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Harriet Williams Russell Strong: Wikis


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Harriet Williams Russell Strong
Born July 23, 1844(1844-07-23)
Buffalo, New York
Died September 6, 1926 (aged 82)
Los Angeles County, California
Occupation Inventor, Philanthropist, suffragist and women's rights activist

Harriet Williams Russell Strong (July 23, 1844 – September 6, 1926) was an American social activist, inventor, Conservationist, and leading figure of the early woman's movement. She is a member of the National Women's Hall of Fame.


Childhood and family background

Harriet was born in Buffalo, N.Y., fourth daughter of Henry Pierrepont and Mary Guest (Musier) Russell, and a descendant of William Russell, a native of England, who came over in the early part of the seventeenth century with his brother-in-law and sister, Lord and Lady Brooke, and Lord Say and Seal, and settled in Windsor, Conn. Her grandfather, Judge Samuel Russell, of New York city, was commissary-general in the war of 1812, and her father was postmaster of Buffalo and later adjutant-general of Nevada. Mrs. Strong was educated by private teachers and at Miss Mary Atkins Young Ladies Seminary at Benicia, CA, the family having gone west soon after her birth, on account of her mother's ill health.

Marriage and family

She was married at an early age, and was left a widow in 1883 with four daughters. Her husband's property, consisting of mines and other lands in Southern California, was involved in litigation lasting eight years. She has since devoted her attention to the management and development of this estate, which was known as Ranchito del Fuerte in San Gabriel Valley, California. It was largely planted with walnut and orange trees, and yielded profitable returns. In 1897 she drilled a number of artesian wells, and to utilize the water thus obtained purchased 1,000 acres of land five miles away, installed a pumping plant, and incorporated the property under the name of the Paso de Bartolo Water Company, of which she was president, and her two daughters, respectively, treasurer and secretary, and issued bonds amounting to $110,000 to carry on the enterprise, selling the property four years later at a handsome profit.

Inventor & Water Conservationist

Mrs. Strong made a study of water problems, including the control of flood waters and water storage. She was the first person to advocate source conservation as a flood remedy, proposing a succession of dams in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river to conserve the water for irrigation purposes and the generation of electricity. On Dec. 6, 1887, she was granted a patent for a dam and reservoir construction. Her invention consists of a series of dams, one behind the other, to be constructed in a valley, canyon or watercourse in such a way that when the water has filled the lower dam it will extend up to a certain height upon the lower face of the second dam, and thus act as a brace and support for the dam above it. She obtained another patent, Nov. 6, 1894, on a new method for im pounding debris and storing water. She was awarded two medals for these inventions by the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL, in 1893. In 1918 she appeared before the congressional committee on water power and urged the government to store the flood waters of the Colorado river by constructing a series of dams by her method in the Grand Canyon, (which in its full capacity is 150 miles long), and thus control floods and increase irrigation water, making avail- able thousands of acres of land and unlimited power for generating electricity.

Later years

Strong had considerable talent as a musical composer; she published a number of songs and a book of musical sketches, and has for many years been vice president of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra Association. She was the founder of the Ebell Club of Los Angeles, serving as its president for three consecutive terms. She was also a member of the Friday Morning and Ruskiu Art clubs of Los Angeles, and became the first female member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce[1], and of the executive board of the Inland Waterways Association of San Francisco. She was a delegate to the annual convention of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, in Chicago, in 1918, representing both the Whittier and Los Angeles chambers of commerce, being the first woman delegate to attend those conventions. She was a member of the board of directors of the Whittier Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of its flood control committee, and member of its Law and Legislative committee, also a member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Legislative committee. She was married in Virginia City, Nev., to Charles Lyman Strong, and has three daughters: Mary Lyman, wife of Dean Mason, of Los Angeles; Harriet Russell and Nelle de Luce Strong. Her third daughter, Georgina Pierrepont, wife of Hon. Frederick C. Hicks, of New York, died in Washington, Jan. 1, 1918.


Text from 1921 Biographical Sketch, in the Public Domain

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