Katharine Elizabeth Foote

Katharine Elizabeth Foote was born May 31, 1840. She was a writer and journalist, known by her married name Kate Foote Coe. Her husband Andrew J. Coe was the first judge of the Municipal Court of Meriden, Connecticut. After he died in 1897, a biographical sketch of her appeared in An historic record and pictorial description of the town of Meriden, as follows:

“Kate Foote Coe, widow of Judge Andrew J. Coe, was born in Guilford. Conn., May 31, 1840. She is one of a family of ten children, a daughter of George A. and Eliza (Spencer) Foote; and her mother, still living, is possessed of good health and all her faculties at the age of 93.

Her ancestry on her father’s side includes General Ward, of Revolutionary fame, and Colonel Andrew Ward, an officer in the French and Indian wars. The place at Nut Plains, Guilford, in which she was born, has been in the possession of the family for many generations and the first apple trees planted in New Haven county were brought here by her forefathers.

As a girl she attended the Guilford district school, afterwards Miss Dutton’s Private School at New Haven, and later the Guilford Institute and High School. After having acquired sufficient training she began her career as a teacher.

The first school over which she presided was the district school of her native village; later she taught at the Hartford Female Seminary. In 1863 she went south and during the latter part of the Civil war taught among the blacks.

One of her sisters was Harriet Ward Foote, who died in 1885 and was the first wife of General Hawley who later became United States senator from Connecticut. During the war she with Mrs. Hawley joined him at different points.

From Beaufort, S. C, where she first taught the negroes, she went to St. Augustine, Fernandino and Jacksonville, Fla., in all of which both she and Mrs. Hawley did their utmost in a noble, womanly way to alleviate suffering humanity and enlighten the helplessly ignorant. After the close of the war Miss Foote continued teaching.

The work of her pen has ever delighted the reading public and for many years she has contributed fiction to the best magazines. For fifteen years she was the Washington correspondent of the Independent and during her extended stay at the national capital she secured the fullest confidence of many of the country’s famous men and women; and today it is probable that she enjoys as wide an acquaintance as any woman of New England. This acquaintance, coupled with the knowledge of the people of this and other countries, in which she has traveled extensively, has been of profit to the readers of her writings.

While in Washington she became interested in the welfare of the Indians and after the death of her sister, Mrs. Hawley, who was the first president of the Washington branch of the National Indian Society, she became the head of that society. In carrying out the duties of the office from 1886 to 1895 she traveled extensively over sections of the country inhabited by the Indians, and accomplished much in establishing schools and hospitals for them.

In 1886 she accompanied Miss Alice Fletcher, who had previously done much for the Indians, to Alaska. The party sailed from Port Townsend in a schooner and made the extended and somewhat perilous trip only under difficulties; and her companions, upon the advice of Charles Dudley Warner and General Hawley, were sent by the government to study the customs and needs of the nations. It is needless to state that they were greatly aided in the work by Miss Foote, whose observations were also helpful in her literary work.

Her extensive travels to other quarters of the globe have also broadened her scope of information. Her first trip abroad was in 1872 when she spent a year in Europe. Some time after her celebrated trip to Alaska she visited Japan in company with the daughter of Moses Beach, of Peekskill, N. Y., and while there making her headquarters at the American Legation, was also entertained by the wives of leading Japanese officials, including Baroness Matsuki, in whom she found a constant friend.

In her travels Mrs. Coe has found and improved the opportunity of studying the people also in the Philippine Islands, Mexico, Jamaica and Trinidad and upon her marriage with Judge Andrew J. Coe she spent a winter in Caracas, Venezuela. Her married life, which was highly congenial, was saddened only by the poor health of her husband which in two years was ended by his death, a sad blow from which she has never fully recovered.

Upon the death of her husband she returned to Meriden and for some time thereafter conducted the Coe farm from which she held a life income, but a few years later she surrendered her interests to the future heirs and removed to New Haven, taking up her residence with her sister, Mrs. Edward H. Jenkins, whose husband, Dr. Edward H. Jenkins, is director of the Agricultural Experiment station of Connecticut, and where she has since resided also with her aged mother.

Mrs. Coe has for many years been a leader in the Daughters of the American Revolution. After having been one of the charter members of Mary Washington chapter, D. A. R., of Washington, D. C, she became a member of Susan Carrington Clarke chapter, D. A. R., of Meriden. Of this chapter she has been the regent since 1895. She is also a member of the Washington Ladies’ Club of Washington, D. C. Her interest in Meriden is unbounded from her pleasant associations with it and Meriden is proud to claim her as its own.”

3 Responses to Katharine Elizabeth Foote

  1. Dennis says:

    I found a picture of Kate Foote as a volunteere in Beaufort, SC in 1862 teaching two African American women.

    It is in The Civil War: Confederate Ordeal, The Home Front.” by Steven Channing, 1984 page 142. Pretty neat, eh?

  2. Richard McGrath says:

    You have the wrong date of death for Judge Andrew Coe

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