For the past 150 years, our historic resort has been owned and operated by the Smiley family. August 26, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the implementation of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. In honor of this milestone, we celebrate the vital roles played by the women that helped shape Mohonk Mountain House into what it is today. Our blog series, HERstory, honors the contributions of different female Smiley family members.
1830-1917 (Generation 1)
Sister to Mohonk’s founder, Sarah was a member of the party when the Smileys first picnicked at Lake Mohonk in the summer of 1869 before Albert purchased the property and established the Mountain House. Sarah was well-educated and began working as a teacher in 1849. In 1865, after the Civil War, she traveled to the South to be a relief worker. This experience, and others, inspired her to become a preacher, one of the most famous of her time and a controversial figure—as women in those days were largely prohibited from that profession. She made waves as an evangelist, as well as in her work supporting women’s rights—insisting that women could study the scriptures themselves, without the help of men. Sarah traveled across the U.S. and Europe on speaking tours and authored three books. She was a fervent activist and advocate for human rights and anti-materialism, participated in over 30 conferences held at the Mountain House and spoke at two Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration.
“I went to relieve human suffering.” At one Mohonk Conference, Smiley spoke of her time as a relief worker in the South after the Civil War: “Just at the close of the war, I gave about three years of my life to this cause. And I look upon them as those that educated me most.”
1858-1951 (Generation 1)
The matriarch of Mohonk—the current members of the Smiley family are all her descendants. Married to founder Albert Smiley’s half-brother Daniel, Effie served as Albert’s secretary and provided advice for guidance on key matters to both Smiley brothers. She brought grace to her role as hostess, meeting notable guests, including presidents and foreign ministers. Effie had a deep love for nature and would often drive Albert by carriage around the grounds for inspection; after his death she took on management of the Victorian Show Garden. She shared a common drive for making the world a better place and participated in early Mohonk Conferences. Guests, employees, and family members were impressed with her kindly spirit, gentle manner, and strong supportive qualities. Seymour Stone captured all of these characteristics in Effie’s portrait, which hangs in the Parlor alongside her husband’s, complete with her favorite flowers, peonies.
To learn more about Effie Smiley, visit HERstory.
Mabel Craven Smiley
1883-1972 (Generation 2)
Mabel first came to Mohonk as a guest in 1884 and annually spent her summers at the resort. She was a competitive athlete, evidenced by her many trophies from Mohonk events ranging from golfing to the annual Mohonk regatta. Mabel married Effie’s eldest son, Albert (affectionately known as “Bert”) and in addition to raising their children Dan, Keith, and Anna, she held numerous management roles at the resort. In 1920, Mabel founded the Mohonk School in the Mountain House during the resort’s off-season as a means of using the facilities without inconveniencing guests while educating the children residing at Mohonk in the winter. (Photos of the Mohonk School are featured in our Grove building section). She was instrumental in the management of the housekeeping department and was keenly concerned about employee well-being and organized many extracurricular activities for staff, some of whom lived on property. In 1963, Mabel made the founding monetary contribution that established the Mohonk Preserve, enabling thousands of acres of land to remain forever protected from development.
To learn more about Mohonk Mountain House History, visit mohonk.com/history
For over 150 years, Mohonk has been owned and operated by the Smiley family.
To learn about the current Smiley family, visit mohonk.com/stories
Profiles include “Family Stewardship”, “From Generation to Generation”, “Our Quaker Roots” & “A Musical Legacy”. These shorts also feature Mohonk footage from the earliest days of video.
For more on Mohonk and the Smiley family, please see the book MOHONK AND THE SMILEYS: a National Historic Landmark and the Family That Created It by Larry E. Burgess, available in our Gift Shop and our online store.