Susan Lawrence Dana
Susan Lawrence Dana
was a woman of her
time and decades ahead at the same time.
In the early 1900s, Susan
was searching for the meaning of life as so many of us do after experiencing personal tragedy - and Susan's life had been full of tragedies up to this point.
had been pregnant twice but both children had died as infants.
Devastated at losing her
entire family in just a few years, Susan
used the inheritance to become occupied with something else.
In 1902, she
decided to remodel the now-outdated 30 year-old home her
father had built.
Instead of going with a local Springfield architectural firm that had worked with her father, Susan chose a 35 year-old architect from Chicago known for his innovative style.
Frank Lloyd Wright had never had a patron as wealthy as Mrs. Dana
up to this point and turned her "remodeling" into a grand experiment for his ideas.
After almost two years of construction, Susan
opened the new house, by hosting a Christmas party for the artisans and workers who had built her
home and their families.
In an attempt to find direction and comfort, Susan
tried reaching out to her
father and husband through seances and spiritualist letters, asking them for guidance.
Answers from the beyond indicated that Susan
could anticipate a "very high mission" and that she
would know her
"great mission" when it appeared.
In 1912, Susan
found love again.
In 1918, Susan Lawrence Dana
found herself in her third marriage, a loveless relationship to a close family friend, Charles Gehrman.
Still believing that life held some great purpose for her, Susan began attending lectures at the First Christian Church on "Applied Psychology".
Suffrage for women arrived in 1923 and Susan
spent five hectic months leading a campaign for equal rights for women as the legislative chair for the Illinois branch of the National Women's Party
Enlisting the help of her
friends in the Society for Applied Psychology
, the National Women's Party
circulated campaign literature to legislators, their wives, and women across Illinois.
In June 1923, the bill failed but Susan continued to be active in politics, joining other prominent local women to form the Sangamon County Republican Women's Club.