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

Thursday, June 24, 2021

A Circus Suffragist: Aileen L Tinkcom

One of the goals in rediscovering the women of Miami County who were the first women to vote, was to find our circus suffragists.

from the archives of the Circus Hall of Fame
We had learned that Circus Hall of Fame inductee, May Wirth
had been a member of the Barnum & Bailey Circus Suffragettes, an association that had been reluctantly, at first, accepted into the fold of the National American Women Suffrage Association, following their tea 'party' crashing incident in April 1912.  We also learned that Sells-Floto[1] bragged that though none of their women were suffragists they “could have the vote or anything else they desired… For the Sells-Floto circus depends greatly upon its women.  More than one branch of the big show is run almost exclusively upon its women, and run perfectly.”

The article mentions[2]

       Lucia Zora[3], who has charge of training all the elephants.

      - Mrs. William Curtis, who personally supervises every inch of the wardrobe and designs the costumes, along with putting on a show now and then;

  - Rosa Rosaland, world champion horse-to-horse somersault rider, in charge of all the equestriennes in the show.

  - Mrs. Charles Luckey, in charge of all the aerial act; and

  - Last but not least Mrs. Rhoda Loyal, horse trainer

 There was really little to go on specific to Miami County, Indiana.

In a previous article, Stacy Mize reported on Mabel Stark and Lillian Leitzel, both also Hall of Fame inductees.  A 2020 "Bandwagon" article by Kat Vecchio shared a picture depicting the 1912 Madison Square Garden meeting when Miss Suffrage was christened.  Lillian Leitzel appears to be on there.  So was Josie DeMott who may have made a passing appearance here. Otherwise we have been left to wonder about our local circus ladies…  Where were our Circus suffragists?

Circus women had broken society’s norms for what was expected proper behavior.  They were more liberated than other women, yet they remained voiceless legally, in spite of having proven time and again they could match their male counterparts.  The Sells-Floto administrators might have recognized their abilities and their usefulness but their women were still in the same predicament as all the others when it came to enjoying full citizenship rights.  They could not vote and so remained voiceless in government.  Their concerns over education for their children, healthcare and fair treatment in daily life etc remained in the hands of men who were not always willing to hear them, let alone listen.  They  too needed new laws.

It was while returning to the 1917 newspapers that I came across an article summing up the history of the Franchise League in Miami County and listing its members as of February 29, 1917[4].  Mrs. B E Wallace aka Florence Fuller Wallace was the first Circus connected name I recognized. 

I created a spreadsheet with all the names we have collected, in a similar way that we worked on the WWI doughboys.  One lady at a time I finally came to one that qualified as a bonafide Miami County Circus girl, Hagenbeck-Wallace diva, soloist Aileen Lowry Tinkcom!

She was born in Armagh, PA on May 15, 1890, daughter of James Johnston Tinkcom and Lydia Lowry.  She must have shown a talent for music early, as her father bought her a piano shortly before her 13th birthday. 


She attended the public schools of Indiana County, PA, including the Normal School and the Seton Hill Convent in Greensburg, PA.  It is unsure when she actually attended the

Three Arts Club[5]
in Chicago or when she sang with the Hagenbeck-Wallace shows but this is referenced in her obituary.[6]

Her father moved the family to Peru around 1909 when Ben Wallace hired him to manage his circus farms.  It may be when she sang with the Hagenbeck-Wallace shows but we still have not found the year she was with them.  One thing we could determine is that she was favored by[8] Florence Wallace, and was even considered a niece, although I have not been able to establish any family relationship. She attended many functions with her and seemed to be part of the "High Society" crowd.

James Tinkcom continued as farms manager even after Ben Wallace died (1921) and under the following owners.   In 1941, John Ringling North[9] put an end to the circus winter quarters located on the property Ben Wallace had purchased from Miami Indian Chief Gabriel Godfroy, but the land continued to be farmed. 

Aileen was well appreciated and joined other artists for special events, such as the Senger Dry Goods Store 1912 Spring fashion show.

In January 1919, Aileen performed with many others in a special 2 day-presentation featuring the Liberty Girls Victory Minstrels and others.  She was met with as much delight as anticipation.[7]

But it is her Woman’s suffrage activities I was looking for along with her Circus connection. Aileen would not have been gone from Peru all year anyway since the show returned in the Fall and stayed till early May.  Plenty of time to get involved.

At 26, Aileen was among the Miami County women who signed up to participate in the Chicago Suffrage Parade[10] in the summer of 1916[11]:

Mrs. J S Rizor,

Mrs. R F Hite,

Mrs. Frank Bearss,

Miss Lucy Bearss,

Miss Ada Brough,

Mrs. Charles Vance;

Mrs. Barkdale,

Mrs. L Gilbert,

Miss Parkhurst,

Mrs Parkhurst,

Grace Armitage,

Georgia Redmon,

Mrs. F M Stutesman;

Mrs. A Wertheim,

Mrs. Mills Hathaway,

Mildred Keyes,

Mrs. Allen Pumphrey,

Clara Edwards,

Lucile Edwards,

Mrs. Lou Cole,

Florence Levy,

Elizabeth McCaffrey,

Mrs. Joseph E Andrews,

Miss Gerhart,

Mrs. Harry L Miller,

Mrs. E H Gould,

Alice Puterbaugh,

Mrs. John Crume,

Mrs. Theo Ensel,

Mrs. J H Shirk,

Mrs. W L Booth,

Mrs. E W Shirk,

Clara Mowbray,

Eileen* Tinkcom,

Mrs R E Edwards,

Miss Lucy Klinglesmith,

Mrs. W A Woodring,

Miss O'Hara

40,000 women were expected and Indiana had been planning ahead of time to ensure everyone would have proper accommodations.  The weather did not cooperate and only 5,000 women braved the heavy rains.

In the words of Harriet Henton:

“The Indiana women, led by Miss Betsy Edwards of Shelbyville, first vice-president of the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana, as the grand marshal, were in the first division of marches and presented a most notable showing.  Miss Edwards braved the storm in a white coat costume with the official sailor trimmed with its yellow band and her Indiana badge floating in the wind.  She carried the beautiful banner inscribed with “Indiana” in black lettering, which Mrs. Ovid Butler Jameson carried in the historic suffrage parade in Washington DC, two years ago.  On either side were her official aids:

Mrs. J H Shirk of Peru and Miss Adah Bush, of Kentland.

Mrs. Alexander Hugh Scott, of Indianapolis, as the standard bearer ad battalion leader, carried the pennant of the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana, with Miss Eldena Lauter, of Indianapolis, Miss Esther Griffin White, of Richmond, Mrs. J C McCain, of Ben Davis, Miss Clara Edwards and Mrs Theodore Ensel, of Peru as side marshals.  Mrs. Anna Dunn Noland, president of the equal Suffrage Association of Indiana, and Mrs. Kate Wood Ray of Gary, represented that society and Mrs. Ray carried the banner of the Civic Association of Gary.

Others in the Indiana division were Mrs. Richard E Edwards, of Peru, who has been chairman of the arrangements committee and who brought the largest delegation of the state from her little town…”[12]

What Harriet did not report but which is deeply endearing to circus loving people, is that Circus elephants were in the parade! and they carried the league's "planks".

Carrie Chapman Catt Papers

 In 1918, we find Aileen taking signatures in support of the Susan B Anthony Amendment on Nov 5, 1918, elections, at the polls.[13]

Under Marie S. Edwards’ leadership, in 1917-1919, the women of Miami County actively engaged in the cause.  They registered other women for war work as well as for membership into the Franchise League and to vote in the October Constitutional Convention that would be cancelled and it is easy to see that Aileen would be in the thick of things too.  They gave speeches to promote cooperation and support for the troops and for the Susan B Anthony Amendment. 

Aileen joined the Nineteenth Star Chapter of the National Daughters of the American Revolution after it was formed in 1922.  For a time she was even its Historian. 

Aileen and her parents continued to reside at Wallcourt, West of the Winterquarters until their deaths.

James was the first to die, on Sep 15, 1942.  Aileen followed on 28 Jan 1945.

Her mother Lydia died Feb 8, 1954 at the farm.  The line finished there but they had nieces and nephews who lived in the southern part of the county and still count descendants today.

All three were buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Research continues in the hope of finding a picture of our diva, Hagenbeck-Wallace principal soloist, Aileen Lowry Tinkcom.

[1] Marshalltown Evening Times Republican 26 Apr 1916, Marshalltown, IA

[4] The Peru Republican 29 Feb 1917, Peru, IN

[5] The Three Arts Club of Chicago, an organization founded in 1912 by social activist Jane Addams and more than 30 other female civic leaders who wanted to change the composition of the male-dominated art world by encouraging women to pursue careers in the arts—eight years before women had the right to vote.  https://3arts.org/pages/history - https://ia801703.us.archive.org/29/items/nby_168751/three_arts_club.jpg

[6] The Kokomo Tribune 30 Jan 1945, Kokomo, IN

[7] The Logansport Pharos Tribune 23 Jan 1919, Logansport, IN; The Logansport Daily Tribune 24 Jan 1919, Logansport, IN

[8] The Logansport Pharos Reporter 20 Jun 1914, Logansport, IN

[9] The Rushville Evening Daily Republican 27 Nov 1941, Rushville, IN

[10] The Peru Republican 9 Jun 1916, Peru, IN

[11] The Peru Republican 2 Jun 1916,Peru, IN

[12] The Peru Republican 9 Jun 1916, Peru, IN

[13] The Peru Republican 8 Nov 1918, Peru, IN

Friday, March 19, 2021

Of Independent Citizenship and Enemy Aliens

One of the first things the League of Women Voters went to work on was independent citizenship for married women. It was to undo the 1907 Expatriation Act[1] by which a US born woman was stripped of her US citizenship, adopting her husband’s upon marrying a foreign man who was not naturalized.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled…

Sec. 2 – That any American citizen shall be deemed to have expatriated himself when he has been naturalized in any foreign state in conformity with its laws, or when he has taken an oath of allegiance to any foreign state.

Sec. 3 – That any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband.  At the termination of the marital relation she may resume her American citizenship, if abroad, by registering as an American citizen within one year with a consul of the United States, or by returning to reside in the United States, or, if residing in the United States at the termination of the marital relation, by continuing to reside therein…

Approved March 2, 1907[2]

It was confusing enough that foreign men could vote in Indiana…

if they had filed their “first papers”, meaning if they had declared their intention to become naturalized, and if they had lived

- in the country for a year,

- in Indiana for 6 months,

- 60 days in the township

- and 30 days in the precinct.

Adding insult to injury, many of these men, who for one reason or another had failed to finish the naturalization process, were required to register as ‘enemy aliens’ in February 1918.  Their wives would have to follow suit in June 1918.  Few of these registrations still exist. I have found none in Miami County so far.  I was able to find an example online at FamilySearch.org[3], and also at the National Archives page[4].

Men registered in February 1918 in Miami County. The process was likely the same for the women. They registered in June and the newspapers give details about their experience.

The women had 10 days during which to comply.  They were asked to bring 4 current photographs of themselves, and were required to fill out a 4 pages-long form in triplicate.

The questions asked

- about their birth

- when they emigrated,

- what ship they sailed on

- when and where they landed in America

- where all she had lived in the US

Each questionnaire included a page for finger-prints, along with the photograph.

Here is one of a Tipton, IN woman living in Kansas, married to a German. 

It gives a good idea of how much work and how much time it took to go thru the process. 


One filled questionnaire was sent to the federal government, another went to the state and the third remained on file at the local police station.

An identification card was then issued to each registrant, on which to paste the 4th photograph.

Registered ‘enemy aliens’ were not allowed to change addresses or move within the city without first getting a permit from the police station and this all had to be reported to the state and to Washington DC. No need to say many suffered great embarrassment and were rather angry. Many of these families had sons serving in the military or otherwise and yet they had to comply or risk imprisonment. It did however hasten the pace for some to finish their naturalization process once the war was over.

In Miami County, the newspapers reported that 82 men[5] and 69 women[6] registered.

At least 18[7] of these women were born in the US and 2 in the Allied nation of France:

-        Marie Ahnert, daughter of Henry Diller and Pearl Hinkle, born in Miami County, IN

-        Margaret Baltzli, daughter of Michael Sand and Eva Heinrich, born in France

-        Pauline Dallmon, daughter of Jacob Ginter and Frances, born in MN

-        Sophia Ehlers, daughter of Friedrich Hockelberg and Anna Johanna Scholtz, born in Woodville, IN

-        Theodora Henrietta Kemps, daughter of Gustave C Kemps and Charlotte Kurz, born in Peru, IN

-        Sophia Krathwohl, daughter of Fred Hager and Hannah Stark, born in France

-        Susanna Kuch, daughter of Samuel Troyer and Sarah Schrock, born in Salt Creek, OH

-        Catherine Lentz, daughter of Frank Eisbrenner and Anna Hannig, born in Peru, IN

-        Bertha Leithold, daughter of Herman Kemps and Henrietta Lang, born in Rochester, IN

-        Anna Lutz, daughter of Fred C Bulk and Dorothy Pohlman, born in IN

-        Anna B Pritz, daughter of Christopher Ploss and Anna Martha Stemler, born in Logansport, IN

-        Martha Richter, daughter of August Menzel and Amelia Bottel, born in Peru, IN

-        Helen Rudolph, daughter of Charles Lewis Ahnert and Marie Voit, born in Peru, IN

-        Clara Schantz, daughter of Frank Groeschel and Marie T. Feitz, born in Fort Wayne, IN

-        Augusta Schmidt, daughter of William Butzin and Sabina Eisbrenner, born in Peru, IN

-        Emma Schmidt, daughter of Ferdinand Schmidt and Anna Wendt, born in Peru, IN

-        Ernestine Strominger, daughter of Henry Conradt and Marguerite Finster, born in Peru, IN

-        Maud Weinke, daughter of Dewitt Latham and Rachel E. Taylor, born in Peru, IN

-        Ida Welke, daughter of Fred Bulch/Bulk and Dora Pohlman, born in Kokomo, IN

-        Emma Zipperian, daughter of Leonard Kolb and Maria Barbara Waltz, born in Peru, IN

Most professions were not hindered by the Expatriation Act of 1907.  Such was not the case for women who practiced law or whose job required them to be US citizens.  This law also made affected women, vulnerable to detention and deportation[8].

On the other side of the Expatriation Act coin, foreign born women who gained US citizenship by marriage were able to retain it, even if they divorced.  They could 'return' that citizenship by making a formal renunciation before a court.

Before the 19th Amendment passed, it was probably of little consequence to the registered "enemy alien women" of Miami County, who were housewives.  None appear to have been affiliated with the Woman’s Franchise League but they may have belonged to a union of the WCTU (none in leadership positions that I found) or another Woman’s Club of the day where voting rights were discussed.  

In 1918, the Woman's Franchise League was continuing its work of recruiting although it had been combined with the additional responsibility of War Work. 

In Miami County, 8,503 women, 16y and up, registered with the Women's Section of the Council of Defense, whose goal was to make an inventory of what "Woman Power" looked like within its 'borders'.  Many of these enemy-alien women knitted socks for the soldiers and saved fuel and food with as much patriotism as their neighbors, so I am not suggesting they were isolated by any means, or not exposed to the enthusiasm at the idea of having a voice in the affairs of government.

To correct the injustice done to American-born women, the League of Women Voters supported[9] the Curtis-Rogers Woman Citizenship Bill, promoting “Independent Citizenship for Married Women[10], principle already adopted by the League at its first convention in February 1920 and presented to the parties as planks for the 1920 Presidential Elections.

Marie Stuart Edwards presenting the planks to Senator Harding during Social Justice Day Event in October 1920

I checked the naturalization status of these families on the 1920 census and it contradicted in part what the registrations had laid out.  But since I found no naturalization records available for these families, whether or not these women voted in the first presidential election after the ratification of the 19th Amendment will remain a mystery.  For the time being.  That's the beauty of a blog article.  You can always update it!

President Harding signed the Cable Act on 22 September 1922.  As a token of recognition for the League’s important support in getting the bill passed, he sent the pen to Maud Wood Park.

The bill treated women as individuals, separate from their spouses, and required all to follow naturalization process either to gain or regain US citizenship.  It is still strange to think a US born woman, having lost her citizenship by marriage, should be required to re-establish herself as a US citizen but that’s how it worked out.

And the Bill, once passed, remedied the professional dilemma of some adversely affected.

Of course, immigration and naturalization laws changed again but not in the way of automatically granting citizenship by marriage.

Thumbing thru Maud Wood Park’s papers, at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, I came across her account of the League’s work to better society.  The 1920-1921 Legislative report[11] follows the different points of the planks.  They sure moved a lot of ‘earth’ in a short time: concerns over children’s education, health and overall well being, at school and elsewhere.

The summary notes their work[12] towards

o   Universal Physical Training for both sexes from ages 6 to 18

o   More adequate provision for vocational training in Home Economics

o   Providing a Library Information Service in the Bureau of Education

o   Sheppard-Towner Bill for Maternity and Infant protection - PASSED

o   Establishment of the Women’s Bureau: still working on “Equal pay for Equal work”

o   Establishment of Federal and State Employment Service with Women’s Department

o   Minimum wage Bill, Johnson-Nolan Bill: $3/day for Federal employees – Defeated

o   Retirement system for Public employees

o   Public Appropriations for the Dissemination of Education in the Laws of Physical, mental and racial health. – Program outline in the League’s flyer[13] by Dr. Valeria H Parker.

o   American Citizenship[14]: Independent Citizenship for Married Women: the Cable Bill would be the big focus of 1922 – PASSED

Interestingly enough the League of Women Voters did not support the Equal Rights Amendment.

As early as March 1923, when Congress passed an Act that recognized “the principle of equal compensation for equal work irrespective of sex”, the League felt caution should be observed in pushing what Maud Wood Park refers to as the “so-called Equal Rights Amendment”[15].  It seemed to be more about not rocking the foundation of family relationships.

In 1945, the Indianapolis Star quoted then President of the League, Mrs. John K Goodwin: “Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment does not necessarily mean equal pay for equal work as the proponents of the legislation claim.  Women will lose rather than gain by passage of equal rights because the amendment throws into jeopardy the entire protective laws which take into consideration the biological difference of men and women.” 

Let's tackle that some other time!

Here is the League's 1922 Legislative Calendar[16] and 1923

[5] The Sentinel 16 Feb 1918, Peru, IN

[6] The Peru Journal 28 Jun 1918, Peru, IN; The Sentinel 29 Jun 1918, Peru, IN

[7] The list includes 8 women whose parents/birth place could not be identified.

[10] “Independent Citizenship For Married Women,” Social Welfare History Image Portal, accessed March 16, 2021, https://images.socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/items/show/92.

[11] Harvard University, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America / sch01035c00263


[12] Republican Northwestern, 13 Feb 1920

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