their mother’s steady presence and management.50] Fanny was there during Henry’s long absences that were integral to his work as a minister. Running the farm while her husband was doing ministry was only the tip of the iceberg. It was mother’s role to create and maintain harmony in the family and to protect the young ones from potential hazards in open fires, boiling water, medicine, creeks, the well, and disease.52 Mothers educated and trained the children in the home, to ensure that they became “upstanding, Christian, self-disciplined and capable adults.”53] When husbands were away, they were the ones holding family devotions, so important in the evangelical home. In Jane Errington’s words, the good mother was “virtuous, discrete, pure, tender, and loving. When the need arose, she could also be strong, supportive and untiring.5 Spiritually, as Nancy Theriot has expressed it, mothers practiced “complete self-surrender.”
“After that dear mother left us for the glory world in Oct, I felt like one lost,“ Frances mourned in her journal. “There was nothing for me to do.” Insisting that it is necessary to read into the silences, literary scholars have hypothesized that girls both learned what it meant to be a woman from their mothers, at the same time fearing becoming their mothers.” Her mother gone, Frances was heart-broken, but she still carried her mother’s, grandmother’s, and great-grandmother’s name. With the family home disbanded, was Frances the one who had been chosen as the “secret bestower of possibility” of which literary scholar Carolyn Heilbrun has written? Was it “the inadequacy” of her “mother’s life” that whetted Frances’ “appetite for more”?
We can only hypothesize. As Gerda Lerner has so aptly insisted:
. . . women have been denied the power to define, to share in creating the mental constructs that explain and order the world. Under patriarchy the record of the past has been written and interpreted by men and has primarily focused on the activities and intentions of males. Women have always, as have men, been agents and actors in history, but they have been excluded from recorded history.
We must read between the lines as we interpret Frances’s taking out her pen on the evening of her 35th birthday, soon after beginning studies at University of Chicago:
[The]date reminds me that I am exactly thirty-five years old today, and have lived half the time allotted to man. How old I am getting and yet how little I have done! Thirty years I have spent in the schoolroom in some form and it seems to me that I do not remember the time I was not very busy except when visiting this winter, and I would far rather be busy than visit. How thankful I feel to the dear Lord for the excellent health he has given me all through my life. Although in some respects I am wiser in experience than I was fifteen years ago, I do not feel any older physically and think that I am ready and good for at least twenty-five years hard work yet. It seems to me that if I get settled in a reasonably good place again to teach with a fair salary. I have learned that it is best for me to stay there.
And yet, she lamented: “I don’t want to go back to McPherson again. . . I don’t know why, but feel that my work there is done, whether, for good or ill, God knows which.4
Frances’s 35th birthday would be a turning point, her moment of awakening. The Frances that she revealed in her diary is the one who two years later would experience a conversion that would see her on her way to Africa. The ink flowed as she recorded with joy, a spiritual awakening:
I wish I could tell you how I feel this evening journal. Some much emotion has welled up in my being today that my cup of enjoyment was full to overflowing several times. The feeling began this morning when after several days trial I finally got into the spirit for writing that seventh book of Faery Queen and my thoughts and feelings welled up to such a pitch of rapture that pen could not carry the thought rapidly enough to the paper, and I was loath to quit when the watch warned me that it was time for me to go to class.
Now at University of Chicago, Frances’s English professor had captivated h class by bringing alive Faery Queen, this sixteenth century epic poem, often compared to Homer’s Odyssey. A major influence on nineteenth century Romantic poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Tayler Coleridge, and Lord Byron, Spenser’s Faery Queen would also inspire Frances. The six volumes provide an allegory directed to the Reformation split between Catholicism and the Church of England. They addressed the theme of transformation, suggesting that change is God’s design as a natural part of life. Themes of morality—including holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, courtesy and chastity—provide allegories serving as a backdrop for the social, political religious, and philosophical changes of the time. Did the heroine Radigund, “[a] villainous Amazonian queen” who represented Queen Elizabeth I, play a part in Frances’s imagination? Her diary is silent on that point. What she does confess is how her pen moved her to heights of rapture, as she fulfilled the class requirement to expand on the force of change in the universe that Spenser had begun in a seventh volume never finished, “The Mutability Cantos.”
Exactly what it was that so moved Frances remain in the silences of history. But we can hypothesize that during this time of dramatic change in her own life, this liminal moment when she was standing on the threshold of change, the power of Spenser’s depictions of the first Queen Elizabeth gave her a sense of a different power than her mother had held, and with their marriages, her sisters were choosing.68
That day of awakening would hold more, she continued in her confession to her trusted journal, “with my cup of enjoyment … full to overflowing.” As she so eloquently put it, a trip to the Chicago Art Institute further transformed her:
I am afraid that my aesthetic faculties will be so enlarged this day that the skull cannot contain it. At any rate, if H the “autocrat” concluded that after viewing the Alps his capacity for size was so enlarged that it would never relapse back again to its former dimensions, I am quite sure that the same is true of my sense of the beautiful. This afternoon witnessed my advent into that great world of Art from which I have been so long debarred, and where I have so often longed to go.
She had gone to see the “works of Inness,” an impressionist painter revered by American popular culture that one of her classes had studied. She continued to confide in her journal: “Then as we passed into room after room and saw the exquisite painting by celebrated artists of whom I had of but read but never expected to see my heart was so filled with emotion that I had much ado to know myself. . . . To think that I should see that great work the ‘Immaculate Conception’ by Murillo,” among “Rosa Bonheur’s cattle scenes. . . ‘Needlessly Anxious’ by Zimmrman. . . ‘That Evening market Scene’ by Van Schendel, . . .then works of Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens.”
Later, as she attempted to capture her experience in words, she confessed a deep, deep longing:
Beauty, in its supreme development, invariable excites the sensitive soul to tears. There seemed to be in me a longing and restlessness, a desire for something higher and beyond. My feelings as I rode home in the car and caught glimpses of lake [Michigan] at the crossings of the streets was of that kind that lay too deep for tears.
Her awakening came with a conflict familiar in historiography on evangelical intellectuals. Confessing at length the “pleasure in the association of the classroom” and the “pain when one thinks of the zeal put forth by so many to belittle the religion,” she chose the teaching of her childhood. Keeping the vision of “the transfigured face of my sainted mother,” and the “simple trust I feel in my heart in a Redeemer,” close to her heart, she confessed to her journal on July 7, 1895 that although her Chicago days were closing with uncertainty, she remained confident that God would continue to provide a way forward.
Financial pressures curtailed the fruitful time in Chicago where Frances so delighted in the “enlarge[ment] of her ‘mind,’” as she put it. She had accumulated a $250.00 debt for her education, and teaching positions were difficult to come by. Her pen’s long silence suggests that her return to the dusty town of McPherson was born more of necessity than of desire. It would be 18 months before she would return to her journal.
The opening line on January 18, 1897 illustrates that it apparently seemed longer since she had felt drawn to her journal: “It has been several years since I last wrote in you Journal and I feel that I must again come to you and tell you how the Lord has blessed me”:
Last Friday I felt that the Lord had really called me to go into the Foreign Mission Field for him, and Oh! What a feeling came over me. How I longed to show even in a small measure how I loved Him. . . . It seemed to me that my work here much as I enjoy it is nothing compared with the privilege of carrying the glad news of salvation to those who sit in darkness. I felt the burden of souls so upon my heart and I prayed and fasted that the Lord might reveal his will then and there concerning that work. I made a complete surrender unto Him and felt that he accepted me without any reserve. Oh! What a blessedness filled my soul! I wept for joy I felt so full of the love of God that I did not care for bodily food, and I feel convinced that He wants me to go and work for Him. . . .777]
Her conversion moment came immediately upon reading an article in the Evangelical Visitor requesting volunteers willing to pioneer in overseas mission. It is unlikely that this came as a surprise to Frances. Although records are silent, the decisive meeting had been held in nearby Abilene. With her love for the church, she was quite likely there. Furthermore, her parents’ home denomination, the United Brethren in Christ, had sponsored mission work since the 1850s, with the Church of the Brethren adopting their mission plan during her time at Ashland.
With his background and the Davidson support of Brethren schools, it is hardly surprising that her father was one of the chief supporters of missions among the Brethren in Christ. Frances would have known well that her father was one of the denomination’s main voices in favour of missions; quite likely she would have been aware that his public insistence that women “were more effective than men” in the enterprise fell in line with the cultural norm of the gender balance that had recently tipped in favour of women. She may have even considered the potential for education that the mission field provided, where African historian Chukwudi Njoku has put it, there was “the space to shine and flourish, the space to be creative, the space to be in charge and in authority in a way that could . . . never have been available to . . . her at home.”
Frances’s conversion falls within the broader framework of women’s experience. Feminist scholars have noted that “women of the past often wrote as if they had not initiated some step into prominence but rather been called to it by God.” In the long tradition of Christian mysticism, in that moment Frances set aside reason, to respond to “sudden revelatory insight.” In The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, Gerda Lerner has shown how throughout history mystical experience has provided women with “the assertiveness and authority necessary to speak, teach and influence. . . . ” “I could not mistake his voice. It was so loud,” Frances wrote. Comparing her experience to that of the great mystic of the early church she continued, “I feel as Paul must have. While I planned one thing, the Lord took complete hold of me and turned my face in another direction.”
The Brethren in Christ of Frances’s time would have recognized the language of “complete surrender” and conviction and the strong emotional response. And yet her father was not convinced. A few days later she confided in her journal: “Father thinks it so much an undertaking and that I have not counted the cost.” In the end, her father did acquiesce: “It is painful to say yes, but how can I say no?” Similar to female mystics from medieval times until her own era, Frances’ conversion moment had given her the authority to take the step that would lead her into the opportunities that mission activity would provide for this talented and capable Brethren in Christ woman.
Davidson’s journals provided a safe place where she could explore and articulate the self that emerged and developed as she charted a course markedly different from that of her mother, her grandmothers, her eight sisters, extended family, and other women in her circles. Her little brown note books became a place where she could articulate conflicts in her life, and confess, as she struggled with what it meant to be a strong Brethren in Christ woman, a woman with a deep love for her faith community and her family, but one with an unusual intellectual capacity and leadership potential. For the modern reader, they give glimpses into the passionate, mystical spirituality, accompanied by clear thought that gave rise to her call to put herself forward as the first volunteer in the denomination for overseas missions.
Similar to the nineteenth-century women in the Methodist tradition whose ministers encouraged them to write, Frances Davidson used her journal to confess and to articulate her internal conflicts, the discouragements, and the great joys that she experienced in her spiritual life. As historian Marguerite Van Die has suggested, journal writing was a place where women could exercise the power “in the telling of one’s experience through words and images,” where “one begins to own it and allow it to shape one’s life.”91 As other women charting new territory, Frances’s life was in conflict with what she knew; she had no blueprint. Women’s records were scarce. Her journals provided a safe place where she could confess as she took her individual task of mapping herself, and her world.
 Solomon Zook Sharp, The Educational History of the Church of the Brethren (Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing House, 1923), 155; Wendy Urban-Mead has suggested she taught German and Greek. See “An Unwomanly Woman and Her Sons in Christ: Faith, Empire, and Gender in Colonial Rhodesia, 1899/1906,” in Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812–1960, ed. Barbara Reeves-Ellington, Kathryn Kish Sklar, and Connie A. Shemo (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 97.
 Earl and Ellen Brechbill, interview with Lucille Marr and Phyllis Marr Harrison, Grantham, PA, July 18, 2000.
 H. Frances Davidson, South and South Central Africa: A Record of Fifteen Years’ Missionary Labors among Primitive Peoples (Elgin, IL: Brethren Publishing House, 1915). Nancy Heisey has pointed out how unusual this sort of travel literature was among Brethren in Christ missionaries. See “Shaped by Travel: MCC and Mennonite Mobility,” in A Table of Sharing: Mennonite Central Committee and the Expanding Networks of Mennonite Identity, ed. Alain Epp Weaver (Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2011), 168, 185.
 Martin Schrag, “The Brethren in Christ Attitude toward the ‘World’: a Historical Study of the Movement from Separation to Increasing Acceptance of American Society,” (PhD diss., Temple University, 1967), 282-83.
 Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), 54.
 E. Morris Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” in Nine Portraits: Brethren in Christ Biographical Sketches (Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978), 159-214. See also Sider, “Sara Hoover Bert,” in Nine Portraits, 17-48.
 All five articles/parts of Davidsons’s journals are edited by E. Morris Sider and each begins with the title, “The Journal of Frances Davidson;” all appear in Brethren in Christ History and Life: “Part 1: The Early Years (1861-1895)” 8, no. 2 (August 1985): 103-23; “Part II: The Call to Africa (1895-1898)” 8, no. 3 (December 1985): 181-204; “Part III: The First Years in Africa (1898-1904)” 9, no. 1 (April 1986): 23-64; “Part IV: The Founding and Early Years of Macha Mission (1904-1908)” 9, no. 2 (August 1986):125-49; “Part V: The Later Years (1908-1931)” 9, no. 3 (December 1986): 284-309.
 Wendy Urban-Mead, “Girls of the Gate: Questions of Purity and Piety at the Mtshabezi Girls’ Primary Boarding School in Colonial Zimbabwe: 1908-1940,” Brethren in Christ History and Life 25, no. 1 (April 2002): 3-32; Wendy Urban-Mead, “Religion, Women and Gender in the Brethren in Christ Church, Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, 1898-1978,” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2004); Wendy Urban-Mead, “An Unwomanly Woman and Her Sons in Christ: Faith, Empire, and Gender in Colonial Rhodesia, 1899/1906,” in Competing Kingdoms: Women, Mission, Nation, and the American Protestant Empire, 1812–1960, ed. Barbara Reeves-Ellington, Kathryn Kish Sklar, and Connie Shemo (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 94-116.
 Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” 159.
 Urban-Mead, “An Unwomanly Woman,” 110.
 Margo Culley, “Women’s Vernacular Literature: Teaching the Mother Tongue,” in Women’s Personal Narratives: Essays in Criticism and Pedagogy, ed. Leonore Hoffmann and Margo Culley (New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1985), 14.
 Virginia Walcott Beauchamp, “Letters as Literature: The Prestons of Baltimore,” in Women’s Personal Narratives, 47.
 The Church of the Brethren valued higher education in a way that the Brethren in Christ were slower to accept. See, for instance, D. Ray Heisey, Healing Body and Soul: The Life and Times of Dr. W.O. Baker 1827-1916 (Grantham, PA: Brethren in Christ Historical Society, 2004), 313; Donald F. Durnbaugh, Fruit of the Vine: A History of the Brethren: 1708–1995 (Elgin, IL: Brethren Press, 1997), 258; Sharp, Educational History of the Church of the Brethren, 31.
 Hannah Frances Davidson, personal diary, January 21, 1881, Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives, Messiah College, Grantham, PA. Hereafter, Davidson’s diaries cited as HFD Diaries. Quotations from Davidson’s Diaries appear as they were written. I have not attempted to correct grammatical errors.
 Betty Jane Wylie, Reading Between the Lines: The Diaries of Women (Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 1995), xvi.
 Fannie Rice Davidson’s name and story are absent in Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson.”
 Earl D. Brechbill, The Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill: A Historical Narrative (Greencastle, PA: printed by author, 1972), 56; “Fannie!/Fanny E!/Frances ‘Franny or Fanny’ E Rice! Davidson!,” Ancestry.com, accessed August 22, 2016, http://search.ancestry.ca.; 1860 United States Census, Family History Library Film 805050, information from Susie Holdenfield.
 Fannie Rice (Davidson) was born in Pennville, Fayette, County Pennsylvania on January 11, 1831 to Samuel and Frances Strickler Rice (1802-1870). Since the time of Frances’s great-grandmother, Frances Stewart Strickler (1772-1838), the family had lived in Fayette County. Find A Grave Memorial #95499749, created by Susan Matthews; 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, accessed August 25, 2016 by permission of Mark Myers. Although Hannah Frances would have no children, there were Fannies and Fannys in the next generation as well. Her mother’s sister Nancy Galley named her first daughter Fanny, Henry Strickler’s Will, Ancestry.com, accessed August 25, 2016 by permission of Myers; Hannah Frances’s twin siblings Henrietta Davidson Brechbill and Henry Davidson also each named a daughter Fannie, Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 28, 34.
 In Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue (New York: Guilford Press, 1985), 22, Rabbi Edwin Friedman asked, Which of your ancestors really ordained you?
 Frances quite disliked being called Hannah according to her niece Anita Brechbill, telephone conversation with the author, July 24, 2013.
 Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 55-57; S. J. Kleinberg, Women in the United States 1830-1945 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 140; Elizabeth Jane Errington, Wives and Mothers, School Mistresses and Scullery Maids: Working Women in Upper Canada 1790-1840 (Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press,1995), 20-21.
 Nancy M. Theriot, Mothers & Daughters in Nineteenth-Century America: The Biosocial Construction of Femininity (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1996), 12-13, 120.
 M. J. Heisey, Peace and Persistence: Tracing the Brethren in Christ Peace Witness through Three Generations (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2003), 8; D. Ray Heisey, Healing Body and Soul: The Life and Times of Dr. W.O. Baker 1827-1916 (Grantham, PA: Brethren in Christ History Society, 2004), 279; Kleinberg, Women in the United States, 157.
 HFD Diaries, March 31, 1881.
 Ibid., January 22, 1881.
 James Garfield was raised by his widowed mother who struggled to maintain her family on an impoverished farm in Ohio. A Republican, he was elected President on March 4, 1881, 12 days before Frances’s speech. “James Garfield,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed June 7, 2017, https://www.britannica.com/biography/James-A-Garfield.
 HFD Diaries, March 16, 1881.
 Ibid., February 11, 1881.
 Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, comp. and ed. John M. Gresham (Philadelphia, PA: John M. Gresham and Co., 1890), 78.
 Carlton Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ (Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1978), 107; M. J. Heisey, Peace and Persistence, 7.
 On the significance of the post for communication as geographic distance separated families in nineteenth century United States, see David M. Henkin, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 3-4.
 HFD Diaries, January 30, 1881.
 Durnbaugh, Fruit of the Vine, 292; D. Ray Heisey, Healing Body and Soul, 318.
 Lucille Marr, “Reverend Henry Davidson (1823-1903): Maintaining and Creating Boundaries,” in Historical Papers 2014, Canadian Society of Church History, ed. Bruce L. Guenther, Todd Webb, and Marilyn Färdig Whiteley (n.p.: Canadian Society of Church History, 2014), 9.
 Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” 161.
 Kleinberg, Women in the United States, 136; Sharp, Educational History of the Church of the Brethren, 96, 146.
 Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 58; Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” 162.
 Kleinburg, Women in the United States, 133-34.
 Durnbaugh, Fruit of the Vine, 324.
 Sharp, Educational History of the Church of the Brethren, 188.
 HFD Diaries, March 2, 1895.
 Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 117.
 HFD Diaries, March 11, 1895; See also Sider, “Sara Hoover Bert,” 24-25.
 Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 58.
 Ray M. Zercher, To Have a Home: The Centennial History of Messiah Village (Mechanicsburg, PA: Messiah Village, 1995), 28; Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 58; HFD Diaries, March 11, 1895.
 HFD Diaries, March 2, 1895.
 Margaret Conrad, Toni Laidlaw, and Donna Smyth, No Place like Home: Diaries and Letters of Nova Scotia Women (Halifax, NS: Formac, 1988), 137; Diary of a European Tour: Margaret Addison, ed. Jean O’Grady (Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 1999), xxix; Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 27; Carolyn Heilbrun, Women’s Lives: the View from the Threshold (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 18.
 Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 24, 35.
 HFD Diaries, March 2, 1895.
 Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 56; W.M. Weekley, Twenty Years on Horseback or Itinerating in West Virginia (Dayton, VA, n.d.), 90-92, cited in Mary Lou Funk, “The Best and the Worst of Times,” in Paul R. Fetters, Trials and Triumphs: History of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Huntington, IN: Church of the United Brethren in Christ Department of Church Services, 1984), 197; Durnbaugh, Fruit of the Vine, 317-18; Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 18-19.
 Errington, Wives and Mothers, 69.
 Ibid., 72; see also Kleinberg, Women in the United States, 60; Michael Gauvreau, “The Empire of Evangelicalism: Varieties of Common Sense in Scotland, Canada, and the United States,” in Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, The British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990, ed. Mark A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, and George A. Rawlyk (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 230.
 Marguerite Van Die, “’The Double Vision’” Evangelical Piety as Derivative and Indigenous in Victorian English Canada,” in Evangelicalism, ed. Noll, Bebbington, and Rawlyk, 260-261.
 Errington, Wives and Mothers, 67.
 Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 22, 28.
 HFD Diaries, March 2, 1895.
 Heilbrun, Women’s Lives, 50; Wylie cautions that readers must look for the silences when reading diaries. “We learn as much from what people don’t say as from what they do.” Reading Between the Lines, 101; Theriot, Mothers & Daughters, 63.
 Heilbrun, Women’s Lives, 52-53.
 Ibid., 86.
 Gerda Lerner, Why History Matters: Life and Thought (NY: Oxford University Press, 1997), 207.
 Heilburn, Women’s Lives, 17-19.
 HFD Diaries, March 11, 1895.
 For a contemporary convert to The Faery Queen, see Brenton Dickieson, “On Reading the Faerie Queene for the First Time,” A Pilgrim in Narnia, June 3, 2015, https://apilgriminnarnia.com/2015/06/03/fq/.
 HFD Diaries, March 13, 1895; see “Portraiture of Elizabeth I of England,” Wikipedia, accessed June 6, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portraiture_of_Elizabeth_I_of_England.
 “The Faerie Queen” by Edmund Spenser, enotes, accessed May 20, 2017, https://www.enotes.com/topics/faerie-queene/critical-essays/faerie-queene-edmund-spenser.
 Heilbrun, Women’s Lives, 3, 18-19;“The Faerie Queen, Edmund Spenser: Essay,” enotes, accessed May 20, 2017, https://www.enotes.com/topics/faerie-queene/critical-essays/faerie-queene-edmund-spenser.
 HFD Diaries, March 13, 1895.
 See for instance, Richard Allen, “Religious and Political Transformation in English Canada: The 1880s to the 1930s,” Chancellor’s Lectures 1991, Queen’s Theological College, Kingston, Ontario, cited in Van Die, “’Double Vision,’” 255.
 HFD Diaries, July 7, 1895.
 Ibid., March 15, 1895; Women in the United States, 81.
 Ibid., July 7, 1895.
 Ibid., January 18, 1897.
 Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” 163-64.
 Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience, 196n21; Durnbaugh, Fruit of the Vine, 350; Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 58.
 Wittlinger, Quest for Piety and Obedience, 169; see, for instance, “Notes on the Work of Conference,” Evangelical Visitor, June 15, 1890, 185; see also Barbara Welter, “She Hath Done What She Could: Protestant Women’s Missionary Careers in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Women in American Religion, ed. Janet Wilson James (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980), 119.
 Chukwudi Njoku, “The Missionary Factor in African Christianity, 1884-1914, in African Christianity: An African Story, ed. Ogbu U. Kalu (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc., 2007), 197.
 Heilbrun, Women’s Lives, 17, cited in O’Grady, in Diary of a European Tour, xxxii.
 Lerner, Why History Matters, 66.
 Ibid., 88.
 HFD Diaries, January 18, 1897.
 Ibid., January 29, 1897.
 Anita Brechbill; Sider, “Hannah Frances Davidson,” 164.
 Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-seventy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 99-107.
 Earl D. Brechbill, Ancestry of John and Henrietta Davidson Brechbill, 56-57; in Diary of a European Tour, xxii, O’Grady has suggested that women need private spaces for “religious emotional introspection.”
 Marilyn Färdig Whiteley, Canadian Methodist Women, 1766-1925: Marys, Marthas, and Mothers in Israel (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2005), 11.
 Marguerite Van Die,”‘A Woman’s Awakening’: Evangelical belief and Female Spirituality in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Canada,” in Canadian Women: A Reader, ed. Wendy Mitchinson.. (Toronto: Harcourt Brace, 1996), 64.
 O’Grady, Diary of a European Tour, xxiii.
Author: Lucille Marr
Lucille Marr is chaplain and academic dean at The Presbyterian College, Montreal, and adjunct professor at McGill University School of Religious Studies. She has published a number of articles and books on Mennonite and other church history.