Obituary Of Isabella Batchelder James (1810-1901)
Boston Evening Transcript, Wednesday, August 7, 1901, Page 13 of 16
Mrs. Isabella James, who died Tuesday [August 6, 1901] at her residence, Beaumont House, Ottery, St. Mary, Devonshire, England, was born Sept. 19, 1810, in the old Barrett mansion at New Ipswich, N. H. She was the fifth child of Samuel and Mary (Montgomery) Batchelder. While a child the family moved to Lowell, Mass., then East Chelmsford, and later to Saco, Me. Mrs. James was educated at the school of the Misses Inglis in Boston. In 1842 her father bought the John Vassall house on Brattle street, Cambridge, from which his daughter was married Dec. 2, 1852, to Thomas Potts James of Philadelphia, Pa., a noted botanist and fellow worker with Dr. Asa Gray. Mrs. James’s home was in Philadelphia until 1869, when, on the death of her mother, she returned to Cambridge to keep house for her father. During these seventeen years in Philadelphia she was active in philanthropic and church work, and was one of the early directors of the School of Design for Women. At the breaking out of the Civil War she offered her house as a hospital to Massachusetts volunteers and was unceasing in her labors in the hospitals and in the Sanitary Commission. At the great Centennial Fair in Philadelphia in 1864, she was the head of the Department of Relics and Curiosities that netted a good sum for the wounded soldiers. After the war she was head of the Women’s Freedmen’s Commission, who sent teachers to the South, and later of the Episcopal Freedmen’s Commission. She was chairman of the Cambridge Ladies’ Centennial Committee that published the historical sketch of “Cambridge in 1776,” to which she contributed. From time to time she wrote for various magazines, North American, Lippincott’s, etc., and her occasional letters to the Transcript were always welcome. Mrs. James was one of the first in this neighborhood to collect antique china. She made a deep study of the manufacture of porcelain and pursued her investigations abroad. She wrote a family history of the Potts family of Pennsylvania that involved much historical research. In 1885 she went to live in Devonshire, England, where her daughter Frances Batchelder married Lieutenant J. Rose Troup, the Congo explorer, and lived with her. A year and a half ago she fell and injured her hip, and since then has been an invalid. Her two sons, Montgomery and Clarence Gray James, died in Philadelphia some years ago. Mrs. Troup and the elder daughter, wife of Captain S.M. Gozzaldi survive her.