Herstory - Addie Melvina Billings

Billings was born in Pecotonica, Ill. on Jan. 4, 1858, and began teaching school at sixteen while still taking classes at Iowa State Normal School. In 1880, she married Elmore M. Billings, attorney, and they settled in Geneva, Neb.

Addie became her husband's secretary and became very familiar with the law. She was also a correspondent for the Omaha newspapers, which allowed her to get free publicity for her husband; when he won a case she would include it in her column and when he didn't, she would simply forget to mention it. In 1887, she was admitted to the Nebraska bar and became Elmore's law partner. They moved to Benicia, Calif. for Elmore's health, but it did not seem to help and he retired. She continued to practice law joining the Wallace Rutherford firm in Napa.

In 1908, the Billings invested in a wine vineyard near Calistoga and for many years Addie served as executive secretary of the California Grape Growers Association. When the Woman's Temperance Union, of which she was also a member, discovered her affiliation with grape growers, she was "read out" of the organization.

In her retirement she took up rug hooking and made more than fifty beautiful rugs. She died in her home in Berkeley in 1948 at the age of 90.