1840 - 1914

Excerpt from The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1927

A short biography of the local, Kingston, woman who wrote several wonderful books about the history of Esopus and "Old Kingston". Miss Forsyth also wrote the wonderful Ballad of Old Kingston found here as well as at least one hymn praising God's hand in forming the new country of America.

Mary Isabella Forsyth was born January 3, 1840. She was the daughter of the Hon. James Christie Forsyth, a prominent lawyer and judge of Ulster County, and his wife, Mary (Bruyn) Forsyth, daughter of Severyn Bruyn. Miss Forsyth was the sister of Jennie Forsyth, John and Severyn B. Forsyth. All were active in philanthropic work for town, county and State. On both paternal and maternal sides she was descended from distinguished families, and she took pride in an ancestry which included Colonial pioneers, Revolutionary heroes, and leaders of public affairs. Her great-grandfather, Lieutenant-Colonel Jacobus Severyn Bruyn, was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati organization composed of officers of the American Army of the Revolutionary War. Miss Forsyth was responsible for the organization, in 1893, of the Wiltwyck Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, of which she was the first regent. One might say as a matter of course, she became regent for the State of New York and later on, one of the vice-presidents-general of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also a member of the Society of Colonial Dames. In 1875 she established the Kingston Industrial Home for Children and lived to witness the fruition of her early ambitions in providing a shelter for children. She was well known in all philanthropic and religious work, being a devout supporter of the First Reformed Church of Kingston and a tireless worker for social betterment.

In literature Miss Forsyth showed marked ability in prose and verse. Much of her work was published in the leading magazines. The visitor to Kingston will find their desire for a short local history supplied in her "The Beginnings of New York, Kingston the First State Capitol." Her verse is pleasing and instructive.

Miss Forsyth was very active in the Industrial Home (Children's Home) of Kingston that she had been instrumental in founding in 1875. She was a major supporter of the Home and wrote the following poem for an annual fundraising meeting in 1903.
          From the Kingston Freeman issue of January 28, 1903;

They are coming, they are coming!
    Put your ear upon the ground.
You can feel a far vibration,
    Hear a strangely solemn sound.

Lo! The steps of homeless children,
  Who in helpless suffering seek
The pity and protection
  That the strong should give the weak,

From the homes of honest labor,
  Where the head was stricken down,
From the haunts of degradation
  In the slums of every town,

From the highways and the byways
  Of remoter hill and plain
They are coming, surely coming –
  Shall we let them come in vain?

O, the lives that go to ruin—
  That before our eyes are wrecked
In the tides of deep corruption
  We allow to roll unchecked!

“Lend a hand” to save the children
  Standing shivering on the brink!
You may free the prisoned angel
  Far, far oftener than you think!

Let us share with them our treasure,
  Be it time, or wealth, or home,
In a love that knows no measure
  “Let the little children come.”

“In his name,” who gently gathered
  Such of old upon His knee,
Saying “Whosoe’er receiveth
  One such child receiveth Me.”


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