The Diaries ofGertrude T homas
Gertrude Thomas led an extraordinary life during Georgia’s pre-, during, and post-Civil War Reconstruction periods. Her journals were first published in 1957 as a valuable source for historians studying her time period.
Her father provided her with something rare among planter wives of her class: formal education. In her journals she recorded everything from child loss and war-time horrors to poverty caused by emancipation.
Early Life and Education
Carolyn Curry’s meticulous study reveals how Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas persevered through some of Georgia’s most troublesome times by drawing upon her diaries and other sources to bring to life this fascinating figure’s experiences during one of Georgia’s turbulent periods. Carolyn shows how Thomas’s indomitable spirit helped her overcome wartime dislocation, postwar deprivation, and her loss of all family wealth.
Her strength of character allowed her to remain involved in civic and social organizations, serving on the board of Women’s Christian Temperance Union as well as being a member of United Daughters of the Confederacy, National American Woman Suffrage Association and Augusta YWCA and Methodist Hospital for Women philanthropic causes. Additionally she enjoyed gardening and was patron of the arts.
Gertrude Thomas held leadership positions in many civic and social organizations over her lifetime, most notably being involved in temperance and women’s suffrage movements.
Clanton was the daughter of Turner Clanton, an Augusta planter and member of the state legislature, and Mary Luke Clanton. Because of his wealth, she enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle coupled with educational opportunities few women were permitted to access during her day.
In 1852, she married Princeton-educated James Jefferson Thomas and began what was to be an idyllic marriage. Unfortunately, however, six children died before and during the Civil War was devastating to both their wealth and her family’s finances – leaving the Thomas family bankrupt and leaving historians fascinated. Through these trying times she kept a journal which eventually became the focus of historical analysis.
Achievement and Honors
Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was born into a life of wealth and privilege in Augusta. Her father was an influential Augusta planter, so Thomas spent her childhood enjoying his estates as well as traveling with her mother to social events across Georgia.
As Georgia was besieged by war, her family fell into poverty, forcing Thomas into activism for women’s rights. Thomas’ story is one of perseverance and ingenuity that is still relevant today, according to Andrea Birch, Dean of Brenau’s School of Fine Arts and Humanities. She offers us an inspirational message of “sisterhood and faith”.
Carolyn Newton Curry, an alumna of Simmons College and noted historian, has spent three decades researching Thomas. Carolyn Newton Curry recently published Suffer and Grow Strong to showcase Thomas as an unforgettable historical protagonist.
Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, more commonly known by her moniker Gertrude, was born near Augusta to Turner Clanton – an influential planter and member of Georgia state legislature – on September 11, 1834. As one of the wealthiest women of her antebellum South time period, Gertrude enjoyed an exquisite early life full of leisure that included fashionable clothes by top designers as well as travel opportunities throughout her region.
As soon as the Civil War broke out, Curry began keeping a diary, documenting her understanding of its consequences for both her family and southern society as a whole. She also pursued a career as a schoolteacher despite not belonging to her class – something few women her age would consider considering; Curry suggests her experiences during childbearing years with its high rates of miscarriage and infant death helped her cross class lines and empathize with women from diverse backgrounds.
Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was born into one of Georgia’s wealthiest families and lived an extraordinary lifestyle during her era. Thanks to her father’s immense estate (worth an estimated 2.5 million Confederate dollars in 1864), she could attend society parties, travel extensively and pursue an education – something few women of her time could.
Her life before, during, and after the Civil War was chronicled in 13 journals; through losses such as her children and friends’ deaths, financial collapse, poverty, illness and social upheaval she still maintained an indomitable spirit that made her an activist in temperance and suffrage movements.
Boyle currently owns 526,517 shares of Columbia Sportswear Company – this accounts for roughly 10 percent of their shares – as well as owning an apartment in New York and other assets.