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Women's Suffrage Trail: Peru, IN - Marie Stuart Edwards

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Woman’s Rights Movement in Miami County

Much of the story of the Woman's movement in Miami is a page in construction because we are literally pulling the information from many sources to piece back together a story that has long been forgotten.  We ask that you bare with us as we revise the page now and again.

The Peru Woman's Franchise League was organized

on October 15th, 1914, at the assembly room of the Peru Public Library

by Dr. Amelia Keller, president of the Woman's Franchise League of Indiana.

The purpose of the league was "to educate the women of the state in civic consciousness and to secure for them the ballot"

(Peru Republican 16 Oct 1914).

Peru Public Library

We only have the names of 5 of the 16 Peru women who were the founding members:

Mrs. Harry G Fetter, nee Ellen Cole, president

Mrs. R A Edwards, nee Marie Stuart, vice president

Miss Harriet Henton, first vice president

Mrs. Harry Miller, temporary secretary

Mrs. A Wertheim, treasurer

Yearly dues were 50c, of which 25c went to the state organization and 15c to the National Suffrage Association.

They met every other Thursday afternoon

at 3pm at the library.

(Click Here to read the full address Dr. Keller gave when she organized the league in Peru)

Dr. Amelia Keller

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The second president of the Peru Franchise League,

Marie S Edwards would quickly outgrow the local scene.

She served in 1916 and April 1917

when she was elected to succeed Dr. Keller.

Her officers with the Peru league were

Vice-Presidents: Mrs. Ellen C Fetter and Mrs. F W Van Ness

Secretary: Mrs. Louis C Hetzner

Treasurer: Mrs. Mary Mowbray

County Chairman: Miss Harriet Henton

Board members:

Mrs. J O Cole

Mrs. T W Annabel

Mrs. Frank Stutesman

Miss Grace Armitage

Marie Edwards

The third president  of he Peru Franchise League was

Mrs. Joseph H Shirk


Vice Presidents: Miss Grace Armitage and Miss Harriet Henton

Corresponding Secretary: Miss Clara Mowbray

Recording Secretary/Reporter: Mrs. Sadie Pennel

Treasurer: Miss Louise Huffman

The fourth president of the Peru Franchise League was

Mrs. Harvey H Hawley, the former Grace Armitage.

She would call for a parade to celebrate the June 4th, 1919 passage of the 19th Amendment on June 7th, 1919.

(we will talk about the parade separately)

Mrs Joseph Shirk

The league grew throughout the whole county, where 6 more branches were created in 1917.

The Woman's Franchise League of Indiana 1917-1918 directory gives the leadership as follows:

Peoria - January 1917
President: Mrs. David Winterrowd
Vice President: Mrs. W H Lavengood
Secretary: Mrs. Mary E Binkerd
Treasurer: Mrs. J A Long

Macy - June 1917
President: Mrs. Sam Musselman
Vice President/Reporter: Miss
Carrie LeVaugh
Treasurer: Miss Garnet
League of Women Voters

Gilead - February 1917
President: Miss Mabel Smith

Bunker Hill - June 1917
President: Mrs. E V Moore
Vice President: Mrs. Clem Graves
Secretary: Mrs. Carrie Murphy
Treasurer: Mrs. James Starkey
Reporter: Mrs. Fred Freeman

Converse - June 1917
President: Mrs. Lillian H Ryder
Vice President: Mrs. D W Bohn
Secretary-Treasurer: Mrs. E F Ogborn
Reporter: Mrs. Charles Ryder

Mexico - June 1917
President: Mrs. Webster Edwards
Vice President: Mrs. Charles F Rendel and Mrs. Leroy Grafft
Secretary: Mrs. Edward Fisher
Treasurer: Mrs. W S Bond

Mrs Frances (Bearss) Gould

The Woman Franchise League of Indiana

was divided into 13 districts.

Miami County was part of the 11th district along with

Blackford, Cass, Grant, Huntington, Pulaski, and Wabash Counties

Mrs. E A Gould, nee Frances Bearss, Peru, served as the 11th District Chairman from 1917-1919

In 1919 her officers were:
Vice Chairman:
Mrs. Isaac Beltman, Wabash

Secretary/Treasurer: Miss Margaret Magee, Logansport

Assistant Treasurer: Mrs. Chas Butler, Huntington

Maston-McKinley Partial Suffrage Act

The 1918 Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense cards provided an invaluable ordersource to help reconstruct the list of women who were involved in the Franchise League in Miami County.  We regret that we only had 3767 out of 8503 cards filled out by the women of Miami County but they enabled us to identify about 140 women.

We added some 50 more thanks to the Franchise League directories published online by the Indiana State Library digital collection - 

Women's Cards photo collage

Suffragette riding a horse

On June 4th, 1919

the 19th Amendment

was finally passed by the House.

Thirty-six states

would have to ratify the amendment

before it could become law of the land,

To celebrate the momentous event

the one and only

Woman's suffrage parade

was held

in Peru

on June 7th, 1919.

The National League of Women Voters

was officially formed

in February 1920, in Chicago


Maud Wood Parks, President

Marie Edwards was elected first Treasurer

National League of Women Voters

In 1921, Marie S Edwards was elected First-Vice President, position she filled in 1922 as well.

During those two years,

she moved the Headquarters of the National

League of Women Voters

to Peru,

where speakers who were sent across the country were trained

and where much of the

league printing was done at

the Peru Republican.

Shirk-Edward House
National Register of Historic Places

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Updated 18 September 2020