Myra Sawyer Hamlin

Myra Loiusa (or Louisa) Sawyer [1] was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1856, to Frederick Adolphus Sawyer and Delia Case Sawyer. The family were descendants of Roger Conant, the "first acting Governor of Massachusetts after the Revolution."[2] Myra Sawyer's father, a graduate of Harvard, taught in schools in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire until 1859, when he "took charge of the State normal school" in Charleston, South Carolina.[3] During the Civil War, Frederick Sawyer (and, presumably, his family) returned to New England, where he campaigned for Lincoln's reelection. He moved back to Charleston in February, 1865, and took part in the reconstruction, receiving "the first [post-war] civil appointment in the state" on May 30, 1865, as collector of internal revenue in the second district of South Carolina. In 1868, when South Carolina was again able to send representatives to Congress, he became a senator (Republican) and held that position until 1873, then served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1873-1874) and held other government positions, including one on the United States Coast Survey from 1874-1880 and a special agent of the War Department until 1887.

On 15 April 1886, Myra Sawyer married Charles Eugene Hamlin. [4] Like Sawyer, Hamlin came from a family with heavy involvement in politics: his father was General Charles Hamlin, and his grandfather, Hannibal Hamlin, was Vice President during Lincoln's first term. The couple had a daughter, Louise. Charles Eugene Hamlin (who later wrote a biography of his grandfather, The Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin [1899]) was a music critic for The New York Tribune and, from about 1907, was editor of School, "a weekly devoted to the interests of school teachers." [5]

Myra Sawyer's first book, aptly titled A Politician's Daughter, was published in 1886; a decade later, she began her only girls' series, the five-volume Nan (Chicopee) series (1896-1908). She also penned a privately-printed volume, Eleazer Hamlin and His Descendants; Their Homes in 1909.

In addition to writing books, Mrs. Hamlin assisted her husband in his editorial duties for School and also reviewed books. On 27 June 1921, at age 59, Charles Hamlin died while at his office on Fifth Avenue, New York City, presumably of a heart attack. Myra Hamlin continued to live in their home at 420 W. 118th St, New York City. She died on Halloween, 1927, after a week's illness.


[1] Although catalogue cards in the National Union Catalogue Pre-1956 imprints show the spelling of the middle name as LoUIsa, according to Eugene Hubbard, who maintains the online Descendants of Maj. ELEAZER HAMBLEN/ HAMBLIN genealogical records for the Hamlin family (into which Sawyer married), the correct spelling is LoIUsa.

[2] "Mrs. Myra S. Hamlin." Obituary. New York Times, 1 Nov. 1927: 27.

[3] Information about Frederick Sawyer is from the online congressional biographical sketch and from the online Appleton's Encyclopedia. The latter gives the date for his move to South Carolina as 1851, but this appears to be in error.

[4] Information about the marriage date courtesy of Eugene Hubbard, who cites H. Franlkin Andres geneaology of James Hamlin of Barnstable, Massachusetts, as the source.

[5] "C. E. Hamlin Drops Dead." Obituary. New York Times, 28 June 1921: 15.

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Copyright 2002 by Deidre Johnson