By Cassandra Berman, Graduate student, Brandeis University, with additional edits by Jennifer Banks, University of Strathclyde
Mary Louise Parker, who went by her middle name, Louise, was born to Isaac W Parker and Mary Peaslee in Cumberland County, Maine on 28 March 1868. The oldest of the four children born to this couple, Louise spent her early years in Cumberland County. When Louise was fourteen years old her mother died. Soon thereafter her father moved the family to Natick, Massachusetts where her father married again one year later. Isaac's second wife, Marnie Estella Shaw, was just nine years older than her new stepdaughter. While living in Natick Louise attended the State Normal School in Framingham, taught school, and married William Irving Mayo. Together they established a farm in Framingham, where they raised their seven children.
Mayo was active on town committees and drove a wagon that transported children to school. She joined the Framingham Equal Suffrage League in 1914, eventually serving on its executive board. In 1917, she travelled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the July 14 "Bastille Day" demonstration in front of the White House. Mayo, along with fifteen other women, was arrested for violating a "Peace and Order Act." They were fined twenty-five dollars each. Upon refusing to pay, the women were taken to the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, where they were to each serve a 60-day term. During sentencing, they were told they could pay their fines at any time to avoid the workhouse. They all chose to serve time rather than pay the fine.
Mayo and the other protestors, however, served only four days of their sentence. Amidst fears of a hunger strike and reports of poor workhouse conditions, President Wilson quickly issued a pardon. Though they initially refused to accept the pardon, the women were released on July 19. Mayo returned to Framingham and did not participate in further high-profile suffrage demonstrations, though she did receive a "jail door pin" from the National Woman's Party in honor of her service to the suffrage movement.
Mayo died in 1952. In 2005, an intersection in Framingham was named in honor of Mayo and fellow suffragist Josephine Collins.
"Sixteen Militants Begin 60-Day Term," Washington Post, July 18, 1917; "Suffs Are Pardoned," Washington Herald, July 20, 1917; Anita C. Danker, "Grassroots Suffragists: Josephine Collins and Louise Mayo, A Study in Contrasts," New England Journal of History, 67:2 (2011): 54-72.
Sources added 1 Feb 2022:
Births (CR) USA. Cumberland, Maine. 28 March 1868. PARKER, Mary L. Batch C50338. page 203. Collection: Maine, Church Records, 1734-1907. https://www.familysearch.org/en/: accessed 16 April 2020.
Burials (CR) USA. Quaker Cemetery, Portland, Cumberland, Maine. November 1974. [transcription of unnamed record] Collection: Maine, Nathan Hale Cemetery Collection, 1780-1980. ancestry.com: accessed 16 April 2020.
Marriages (CR) USA. Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. 28 April 1883. PARKER, Isaac W and SHAW, Marnie Estella. page 128, no. 19. Collection: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. ancestry.com: accessed 15 April 2020.
Marriages (CR) USA. Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. 23 June 1892. MAYO, William Irving and PARKER, Louise. page 179, no. 35. Collection: Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. ancestry.com: accessed 14 April 2020.