Biographical Sketch of Eliza Dutton Hutchinson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Eliza Dutton Hutchinson, 1844-1921

By Kelsey Brow, Curator, King Manor Museum, Jamaica, New York

State Press Superintendent, New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association

Born Emma Eliza Dutton in 1844, she was known as Lida Dutton during her youth. Lida's father John B. Dutton had a drygoods store in Waterford, Loudon County, Virginia on the eve of the Civil War. Waterford was a pro-Union Quaker town in the middle of Confederate territory. Like many Quakers, John B. Dutton was arrested for his pro-Union sentiments, but was freed after the Battle of Bull Run thanks to the intervention of his brother and oldest daughter, Lizzie, who negotiated for his release just before he was to have been sent on to Richmond. Shortly after, he fled to Maryland. His one son also left home to avoid being conscripted in the rebel army, but his four daughters remained in Waterford.

Mr. Dutton's capture did not deter Lida, Lizzie, and their cousin Sarah Steer from expressing their pro-Union Sentiments. In May 1864 the young women launched a pro-Union monthly paper: The Waterford News. The newspaper proved popular with the Union soldiers and subscriptions were donated to the Union cause. During this time Lida met John William Hutchinson (1843-1920), Lieutenant in the 3rd NY Cavalry, in the guise of a rebel spy. Their romance started after he revealed his true identity and they were married on November 7, 1866 following his conversion to Quakerism. A Hempstead local, Mr. Hutchinson and his bride would live in various locations in New York and New Jersey during the twentieth century.

Raised in the Hicksite tradition of Quakerism which espoused a more active role for women than in orthodox Quakerism, Eliza was an active supporter of many women's causes. She was a delegate from Westbury in 1899 to Quaker General Conference at Chautauqua. Eliza was a member of a Purity Committee to get Mayor of NYC to enforce laws against "immoral advertising posters, publications, etc." and the Committee on Philanthropic Labor in the same year. In 1900 she was a member of a Quaker Committee on Education.

Eliza Dutton Hutchinson's wartime newspaper experience probably lead to her election as State Press Superintendent of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association in 1901, when the Hutchinsons were living in East Orange, New Jersey with their four children. Not much is documented about her work as a suffragist other than that she was able to get material from the National American Woman Suffrage Association into four other newspapers in the year she was elected.

By 1904, Eliza and John Hutchinson are recorded as not having attended the Society of Friends' Thirteenth Universal Peace Conference in Boston, though they did attend a similar conference in 1907. They became grandparents around this time and perhaps devoted more of their time to family rather than social activism. In 1909 they were recorded as residing in Hempstead, Long Island, where Eliza Dutton Hutchinson passed away on February 26. She is buried next to her husband, who had died the year before, in the Friends Quaker Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Sources

Chamberlin, Taylor M. and John M. Souders. Between Reb and Yank: A Civil War History of Northern Loudoun County, Virginia, Jefferson, N.C.: Mc.Farland:, 2011

Kenderdine, Thaddeus. "Echoes from Unionist Virginia", Friends' Intelligencer, Volume 69 Society of Friends: 11.11.1912, pp. 291-92

National American Woman Suffrage Association. History of Woman Suffrage 1900-1920. JJ Little & Ives Co. New York, 1922.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=hutchinson&GSiman=1&GScid=641210&GRid=27896289&, accessed 21 July 2016

http://www.waterfordhistory.org/history/three-women-journalists-civil-war.html, accessed 20 July 2016

back to top