The Lady Canvasser
A notice appeared in the Monongahela, Pennsylvania, Daily Republican of May 7, 1887, saying that, “The lady canvasser of the book ‘Millennial Dawn,’ wishes to announce to the subscribers that the book will not be delivered until the 20th of the month of May, or a little later, as the first edition of the book has been entirely exhausted. About the 20th, she will be in the city to deliver the books.” We do not know who this was. In the November 1883, Watch Tower, Russell named “sisters” Raynor and Vogel as exemplary colporteurs. Vogel’s first name appears to be Catherine. She continued in the work into the 1890s, working with a Helena Boehmer in eastern Pennsylvania. Laura J. Raynor (1839-1917) was Maria Russell’s older sister and a widow. (Henry Raynor, her husband, died in 1873.) Her active ‘ministry’ seems to have been short-lived, and when Maria Russell left her husband Laura left the Watch Tower.
There were other women evangelists. One such was Millia La Clare, a resident of Kansas. Despite his illness, she and her husband packed their two boys, aged seven and eleven, into a covered wagon “to save expenses” and canvassed the prairie. Her brief biography, written as a letter to The St. Paul, Minnesota, Enterprise tells the story: