The Mimses soon became leaders in the social and public life of Atlanta, where Major Mims was made president of the Capital City Club, and in 1901 became mayor. They entertained frequently and on a grand scale, receiving in their home a wide variety of prominent citizens. The names of generals, colonels, captains, governors, senators, congressmen, mayors, judges (including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and at least one United States Supreme Court Justice), scholars, editors, and bankers dot the pages of Mrs. Mims’s diary.
President Grover Cleveland was twice a guest at Heartsease, and on President and Mrs. Cleveland’s first visit to Atlanta, a ball was given in their honor. During his second visit, as a guest of the Atlanta Exposition, the president ended a short acknowledgment speech with the words, “I congratulate Atlanta on her great exposition, her beautiful women, the Capital City Club and her Major Mims.” Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy and a good friend of the Mimses, enjoyed hospitality at their home, as did General Joe Wheeler of Civil War fame, and President William McKinley.
Photograph of Sue Harper Mims in her Atlanta home. Longyear Museum collection
Apart from her role as wife of the major, Sue Harper Mims had many intellectual and social interests of her own. During the many hours of leisure that were forced upon her by the pain and weakness she endured before her healing, she read and studied the works of great authors, such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Dickens, and George Eliot. She put her love of literature into action when she founded the first Shakespeare Club in Atlanta, and the Browning Society.
Her compassionate concern for deserted and unhappy children led her to become the first president of the Home for the Friendless, which developed into one of the foremost charities of Atlanta. The civic-minded Mrs. Mims also served as Georgia’s representative on a commission that raised funds to erect a monument in France in appreciation of General Lafayette’s services to the United States during the American Revolution.
The Mimses often befriended artists and writers. One of these was Sidney Lanier, considered one of America’s greatest poets, whose poems express the social concerns of that day. A monument to Lanier was eventually erected in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, paid for with money obtained from the sale of Mrs. Mims’s jewels after her passing, bequeathed for that purpose in her will. This handsome monument still graces Piedmont Park.
Sue Harper Mims kept a diary from 1875 to 1886, in which she recorded her busy social life and acquaintance with many prominent people. (An edited version of this journal was published in the Atlanta Constitution in 1914.) But after she met Miss Bartlett and experienced her marvelous healing, Mrs. Mims turned away from the worldly life she had been leading and focused her attention on the study of Christian Science. “I had tasted of all the pleasures of life and found them meaningless,” she wrote, and as she no longer felt inclined to keep a record “chronicling the events of mortal life,” she discontinued the diary, too. After years of listening to sermons delivered in “the tedious, droning style of some of our ministers,” she had at last found a theology that satisfied her inner spiritual yearnings.
From that time on, Mrs. Mims’s writing would no longer be about human comings and goings, but on spiritual, divine subjects. A great change had occurred in her thinking as she lifted her sights to a higher purpose in life: she wanted to practice Christian Science healing, and to tell the world about it. “Sometimes I realize almost in an ecstasy my freedom from the thralldom of mortal illusions,” she noted in her diary on May 14, 1886. “I feel almost as if my raised spirit was bathed in the glory of the infinite, as if my faith were more safely anchored on the ‘rock of ages.’”
Although she continued to fulfill her social duties with her prominent and wealthy husband, her life had begun to move in deeper channels that would take her far away from the glittering diamonds of the ballroom and the mundane conversations of high society.