Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson Pentecost, 1845-1921

By Gaye Jeffers, Professor, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

President of the Chattanooga Suffrage Society Club

Elizabeth Wilson Brown was born on March 25, 1845. Some sources state that she was born in St. Louis Missouri while her death certificate lists her birthplace as Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents were James Livingstone Brown and Mary Wilson Robert.

Elizabeth married Henry Clay Pentecost on July 22, 1868. She had a son, Henry S. Pentecost (1867-1950) and a daughter Elizabeth "Lizzie" (1876-1938). Elizabeth was 66 years old when she began to formally work for suffrage. Her husband, Henry, was a travelling salesman in Cincinnati, Ohio and Indiana. They relocated to Chattanooga sometime in the late 1890s. Henry was a veteran of the Civil War having fought in the Illinois Infantry for the Union in the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. According to the Chattanooga City Directory, Elizabeth worked as a stenographer.

In the Chattanooga City Directory for 1905, Mrs. E. W. Pentecost is listed as the treasurer for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) The chapters of the W.C.T.U. were usually supporters of suffrage as the mission statements of both organizations focused on the rights of women to control their property and have custody of children. By 1894 most unions were endorsing the suffrage movement.

In 1910 Mrs. E.W. Pentecost is listed as the treasurer of the Missionary Ridge Woman's Relief Corps (W.R.C.). The W.R.C. was a women's auxiliary formed to aid in the recognition of soldiers who fought for the Grand Army of the Republic and was founded after the Civil War. Elizabeth's involvement in this organization was no doubt due to her husband's status as a Union veteran.

On December 9, 1911 the Chattanooga Suffrage Society Club organized with Mrs. E. W. Pentecost as president. On December 10, 1914 Mrs. E. W. Pentecost was elected auditor of the Chattanooga Equal Suffrage Association. Her husband, Henry, died on December 16, just six days after Elizabeth's election. After the death of her father, Elizabeth moved to New York City sometime in 1919 to be with her daughter. She died in Manhattan on September 2, 1921.


Chattanooga City Directories, 1890-1935

Cincinnati City Directories, 1850-1921

Hamilton County Tennessee Genealogy Society

Hamilton County Herald, "What Was Going On In Chattanooga in 1914?", 12-05-1914;

Anthony, Susan B., Matilda J. Gage, Ida Husted Harper, Elizabeth C. Stanton, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 6, 1900-1920 (1922) [LINK to TN state report]

Milton, Abby Crawford, Report of the Tennessee League of Women Voters: Containing a Full Account of the Suffrage Ratification Campaign. Tennessee League of Women Voters, 1921

My Genealogy

New York Tribune, (New York, NY) Sept. 4, 1921, p. 13

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Spring Grove Cemeteries, accessed at

Bucy, Carole Stanford, "'The Thrill of History Making': Suffrage Memories of Abby Crawford Milton," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Fall 1996), pp. 224 - 39

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