When the 19th Amendment finally passed the Senate, Marie Stuart Edwards, Peru, IN said: "... we rejoice that this has come just now to the women of America at the dawn of this wonderful reconstruction period. Women are to “sit in” at the remaking of the world. I believe women will bring to our body politic an independence of action, a clarity of thought, unhampered by precedents, and an inspired desire to vote for the best interests of human society. We are calling on all women of the state to study, to carry through their plans for educational work along civic and citizenship lines. We are urging them to put loyalty to humanity, loyalty to country and to state above all ideas of party loyalty, since these new voters have yet to participate in party councils.
“I am glad to see this amendment pass. I am anxious to see it ratified. Most of all, am I anxious to see this great new force in action.
Marie Stuart Edwards, 4 Jun 1919

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Votes for Women and Legacy Trail of Miami County

Little by little the pieces of our local suffrage story eventually fell into place.

With the dates came locations and soon we realized we had enough building to put on a map and would probably find more as we learned more.

Here is the map we have so far:

We start the trail at the Peru Public Library, at 102 West Main Street, where the women organized the Peru Franchise League in October 1914 with 16 women in attendance.  Ellen Cole Fetter became the first president of the league, with Marie Edwards as her First-Vice-President.  They were to meet there every other week but their resolve soon dwindled.  It was only after they reorganized in November 1915 that things really began to shape up and the organization grew in strength and numbers.  More branches were formed and a County Convention was held at the Library also.

Then in December 1920 the women gathered to merge into the Peru League of Women Voters.

Marie Stuart Edwards permeates the trail and so it was fitting that a semblance of her as a young girl with her bike be placed at the Library and be the first stop on the trail.

The life-size bronze was created by Artist Cindy Billingsley and unveiled on August 26, 2021.


A time capsule was installed to the east of the statue to ensure the whole story of how the statue was created and how to maintain it be stored in there.



From the library we walk north a block to 109 N Huntington

This house was built by Harvey Shirk before 1868 as it appears on the 1868 Bird's Eye View map of Peru, IN and the 1877 atlas includes a drawing of the house.

In this house we find Ida Husted (not yet Harper) residing as a lodger with the Harvey Shirk family in 1870.  She was 19 and had come Muncie to teach at Peru High School.  She was in fact asked to take charge as Principal of Peru High School.   She married Thomas W Harper in December 1871 and left Peru.  She would become a successful journalist and columnist, as well as suffragist. As such Ida Husted Harper[1] was well acquainted with Susan B Anthony whose 3-volume biography she wrote.  She also edited the first 3 volumes[2] of The History of Woman Suffrage with Susan B Anthony then finished the series, writing the last 3 volumes.  Carrie Chapman Catt also worked with Ida Husted Harper on the last volume of the History.  She valued Ida Husted Harper enough that in 1930 when she received $5000 Pictorial Review Prize [3], she chose to share it with her and gave her $100[4] out of the awarded money.  For more information about Ida Husted Harper check our earlier blog article[5].


From there we go west a block to Wabash St and cross into the alley between 5th and 6th to reach 20 East 5th.   Here Lizzie Bunnell printed The Mayflower between January 1861 and October 1863.  We were awarded a Pomeroy Foundation marker for this location.  

It will be unveiled officially on October 15, 2022 at 3:30pm.

For further reference to Lizzie Bunnell’s story check our earlier blog article[6].




Continuing west on 5th Street, we cross Broadway and come to the former Montgomery Travels building, at 26 North Broadway, earlier known as the Schmoll Building.  It housed the Home Savings and Loan in 1921.

On the second floor, Marie Edwards installed the National Headquarters of the League of Women Voters.  There she ran the Speakers Bureau.  Women were sent from there to give speeches across the country on behalf of the league.

The National League did not stay there long, as in 1922 they had already moved to another location to which we will come to shortly.


 Heading West to the end of the block then ½ a block we come to the Guild of the former Trinity Episcopal Church.

In 1917, the Peru Franchise league, under the leadership of Helen Royse Shirk, had their headquarters at the Guild.  After the Maston-McKinley Act was challenged and women kept from registering to vote for the special elections in September, the Peru League had women notaries at the Guild to continue the registration work.  Should the Indiana Supreme Court uphold the law, they would only have to submit these registrations to the Court Clerk.

The League women also knitted socks for soldiers there.


Going 2 blocks west to 50 and 54 North Hood, we discover


The Rosewood Mansion where Helen Royse Shirk resided and from where the “Flying Squadrons” – patriotically decorated cars filled with women wearing sashes – started their canvassing across the county to sign up women to vote for the special September elections.





The Shirk-Edwards mansion at 50 North Hood - is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1862, Elbert Hamilton Shirk, Richard E Edward’s grandfather, incorporated Peru Founder William Hood’s home into building the current mansion.  The home went to daughter Alice Shirk who married Richard A Edwards.  Their son Richard E Edwards inherited it next.  He and his wife Marie Stuart Edwards made it their home some time in 1929, after they returned from a move to Rochester, New York.  This location was often the site of Suffrage picnics, and referred to as the Little White House because of its lawn.


Next we go South on Hood, and cross Main Street and head back East to 123 West Main Street.  In this house, Marie Edwards resided from 1917 to 1926.

Many suffragists who were traveling thru on League business enjoyed Marie Edwards’ hospitality here. 

The Edwards did not own the house. It belonged to Richard’s cousin Elbert Shirk and his wife Mary Emma Kimberly Shirk.  When these two moved to Richmond, IN in late 1916, they traded houses with the McCaffreys who loved the Shirks’ home at 154 W Main.

This is when the McCaffrey made way for the Edwards to stay at 123 W Main.

The house would be sold in 1927, a year after the Edwards moved away to Rochester, New York. 

We approached the current owners about applying for a State Historical marker for their home.  We are excited to announce our application was just approved and an official state marker will be installed in 2023.  The most exciting here is to know Marie Edwards will be recognized alongside the other main Indiana suffrage leaders, with a write-up on the state’s official website!

Continuing East we make our way to 27 East 3rd Street.

In 1919, this is where the Peru League Headquarters had moved to.

After the 19th Amendment passed the House on Jun 4, 1919, the suffragists organized a celebratory parade that started at this location.  It was the only suffrage parade ever held in Peru, IN.  It took place on June 9th, 1919.

The suffragists were asked to wear white, NO hats.  The parade started in the evening and went from The Chamber of Commerce on East 3rd Street to Broadway, down to Canal and back up to the Courthouse where speeches were made.

It was quite an event, with 60 suffragists in attendance and women on horses leading the parade.


Continuing N-E to 15 South Wabash we come to the 1918 location of the State Headquarters of the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana.  Starting in May 1918, the state League ran its business from here.  Marie Edwards had requested the change in the by-laws if she was to be re-elected.  She didn’t feel she could continue making the many trips to Indianapolis and also fulfill her obligations to her family.

The State League Headquarters were on the 2nd floor, on the alley.  Marie’s office was in the back.  The local league was invited to hold their meetings there in 1918.

This location was called the Dukes Building in 1918.  Someone placed the Dukes Building on the National Votes for Women Trail some years ago but had mistakenly place the location at Dukes Hospital’s former nurses building (now a parking lot).  The correction has been made and you can find it on their map[7].

The downtown tour closes just north-west from this last location.

Two parking lots are all that is left of

1.      The Traction Building (25 East Main) where the National League of Women Voters Headquarters located in 1922.  The League Pamphlets make no doubt about this.

2.      Straight across Main Street from there, was located The Peru Republican, which had proven to be a strong ally to the women and continued to print for them.  The Pan-American Conference of Women report was printed there in 1922.


Left on the Trail map are:

-          Mount Hope Cemetery:  Marie and Richard Edwards resting place along with many others whom we hope to also highlight with a “Here Lies a Suffragist!” sign.


 -      The Civic Center: at 225 East River Road, which was a direct result of Marie Edwards’ work as well as that of other women.  This is where we stray from the Votes for Women Trail a bit and claim this as part of the greater Women’s Legacy Trail.


-         Lizzie Bunnell’s “Home Cottage”, now in the backyard of the Railroad offices, on the East end.





 -          Last but not least, the Circus Hall of Fame at 3076 East Circus Lane, where the circus suffragists are honored including our very own Aileen Tinkcom whose home we located at “Walcourt”, now a field off  IN124 East.




Many other places still need to be identified.

The Courthouse played its part, as did church buildings where women held conferences and other meetings.  Also the places where suffrage leaders lived.

So the work has only just begun…

Join us October 15th!  This Pomeroy Foundation marker is said to be the first of its kind in Indiana.  This Pomeroy Foundation marker is said to be the first of its kind in Indiana. 

We appreciate all who have helped support our efforts!

We will be working with property owners to place permanent markers.

We will continue to sell postcards to fund these future markers;

We invite you to join us and continue to support this important work! THANK YOU!

Preserving Women's Legacy Grants