Voices from the Garden will be the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women’s achievements when a dozen life-sized statues of women find their place on a newly constructed plaza. The addition of these Virginians – representative of the state’s regions, its 400-year history, and the diversity of achievement, ethnicity and thought that has made the Commonwealth what it is today – will complete the story of Virginia told at Capitol Square, and celebrate the importance of women in that history.
Voices from the Garden draws visitors into an oval forum to interact with the twelve women who await them. At the center stands a bronze sundial on a granite pedestal. Tempered glass panels, a metaphor for the social filter that has long obscured women’s accomplishments from public view, provide space for the names of additional important women of history, with room to add the names of women of today and tomorrow.
The twelve women selected to represent over 400 years of Virginia history reflect various spheres of influence and geographic areas of the state:
Anne Burras Laydon (ca. 1594 – after 1625) Jamestown – Arrived as a 14-year-old maid in 1608 aboard the Mary and Margaret. Anne and her mistress were the first two female settlers in the colony. She was a seamstress in the colony, who survived harsh treatment and the “starving time” to marry and raise a family.
Cockacoeske (fl. 1656 – d. 1686) Middle Peninsula – A Pamunkey chief who signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677, reuniting, under her authority, several tribes, as well as establishing the Pamunkey Reservation. She ruled for 30 years.
Mary Draper Ingles (ca. 1732 – 1815) New River Valley – A Scots-Irish immigrant who moved to Virginia as a teenager, she was taken captive by Shawnee during the French and Indian War. She escaped, traveled 600 miles back to her home, and operated the Ingles Ferry, which was vital to her rural community.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802) Fairfax – While she was not referred to as First Lady, she was the first woman to hold the position, during George Washington’s presidency, and will serve as the representative for the wives of all eight Virginia-born presidents.
Clementina Bird Rind (ca. 1740-1774) Williamsburg -Took over the editorship and management of the Virginia Gazette, after the death of her husband; under her leadership the newspaper remained official printer of the colony.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818-1907) Dinwiddie County – A slave who bought her freedom, she became Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant during the White House years. She established the Contraband Relief Association, which provided support for recently freed slaves and wounded soldiers.
Sally Louisa Tompkins (1833-1916) Mathews County – Captain Sally Tompkins established Robertson Hospital in Richmond to treat wounded soldiers when few, if any, women held the top administrative position. Her hospital had the lowest death rate of any during the Civil War due to her skill and standards.
Maggie L. Walker (1864-1934) Richmond – The first African-American woman to charter a bank in the United States, with the founding of the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond.
Sarah Garland Boyd Jones (1866-1905) Richmond – The first African-American woman to pass the Virginia Medical Examining Board’s examination. She helped found a medical association for African-American doctors, opening a hospital and nursing school in 1903 which ultimately became Richmond Community Hospital.
Laura Lu Copenhaver (1868-1940) Smyth County/Marion – Expanded southwestern Virginia’s agricultural economy, as director of information for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, by emphasizing cooperative marketing of farm products to improve the standard of living for farm families. She established Rosemont Industries.
Virginia Estelle Randolph (1875-1958) Henrico County – Virginia developed a nationally-recognized approach to education, creating a successful formula based on practicality, creativity, and involvement from parents and the community.
Adèle Goodman Clark (1882-1983)-Richmond – Active suffragist who became president of the League of Women Voters in 1921. Adele was instrumental in the establishment of the Virginia Art Commission, She is considered to be one of the founders of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
To see more details about the Monument and and other information about the Women’s Commission, please visit the Women’s Monument Commission Website.