Brown, Hallie Q.
|ELIZA ANN GARDNER -- 1831--1922|
None knew her but to love her
None named her but to praise ."
Eliza Ann Gardner was born in New York City, May 28, 1831. Being the daughter of an enterprising contractor for sailing vessels, her family was always comfortably situated. In 1845, when Eliza was fourteen years old, her family took up residence in Boston, at West End on North Grove Street, which section of the city was then largely populated by colored families. Eliza's early schooling was acquired in the only public school for colored children that Boston ever had, and at the feet of anti-slavery leaders. As a student she excelled, being an extremely apt pupil. The keenness of her mind and the retentiveness of her memory were marvelous. Because of her scholastic brilliancy, in the course of her education she won several scholarships.
As a young woman, Eliza learned the trade of dressmaking, and did needle work on the first banner made for the Plymouth Rock Lodge of Odd Fellows. After the death of her parents she inherited the homestead located at 20 North Anderson Street, Boston, where she continued to work at her trade. She devoted practically all of her time to church work and to the cause of anti-slavery. For this reason her home was a veritable "Bethel," being one of the stations of the famous "Underground Railroad,"--in the days of William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Wendel Phillips, Charles Sumner, Lewis Hayden, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and countless others with whom Miss Gardner was personally acquainted. She was associated with these great people as a guardian of the liberties of the oppressed. One of Miss Gardner's hobbies was to acquire positions for our girls in the business places
Eliza Ann Gardner was known as the "Julia Ward Howe" of the Negro race, and as such they paid her annually an unfailing tribute upon her birthday. She was connected with various temperance organizations, and with the first Colored Women's Club of Boston--"The Women's Era." Her influence was strong in all the branches of the A. M. E. Zion Church, local, national and international. Bishops and general officers, as well as pastors, held her in high esteem. In 1909 Miss Gardner organized "The Butler Club of Zion Church," and was president until her death. The celebration under the auspices of this club brought together in immense concourse of her large circle of friends.
After reaching the age of ninety, Miss Gardner died in Boston January 4, 1922.