The Founding Women

by Thea Tjepkema

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was the first in the United States established by a group of women, the “Ladies Musical Club” led by Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft. The 15 females who composed the governing Board of Directors incorporated the Cincinnati Orchestra Association Company in May 1894. Most of the CSO’s founders signed the articles of incorporation with their married names. But through recent research, the Friends of Music Hall and CSO Volunteers have uncovered their identities, including their first names, nicknames, middle names, and maiden names. As we approach the centennial of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote (Summer 2020) and celebrate the CSO’s 125th anniversary, we have the opportunity to discover more exciting stories about these visionary women and their families.


Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft,

Laura McDonald Stallo,
First Vice President

Louise Nettleton Anderson,
Second Vice President

Sarah “Sallie” Howard Woolley,

Edith Perry Forchheimer,
Corresponding Secretary

Isabel Jelke,

Helen Fletcher Huntington Chatfield

Virginia Ramsey Wright

Helen Fechheimer Stix

Helen Verhage Poland

Anna “Annie” Sinton Taft

Emma Roedter

Mary C. Stanwood Wilby

Babette “Bettie” Robertson Fleischmann Holmes

Henriette Schneider Billing



Helen Fletcher Huntington Chatfield
Susan Evans Cunningham
Liliose Le Gault Du Brul
Agnes Davis Eckstein Jr.
Laura Lawson Ellis
Laura Glenn
Eda Loeb Kuhn
Clara M. Krippendorf Kupferschmidt
Helen Verhage Poland
Minnie Freiberg Ransohoff
Emma Roedter
Marie Agnes Schwill
Jennie S. Smith
Laura McDonald Stallo
Helen Fechheimer Stix
Alice Sterne
Anna “Annie” Sinton Taft
Virginia Ramsey Wright
Carrie C. Fels Wood
Clara von Seggern Zinke

And the five male signatories:

Mr. Joseph L. Adler
Mr. Howard Douglass
Mr. Louis Ehrgott
Mr. Edward Goepper
Mr. Frank A. Lee