Juliet Virginia Humphreys Strauss
Birthplace: Rockville, Ind.
Juliet Humphreys was the second of four daughters of William and Susan King Humphreys. Following her father's death in 1867, when she was only four years old, Humphreys was raised by her mother, who encouraged young Juliet in her education and her writing. She attended public schools in Rockville and was still a teenager when her writing ability caught the attention of John H. Beadle, owner of the Rockville Tribune. Her first contribution to the paper, written under a pseudonym, was a satire on a society ball. On Dec. 22, 1881, Juliet Humphreys married Isaac Strouse, an editor at the Tribune who later became partners with Beadle in running the paper. She preferred to use the old German spelling of her husband's name, Strauss.
On Feb. 9, 1893, she began a weekly column for the paper, “Squibs and Sayings.” Since by this time she was busy at home with two young daughters, she wrote mainly about the joys of domestic life and her own common-sense observations. Eventually her column caught the attention of Indianapolis News editor Charles R. Williams, at whose invitation Strauss began writing a weekly feature signed “The Country Contributor” in 1903. From 1905 until her death in 1918, she wrote another column offering homespun wisdom for the Ladies' Home Journal, the leading women's magazine in America at that time.
Strauss's claim to fame does not rest entirely on her literary talents, however. In 1915 she spearheaded a campaign to save Turkey Run (also known as Bloomingdale Glens), an area of virgin forest just a few miles from her Rockville home. She wrote to governor Samuel Ralston, who appointed her to a commission charged with preserving the forest. In 1916, the commission was merged with a new state parks committee headed by Richard Lieber.
Strauss wrote during a period known as the Golden Age of Indiana Literature, when Hoosier authors such as James Whitcomb Riley, Lew Wallace, George Ade, Theodore Dreiser, Strauss, and others gained national acclaim. Following her death, the Indianapolis News praised her writings, saying “One can read in them a love of simplicity and genuineness, and earnest and honest faith, a hatred of sham and pretense, and a belief in the home and family as the great educators.” Four years after her death a memorial was erected to her memory at Turkey Run State Park.Died: 5/22/1918