Ednah Dow Littlehale was born on 27 June 1824 in Boston, Massachusetts to Ednah Parker Dow and Sargent Smith Littlehale. Littlehale provided well for his family as a wholesale grocer. A Gloucester Universalist, he believed in abolitionism and women's rights, and these causes inspired his daughter's devotion and great energy. Ednah became a Unitarian, particularly drawn to the transcendentalist Rev. Theodore Parker, in whose study she met her lifelong friend Julia Ward Howe in 1845. In 1853 she married the celebrated engraver, Seth Cheney, of the Cheney silk manufacturing family from Connecticut, and their marriage was a happy one. Seth was influenced by the example of his own father who, unlike many nineteenth-century men, helped in every aspect with the children. In his memoirs he says, ‘God forbid that a woman should hold her peace because she is a woman. Methinks the apostle meant no such thing, but meant that they should let their light shine before men.’ In 1856, before their only child Margaret Swan was a year old, Seth died.
From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.