Born in 1872, Grace Gallatin was the daughter of Albert and Clemenza Gallatin of Sacramento, California. Albert was a wealthy businessman who, among other accomplishments, founded the Sacramento Electric Power and Light. The mansion he built in Sacramento later became the California Governor's Mansion. After her parents divorced, she moved east with her mother.
Grace Gallatin and her mother met Seton on a transatlantic voyage in July 1894. A month later, they met again in Paris and started their courtship. They married on June 1, 1896 in New York where she introduced Seton to her friends that included publishers, other writers, and artists. These acquaintances were important to Seton’s success.
In the early years of their marriage, Grace was quite involved with Ernest's career, taking on several roles to include book designer, scheduler, and assistant in developing the Woodcraft Indians. She traveled with him to explore the western United States. These trips are chronicled in her first two books, A Woman Tenderfoot and Nimrod's Wife. She was also a co-founder and early officer of the Camp Fire Girls.
She had a vibrant and varied career of her own as a suffragist, traveler, author, community leader, and patriot. She was also mother to their only child, Ann, who was born in 1904. She was active in New York City social circles. The couple maintained a pied-á-terre in the city after moving first to Cos Cob and then Greenwich.
Grace was a staunch suffragist, playing a leadership role at both the state and national levels. She became a leading advocate of women's rights. Ironically, when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920, Grace could not vote! Under the Expatriation Act, passed in 1907, women citizens lost their citizenship when they married a non-citizen. Ernest had not become a naturalized citizen at that point (which was a major issue in connection with his relationship with the Boy Scouts of America) and, thus, Grace was officially not considered a citizen. This was a big surprise to Grace and other similarly situated suffragists. This was resolved, at least partially, with the passage of The Cable Act of 1922, also known as the Married Women's Independent Nationality Act.
In the 1920s, she became a travel writer, going to exotic locations such as Egypt, China, India, South America, and Southeast Asia. Each location offered new opportunities to publish new books, each with tips specific to the country. She also published many articles in magazines and, like Ernest, frequently travelled on the lecture circuit. She served for several years as the president of the National League of American Pen Women.
Her absence on frequent and lengthy travels, including time as an ambulance driver in France during WWI, coupled with Ernest’s absence on expeditions and lecture circuits, led to their separation in the late 1920s and finally divorce in January 1935.
Following the divorce, she continued to live in “Little Peequo”, the couple's final home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Never remarrying, she continued to travel, write, lecture, and engage in political activities. She died in 1957 in Palm Beach, Florida.
The following is a list of Grace's published books which were published under various names, including Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson, Grace Gallatin Seton, Grace Thompson Seton and, simply, Grace Seton.
A Woman Tenderfoot
A Woman Tenderfoot in Egypt
Yes, Lady Saheb
Log of the "Look-See":
A Half Year in the Wilds of Matto Grosso and the Paraguayan Forest, over the Andes to Peru
Through the Wilds of Matto Grosso and Beyond
Magic Waters is the U.S, edition of Log of the "Look-See"
International Conclave of Women Writers
Strange Journey with an Opium Dealer-Annam, Cambodia, Siam and the Lotus Isle of Bali
The Singing Traveller