Kate Brownlee Sherwood (1841-1914)

Tribute to Poland’s Famous Poetess

The Washington Times-
Sunday Evening Edition, Feb. 15, 1914

• Mrs. Kate Sherwood, Writer and Patriotic Leader, Dead
• Legislator’s Wife is Victim of Paralysis
• Son Losses Race From Ohio in Attempt to see Mother
Before her Death
• Funeral Tomorrow at Congress Hall Hotel
• “Poetess of Congressional Circle” was Chief of Group who
Studies Art and Letters

Mrs. Kate Brownlee Sherwood, seventy-two years of age, wife of Congressman Isaac R. Sherwood of Ohio and for many years prominent thru-out the country as a leader in patriotic affairs, died at her apartments in Congress Hall Hotel this morning at 3:15 o'clock. Death was due to paralysis. She had been ill about a month. At her bedside were General Sherwood, who had remained by his wife's side ever since she had been stricken and Miss Lenore Sherwood, an only daughter. In a race with death from his home in Ravenna, Ohio, to reach the side of his mother before the end came, James Sherwood, an only son, lost. He arrived five hours after his mother had breathed her last.”
“She was born in Poland (Township), Ohio, the daughter of Judge James and Mrs. Rebecca Brownlee. While in her teens, she married Isaac R. Sherwood, then a newspaper editor and lawyer. After the Civil War the Sherwoods moved to Toledo, Ohio, and Mrs. Sherwood was of invaluable assistance in helping her husband to gain political honors.”

“She contributed to leading periodicals, and has published a volume of patriotic selections, entitled "Camp Fire and Memorial Poems." Her verses appear in several standard volumes, including the "Union of American Poetry and Art," and "Through the Year with the Poets." In 1883 she served as National President of the Woman's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, and for some years has edited the Woman's Department of time National Tribune, Washington. D. C.”
In the early 1800s Judge James Brownlee owned a large farm located in the northeast corner of Boardman Township. This area is now called Brownlee Woods and was annexed to the City of Youngstown in 1923. James and his brother also owned 400 acres at the mouth of Yellow Creek which later became the City of Struthers. Katharine Margaret Brownlee grew up in Poland Township (Struthers) and went to school in Poland where her talent as a writer was soon recognized. At the age of 18 she met a 24 year old newspaper editor named Isaac Sherwood who was then attending the Ohio Law College located here in Poland, Ohio. They were married on September 1, 1859 and moved to Bryan, Ohio, where they published the Williams County Gazette.
The day following President Lincoln's call for Volunteers, Isaac Sherwood left the newspaper business and enlisted as a private in the Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). He was sent to West Virginia and fought at Laurel Mountain, Cheat River and Carrick's Ford. Later he took command of the 111
th OVI with the rank of Colonel and participated in many of the battles in and around Atlanta. President Lincoln made Sherwood a Brevet Brigadier-General, for his long and faithful service, and conspicuous gallantry at the battle of Franklin, Tenn. General Sherwood, having participated in both the first and last battles of the war, was finally mustered out on July 15, 1865. He returned to Toledo, Ohio and his wife, Kate, who was now a famous Civil War Poetess.
While her husband was off fighting in the war, Kate Brownlee Sherwood was busy at home writing and publishing patriotic verse. Her poems were treasured by soldiers, veterans, and all those wives and mothers who had husbands and sons in battle. Most popular of her poems were “Drummer Boy of Mission Ridge”, “Forever and Forever”, and “The Old Flag”. No true American can hear “The Old Flag” read without being stirred and inspired. Its closing verse is as follows:

O flag of our fathers! O flag of our sons! O flag of a world’s desire!
Through the night and the light, through the fright and the fight,
through the smoke and the cloud and the fire,
There are arms to defend, there are hearts to befriend, there are souls
to bear up from the pall.
While thy cluster of stars broodeth over the wars that justice and mercy befall!
There are breast that will clasp it, when tattered and torn,
there are prayers to brood like a dove.
There are fingers to fashion, to fold unto fold, and hands that will wave it above,
While the rub-a-dub, dub, dub, rub-a-dub, dub is beating the marches of Love!

Among Mrs. Sherwood’s varied poems was one historical, “The Pioneers of the Mahoning Valley” read in Youngstown in 1877. It began when the “sturdy Yankee came,” and marked the changes to the valley in thirty-three verses. The last verses are:

O valley rich in sturdy toil, We hail thee queen whose beauty won
In all that makes a people great, Our fathers in the golden years;
We hail thee Queen of Buckeye soil, A shout for greater days begun,
And fling our challenge to the State. A sigh for sleeping pioneers.

"Democratic Salad" was one of the best known writings of Mrs. Sherwood. This salad, she wrote, was composed of "a handful of hospitality, a heartful of good cheer, a headful of common sense; mix with the oil of joy, flavor with faith, hope and charity; serve liberally at the festive board, and keep the door wide open to all comers."