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Meet Mrs. George W. (Anna) Lay - First Beaufort Woman's Club President

Thanks to the meticulous research of Beaufort artist, researcher, historian and author Mary Warshaw, Beaufort Woman's Club members now learn more about the women who founded our club 100 years ago. We hope you enjoy reading about our first president, Mrs. George W. (Anna) Lay.

Mrs. George William Lay – 1921 President

Anna Booth Balch (Lay) was born June 3, 1870 in Georgetown, Washington, DC, daughter of Rear Admiral George Beall Balch (1821‒1908) and Mary Ellen Booth. [Rear Admiral Balch served during the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War.]

Anna married Rev. George William Lay (1860‒1932) in Baltimore on June 26, 1894. While the Lays were in Beaufort, from 1918 to 1928, they lived in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church rectory, the 1852 Alexander House at 118 Moore Street.

The 1920 Beaufort census found George 59, Anna 47, Elizabeth 22, Ellen 20, Anne 18, Lucy 16, Henry 14, and 12-year-old Virginia Lay. Each of the Lay daughters had wedding receptions in the large side garden. (Daughter Elizabeth married author and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paul Eliot Green in 1922. It has been said that Green wrote his first short story while visiting Elizabeth.)

By 1930, the Lays were in Chapel Hill. Rev. Lay died two years later. Anna died in 1956, at 86, while at a Pinehurst convalescent home. She was buried in Chapel Hill. (Interestingly, Paul Green was the informant on Anna’s death certificate.)

1852 Alexander House at 118 Moore Street

Reverend & Mrs. Lay

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