We had not heard much about Phoebe Apperson Hearst lately, that is until The Wall Street Journal published a book review about her. She was born near St. Clair. Probably many residents of Franklin County know little about her.
The book is titled “Phoebe Apperson Hearst: A Life of Power and Politics” by Alexandra M. Nickliss, who is an instructor of history at City College of San Francisco. The review in the Journal was by Melanie Kirkpatrick.
From a historical standpoint, Hearst probably was one of the most famous ladies born in Missouri, and certainly in Franklin County. She was born in 1842 and died in 1919 at age 76. She was a rural school teacher who at age 19 married George Hearst, a man 22 years her senior. He was a wealthy miner. Their son, William Randolph Hearst, with his parents’ money, created a newspaper empire.
Phoebe Hearst, after her husband died, controlled his money, which was used by the son to build his newspaper holdings, and she used it to become a leader in education for women. She established a number of schools, and was the first woman to serve on the University of California board of regents. She did many things for the University of California and in bringing women to the forefront.
The review unfortunately did not mention St. Clair as her birthplace. It said a tiny town near St. Louis.