1854–1929
Lydia Avery Coonley, L. A. Coonley

Introduction

illustration

Born: Jan­u­ary 31, 1845, Lynch­burg, Vir­gin­ia.

Died: Feb­ru­ary 26, 1924, Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois.

Cremated: Grace­land Ce­me­tery, Chi­ca­go, Il­linois.

Pseudonym: Lo­is Cates­by.

portrait

Biography

Lydia was the daugh­ter of Ben­ja­min Frank­lin Av­e­ry and suf­fra­gist Su­san Howes Look. Born into a weal­thy family, she be­came an heir­ess to the Avery Plow Works fortune.

She mar­ried twice: to John Clark Coonley (1867, Lou­is­ville, Ken­tuc­ky) and Hen­ry Au­gus­tus Ward (1897, Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois).

Coonley is re­mem­bered as a so­cial lead­er, club­wo­man and writ­er. She be­longed to ma­ny so­cial groups, in­clud­ing the Chi­ca­go Wo­men’s Club (she was its pre­si­dent 1895–96), the Cor­don So­ci­e­ty, the So­ci­e­ty of Mid­land Au­thors, the Fort­night­ly, and the Lit­tle Room.

She let her house be used as a sum­mer school for as­pir­ing ar­tists and teach­ers, and host­ed plays at her home. She was al­so a spon­sor of the Free Lib­ra­ry in Wy­om­ing, New York.

After her re-mar­ri­age, to Hen­ry Ward, she helped him grow his me­te­or­ite col­lect­ion.

Works

Coonley be­gan writ­ing for the Home and Farm news­pa­per in 1878, un­der the name of Lo­is Cates­by. She al­so wrote for the Wy­om­ing Re­port­er. Her oth­er works in­clude:

Poem

Ninetieth Psalm

Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place
Through generations past;
Before the mountains were brought forth,
While earth was chaos vast;
Thou art from everlasting known
To everlasting—God alone.

A thousand years within Thy sight
Are but as yesterday
When it is past—or like a watch
That measureth night away.
As with a flood Thou carriest them,
They are as sleep that falls on men.

Like grass are they, that flourishing,
In morning hours is found;
At eventide it is cut down,
And withereth on the ground.
Thine anger doth our souls consume,
Thy wrath doth fill our hearts with gloom.

Our days are three-score years and ten;
Like oft-told tale those years.
Though strength should fore-score number them,
They are but work and tears;
For life is soon cut off, and then,
We fly, and know not where or when.

So teach, us Lord, to count our days
That we find wisdom’s heart.
Return! with mercy satisfy!
Let gladness be our part.
According to our time of fears,
May we rejoice through all our years.

Unto Thy servants’ eyes, dear Lord,
Let all Thy work appear;
Thy glory to their children show,
That love may conquer fear.
Our handiwork do Thou make strong,
And let Thy beauty be our song.

Lydia Arms Avery Coonley Ward
Under the Pines, 1895

Sources

Lyrics