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Who was Eliza Chappell?

Eliza Chappell, an American educator, was the first Chicago teacher paid by public funds. Mrs. Chappell was born November 5, 1807 in Geneseo, New York.

She was only sixteen when she began her teaching career and over the course of her life helped establish schools in almost every region of the United States. 

Ms. Chappell opened a school for small children in Rochester, New York in 1828. In 1831, she traveled to Michigan and began tutoring at a frontier settlement on Mackinac Island. In 1833, Ms. Chappell helped established schools in Chicago. In 1835, she married Reverend Jeremiah Porter. While in Chicago, she became Director of the Chicago Sanitary Commission (1861-1862), whose main job was to solicit, collect, and distribute food and medical supplies for the Union Army.

Mrs. Chappell Porter helped organize hospitals and directed the work of caring for injured soldiers from the Battle of Shiloh. She was also instrumental in recruiting volunteer nurses for hospitals in Savannah, Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee where she established another school.

This outstanding woman later joined Mother Mary Ann Bickerdyke in Chattanooga, Tennessee to care for soldiers wounded during General W. T. Sherman's march to Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout the Civil War, Mrs. Chappell Porter inspected hospitals and continued to open schools in Oklahoma, Wyoming and Texas.