Mary Agnes Chase

AGROSTOLOGY/GRASSES

BIOLOGY

DAUGHTER OF A BLACKSMITH

In 1869, Mary Agnes Meara was born in Iroquois County in Illinois. Mary’s father was a railroad blacksmith and her family changed their last name to Merrill to avoid the prejudice faced by working-class Irish immigrants. He died when she was only two years old and her family moved to Chicago. Mary’s family was poor, so when she finished grade school, she had to go to work at the newspaper to support them and wasn’t able to continue her formal education.

THE EXPOSITION

When she was only nineteen, Mary married a man in the newspaper business and changed her name to Mary Agnes Chase, but her husband died of tuberculosis a year later. In 1893, Mary and her nephew attended Chicago’s ...

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