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Rosenberg, Mollie Ragan Macgill (1839–1917)

Elizabeth Hayes Turner Biography Entry

Mollie Ragan Macgill Rosenberg, philanthropist and second wife of Henry Rosenberg, was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, on February 28, 1839, the daughter of Dr. Charles and Mary Ragan Macgill; she was the sixth of eleven children. Her father and four brothers joined the Confederate Army, and she served as a nurse to the wounded in her Richmond, Virginia, home. She moved to Galveston in 1866 to help nurse the invalid Letitia Cooper Rosenberg, Henry Rosenberg's first wife and a friend of her parents. Letitia Rosenberg died on June 4, 1888, and on November 13, 1889, Mollie and Henry married in Richmond, Virginia. They returned to the family home at 1306 Avenue D. Henry Rosenberg died on May 12, 1893, and part of his legacy to the city was the gift of a structure for Grace Episcopal Church, Galveston. Mollie Rosenberg used her inheritance to decorate and furnish the interior of Grace Episcopal Church. She commissioned Silas McBee of New York to install a hand-carved solid oak altar and reredos from Switzerland, her husband's native country. Described as "probably the richest that has ever been put into any church in the South," the Gothic-style reredos features a bronze centerpiece depicting the birth of Christ and above it Christ on the cross. Covering the reredos is a canopy that casts a shadow on the picture of Christ's suffering and humiliation. The windows above the altar depict the three women at the tomb of Christ receiving the news from an angel of Christ's resurrection. Mollie Rosenberg also contributed to the reconstruction of Episcopal churches in Hagerstown, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; and Guilford, Maryland, where her great-grandfather had been rector. She served as president of the Grace Episcopal Ladies Aid Society, sat on the Board of Lady Managers of the Letitia Rosenberg Woman's Home, and was an honorary member of the Galveston Children's Home. She was a life member of the Young Women's Christian Association, the Society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the Virginia Confederate Daughters' Building Association, the Colonial Dames of America, and the Board of Trustees of the Rosenberg Library. The Galveston Veuve Jefferson Davis chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was established in 1895 at the instigation of Mollie Rosenberg, who remained its president until she died in 1917. Within three years it had enrolled 100 members and by 1908 had reached its peak membership of 390. Mollie Rosenberg expressed her devotion to the Lost Cause through her maternalism over the local chapter. As president she influenced the agenda and activities of the chapter; she also was in a position to shower it with gifts. Her authority allowed her to play the role of lady bountiful-from stationary to pianos. Mollie Rosenberg built a fully furnished meeting hall on her property, named it Macgill Memorial Hall for her parents (where her mother's wedding dress remained on display), and insisted that the chapter conduct its business under her wing. She chaired the committee that placed a Confederate monument in Central Park, Galveston, and was honored by the Texas Division of the Daughters of the Confederacy with the title "patron saint." She died on May 29, 1917, and is buried in Baltimore.

Galveston Daily News, May 30, 1917. S. C. Griffin, History of Galveston, Texas (Galveston: Cawston, 1931). Rosenberg Family Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston. Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Women's Culture and Community: Religion and Reform in Galveston, 1880–1920 (Ph.D. dissertation, Rice University, 1990). Elizabeth Hayes Turner, "Women, Religion, and Reform in Galveston, 1880–1920," in Urban Texas: Politics and Development, ed. Char Miller and Heywood T. Sanders (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1990).


  • Women
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Elizabeth Hayes Turner, “Rosenberg, Mollie Ragan Macgill,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: