Eliza Suggs: Despite Physical Disabilities Became an American Author of “Shadows and Sunshine”

2 Posted by - July 26, 2022 - BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS

Elizabeth Gertrude (Eliza) Suggs was born December 11, 1876, in Bureau County, Illinois near the town of Providence, and was an American author. She was the youngest of eight children born to former slaves James and Melinda Suggs. Eliza suffered from and extreme case of osteogenesis imperfecta. Four weeks after her birth her bones became very brittle. One of her older sisters shook her hand, and accidentally broke Sugg’s arm. Her bones began to break with the littlest movement. From that moment on Sugg’s life was never a normal one.

The disease prevented her from walking and made her bones extremely brittle, and stunted her growth. At an adult she only weighed about 50 pounds, and was 33 inches tall. Sugg’s childhood was spent looking out the window at other children play. However, with the careful care of her older sister Katie, who watched over her younger sister, Suggs was able to attend school and get an education.  A little known fact is that Suggs can be found in her book, Shadows and Sunshine, published in 1906.

She refused offers to be used by the circus to earn money displaying her as an oddity. She believed that God had other purposes for her life. Suggs firmly believed that her condition kept her from running behind the many pleasures of the world. Eliza often assisted her father in his Temperance work and after his death, she struck out on her own. Accompanied by her sister Kate, Eliza would attend various gatherings, including Temperance conferences, camp meetings and church services, and briefly speak about her life, her sufferings, and her devotion to the teachings of Jesus Christ and how they sustained her. Eliza Suggs died on January 29, 1908 in Orleans, Nebraska and is buried in the family plot in Orleans Cemetery.






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