Saturday, March 2, 2013

27. Grandmother's Dream: The Houghtons

Grandmother's Dream
By Becky Brown

Caroline Garlinghouse Houghton had a dream for her three daughters. Widowed and well-to-do, she set her sights on Bryn Mawr College for each girl. After being diagnosed with cancer at age 38 she spent her last months making preparations for the future. She did not want her daughters, ages 12 to 16, raised by rich relatives with very different values.

Caroline Garlinghouse Houghton (1856-1894)

Before Caroline died she enrolled the girls in a secondary school that specialized in preparing girls for Bryn Mawr and rented them a house nearby. Her dreams were set aside once they were orphaned. Caroline's brother-in-law Amory Houghton took over the girls' guardianship. As president of Corning Glass Works he had the money and self-importance to believe he knew what was best for girls and that did not include a college degree. Katherine and Edith challenged their uncle in court and found their own guardian, a family friend who also believed girls should get an education.

Katherine Martha Houghton

Katherine (1878-1951), Edith (1879–1948) and Marion (1882-1968) each fulfilled their mother's dream and graduated from Bryn Mawr. Katherine did graduate work at Radcliffe and Edith went on to medical school at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Edith married medical student Donald Russell Hooker and Katherine married medical student Thomas Hepburn who opened a practice in Hartford, Connecticut. Marion went on to Columbia University, married Stevens T. Mason and moved to Detroit.
Edith Houghton

Each Houghton was active in social work, in the fight for women's rights and each raised her own children to believe in the equality of women and the necessity of having a voice. Marion was President of the Detroit Equal Suffrage League and of the League of Women Voters. Edith is remembered as an important figure in the fight for Maryland women's rights. She was an organizer and publisher, editing the Maryland Suffrage News and a later journal Equal Rights.

Edith Houghton Hooker in the 1920s at right,
 seated next to Alice Paul

Katherine organized the Hartford Equal Franchise League and was president of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. She and Edith, influenced by Emmeline Pankhurst and Alice Paul, were members of the more radical arm of the American women's movement, the Women's Suffrage Party.

Katherine's daughter remembered picketing the
Wilson White House as a child with her mother.
The woman wearing the Bryn Mawr banner
above might very well be a Houghton.

Once the battle for women's suffrage was won Katherine fought to legalize birth control with childhood friend Margaret Sanger. She was on the Board of Directors of Sanger's National Committee on Federal Legislation on Birth Control.

Katherine Houghton Hepburn with her six children about 1920

Katherine's main claim to lasting fame has been her namesake daughter Katherine Hepburn, the movie star, who told Life Magazine in the 1940s, "My mother is important. I am not."

Grandmother's Dream can recall Caroline Houghton who never knew her grandchildren but whose dreams lasted beyond her death.
Grandmother's Dream
By Dustin Cecil

The pattern is a variation of one given that name by the Ladies' Art Company pattern house (BlockBase #4107.)
BlockBase #4104
is the variation here.

8" Pattern above; 12" below.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block (12" in red)
 A - See the templates. Or cut 8 rectangles 5-1/4" long by 1-1/2" (7-3/16" x 2") and trim the ends at 45 degree angles.


B - Cut 4 squares 2-1/2" (3-1/2")
C - See the templates. Cut 4. 

Grandmother's Dream
By Becky Brown

Read a family summary of Edith Houghton Hooker's life here:
Katherine Houghton Hepburn (the elder) is in the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame. Click here:
Edith Houghton Hooker is in the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

The pattern, made this week as a block, was also done as a mosaic type of design made of a square and an elongated hexagon. Here's a cheerful version from the 1940s or '50s.


  1. I love this block. However, the link to the templates is not working for me. Says the format is wrong. Can you just post the pdf? Thanks again for this series. It is just wonderful. I am making the quilt, and keeping all your posts, and plan to give it and them to my granddaughter on her 18th birthday. :)

  2. Agreed! This one is special as I'm piecing this in honor of my own grandma; she often spoke of the importance of voting. She was a teenager in 1920! (And, I'm a fan of Katherine Hepburn. Fun!) I'm learning so much about suffragists and their cause. Thanks, Barbara Brackman, for this great project!!

  3. Sue Hilton - The 'g' is missing in the link. I was able to copy/paste the link+g to open the pdf.

  4. I can't open this PDF, the address is not avaliable ! thanks

  5. I just woke up and tried it and fixed it. Sorry. It should work now.

  6. Beautiful! Just noticed the template .PDF is labeled Week 26

  7. I've read a lot about Katharine Hepburn & knew about her mother's work on birth control, but I didn't know about how her mother got her education. Fascinating. Actress Katharine Hepburn also went to Bryn Mawr where she was an indifferent student and started acting. Don't know if she graduated. Just as well the way things turned out. Her unconventional and outspoken public persona also did a lot to encourage women to step forward, don't you think?

  8. Re: The template numbering. I switch the order around and forget to change all the numbers. Re: Katherine Hepburn---she certainly was a great screen model for an independent woman and for wearing pants.

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  10. Today I read about the 3/3/1913 March on Washington. So much of this history I've not known, and now I do thanks to your instigation of renewed interest. Thanks!

  11. What a wonderful, wonderful article. Thank you. Katharine Hepburn was always a favorite of mine because she was so genteel. I see she got that from a line of women of steel. =)

  12. Looking through an old book on historical quilts and found The Suffragette Quilt (AKA Emma Civey Stahl Quilt) c. 1875, now owned by MOMA. The author of Wrapped in Glory sees this quilt as ironic because quilting and needlework at that time was deemed symbolic of women's subjugation.

  13. Tribute to Edith Houghton Hooker, from Baltimore!!!