By Cecilia Estrada Elena
Division – Senior/Junior
Minerva Lewis Troy was born in Vassar, Michigan on June 9, 1873. Her father Freeborn Stanton Lewis was a physician that came to Port Angeles in 1897 (Strait History, 1). Her mother was Edna Thompson Lewis. Dr. Lewis had sent his wife and daughter to live in Vassar, Michigan because he was uncertain about continuing his marriage with Edna ( Strait History 1). Three years later Dr. Lewis decided that it was time for his wife, Edna and Minerva to come home. Minerva was seventeen years old when she came to Port Angeles (Strait History, 1).
On December 1892, she married John Troy who was a native of Clallam County and a newspaperman. Throughout their marriage, she had helped John with assisting him with his enterprises because he had been elected as the county auditor (Strait History, 2). They had two kids, Helen born in 1899, and Dorothy born in Port Angeles in 1901. Sadly, by 1901 Minerva was a single mother taking care after her two girls. John and Minerva didn’t officially divorce until 1911 (Strait History, 2). There isn’t any explanation on why John and Minerva decided to separate, perhaps they no longer felt the same, maybe things weren’t working out, but a heartbreak didn’t stop Minerva from accomplishing the accomplished that she made.
Minerva was many things throughout her life. She was an artist, musician, wife, single mother, businesswoman, politician, government employee, and nurse (Strait History, 1). Minerva was mostly known for her art. In an interview with Seattle Times, she states that she was born with a love for painting (Strait History, 1) When she was 10 years old, her parents had given her, her first art lessons. Her art journey had just begun. (Strait History, 1)
“I was born with a love for painting. As a child, I persisted in covering margins of father’s medical books with pictures. When I was 10 years old, living in Omaha, Nebraska, my parents arranged for my first art lessons.” (Strait History, 1)
Minerva had opened her first art studio in Port Angeles at 203 East Front Street, teaching others about art and music for about twelve years (Strait History,2). She used watercolors, oils in her artwork, painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits (Strait History, 2). Many of her works were copies of well known famous romantic and decorative artworks (Strait History, 2). One of the many copies that Minerva had painted was Saint Cecelia at the Organ, she then presented this painting to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church as a memorial (Strait History 4). Many of her paintings hang today at the Port Angeles Museum. (Strait History, 4) Minerva also had a great interest in china (Strait History,3).
She was taught china painting by Mrs. H.B Wilson, a woman in Seattle (Strait History, 3). Minerva then took this craft home with her in Port Angeles and taught many others (Strait History, 3) Till this day many of Minerva’s china pieces are cherished by their owners (Strait History, 3). Minerva’s best artworks are the ones that she had used oils to create them. They show her richness of color and depth showing a European look (strait History, 4). She loved to draw Indians because they reminded her of her childhood when she would paddle on her canoe in the harbor (Strait History, 4).
Minerva started with her nursing career when World War I had begun (Strait History, 3). Much medical assistance was needed in this era because of the soldiers who had been fighting in the war. Many American soldiers were wounded and they needed much medical assistance.
Minerva was 44 years old when she decided to join the American Red Cross, and dedicated her time serving the country. She trained at Port Angeles General Hospital and took more special training at Seattle, Washington (Strait History, 3). In the summer of 1917, Minerva worked in a base hospital in Paris, France until troops had to evacuate. After working in Paris she spent eight months working for the Red Cross in the auditing department (Strait History, 3). By 1919 on Veterans day, after traveling to Paris, Italy, and Spain, she was back in Port Angeles. To be able to support herself and children she had to continue working (Strait History, 3). She continued working by continuing her nursing career with the Red Cross, this time as an executive secretary earning a salary of ten dollars a month (Strait History, 3).
By 1922 Minerva kept herself busy by beginning to go into politics (Strait History, 3). Minerva was the first women of Washington State to run for the U.S House of Representatives, her World War I experience persuaded and dictated her campaign platform (Strait History, 3). Minerva eventually accomplished becoming the head of the Democratic Party in Port Angeles and served as state Democratic committeewoman several times (Strait History, 3). In Olympia, Washington she was assignment clerk of the House Of Representatives during five legislative sessions (Strait History, 3). Because of her local work campaigns for Franklin Roosevelt and her outstanding capabilities it led her to government positions (Strait History, 3). Minerva Troy is the reason why Clallam County has the Social Security office. She worked with the State Re-employment Service and was an executive in the Works Progress Administration (Strait History, 3).
Minerva was paid to teach art in her home at 118 West Second Street (Strait History, 3), under the National Recovery Act which was an effort for the nation to recover from the Great Depression.
Minerva continued to do what she loved the most: painting, even when she had a stroke in 1954 (Strait History, 4). She continued to teach and paint with the help of nurse housekeepers (Strait History, 4). This shows that she loved art so much that even in her bad conditions she still managed to continue and teach others the number one thing that she was most passionate about.
Her very last painting was of Jacob Hall, Chief White Feather of the Jamestown Klallams (Strait History, 4). Today this art piece is owned by the Sequim Dungeness Museum (Strait History, 4). Minerva Troy passed away on November 30, 1960, at the age of 87 in Port Angeles, Washington. She lies in peace at the Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles.
Minerva Troy was a very powerful and strong woman. She would set her mind into something that she wanted and she would never quit chasing what she wanted to accomplish. Minerva Troy is a very important historical person in Clallam County because she was the community’s first artist and she exerted an all-around impact on Port Angeles (Strait History, 4). I chose to study and write about Minerva Troy because what caught my attention about her was that she was a World War I nurse. I never knew anything about the medical field in our county was like back then or people who worked in the medical field, but now I know one person and that is Minerva Troy. In my perspective and what I learned about her, she’s an incredible woman. The way she was passionate about art is one of the great things about her, it seemed to be her comfort zone.
Her nursing career interests me because I potentially want to become a nurse in Washington State. Perhaps even in my hometown, Forks, Washington. Helping out community members just like Minerva did. Reading about Minerva’s journey in her nursing career shows that women were powerful back then even when they were seen as “women stay home and take care of the children.” because that’s how women were mostly seen as throughout this era.
Minerva taught me to never quit what I want to accomplish. I wish that I could’ve learned more about how Minerva Troy handled her patients and how she dealt with the rush of being a nurse. Minerva seemed to be good at everything that she tried to go for, was she bad at anything? I wish that I could have had asked her about her nursing career and if it was the same accomplishing the title of a nurse as it is earning the same title today and how her love life was like.
I learned that Minerva did many great impacts for the Clallam county and I will definitely share her life story with others. I will definitely try and make a visit to the museums that have her artwork and observe Minerva’s paintings and china. Studying Minerva’s life story she taught me to keep pushing into what I want to accomplish. I remember sitting down and thinking to myself, will I be able to accomplish this research paper? I decided to push the thought away and give it a shot, I read the article and noticed how much Minerva did to accomplish her accomplishments and If I want to have many accomplishments just like she did then I have to get rid of my fears and decide to just go for it. I want to become a nurse, and hopefully, this is the first step into that accomplishment.
“Minerva Elizabeth Lewis Troy (1873-1960) – Find A…” (1873-1960) – Find A Grave Memorial, www.findagrave.com/memorial/11204070/minerva-elizabeth-troy.
Buchholz, Rogene A. “National Industrial Recovery Act.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 7 Feb. 2014, www.britannica.com/topic/National-Industrial-Recovery-Act.
Centennial Profile: Minerva Troy, Historically Quarterly of the Clallam County Historical society and the Museum, Strait History, Port Angeles, Washington, Winter 1989