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

Monday, December 7, 2020

From Dublin to Peru

The Seneca Falls Convention[1] of 1849 was the first of its kind.  A woman’s rights convention where maybe for the first time the idea of woman’s suffrage was voiced out loud.

Even Elizabeth Cady Stanton[2]’s husband chose to stay away when she pressed on to present the idea as part of the Declaration of Sentiments[3].

Lucretia Mott[4] was also hesitant, though she let Elizabeth be bold with her idea.

The two women had met in London at the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840[5], to which they had been denied access because they were women.  Some men of the American delegation refused to be separated from them and joined the women in the spectator’s gallery.

This exclusion started a fire in Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 8 years later they would organize the Seneca Falls Convention.

A month later another convention was held in Rochester, NY and the ball continued to roll thereafter.

You might be surprised to learn that the Midwest was not asleep either and Indiana was at the heart of the stirring.  In October 1851[6], in Dublin, Wayne County, women gathered asking for their rights. Referring to the state constitution of Indiana, they wanted to know if women were not citizens themselves.  Were women not people?

A year later, another convention was held in Indiana, in Richmond, a stone throw away from Dublin.

Lizzie Bunnell[7] and many others were in attendance and signed[8] the constitution of a new organization: The Indiana Woman’s Rights Association.  Lizzie Bunnell moved to Peru in 1856 and in 1861, started a woman’s rights newspaper, The Mayflower[9], in Peru, with the support of Dr. Mary Thomas, of Richmond, IN.  The paper managed to survive February 1864, when it died in Columbia City, IN where newlywed Lizzie had moved to earlier that year. The last Mayflower published in Peru is dated October 1, 1863.

The 1942 Palladium Item mentions a long list of people.  

I poured over the names and many jumped at me but ties to Miami County remain too hard to confirm.

We found an “E H Shirk” acknowledged as a Mayflower subscriber in 1864.  He is likely Elbert Hamilton Shirk of Peru, grandfather of Marie Stuart Edwards’ husband, Richard E Edwards.  Otherwise, none of the subscribers’ names stand out with absolute certainty as Miami county people.

The local newspapers turn up a blurb about 1882 Converse: “A Woman Suffrage meeting was held at the home of Mrs. M Edwards in Deer Creek township, Mrs. S R Haynes presiding.  Miss M A Clark was chosen secretary."[10]

Again, determining without a doubt who for sure these women are has proven to be very difficult.

A lot of commotion occurred on election day, November 6th, 1894[11] when Indiana women decided to go to the polls and attempt to vote as did  Helen Gougar and were refused a ballot on account of their sex:

-          In Anderson 250 members of the WCTU.

-          In Howard County too women turned up at the polls.

-          But no similar action is reported in Miami County.

So we pick up the story in Miami County on Oct 15, 1914, when the Peru Franchise League was created.

I may be grasping at straws at this point, looking at the records trying to connect the Miami County woman’s suffrage story to more of the early days.   

What did take place between 1864 and 1914?

Does the WCTU hold answers?

What role did it play in Miami County?

Who were the women involved?


The Miami County Museum kindly shared with me some more of its treasures in the form of a directory.   It meant very little when I first looked at it.   

A great article on the WCTU[12] explains much better than I can, its role in organizing the women so they could begin to exert influence on society, as a group.  Its main objective was to combat the ills of addiction, most to alcohol, which was perceived as one of the main causes of abuse in families. They believed that “one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Miami County’s WCTU had 5 Unions, organized at different times:

1.       The Amboy Union in 1888

2.       The Peru Union organized a Union in 1898

3.       The Converse Union in 1912

4.       The Macy Union in 1915

5.       The Kate Liebrick Union in South Peru in 1917

“Why would they use a woman’s name?”, was my question.  Who was Kate Liebrick?  

Kate LIEBRICK/LEEBRICK was born in Dublin, Indiana on May 1, 1842, to John Newman LEEBRICK and his wife Rosanna Matilda FRITCHEY.  She and her sister Emma came to Miami County to teach school.  The whole family ended up moving here and several are buried here.

Her sister Frances Ellen LIEBRICK, aka “Ella” came to Peru to visit her sisters and met George Curtis MILLER whom she married in 1869.  George Miller worked with Elbert Hamilton Shirk as business partners.  They lived at 82 West 6th, where the Miami Indian Tribal Headquarters are now.

Ella aka Mrs. G C MILLER is named in the article on the December 1914 meeting of the Peru Franchise League.  As they only named 5 of 16 founding members, it is not a big jump to believe she is one of them.

“Officers of the Peru League are:

-          President, Mrs. Harry Fetter

-          Vice-President, Mrs. R E Edwards

-          Second vice-president, Miss Harriet Henton

-          Treasurer: Mrs. A Wertheim

-          Secretary: Miss Grace Armitage


For the arrangement committee Thursday, Mrs. Joseph Shirk was appointed chairman, but was unable to serve, Mrs. Hector Loughran acting in her place.  The reception committee was composed of Mrs. Harry Fetter, Mrs. Frank Stutesman, Mrs. E W Shirk, Mrs. R E Edwards and Miss Harriet Henton.  Assistant hostesses were Mrs. G C Miller, Mrs. John Lawrence, Miss Ethel Blair, Grace Armitage, Mrs. Will Charters, Mrs. Charles Fultz, Mrs. S S Brewer, Mrs. A Wertheim and Mrs. John Hiner. 


The young ladies who assisted in serving were the Misses Alice Stutesman, Mildred Keyes, Helen Cole, Mary McClintic, Mabel Loughran, Kate Cox, Minnie Antrim, Addie Ream, Georgia Redmon, Grace Deniston, Jane Long and Hazel Arnold.”[13]

Ella was born 27 Sep 1848, so she would have only been 3 years old when the Dublin Convention took place.  Chances are slim she might have been there.  Her mother’s name does not appear on the newspaper list and neither does her grandmother’s.  Yet, it is hard to imagine the family was not influenced by the events taking place in the Richmond area at the time.

George C MILLER served as elected representative of the Howard and Miami district in the state senate.

Ella LIEBRICK MILLER died on 27 Nov 1920[14].  She is buried at Mount Hope with her husband and her parents.

Other names stand out, such as Mrs. E W Shirk, aka Mary Emma KIMBERLY, wife of Elbert Walker SHIRK.  Minnie ANTRIM who would, during the war, help bring the first biplane to Peru while doing war work in St Louis.  Harriet HENTON, the columnist for the Peru Republican; Kate COX who would be secretary of the Indiana Franchise League when Marie EDWARDS served as president.

[7] https://mciwr.blogspot.com/search/label/Lizzie%20Bunnell%20Read – The Palladium Item, 15 March 1942, Richmond, IN

[8] The Palladium Item, 15 March 1942, Richmond, IN

[10] published in the "Forty-One Years Ago Today" column of the Peru Republican 1 Jun 1923, from the earlier issue dated 8 June 1882.

[11] Chicago Tribune on Nov. 7, 1894; The Peru Republican 6 Nov 1894, Peru, IN

[12] The Temperance Movement In Indiana, Author(s): Charles E. Canup

Source: Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 16, No. 2 (JUNE, 1920), pp. 112-151; Published by: Indiana University Press

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27785940 - Accessed: 23-02-2020 10:25 UTC

[13] The Peru Republican 18 Dec 1914, Peru, IN

[14] The Peru Republican 1 Dec 1922, Peru, IN

No comments:

Post a Comment

Preserving Women's Legacy Grants