Clara Barton touched many lives as the Civil War’s “Angel of the Battlefield” and later as president of the American Red Cross. Behind the scenes, others supported her efforts and kept her household running smoothly. Among the many Black people Barton employed over the years, none maintained a closer, longer-lasting relationship with Barton than Emma Jones of the Gibson Grove community in Cabin John. The story of their relationship will be the subject of a Montgomery History online presentation at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
In “The Nurse and the Midwife: The Story of Clara Barton and Emma Jones of Gibson Grove,” researcher Paige Whitley traces the relationship from its beginnings and Jones’ own successful career as a midwife in lower Montgomery County. To register for the free presentation, go to https://montgomeryhistory.org/mhconnected/watch/.
Clara Barton, who was born in 1821, was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher and a patent clerk. Since nursing education was not very formalized at the time and she did not attend nursing school, she provided self-taught nursing care.
On April 19, 1861, the Baltimore Riot resulted in the first bloodshed of the American Civil War. The victims, members of the 6th Massachusetts Militia, were transported after the violence to the unfinished Capitol Building in Washington D.C., where Barton lived at the time. Wanting to serve her country, Barton went to the railroad station when the victims arrived and nursed 40 men. Barton provided crucial, personal assistance to the men in uniform, many of whom were wounded, hungry and without supplies other than what they carried on their backs. She personally took supplies to the building to help the soldiers.
Ms. Barton is noteworthy for doing humanitarian work and civil rights advocacy at a time before women had the right to vote. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1975, the Clara Barton National Historic Site, located at 5801 Oxford Road in Glen Echo, was established as a unit of the National Park Service at Barton’s home. She spent the last 15 years of her life at that home.