Saturday, April 20, 2019
Heroes and Villains, Women

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby, whose formal name was Francis Van Alstyne, was one of the corner stones of Bridgeport and a beacon for Bridgeport women.

Her creative ingenuity inspired people all over the world, and her songs have been sung by generations of church-goers.

As early as age 8, Crosby began to write poems.  She attended the New York Institute for the Blind, where she eventually taught.  When she was still a teacher, an 18-year old named Grover Cleveland, who also was employed at the school, worked with Crosby in transcribing her poems.  Cleveland was later elected President of the United States.

By age 24, Crosby had her first book of poems published.  She went on to write songs and hymns–more than 8,000 of them.  Many of her hymns are still sung, such as “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” and “Blessed Assurance.”

The following words, written when she was 8 years old, sum up Crosby’s positive outlook on life that inspired many:

Oh, what a happy soul I am,
although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t!

Fanny Crosby died in 1915 at the age of 94.   She is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.  She is considered one of the most prolific hymn writers of the 20th century.

Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.