Biographical Sketch of Mary E. Jeffords

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary E. Jeffords, 1859-1943

By Tia Saddler
Iowa State University

Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia

Speaker at the 1901 Nebraska State Women's Convention; officer, Order of the Eastern Star

Mary E. Price was born in Ohio on February 26th, 1859, according to Gerrit Veldman's 2016 record of the Gibson family tree. This website also stated that she died nine years after her husband, on November 1, 1943. The couple had four children, Clara, Carl, John and Lucy, all of who, with the exception of John, appeared in multiple editions of the local county newspaper Custer County Republican. Along with her early life, Mary E. Jeffords was an outspoken supporter of the suffrage movement in Nebraska.

At 27, she moved to Broken Bow, Nebraska to become a teacher with her sister Agnes, but left the school in April just before she married Charles Hubert Jeffords—who happened to be one of the town's founders—as reported by Gaston and Humphrey in their book History of Custer County. Jeffords also had a special connection to her church and became the Conductress for the Order of the Eastern Star in 1910, leading the congregation in certain prayers and rituals, which was briefly discussed in that year's Custer County Republican.

As for her connection to the women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century, Jeffords was vocal regarding her beliefs about equality. In Elizabeth Stanton, et. al's The Suffragettes, which was republished in 2017 by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Jeffords is mentioned as being one of eight speakers at the 1901 State Women's Convention, held in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the symposium, "How Would the Enfranchisement of Women Advance the Progress of Civilization?" Jeffords spoke of how women being able to vote "would advance the cause of peace," according to the Omaha Daily Bee. This may have implied that Mary Jeffords saw a flaw in the functioning of society at large, and that allowing women to vote might lend a new perspective to global issues and encourage more harmonious resolutions to conflict.

Beyond the conference, she continued to inspire those around her—including her own daughter—who is noted as being involved in a Nebraska University fundraiser to raise money for the release of prisoners of war in World War 1, as stated on November 16, 1916 in The Daily Nebraskan. This suggests that a desire for peace around the world was also taught in the Jeffords' household.

Overall, despite having limited published instances where Mary E. Jeffords participated in the suffrage movement, she still seems to have had an effect on those that she did manage to reach. Based on what is known, her involvement in local and state matters clearly reflected her desire to bring women to a higher status in society and to be recognized as equal citizens.

Sources:

"$25 Reward." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), May 19, 1910, 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/92938665/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"Broken Bow High School Declamatory Contest Will Be Held in the North Side Opera House, March 22." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), March 17, 1910, 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/92937731/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"Elected Officers." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), April 07, 1910, 28th ed., sec. 44, 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/92938077

Gaston, William Levi, and A. R. Humphrey. "The Coming of the Settlers." In History of Custer County, Nebraska, by William Levi Gaston and A. R. Humphrey, 85-115. Lincoln: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1919.
https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=KRU1AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA4

"Headquarters in Omaha." The Omaha Daily Bee, November 15, 1901, 1. Nebraska Newspapers.
http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/sn99021999/1901-11-08/ed-1/seq-5/#date1=1844&city=&rows=20&words=Jeffords+Mary&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=6&date2=1976&proxtext=Mary+Jeffords&page=1

"Local Lore and Personal Paragraphs." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), June 20, 1907, 9. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/63535702/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"Locals." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), December 29, 1910, 8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/92942282/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"Nebraska Uni to give $10,000 to War Prisoners." The Daily Nebraskan (Lincoln), November 16, 1916, 16th ed., sec. 47, 1. Nebraska Newspapers.
http://nebnewspapers.unl.edu/lccn/sn96080312/1916-11-16/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1844&city=&rows=20&words=Jeffords+Mary&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=8&date2=1976&proxtext=Mary+Jeffords&page=1

"News of the County." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), July 22, 1909, 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/76137239/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"News of the County." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), February 10, 1910, 8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/92937261/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, et al. The Suffragettes: Complete History Of the Movement (6 Volumes in One Edition): The Battle for the Equal Rights: 1848-1922 (Including Letters, Newspaper ... Speeches, Court Transcripts & Decisions). e-artnow, 2017.
https://books.google.com/books?id=waZxDgAAQBAJ&pg=PT5101&dq=The+Suffragettes+%E2%80%93+Complete+History+Of+the+Movement&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEs5nft7fWAhVnllQKHdvMAqYQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=The%20Suffragettes%20%E2%80%93%20Complete%20History%20Of%20the%20Movement&f=false

"Strictly Personal." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), August 26, 1909, 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/76137285/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

"Summer School News." Custer County Republican (Broken Bow), July 09, 1903, 8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries. State Historical Society.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/63534325/?terms=Mary%2BE%2BJeffords

Veldman, Gerrit. "Mary Elizabeth Price." GibsonLife.org. Family Tree PHP. Accessed September 8, 2017.
http://www.gibsonlife.org/famtree/person/2/i_I2036/mary-elizabeth-price

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