Pepper, Jesse Elizabeth (1874-1967): a Biography by her Great Grandson

  • By Gordon Padelford
  • Posted 5/30/2002
  • Essay 3840
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This biography of Jesse Elizabeth Pepper, wife of UW English professor Frederick Padelford (1875-1942), was written by her great grandson Gordon Padelford, who is 13 years old at this writing (May 2002).

Jesse Elizabeth Pepper

Jessie Elizabeth Pepper, my great grandmother, was born March 20, 1874, in Waterville, Maine. She was the daughter of Annie Grassie Pepper and George Dana Boardman Pepper. He was a Baptist minister and President of Colby College.

Jessie was at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, from 1892 until her graduation in 1896. While at Colby College she was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and met her future husband Frederick M. Padelford. From 1896-1899 she taught at the Coburn Classical Institute in Maine while Frederick was earning his Ph.D. at Yale.

They married on July 6, 1899, and moved to Moscow, Idaho. In 1901 they moved to Seattle, Washington. They had the following children in Seattle: Morgan Grassie (1902), Eunice Brewster (1907), Philip Sidney (1912 -- my grandfather), and Charles Gordon (1915). She lived the rest of her life in Seattle involved in many activities and being a prominent social leader.

Bessie, as her family called her, was an avid gardener and was "warm and fuzzy" according to my dad. She was the founder of the University of Washington's chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority. She was an active member, and at one time president of the University of Washington Faculty Wives club. She was also a member of the Seattle Garden Club, the Washington State Arboretum Society, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Tuesday Club. Besides all of that involvement she still taught two extension courses in history at the UW Padelford Hall.

She continued to live in Seattle after her husband's death, and died at the age of 93 on November 14, 1967, in Seattle. Thank you for reading this biography.


She is my great grandmother; The Seattle Times newspaper articles; University of Washington Archives, Padelford Family Papers accession number 3359-87-3.

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