The following chapter of "Women of Distinction: Remarkable in Works and Invincible in Character" by Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs has been generously donated by his granddaughter. Dr. Yvonne Scruggs Leftwich, and her siblings.

In 1893 Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs published a book containing biographies of ninety-one women of African descent whose work resulted in significant contributions to the nation. The book is being published again by his granddaughter, Dr. Yvonne Scruggs Leftwich and her siblings. The book was written before women had the right to vote. Women could not participate in many institutional processes in this democracy and African American women were marginalized even more. In his Preface Dr. Scruggs wrote, “If in such a short time of greatly abridged citizenship our women have accomplished so much, and if many of these heroines mentioned did develop such giant intellects during those dark days of our history, may we not be encouraged to make more diligent, protracted efforts in this brighter age?” 

Lucie Johnson Scruggs

by Dr. Lawson A. Scruggs from Raleigh, NC

144917Mrs. Lucie Johnson ScruggsPath Press Inc



All persons are, to some extent, the products of their environments. The majority of people, measured by their usefulness, reach in society only a mediocre position; some fall below the middle point; while others, despite unfavorable surroundings and straitened circumstances, reach in life positions of worth, honor and usefulness. Many persons born in slavery are examples of the last named class. Not the least among them was Mrs. Lucie Johnson Scruggs, the wife of L. A. Scruggs, M. D. She was the youngest of four children, and was born a slave in Richmond, Va., October 14, 1864. As a child she was somewhat timid, therefore did not easily become attached to every one with whom she came in contact; showing also in a marked degree the infusion of Indian blood in her veins by the strong manifestation of like or dislike for person or persons. Until she was nine years old she had known very little of any association or companionship outside of the grandchildren of the family whose slave her mother formerly was and with whom she lived until 1873. She was noted during childhood for her clear conception of things and received unusual care from the white family.

She entered the public schools of the city at the age of nine years. The first year's work was very thoroughly done by the aid of her sister, a few years her senior, who was then in the fourth grammar grade. Lucie was promoted twice every session, always showing an unusual talent for mathematics. Having been kept out of school a part of two winters by illness attributed to too rapid growth, it was thought expedient to try a change of climate. Consequently, after having been in the high school only one session, she left Richmond highly recommended for Shaw University at Raleigh, N. C. She graduated from this institution in May 1883, and went to New York City, where her mother then resided. While in school she won many friends by her sweetness of disposition and ready sympathy, and Lucie Johnson (as she was then known) was a favorite with all her school-mates. 

In October of the same year, shortly after the death of her only brother, she went to Chatham, Va., to teach school. In May 7884, she returned to her home in New York, and she and her sister opened a private school for little girls, which they managed very successfully for four years, Lucie taking charge principally of the musical part. Several white girls were among the pupils, one of whom married a noted professor of music.It was during these four years that she wrote many articles for the Richmond Planet and other race journals. In 1886 she published a grammar designed for beginners, entitled "Grammar-Land". This work in itself would have placed her name high among the literary fraternity, being her original method as a teacher. It was at once comprehensive and simple, enabling the child to grasp the lesson to be learned, and placing before it such examples that the most stupid could not fail to receive some information.

On the evening of February 22, 1888, she was married to Dr. L A. Scruggs, of Raleigh, N. C., who had won her heart while she was yet a school-girl. They were married at St. Mark's M. E. Church, New York, by Rev. H. L. Morehouse, D.D., assisted by the pastor, Rev. Dr. Monroe. Their union proved a happy one,and was blessed with two children.

Soon after her marriage she wrote a drama, "Farmer Fox," which was played in Blount Street Hall. Her attention being taken by housekeeping and other duties, she gave very little time to literary work. Mrs. Scruggs was always admired for her unfeigned modesty. She became a Christian when she was fourteen years of age and joined the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Va. After her marriage and removal to Raleigh she united with the Blount Street Baptist Church of that city. She died November 24, 1892, after a brief but severe illness.

When a child Mrs. Scruggs was called "The Flower of the House" and in after years she proved herself a veritable "Flower." Cheery of disposition and extremely entertaining she was the most charming of hostesses, while as president of the Ladies' Pansy Literary Club, which was organized by her, she blended firmness with gentleness. Those with whom she associated felt the influence for good which emanated from her. Nor did it stop there, but extended to all with whom she came in contact. It may truly be said of her that:

"None knew her but to love her,

None named her but to praise."

The following is a notice of her death which appeared in the New York Age and was copied by the Ringwood Journal: RALEIGH, N. C., November 28, 1892.—On the evening of the 24th inst. the soul of Mrs. Lucie T. Scruggs, beloved wife of Dr. L. A. Scruggs, fled to the God who gave it. Her illness, which was of short duration, but exceedingly painful, was borne with sweetest patience and calm resignation. To her husband she was a devoted wife, a loving companion and a most efficient manager of his business affairs. She was a tender and fond mother to her children. Mrs. Scruggs was a member of the Second Baptist Church and the King's Daughters' Missionary Society. She organized and was twice elected president of the Pansy Literary Society, and at the time of her death had planned to organize a Sewing Circle for the purpose of teaching the industry to such girls as were ignorant of it.

The following taken from the Gazette, Raleigh, N. C. shows the esteem in which she was held in that city:

The news of Mrs. Scruggs' demise carried consternation all through the city. While many knew she was sick but few thought that death was so near, and at this writing our beautiful city is buried in sorrow and tears, and our community loses one of its purest and brightest characters and society its purest gem. Not within the writer's memory has the death of a lady cast such gloom and left so many sad hearts. The Church loses one of its most valuable members, society its most earnest worker, and the poor their dearest friend. Wherever one went in the city the name of Mrs. Scruggs was held in high esteem. In fact, everybody loved her for her purity of character and personal charms.

For many years Mrs. Scruggs worked incessantly to create a high moral sphere among the people and occupied for a long time the chief place in many social and literary societies of the city, and not an effort was made without receiving her support for the amelioration of the poor.

As a wife she was true, as a mother loving, and as a neighbor kind. As a housekeeper she was a model, and as to her business qualities, the stricken husband owes much of his success, and to repeat his own words, "Her place can never be supplied". The citizens of Raleigh, regardless of race or sex, who knew Mrs.Scruggs regret her death while yet in the bloom of life.

The following in reference to the funeral of Mrs.Scruggs is clipped from the Richmond Planet of December 3, 1892:

Her funeral was very largely attended. Several ministers of other denominations spoke in praise of her lovely Christian life, and also offered consolation to the bereaved family. The two institutions, Shaw University and St. Augustine Normal and Collegiate Institute, suspended studies that the students might attend in a body the funeral. This was never before known in the history of Raleigh—the closing of two schools to allow their students to attend the funeral of a private citizen.

Thus passed away a most beautiful life in the morning of its usefulness, and in the quiet shades of evening the tortured, pain-racked body was laid to rest.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

"Earth's sweetest flowers bloom but to decay."

The following lines which- we subjoin are the last expressions of her pen, and in full harmony with her genial disposition as a mother.

Mother! How much that word means; how much care, trust, responsibility, power and self-sacrifice are involved in those six letters of the alphabet, m-o-t-h-e-r. Yet so many of our mothers regard that position in life as a mere trifle, as irksome, never giving one thought to the many duties resting upon them as the laying of the true foundations upon which their little innocent ones are to build. Did I say innocent? Yes, because they are truly pure and innocent when given to our care and keeping. How can you consider them irksome? Have you a mother? Then remember the pang it gave your young heart when by a look or a word your mother seemed tired of you. If you have not one (a mother), how much worse, because as you look back upon your childhood you can see how much your young heart yearned for a mother's love, a mother's care and a mother's interest. How can you expect your child to be sweet and loving if you yourself are not the embodiment of those true and noble principles? Many mothers foster the idea that being patient only spoils the child, but can you not be patient and yet be positive?

Some mothers sigh over the great responsibility, as they term it, of rearing girls, while the rearing of their boys is a pleasure, but if they were to look on the other side of the picture would they not see that if the proper care and pains were used to keep the boys' minds pure and innocent as is taken for the girls, how much less would be the shedding of tears over fallen girls?

Look at the temptations your boys are throwing in the paths of your neighbor's girls, or the temptations your neighbor's boys are throwing in the pathway of your own girls. Is this not sufficient proof that the reins should be drawn with equal force on the boys as well as on the girls? How many mothers care so much for pleasure and society that they entirely neglect the training of their little ones! Oh, mother! Remember that upon you depends the future of your children; upon you in after years will they shower blessings which will be a comfort to you in your old age if you have tried in every respect to carry into effect the meaning of the word mother. Why look upon this position so lightly? Can you find one in which you would have the power to do more, be of more real value to your neighbor, your friends and to the world than by rearing your children with such pains and care as to make them real examples to others?

It should be a pleasure as it is your duty to sacrifice, toil and study for the well-being of your children. 

Look at the noble men and women we have among us today. Ask many of them where the power lies that prompted them to such positions in life, and the answer will he, "I owe it all to my loving, patient, self-sacrificing, forbearing mother" - Ringwood's Journal. MRS.


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