Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Eliza Eaton, 1853-1920
By Ginny Churchill, student, and Melanie Gustafson, professor, University of Vermont
Vermont Woman Suffrage Association: Committee on Women's Suffrage Papers; Committee on New Membership; Local Committee, Barton Landing; Business Committee
Eliza Eaton was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on July 2, 1853 to John C. H. Eaton, a wheelwright and grocer, and Sebra Eaton. As a young woman, Eliza developed a passion for art and, after completing her education, taught art until ill health forced her to abandon teaching. In the early 1890s, she moved to Barton Landing, Vermont, where she lived with the widowed Abigail D. Chandler, who had inherited her husband's lumber company. (Barton Landing changed it name to Orleans in 1908.) Chandler was active in the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association (VWSA), serving as Treasurer and, in 1892 and 1904, as President.
Soon after arriving in Vermont, Eliza Eaton attended the eighth annual VWSA meeting at Sutton, Vermont, in June 1892, where she read an address. Over the years, Eaton became known for her essays supporting suffrage, which were described in newspaper reports as entertaining, informative, and amusing. Her most notable essays are "The Kind of Beings Denied their Political Privileges" and "Laws Concerning Women of Vermont." Eaton held a number of positions in the VWSA. In 1892, she served on the Committee on Women's Suffrage Papers and in 1895 was on the Committee on New Membership. She also served as the Local Committee representative from Barton Landing.
Chandler and Eaton served as Vermont delegates to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's annual convention of 1892 and 1904. At the June 1904 annual VWSA meeting in Woodstock, Vermont, Eaton read an "interesting report" on the 1904 national convention. In 1905, Eaton is listed in the Minutes of the Twenty-First Annual Convention of the Vermont Women's Suffrage Association as a member of the NAWSA Executive Committee. The next year, her "able and comprehensive" paper on "Woman's Rights Under the Law" was read by Mrs. M. E. Tucker.
In addition to being active in the VWSA, Eaton worked with the W.C.T.U. Eaton lived in Southern California between 1897 and 1899. After returning to Vermont, Eaton became the superintendent of the school in Barton Landing and president of the Village Improvement Society. She also served as president of the local Woman's Missionary Society of the Congregational Church.
Eliza Eaton died on June, 29 1920 after months of failing health. Her obituary in the Orleans County Monitor describes her as an artistic person with a love for the outdoors and a great sense of humor. The obituary concludes that Eaton was "strong, true, sincere, absolutely honest and trustworthy" woman who lived a full and involved life fighting for her rights.
Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927, MSC 144-146, Leahy Library, Vermont History Center, Barre, Vermont.
"Eliza S Eaton." Family Search. Accessed October 17, 2016. https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=+givenname:Eliza~ +surname:Eaton~ +residence_place:Vermont~ +residence_year:1850-1930~.
"Eliza Eaton - Artist, Fine Art Prices, Auction Records for ...," AskART, , accessed October 15, 2016.
Minutes of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association Held in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hardwick, Vt., Tuesday Evening and Wednesday, June 27 and 28, 1893 (Jericho, Vt: Roscoe Printing House, 1893).
"Eliza Eaton - Artist, Fine Art Prices, Auction Records for ...," AskART, , accessed October 15, 2016, http://www.askart.com/artist/Eliza_S_Eaton/11172386/Eliza_S_Eaton.aspx.
Orleans County monitor. (Barton, Vt.), 18 March 1901. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Orleans County monitor. (Barton, Vt.), 28 April 1902, 24 June 1907, 2 Dec. 1908, 3 May 1911, 11 Oct. 1916, 1 May 1918, 29 Oct. 1919, 7 July 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Spirit of the age. (Woodstock, Vt.), 17 June 1905. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.