Delaware Treated to a Spectacle as Suffragettes Tramp Across State


Equal Suffrage Association of Wilmington Banner.  source:  Delaware Historical Society.

Equal Suffrage Association of Wilmington Banner. source: Delaware Historical Society.

After a more than 60 years of struggle to give women the right to vote, things were coming to a head during the second decade of the 20th century.  The suffragists had won battles in a number of states, and were slowly converting indecisive politicians.  But to keep the pressure on the holdouts, the more radical activists descended on Washington, D.C. for a massive march, picketing, and clever publicity stunts.

As the day neared for the big rally, March 3, 1913, Delaware was treated to a unique spectacle as a band of determined suffragettes tramped across the State, advancing on their objective, the occupation of Washington D.C.  These feminists were determined to get the nation’s attention on the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.   And to maximize publicity, the stalwarts had carefully mapped their route along paths George Washington traveled between New York and the Potomac.

On February 18, 1913, the suffrage army stepped sprightly into Delaware to the tune of “Marching through Georgia.”  The first person to officially greet them was the Claymont postmaster, Eben H. Baldwin.  A little ways down the road at the Robinson Mansion, Jeff Davis, a gentle bulldog adorned with “votes for women” strode confidently up to General Rosalie Jones.

vote why did repulican party fail in de 1913

Why did the Republican party fail in Delaware? This banner was used by the National Woman’s Party during picketing. A leg was added to the one R at some point. Source: Sewall Belmont House Collection.;id=B958B27F-B580-4572-8576-081674616648;type=101

At the Philadelphia Pike tollhouse William J. Whiteford, met the chief scout of the army, Olive Schultz.  The scout car driver received an animal mascot, a kitten, donated by Mrs. Whiteford.  Olive named it “Scouty” and said he would occupy a seat of honor when the brightly decorated vehicle rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3rd.  Also at the tollhouse were Mrs. A. L. Steinlein, president of the Arden Suffrage Club and her supporters.  For 10 years women had voted on village affairs.

Wilmington suffragettes met the pilgrims at Shellpot Park, to accompany them to city hall.  Just beyond the park a fire engine rolled from the station house and whistled its salute, and all along the way sirens on fire engines and chiming bells echoed through the streets.   “Seldom have Wilmingtonians turned out to welcome a set of propagandists as they did yesterday when the Pilgrims for Women Suffrage on their hike from New York to Washington arrived here,” the Evening Journal Reported.

Mayor Harrison W. Howell warmly greeted the Army of the Hudson at city hall.  While welcoming the troops, he wanted it understood that he was not in entire sympathy with the cause as he said that few were in favor of extending the franchise.  “May this city be the garden spot in your memories.  While I cannot say I am heartily in favor of your views, I admire your pilgrimage,” he remarked

The weary hikers set up camp at the Hotel DuPont, while staying busy, seeking converts and spreading the word.   At a noon meeting near the Pullman Car Company and that evening at the Harlan and Hollingsworth Corporation people heard campaign speeches.  Also that evening they were guests at the Garrick Theatre, the manager W. L. Dockstader having invited the pilgrims to make an address.  Alternating between five-minute suffrage speeches and the scheduled vaudeville acts, both types of performances were applauded, the News Journal reported.

Lausanne the suffrage mare pulling the ammunition wagon had been working hard on this tiring journey.  So General Jones had a veterinarian check out her condition.   The animal had been bought in Newark, NJ for $59.98 to pull Elizabeth Freeman’s literature wagon, and her fame was spreading.  The vet said she was fine.

Having been well received in Wilmington over two days and following a final good night’s rest, they shouldered their knapsacks and escorted by Patrolmen Purcell, Barr, McGillin, and Chalender, started marching toward Newport.  General Jones tried to persuade Mayor Howell to go with them, but he declined.

As they reached the top of the hill outside Newport, schoolboys from town greeted the hikers with supportive homemade signs.  The bells on the church, school house and the fire station rang out as they marched into town with 30 pupils, where the Newport Equal Suffrage Club welcomed them.

With all of Newport turning out to welcome the activists, the women were joined in some roadside speechmaking by Martha S. Cranston and Elwood W. Johnson Commissioner of town schools.   The inquisitive youngsters had plenty of questions when the general asked for them.  “Why don’t you take the cars to Washington?” a small boy inquired.  “The women must keep the cause before the public,” the General replied.  “Are you a Democratic?” asked another.  The speaker explained that like Susan B. Anthony she had not party until she had a vote.  “Aren’t there enough men to vote?” another inquired.  There were enough, but the important thing was that there were no women voting in some states,” was the reply according to the Baltimore Sun.

After that it was time to occupy Newark.  The determined troops were on the outskirts of town when the Delaware College Cadet Corps sighted them.  They had cut class in order to be able to escort the footsore commandos downtown.  The college tried to continue with studies, but since so many scholars were missing they finally gave in, letting classes out in body.   “Votes for Women” banners were seen all over Newark.

As the General led the troops, 175 uniformed cadets stood at attention in formation while their officers welcomed the hikers.  They then fell in line and escorted the pilgrims to Deer Park.  There the cadets withdrew to one side as the weary women, their spirits heightened by the greeting, went inside.   The corps presented arms, then turned to march back to the college with the cadet’s band playing “the Girl I left Behind.”

General Jones was greeted by several local advocates and there was plenty of speechmaking in Newark.  In response to a small boy’s question, “Do you want a women to become president the general laughingly replied,  “I don’t expect to live to see it, but if the time should ever come I believe she would fill the position well,” a war correspondent reported.

Promptly at 4 o’clock the bugle sounded and the party fell into line for the tramp to Maryland, where they were to rest for the night.

Continued — Occupying Cecil County.

The route of the Suffrage across from New York to Washington, D.C.  source:  Sunday Evening Times, Philadelphia, February 16, 1913

The route of the Suffrage across from New York to Washington, D.C. source: Sunday Evening Times, Philadelphia, February 16, 1913

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Popular History Happy Hour in Kent County Features Chilling Murder Story

9781626199422_274d9b05e4be6b4cd1a312d3e4574338The popular “History Happy Hour” at the Historical Society of Kent County is rolling around again as we prepare to flip the calendar over to April.  For the April 3rd program Kevin Hemstock, talks about his new book, “Injustice on the Eastern Shore – Race and the Hill Murder Trial.”

A chilling crime shook the County in 1892 when Dr. James Heighe Hill was murdered outside of Millington, as he was on his way to treat a patient.  The community was outraged and the authorities charged nine African-Americans with murder.  Lynching rumors simmered while the prosecutor presented the case, trying Hill’s alleged assailants as a group.  Although some were bystanders, all but one were convicted and sentenced.  Four were executed by hanging, while the rest died in prison.

The former editor of the Kent County News has been investigating this sensational crime for years, examining court records, pouring over old newspapers, studying primary sources, and interviewing people.  He will share the tragic and compelling story “of justice denied on Maryland’s Eastern Shore” during the “history happy hour.”

Copies of the book will also be available for sale at the time.  The cover price for the book is $19.95.

Stop by between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the first Friday of each month for a laid-back history program with great wine and fabulous cheese, before starting out for an enjoyable evening in Chestertown.  The program is free and open to the public, but donations from no-members are appreciated.

The April 3rd program takes place at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street, Chestertown, MD.

Kevin Hemstock

Kevin Hemstock


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The Suffrage Army Occupies Harford County

Maryland is invaded.  General Rosalie Jones and her army cross the state line.  source:  Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

Maryland is invaded. General Rosalie Jones and her army cross the state line. source: Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

Part I — Cecil County

After an overnight stay at their Army’s first Maryland headquarters, the Howard House in Elkton, the company of suffragettes broke up camp and headed for Harford County.  At Perryville they were met by the Bayside Brass Band and a large delegation of citizens from Havre de Grace escorted the hikers across the bridge, where they were “greeted by half the town.”  Completely “tired out and foot sore,” the troops “remarked that the worst piece of public road in the United States was between Perryville and Elkton,” the Havre de grace paper reported

But the tired army was closer to its objective, a show of strength and solidarity for the first massive national civil rights parade in the nation’s capital, so  spirits were high.

Before they could get a good night’s rest at the Harford House, the hikers were escorted to the Mayor’s office, where congratulations were exchanged and addresses made.  In the morning a big crowd accompanied the ladies for a distance as they hiked to Bel Air.

A few miles outside town, the general received a note from Scoutmaster A. B. Hollock of the Bel Air Troop saying:  “I warn you against continuing your march tomorrow.  Such action would work against your cause in Maryland, where you need all the good will you can win.  It would be a grave mistake, for Maryland people are Sabbath keeping people.  So I earnestly request you to rest tomorrow in Bel Air.”

The “Army of the Hudson” camped in the county seat that Saturday night (February 22), twenty-two miles straight out the pike from Baltimore.  Despite the scoutmaster’s warning that the fourth commandment was strictly observed, the Sabbath journey was taken as the troops marched on.

“Roosters were really the objection to spending a day of rest in Bel Air,” the Sun reported.  “At Havre de Grace and Elkton the hikers declared they were awakened at 5 o’clock by vigilant chanticleers [dominant roosters] crowing, “Votes for women, votes for women.”  Village curiosity was another contributing cause.

Thieves followed the pilgrims, collecting pocketbooks, overcoats, and suitcases, so the Harford County police were on alert.  In Havre de Grace, the chief recognized three pickpockets in the camp with whom he had trouble at the last racetrack meet.  He warned them away and telephoned Chief Jackson of Bel Air and Marshall Fernance of Baltimore to be on the lookout.

There were some curiosities on this leg of the mission.  “The old home of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth his brother drew much interest.  Of even more interest was Chief of Police John Jackson, 78, and for 23 years a Baltimore Deputy sheriff.”  He is a veteran of the Civil War and when Lincoln was shot Chief Jackson was sent out from Washington with a squad of 42 men to Booth’s home to search for him, the Baltimore sun reported.

The chief was on the fence concerning the suffrage question, but when challenged by the militant, Miss Freeman, his only definite position was this:  “if women folks do get the ballot,” they would need separate polling booths” because of Jim Crow laws, the Sun reported.  “Miss Freeman had not considered the southern point of view and decided to think it over before commenting, an unusual thing with suffragettes,” the Sun’s remarked.

A largely attended meeting was held at the Masonic Hall, while they were in town.  “Rev John L. Yellott presided.  His speeches were humorous and appreciated by both audience and suffragette speakers.”

Among the suffragists of Bel Air who greeted the pilgrims were Margaret Lake of Forest Hill, Mrs. Henry D. Harlan, wife of Judge Harlan, whom they met on the road; May Hanna, daughter of John B. Hanna, Mrs. A. F. Van Bibber, Mrs. J. Wilson Moore of Fallston an officer of the Harford County Just Government League, and Col.  and Mrs. Herman Stump of Waverly, Bel Air who have visited General Jones at her Long Island Home.

On  Sunday, the “Army of the Hudson” moved out, prepared to occupy Baltimore.

The first picture of the suffrage hikers on Maryland soil.  source:  Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

The first picture of the suffrage hikers on Maryland soil. source: Baltimore Sun, February 21, 1913

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Dan Coates Presents Results of Archaeological Study of the Susquehanna Canal

The Susquehanna Canal on the eastern sid

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

Dan Coates points to a map as he takes questions after the program was over.

e of the Susquehanna River in Maryland aided navigating, permitting arks and rafts to navigate around the rocks and falls in the river.  Opened in 1802, it was never a financial success, and was sold at a sheriff’s sale in 1817.  Once the Susquehanna and Tidewater, stretching from Wrightsville to Havre de Grace,   opened on the western shore of the Susquehanna in 1840, its history was largely sealed.

Until late in the 20th century, people believed the remains of the Susquehanna Canal Locks were lost to modernization and the passage of time, especially with construction of the Conowingo Dam.  But in 1984, three locks of the canal were discovered near the Octoraro Creek.

Over a past few years the Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake has done a couple of investigations there, concentrating on the three locks around Octoraro Creek.  The investigations revealed three building foundations, a concentration of lithic materials and more than 600 artifacts, largely dating from 1820 to 1860.

Dan Coates, President of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake presented the story of these investigations and this historic site for the Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace on March 19, 2015.  The lecture was part of the speakers’ series at the Museum, which brings interesting and timely topics to the community.

Dan did a superb job.  He carefully summarized the broader history of canals along the Susquehanna, outlined the history of this route around the river obstacles, and presented the research study.  There was lots of interest and questions for Dan, and he obviously drew some canal specialists based on the questions they had for the archaeologist.

Thanks Dan and Susquehanna Museum for this excellent and informative program.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock.  source:  Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

The Susquehanna Canal Lock. source: Archaeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake.

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Archaeologist to Discuss Field Investigation of Susquehanna Canal March 19th.

Dan Coates at a dig near Lewisville, PA.

Dan Coates at a dig near Lewisville, PA.

Dan Coates, President of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake (ASNC), will be the speaker for the Elsworth Shank Lecture series sponsored by The Susquehanna Museum at the Lockhouse this Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 pm. The program will be held in the Council Chamber of Havre de Grace City Hall on Pennington Avenue just south of Juniata.

Dan’ topic will be about the ASNC’s field investigations of the Susquehanna Canal, just north of Octoraro Creek.  The 2008 activity, supervised by Ann Persson Bennet, will be the focus of ASNC’ first published MiscellaneousPaper. The Canal was the first such constructed in the United States and chapter members, under Dan’s direction, cleared the undergrowth and saplings that covered it to reveal much of the structure in good condition.

Press Release Provided by Bill McIntyre, VP ASNC

A member of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake at the Lewisville, PA area dig.

A member of the Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake at the Lewisville, PA area dig.

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Life on the Border: Marylanders during the Civil War at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, April 11

Life on the Border:  Marylanders during the Civil War, Saturday, April 11, 2015 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Life on the Border: Marylanders during the Civil War, Saturday, April 11, 2015 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture is sponsoring “Life on the Border:  Marylanders during the Civil War,” Saturday, April 11, 2015. 

Join the Civil War Roundtable featuring Nathania Branch-Miles co-author of Prince George’s County & the Civl War:  Life on the Border and Eric F. Mease, author of Black Civil War Patriots of Cecil County Maryland.

The annual program is sponsored with the Baltimore Chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society and will begin with a genealogy expos.

Cost:  $5.  To register please email or call 443.263.1816


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New Program Showcasing Local History in Red Clay Valley a Big Hit


A surviving guard tower at the New Castle Workhouse in January 2015.

A surviving guard tower at the New Castle Workhouse in January 2015.

Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc. has tapped into a robust interest in local history in the scenic Red Clay valley with a popular winter speakers program.  Spanning the first three months of 2015, the inaugural series packed the headquarters meeting room of the nonprofit, the operator of the Wilmington & Western Railroad.

To increase community outreach, especially during the winter, the organization mulled over some ideas last year.  Thus when Ray Harrington & Tom Gears, the two volunteers coordinating the initiative, proposed the idea of showcasing the untold, diverse stories of the Red Clay Valley, the team was told to give it a try.

They weren’t sure what to expect, perhaps just a dozen local people might attend.  But on the first Monday of each month during the frigid nights of this snowy winter, the lights have been burning late into the evening at the railroad’s headquarters, the attendees arriving early and staying late.  Once the speakers wrapped up, the engaged crowds were in no hurry to leave as lively conversation continued.

The first talk on the New Castle County Workhouse was a great one.  Three speakers, Ray Harrington, Tom Gears, and Ray Salerno, approached the subject from different perspectives, getting the audience involved in sharing their memories.  The next talk by Elizabeth Fite was on Mt. Cuba (a scheduling conflict caused us to miss that one).

The last event this season took place yesterday evening, March 2.  Scott Palmer, in an engaging way, shared the largely unassembled narrative about the tiny New Castle County hamlet, Wooddale.  His careful research revealed intriguing and nearly forgotten accounts from the past in a place that once hummed with activity.

Thriving industries, grand homes, immigration, and fine literature were part of the overall narrative.  However, intrigue, murder, crimes, destructive explosions, and speakeasies made their way into these delightful accounts about the scenic area with rolling hills and a meandering creek, which also seemed like a settlement out of the wild west.

A goat-eats dynamite story, one that could have been part of the script in Andy Griffith’s “the Loaded Goat,” got lots of reaction.  One day while grazing around Wooddale the hungry animal stumbled upon some unattended sticks of dynamite on a back porch of a house.  So it ate a couple, before being discovered.  When last heard from, everyone was giving it a respectful distance, making sure no one tossed any rocks in its direction.  Such were the stories one would never associate with such a quiet little corner of the First State.

For some five years Scott has blogged about the past, broadly sharing the knowledge he acquires through his investigations on the popular and informative Mill Creek Hundred Blog.  He has spent a lot of time digging up historical traces, which was obvious yesterday evening.

These excellent programs, tapping into the community’s interest, exceeded all expectations.  Thank you Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc.. Scott, Tom, Ray and everyone else involved in sharing the stories about the past.   You will have an eager audience looking forward to the untold stories you will tap into next season.

The Wooddale Covered Bridge.  Photo Credit: The Mill Creek Hundred Blog

The Wooddale Covered Bridge. Photo Credit: The Mill Creek Hundred Blog


At the Wilmington & Western Railroad at Greenbank Mill.

At the Wilmington & Western Railroad at Greenbank Mill.

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