Miss Harriet Louise Ankeny was born in Millersburg, Ohio on November 20, 1844 to Joseph and Harriet Susanna Giese Ankeny. She was their fourth daughter and eighth and last child. She was much younger than her older siblings and so she grew up much like an only child. She had a most happy childhood living in the large brick house amid flower gardens and orchards in Millersburg, Ohio. She had a troupe of loyal friends and played at housekeeping with her dolls. She danced and sang as a child and enjoyed music her whole life. She attended the Hudson Female Seminary.
Harriet Louise never married. She was a constant and devoted companion to her parents until their death. Harriet Louise moved with her parents to Des Moines, Iowa in November of 1867 when she was 23 years old and was forever a "devoted and loyal daughter to Iowa" and "developed into an industrious, generous, unselfish woman, possessing a sensitive nature, a high spirit, yet a timid manner". (Quotes from the book, Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens by Mr. Johnson Brigham, 1918.) While building their new home in Des Moines at 920 Locust Street (corner of 10th and Locust) they lived with Harriet's sister, Susan Fletcher Ankeny Barcroft, and her attorney husband Mr. Russell Barcroft and their children. Harriet's father, Joseph, died in 1876 and Harriet lived with her mother until her mother's death in 1897 at the age of 96. After her mother's death, Harriet Louise spent three years in the east and returned to Des Moines to renew her allegiance to the city. In 1907 she was a delegate from the Abigail Adams Chapter of Des Moines to the national convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington. In May of 1910 she was one of the delegates from the Des Moines Woman's Club to the general biennial federation of clubs in Cincinnati. She traveled extensively in the U.S. including a trip to the Pacific coast and abroad to Europe in 1911. In her senior years she lived in the home of her niece, Mrs. Florence Ankeny Russell (oldest daughter of her brother John Fletcher Ankeny) at 824 East Grand Avenue in Des Moines. This home was just down the street and within walking distance to the new State of Iowa Capitol building. She also lived within the home of the Getchell family on 9th Street in Des Moines. (Rachel Ankeney was the wife of Charles Getchell and sister of Joseph Ankeney. That line of Ankeneys was from the son adopted by Dewalt Ankeny back in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Rachel and Harriet Louise were not related by blood by considered each other as "family".) Harriet Louise was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was well known in the best social circles of Des Moines. Miss Harriet Louise Ankeny died on May 19, 1921 in Des Moines. She is buried with her family in the Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines, Iowa.
During Harriet's lifetime she witnessed the tremendous expansion of the United States westward and the growth of the city of Des Moines. She endured the hardships and worries of the Civil War. She witnessed the woman's suffrage movement. In 1920 women had the first oppotunity to vote for President and she lived just long enough to see the swearing in of the first president with women's votes in 1921. She lived during World War I. The advent of the telephone, electricity and automobile were all experienced throughout the lifetime of Miss Harriet Louise Ankeny from 1844 to 1921.
Obituary from S H Brown Collection
Headstone for Miss Harriet Louise Ankeny Woodland Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa Photograph by Karla Wright, May 2017