Biography of Kate Harrington
Kate Harrington, born Rebecca Harrington Smith and later known as Rebecca Smith Pollard, was an American teacher, writer and poet.
She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania on September 20, 1831. She spent her most productive years in Iowa. Her father, Prof. N.R. Smith, was a playwright and an authority on Shakespeare. She was married to New York poet and editor Oliver I. Taylor. Harrington was the anonymous author of Emma Bartlett, or Prejudice and Fanaticism, a fictional reply to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, intended to expose the hypocrisy of Know-Nothingism.
Harrington’s family moved to Ohio, then Kentucky, where Harrington worked as a teacher. Later, she taught in Chicago. Harrington lived in various Iowa cities, including Farmington, Keosauqua, Burlington, Ft. Madison and Keokuk. She began her writing career with the Louisville Journal, whose editor opposed secession and was an important influence in keeping Kentucky in the Union.
In her Letters from a Prairie Cottage, Harrington included a children's corner with tales about taming and raising animals and of a cat who adopted orphan chicks. Harrington also wrote other children’s books, including a primer and a speller. Pollard's work in the field of reading represented a pioneer effort in terms of creating a sequential reading program of intensive synthetic phonics, complete with a separate teacher's manual and spelling and reading books, and moving into a broad based graded series of literature readers. Her series is important for its high correlation of spelling and reading instruction, for its concern for the interests of children, for its incorporation of music into the process of learning to read, and as the forerunner for other phonics systems. Her readers were used in every state in the Union and were still in use in Keokuk, Iowa, as late as 1937. Few women have single-handedly contributed so much to the field of reading.
In 1869, she published a book of poems entitled Maymie, as a tribute to her ten-year-old daughter who died that year.
Emma Bartlett received mixed reviews when it was published in 1856. The Ohio Statesman gave her a very good review but the Cincinnati Times said, "We have read this book. We pronounce the plot an excellent one and the style charming, but she has failed to fulfill the intended mission of the book." It accused her of also showing prejudice and fanaticism typical of the politicians that she tried to defend.
In 1870, Harrington published "In Memoriam, Maymie, April 6th, 1869", a meditation on death and suffering, written on the occasion of the death of Harrington's young daughter.
In 1876, Harrington published “Centennial, and Other Poems,” to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the first official World's Fair to be held in the United States. The volume included many poems about Iowa, as well as selected poems of Harrington's father, Prof. N.R. Smith, and illustrations of the Centennial grounds in Philadelphia.
Kate Harrington, or Rebecca Harrington Smith Pollard wrote all of her life. She was 79 years old when she produced the poem, “Althea” or “Morning Glory,” which relates to Iowa. She died in Ft. Madison on May 29, 1917.
Kate Harrington Poems
The Eastern Star
Most worthy Patron, Matron, friends, The blue sky fondly o'er us bends; This grand old river at our feet Listens, as if 'twould fain repeat
While thousands throng each crowded mart, And gaze around in mute surprise, I turn with an adoring heart To thee, fair mirror of the skies.
A Temperance Poem
Mr. Lionel Lightfoot, a man, you must know, Whose life had been upright and blameless, To the capital's chamber came three years ago From a county that here shall be nameless.
The End Of The Rainbow
' Come, Nellie !' I cried, on a clear April day, When the sunbeams kept kissing the shadows away, ' The rainbow has lit on the hill, and, you know, We might find heaps of gold at the end of the bow.'
The Mississippi River
There is not in the wide world a river as grand As the one whose bright waves lave my own native land ; From the dear mother-lake which it leaves with a sigh, And murmurs, at parting, a tender good-by,
My Mother's Glasses
I opened a worn trunk yesterday, Sitting alone in my quiet room, And sighed as I saw them folded away, ― The garments there,― for the form that lay
The Shadows On The Wall
Fever sapped my very life-blood, frenzy fired my tortured brain, And the friends who watched beside me, felt their lingering hopes were vain. I was going —going from them, all unconscious of their fears ; Hastening to the Silent Valley, deaf to moans and blind to tears.
Old Settler's Song
Right here, where Indian fires were lighted, Long, long ago; Where dusky forms, by rum incited, Danced wildly to and fro;
My Father's Birthday
It is dreamy, soft October, And there's brightness everywhere; From the golden sheaves of sunlight Gleaming in broad fields of air,
Legend Of The Indian Summer
I have learned a simple legend, Never found in books of lore, Copied not from old tradition, Nor from classics read of yore ;
Came she with the April dawning ; Such a tiny, tender thing, Little sisters thought a seraph Bore her earthward 'neath its wing.
Iowa's Centennial Poem
A hundred years ago to-day A barren wild our borders lay; Our stately forests grandly stood Wrapped in majestic solitude.
When sin came among us, and Eden was lone, The pitying Father was kind ; For He robbed not the woman of one melting tone, Nor bade her leave beauty behind.
One beautiful evening in summer, Ere the sunbeams had vanished from sight, When they stooped down to kiss the green prairies, And bid all the flowers ' Good-night' ;
Came she with the April dawning ;
Such a tiny, tender thing,
Little sisters thought a seraph
Bore her earthward 'neath its wing.
And they said her harp was heavy
As her golden, starry crown,
Else the kind bestowing angel
Would have tried to bring it down.