An influential force in the early years of the Mission, Mrs. A.L. “Mother” Morrison is shown surrounded by her “helpers,” who each Sunday brought the Gospel to inmates at the county jail and workhouse.

Although services are directed chiefly toward men at first, some of the Mission’s most influential “founding fathers” are caring and compassionate women. Their leadership, influence and wisdom help guide the Mission to become a ministry to men, women, children and families — as it remains to this day.

One such woman who shapes Union Gospel Mission from its earliest days is Anna L. “Mother” Morrison, a former nurse and widow who devotes 50 years to ministry work in St. Paul. Prisoners are her flock. Under her direction, inmates at the Minnesota State Penitentiary and the Ramsey County Jail are visited weekly. She serves the Union Gospel Mission until her retirement in 1910, when she is given “a note of thanks and appreciation…for her work and a check for $15...to defray her carfare and other travel expenses.” (The rewards of mission work are often other than financial.) Morrison dies on November 3, 1915 at the age of 94. The New Ulm Review declares her “Minnesota’s oldest missionary,” and Peter MacFarlane raises funds to build a monument to her memory in Lakewood Cemetery.

Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Union Gospel Mission.