Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Nancy Pilcher (Mrs. Reau E.) Folk, 1877-1954
By LaShanda Porter, Ed.D., Nashville, Tennessee
Nancy Dudley Pilcher was born on February 18, 1877 to Matthew Barrow Pilcher and Judith Winston in Nashville, Tennessee. She married Moreau (Reau) Estes Folk who would later become the eighteenth treasurer of the state of Tennessee. She was active in the community and opened her home for luncheons and organizational meetings.
At the suggestion of national leaders, beginning in 1914, suffragists around the country held May Day celebrations. These celebrations would consist of public speeches, parades, pageants, and the adoption of resolutions. Mrs. Folk delivered a speech at the May 2, 1914 May Day celebration held at Centennial Park in Nashville. She explained why the "Mothers of Tennessee Want to Vote." Mrs. Folk served as the vice president of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League and served as co-chair with Mrs. Joseph A. Gray for the December 2, 1918 banquet in Nashville's Hermitage Hotel to honor New York's Mrs. Charles Tiffany, board member of the National Equal Suffrage Association. Mrs. Folk also served on the legislative committee of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association. She was elected chairman of the committee on "American Citizenship" of the Tennessee League of Women Voters.
Nancy Folk gave birth to three children, Winston, Judith, and Reau Jr. In 1914, Mrs. Folk's two year old daughter, Judith, was asked by a reporter for The Tennessean to complete "I am a suffragist because…." Her daughter's response was "The female sect deserves respect. The goose is grander than the gander, And hens more knowing without their crowing, Than any rooster I've been used to."
Mrs. Folk passed away at the Wren's Nest Rest Home in Monteagle, Tennessee on September 11, 1954, six years after her husband. Mrs. Folk was buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.
Allen, P.J. (1920, May 19). "Every woman expected to exercise right to vote." The Chattanooga News. Retrieved from https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038531/1920-05-19/ed-1/seq-6/
"Entertainments. [Editorials]." (1908, January 26). The Tennessean, p. A2.
"Mrs. Folk dies at Monteagle." (1954, September 12). Nashville Tennessean.
"Notable rally of suffragists." (1914, May 4). Nashville Banner.
Taylor, A. E. (1957). The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee. New York, NY: Octagon Books.
Yellin, C.L. & Sherman, J. (1998). The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage. Oak Ridge, TN: Iris Publication Group.
For a photo of Nancy Pilcher Folk and other officers of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, see The Tennessean (Nashville, TN), 8 November 1914, p. 4.