HAVRE DE GRACE — The fame of the Rodgers family of Perryville and Havre de Grace extends far and wide with Commodore John Rodgers being the top echelon of that pyramid of fame. Through his descendants, and their marriages, are connections to numerous other families of a famous surname, not the least of which is Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, of Civil War fame.
If one were to trace the lineage of Meigs and Rodgers families for a bit, one will arrive at another Meigs of note who, sadly, hasn’t reached the level of fame and recognition as her male ancestors with their impressive military careers. This ancestor was Cornelia Meigs, an author of fiction and biography, a teacher and historian of note and a critic of children’s literature. Truly she was an astounding woman who contributed greatly to children’s literature as a whole.
Cornelia Lynde Megis was born in Rock Island, Ill., to civil engineer Montgomery C. Meigs Jr. and Grace Lynde Meigs, the fifth of the couple’s six daughters. They would move to Keokuk, Iowa, when Cornelia was only a month old, so Cornelia placed Keokuk as her hometown in later years, but would tell any who listened that she chose to make her home in Havre de Grace.
Meigs began writing children’s books while working as an English teacher at St. Katherine’s School in Davenport, Iowa. Her first book, “The Kingdome of the Winding Road,” was published in 1915, and just seven years later she was a runner-up for the inaugural Newberry Medal from the American Library Association, recognizing the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
ALA members later honored her book “The Windy Hill” with two finalist votes for the Newberry Medal. She was a runner-up again in 1929 for “Clearing Weather” and in 1933 for “Swift Rivers.” Those who earned runner-up finishes in the…