Kearns archive at New York Botantical Garden for Echo Dale Gardens

Echo Dale GardensWhat happened to Wilmer and Edna Kearns and the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon after the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920? They moved from Rockville Centre, NY with daughter Serena Kearns back to Pennsylvania where their second child, Wilma, was born in November 1920.

The New York Botanical Garden  (the LuEsther T. Mertz Library) has archival materials in its collection from the business Edna and Wilmer founded, Echo Dale Gardens, located in the Philadelphia area. More items have been added recently. The Mertz Library maintains a wide scope of materials related to the nursery industry in the United States, including correspondence between nursery owners and their customers, invoices, plant inventories, sales brochures, catalogs, newspaper and magazine articles.

Edna B. Kearns and Wilmer R. Kearns’  love of plants and nature led to the establishment of Echo Dale Gardens, the nursery they owned and operated together after 1920. Wilmer and Edna were active in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and their prize-winning flowers and plants were displayed each year at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Local newspapers document Edna’s public speaking about gardening in the Philadelphia area. The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon was on display at the nursery for many years for the purpose of educating the public about how American women won the vote.

Their second child Wilma dressed as the little Dutch girl, the trademark for Echo Dale Gardens for special events and at the Philadelphia Flower Show. After Edna’s death in 1934, Wilmer continued operating the nursery at Echo Dale until World War II. In retirement he reopened the nursery in Ambler, PA. The overall collections at the New York Botanical Garden library also include plant information guides, nursery catalogs, exhibition guides, and other materials.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the movement, as well as the life and times of Edna Kearns, Wilmer Kearns, and the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon.

Podcast #2: “Playing Politics with the President”

Woodrow WilsonThis second audio podcast of “Playing Politics with the President” is a provocative look at the determination of women to press the issue of their rights in 1913. I love the description of the first deputation to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson –and then the second and the third. We’re not hearing this account from people a hundred years after the fact. We’re fortunate to be able to  hear Doris Steven’s own words published in 1920 in “Jailed for Freedom.”

Podcast #2. “Playing Politics with the President”

I loved the description of the womens’ reaction to being led into President Wilson’s office and being asked to sit in rows of chairs, like a school room, with the Woodrow Wilson’s chair in front. Everyone in the women’s delegation admitted to being frightened by the formality. And Alice Paul’s questioning of the President is classic. No one would accept Wilson’s excuses. The women’s reactions are enough to bring a smile of support to our faces today. Essentially he told the women of the delegation that he had more important things to do besides caring about their rights. After suffragists gathered petitions from around the nation, they presented them to Congress and the Susan B. Anthony amendment was introduced, but the battle wasn’t over yet.

This audio podcast series is great if you have two minutes to get a sense of what it took for American women to win the vote. Last week we featured Podcast #1. Take some time each weekend to relax to listen and add to your awareness of the continuing drama of “Playing Politics with the President.” We’ll be sharing a new audio podcast in the series every weekend. Production by Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Audio by Librivix.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

Find out about the Seneca Falls Dialogues in Seneca Falls, NY in October at LetsRockTheCradle.com Registrations are possible now. Fall is a great time to travel. Imagine the colorful landscape and all that you can see in the vicinity of Seneca Falls, New York. Also, check with LetsRockTheCradle.com for other travel ideas when you’re in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

 

“Sister in Struggle”: Get to know suffragist Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth FreemanA great article about suffragist Elizabeth Freeman is the cover story in a recent issue of Pasadena Weekly. Their angle: Elisabeth died there, and the editorial staff was particularly interested in Elisabeth’s contribution to the anti-lynching campaign of 1916. They made a link between Elisabeth’s work and the Michael Brown case in Missouri today, welcome coverage because it illustrates the extent to which many Votes for Women activists had more than one concern, reminiscent of the early women’s rights activists involved in abolition and temperance. Elisabeth receives more attention these days for her activism in the suffrage movement, so this is a welcome addition to what’s available about her life and work. PDF of the Pasadena Weekly article.

See the great web site on Elisabeth Freeman produced by Elisabeth’s great niece Margaret Johnston of Binghamton, NY. Also. “Long Island’s Three Wagon Women” in the New York History blog.

Marguerite's MusingsI’ve been aware of Elizabeth Freeman going back years when I first heard stories about “Great Aunt Elisabeth” from my friend Jane Van De Bogart, a member of the Woodstock town board back when I lived in Woodstock, NY and prowled around local issues with my pen, pad and camera for Woodstock Times. I don’t remember if Jane mentioned her great aunt first or if I trotted out my grandmother Edna Kearns. In any event, one thing led to another.

Two people with family members who’d been suffragists in NYS would sooner or later insist on details and that’s how I found out that not only did Edna and Elizabeth know each other, but they worked together with Rosalie Jones on Long Island on women’s suffrage organizing. As Grandmother Edna Kearns was a Long Island wagon woman, so was Elisabeth Freeman who organized women from diverse backgrounds. Elisabeth also marched with Rosalie Jones to the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC –hardy souls who hiked through bad weather to prove their point.

In 1986 the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon became part of an exhibit about Elisabeth and Edna in Kingston, NY with a seed grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. Jone Miller and the Floating Foundation of Photography in High Falls, NY organized the exhibit which got me started on the long road to bring this part of American history to the attention of a broader audience. Several programs at SUNY New Paltz for Women’s History Month even involved our mothers.

Pick up a rock these days and you’ll find a descendant of a suffrage activist. That’s why I love Elisabeth Freeman. Peg Johnston has picked up the torch from her great aunt and is carrying it high these days. The general public may know about the suffrage movement nationally, but we find out much more by touching into the lives of individuals like Elisabeth, as well as the records and news coverage of clubs and associations on the local level that kept the suffrage issue alive for years. The existence of these organizations, and their ongoing events and activities, gave backbone to the national movement. Leaders at the top can’t do anything without support on the grassroots.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

We have an ongoing podcast series: “Playing Politics with the President” that features the work of the National Woman’s Party right at the time of Elisabeth Freeman’s work. Podcast #1. You can listen to the next podcast in the series, #2, this coming weekend.

Audio podcast #1: “Playing Politics with the President”

Doris StevensWe’re jumping forward to 1913 and following along with Doris Stevens in the audio podcast series, “Playing Politics with the President.” Stevens was an eyewitness to the suffrage movement and we’re fortunate to have the Librivox recording of “Jailed for Freedom” to slice into digestible audio bits of two minutes or less.

Podcast #1 starts with the story about U.S. President Woodrow Wilson arriving at the train station in Washington, DC in March of 1913 and asking “Where are the people?” after noticing that the station is virtually empty. The answer: ” On the avenue watching the suffragists parade” came the answer from an aide. Did it really happen this way? Suffrage activist Doris Stevens certainly wasn’t in the train station in the loop with Woodrow Wilson, but she was around long enough to fill an entire book about the suffrage movement and her perspective on it. “Jailed for Freedom” is a terrific basic text when discovering the suffrage movement. It’s also a quick and easy homework assignment for students.

So test the first podcast of the series. Just two minutes as you settle down with the audio and mark on your calendar that “Playing Politics with the President” is a nine-part series. It features access to the series of events that led up to the eventual decision by the National Woman’s Party to picket the White House to make the point of American women were determined to vote. YouTube has video selections from “Iron Jawed Angels” that features this same time period leading up to an increasing confrontation with President Woodrow Wilson. The YouTube selections will also be featured on Suffrage Wagon in the future. You’ll find these small audio chunks enjoyable and very informative. Photo of suffragist Doris Stevens, above.

New Podcast: “Playing Politics with the President.”

IN OTHER NEWS: There’s a tea house in Castle Rock, Colorado –the Regency Tea Room– that has a great article worth taking a look.  This posting makes the connection between the suffrage movement and tea houses, a subject we’ve given plenty of attention to over the past few years. Castle Rock is 28 miles from downtown Denver and 37 miles north of Colorado Springs.  It’s by reservation only. I haven’t been there, but it’s on my list.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

 

Bernice Ende rides into Rochester, NY to celebrate Montana’s suffrage centennial!

BERNICE_ENDE_postcard-4inx6in-h-back-e1396255951920-688x1024Bernice Ende rode into Rochester, NY yesterday and stopped at the Susan B. Anthony House. She’s off on a two-year plus journey from the east to the west coast. Along the way she’s presenting a slide show that’s inspired, in part, by Montana’s suffrage centennial in 2014.

Escorted into the city by mounted police, Bernice visited the Mt. Hope Cemetery to see the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, and her next stop: the Susan B. Anthony House. She’s getting a great deal of attention, and this is good news for those of us working to bring the past into the present day. Check out her web site. “Let us never forget the women who gave their lives to bring us liberty,” is the message Bernice is carrying. Safe journeys!

IN OTHER NEWS: Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on Earth. In the documentary film, ” I am a girl,” we meet 14-year-old Kimsey from Cambodia who’s forced to sell her virginity at 12; Aziza from Afghanistan, who will be shot if she goes to school; Breani, a teen living in a ghetto of NYC and dreaming of stardom; Katie from Australia who’s recovering from a suicide attempt; Habiba from Cameroon, betrothed to a man 20 years her senior; and Manu from Papua New Guinea, about to become a mother at 14 following her first sexual encounter. As they come of age in the way their culture dictates, we see remarkable heart-warming stories of resilience, bravery and humor. Nominated for four Australian Academy Awards including Best Documentary and Best Director, this inspirational feature-length documentary paints a clear picture of the reality of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement and how this informs and inspires us today.

VIDEO: The “Spirit of 1776″ launched its 1913 journey with letters

Marguerite's MusingsThe new music video, the “Spirit of 1776,” has a companion video about the history of the wagon and its role in suffrage grassroots organizing. It covers the weeks leading up to the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon on July 1, 1913.

The video featuring archival evidence of the wagon’s history showcases letters from A.F. Wilson, president of the I.S. Remson wagon company in Brooklyn to the New York State Woman Suffrage Association that had offices in Manhattan. Remson claimed to be New York’s largest wagon company specializing in fine carriages, business grocer and express wagons, blankets, robes, whips, boots, and horse furnishing goods.

Though the company had been in business since 1881, automobiles had already taken a chuck out of the wagon business. And I.S. Remson company was badly in need of some fresh advertising. So a letter to Harriet May Mills, president of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in Manhattan, from A.F. Wilson, the Remson president, tested the possibility. Would the suffragists like a horse-drawn wagon for campaign purposes?  Mills said “yes,” and suggested that Edna Kearns of Rockville Center, New York use it in an upcoming organizing tour of Long Island by suffrage movement activists.

Video about The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon in 1913.

The series of letters that followed between A.F. Wilson and Kearns dealt with details such as a horse, maintenance, storage and so on. In the early days the Remson company claimed that the wagon had been built in 1776 by a Revolutionary patriot; word to this effect were painted on the side of the wagon. Over the years those claims (still faintly seen) were removed, leaving only the wagon’s name, the “Spirit of 1776.” Although the American Revolution theme worked well for the suffragists, historians and scholars have determined that the wagon actually had been built around 1820. The suffrage movement activists inherited the wagon’s history and name from I.S. Remson who heard this legend from sources on Long Island.

Though the name came with the wagon, the suffrage movement also used the theme of the “Spirit of 1776″ that dates back to the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY: the unfinished American Revolution.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with email, Facebook and Twitter, your source for the 19th amendment and other stories. Pass on these videos to any and all interested in suffrage centennial celebrations. The column, “Marguerite’s Musings,” by Marguerite Kearns is a regular feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel, publishing online since 2009.

Suffrage movement brawl involves Andrew Cuomo campaigner in race for governor

Marguerite's Musings: by Marguerite Kearns

It’s amazing that references to the “suffrage movement” have surfaced in New York’s election campaign for governor?  Not by the incumbent Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo himself, but a verbal brawl in the media between Christine Quinn ( Cuomo supporter) and Tim Wu (running on the Working Families Party line for lt. gov., with Zephyr Teachout for governor). The topic of the suffrage movement flared at a rally at City Hall in New York sponsored by the Women’s Equality Party in mid August 2014.

Sherlocks like me scan the internet for any and all references to the suffrage movement. Did the suffragists create a “little movement” from 1848 to 1920 as Tim Wu suggested? Did the remark offend the “legacy of Susan B. Anthony” as Christine Quinn, campaigner for Cuomo, insisted? Did Wu’s response get him off the hook with his retort that the suffrage movement had been “amazing”? Find out for yourself. PDF.

 The new music video, the “Spirit of 1776″ is out, circulating, and delivering the news of this important symbol of the suffrage movement –the unfinished American Revolution. And this means more chipping away at bringing upcoming suffrage centennials to the attention of a broader public. See article in the New York History blog. Eighty Bug is the songwriter and performer who pulled out her magic wand and the music video miracle manifested. Share the “Spirit of 1776″ music video with others! There’s an audio version too. The words and chords are great for sing alongs and for use in classrooms.

And check out this short video about the significance of NYS’s 2017 suffrage centennial.

So far, nine states have celebrated their centennials of women winning voting rights prior to 1920: Wyoming (1890), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), Idaho (1896), Washington (1910), California (1911), Arizona (1912), Kansas and Oregon (1912). Montana and Nevada are observing one hundred years of women voting in 2014 with special events, projects and activities. New York’s suffrage centennial celebration is scheduled for 2017, with Michigan, Oklahoma and South Dakota to follow. 

Will New York State get its act together and engage in some substantial long-term planning for a suffrage centennial celebration in 2017? Some NYS stakeholders are on the phone monthly to discuss centennial event possibilities, but hardly a peep yet from the state Capitol in terms of appropriate funding and an official endorsement. Some observers predict that New York’s 2017 suffrage centennial will turn out to be little more than expanded opportunities for women to hold bake sales and volunteer. Can NYS pull off a celebration consistent with its position of being the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States? Follow the Suffrage Wagon and a web site called Suffrage Centennials.

And stay tuned! This week the National Archives and the Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, DC hosted a streaming online discussion about the upcoming national suffrage centennial in 2020. There is significant movement with certain proposed projects that are in the planning stages in New York. It’s still too early to tell which proposals will stick to the wall. So we’ll be covering the upcoming 2017 New York State suffrage centennial celebration, as well as each and every development along the way.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon to stay current. Watch the new wagon video. And don’t forget to imagine the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon that inspired this web site on permanent exhibit at the New York State Museum for 2017 and 2020! Recent attention to “Spirit of 1776″ on WAMC public radio.

Subscribe to the quarterly newsletter of Suffrage Wagon News Channel. Check in with the magazine platform. Follow the musings of Marguerite Kearns, a regular Suffrage Wagon column. And sign up for email, Twitter, Facebook updates, and the quarterly newsletter. Suffrage Wagon News Channel is celebrating its 5th year of publishing in 2014.