We do love a puzzle… even incomplete ones

I have compared historical research to assembling pieces of a puzzle in these pages before.

Admittedly, it is a not-so-original comparison, but the metaphor works here since this is an investigation in which we worked out some of the edges of the topic after Bill and Nancy Steel allowed us to scan some remarkable photos from their family album.

That started us investigating the 1913 suffrage hike from New York City which culminated in an immense suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with newly elected President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

Two of the photos, in particular, Luncheon at Haines Pond and Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro, showed nearby locations and suggested that maybe some of Riverton’s very own members of the Porch Club’s Suffrage Committee might have participated in the event.

Using clues from the photo captions led to further delving into the Library of Congress website, our own online collection of old hometown newspapers, Porch Club records, and online newspaper archives to fill in some more pieces.

Our 2016 website post Family pix of 1913 suffrage trek to DC may have a local connection details the progress made on this still incomplete puzzle.

Our interest in returning to this puzzle was recently renewed when Jane Swersey, an independent scholar who is writing a paper on the topic, supplied us with this critical puzzle piece – a letter to suffragist Alice Paul from her brother, Parry Paul.

National Woman's Party Papers at Sewall-Belmont House (now the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality Center. It's dated February 20, 1913 and found on microfilm reel 1
1913 letter to Alice Paul from Parry Paul

It confirms that the route of the suffrage march did indeed pass through Riverton!

It is another tantalizing bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests the possibility that some Riverton women may have been involved in the march.

We will have to put this puzzle aside for a while and hope that some more pieces turn up. Perhaps another letter, a diary, a newspaper article, or some other such primary source will yet mention one of the names of Riverton women of that era below in connection with the 1913 Suffrage March.

Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery
Miss Annette Campbell
Miss Amelia Coale
Miss Edith Coale
Mrs. E. S. Cole
Mrs. Catherine B. Lippincott
Miss Helen Lippincott
Miss Elizabeth Lippincott
Mrs. Mary W. Lippincott
Miss Beulah Parry
Miss Susanna Parry
Mrs. Mary L. Thomas
Mrs. E. R. H. VanValin
Miss Elizabeth Williams
Mrs. D. Henry Wright

Lisa Hendrickson of Mt. Laurel’s Alice Paul Institute provided the above list of Riverton women for our 2019 post, Suffrage memorabilia needed for educational project.

Our hope is that some descendants of the women or another researcher will stumble across this post and provide another piece of this intriguing puzzle.

Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

3 thoughts on “We do love a puzzle… even incomplete ones”

  1. Very interesting article. Especially enjoyed the letter from Parry Paul to his sister Alice. Parry and Alice, along with Susanna and Beulah, were 1st cousins of my grandfather
    Thomas Morrell Parry. I have named my eldest daughter, Tacy, after Alice’s mother – Tacie Jarrett Stokes. Fondly remember Bill and Nancy Steel from the days at Westfield Friends School.

  2. I have an antique calling card that once belonged to a “Miss Mary W. Lippincott, Riverton”. Going through your article on the 1913 Suffrage March, I see a “Mrs. Mary W. Lippincott” as a participant. May I ask, does anyone know if this is the same person (i.e., Miss and Mrs.”)? If so, would this be an early example of an activist keeping her maiden name in marriage? Thanks, Victor (Galveston, Texas)

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