Blind Lady Hits the Road


Brown, Henrietta. A Blind Lady's Experience in Four Years' Canvassing. .

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The bare-bones details of Henrietta Brown’s life begin her narrative: she was born in 1836, was widowed in 1858, lost her sight in 1867, and in 1875 her uncle who had been supporting her died. Brown describes herself as “compelled to drift out from home to canvass for my support.” She purchased $5 worth of books (one of which was titled Comfort for the Desponding) and began canvassing. Her practice seems to have been to go to local pastors across the Midwest, bringing letters of introduction from Illinois ministers, and ask to speak to their congregations on Sunday mornings. Much of the book describes her time on the road and encounters with saloon keepers, coachmen, and railroad conductors. The logistics of travel were difficult for her as a blind woman, but the life seems to have suited her. Henrietta Brown concludes the book: “‘A rolling stone gathers no moss,’ and ‘a setting hen never thrives.’ I have long since learned that a sitting Hen-rietta never accomplishes much by remaining still; and I have resolved to move on, and on, and on.”

Adopted by Francie Gilman in memory of Jeanie Dunnington

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