Voices from the Garden will acknowledge the genius and creativity of Virginia women and their presence and contributions to the Commonwealth. The monument is a metaphor for the often unrecognized voices that have been responsible for shaping our culture, country, and state for over 400 years. It is intended to be a thought-provoking and interactive experience that complements the more traditional heroic monuments on Capitol Square. Voices from the Garden is the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women’s achievements. Voices takes the form of an oval shaped garden that encompasses twelve bronze statues of significant women from the state, surrounded by a glass panel, etched with names of other noteworthy Virginia women. The whole monument is meant to be interactive for the visitor, by walking among the statues, each a work of art, or by using a mobile app to learn more about these women’s achievements and to hear their stories, in many cases through their own words.
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 – The daughter of recent immigrants from Ireland, Mary Draper moved with her family from Philadelphia to the Virginia frontier. They settled at Draper’s Meadow (later Blacksburg). About 1750 she married William Ingles. On July 30, 1755, Shawnee attacked the settlement, killing several people and taking Mary Ingles, her two sons, and her sister-in-law captive. They were taken to a Shawnee town near what is now Chillicothe, Ohio, where Ingles was forced to sew shirts for the men. During her captivity, her younger son died and her other son was sent to live in another town. In October after her capture, Ingles escaped with another female captive and traveled five or six hundred miles, much of it across rugged mountains and valleys. Making the last part of her trip alone and in a canoe that she discovered, Ingles encountered her husband at a frontier fort. Ingles had three daughters and another son. She and her husband moved to the banks of the New River near the site of what became the city of Radford, where in 1762 he received permission from the General Assembly to operate a ferry service. Following the publication in the nineteenth century of the story of her captivity and escape as she had told it to her youngest son, Mary Draper Ingles became one of the most famous Virginia frontierswomen.
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.