March is Women’s History Month – Overlea Plays a Role in Women’s Right to Vote

In the winter of 1913, a large group of women known as the Army of the Hudson, marched from New York to Washington D.C in pursuit of their right to vote.  They marched over 200 miles, taking nearly 3 months to complete their journey.  Overlea’s town hall, now home to the Natural History Society of Maryland and previously Chesley Place, was to be one of the last stopping points for the entire group before they marched on to Washington. Throngs of well-wishers came out by trolley car to meet the group.  However, the younger women, lead by General Jones, walked faster and were determined to push on to Washington, D.C.  They ended up in Baltimore city instead of Overlea.   The slower group of women, lead by Colonel Craft, stopped in Overlea with her troupe as planned.  Stories about the mishap were reported in the New York Times.

To see the original articles from the NY Times archives click the links below:

Col. Craft Defiant – Hikers in Revolt: Feb 23, 1913

Col. Craft is Angry, Snub for General Jones: Feb. 25, 1913

While some residents of Overlea, like Reverend Cyrus Cort, were opposed to the women stopping here, many offered up their homes and came out to support them.

“Overlea is much upset over the failure of Gen. Jones to call a halt at that place tonight.  A feast had been prepared in anticipation of the coming of the suffragists.  The community was wrought up over the attitude in regard to the suffragists of the Rev. Cyrus Cort, 75 years old, a superannuated minister.  Forty years ago Dr. Cort had a dispute with Susan B. Anthony on the question of suffrage for women.   Dr. Cort disagreed with her on some points and for years has held strong opinions about woman suffrage.  There was a meeting of the Overlea Civic League on Thursday, and Dr. Cort opposed welcoming the army to Overlea.  He was voted down.   In anticipation of the coming of the hikers to Overlea about 300 Baltimoreans went out to the village by trolley cars.  It was just such a gathering as would go out to see a circus pitch its tents. “   NY Times, Col. Craft Defiant – Hikers in Revolt, Feb. 23, 1913

Colonel Craft’s group left Overlea after spending the night in private homes and walked the additional five miles to rejoin the rest of their group at the Stafford Hotel.  Overlea came to cheer them on as they moved into the city.

“The detachment left Overlea about 10 o’clock.  All the villagers came out to see them depart.  The pilgrims were preceded by four-year-old Albert Ayeman and six-year-old Julia Rasp, both wearing “votes for women” streamers of yellow cloth.  Though Col. Craft’s feet were sore and Dr. Ernest Stevens of Philadelphia had a lame ankle, the pilgrims were able to make good time.  They passed the Four-Mile House at 10:15 o’clock, and shortly after paused to respond to good wishes at Raspeburg, where they left the Belair Road to go over White Avenue to Govans.”  NY Times, Col. Craft is Angry, Snub for Gen. Jones, Feb. 25, 1913

They marched into Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1913.  Brandishing signs that read, “We demand an amendment to the constitution of the United States enfranchising the women of this country.”  Although the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was not ratified until August 18, 1920, marches like these were part of the consistent effort which finally made it a reality.

Written by Ginger Mihalik