Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth "Elise" Chenault Bennett Smith Gagliardini, 1872 – 1964
By Louise T. Jones, Director of Research Experience, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky
Elizabeth Chenault Bennett was born in 1872 in Richmond, Kentucky to James and Sarah Clay Bennett. She was the granddaughter of Cassius Clay, and her mother and aunt Laura were the key figures who created and nurtured the Kentucky suffrage movement. She attended the University of Michigan, earning a philosophy degree in 1895 and took additional coursework at Wellesley College and in Germany. She married first Thomas Jefferson Smith on February 3, 1898. She had a daughter Elise Bennett Smith (1899-1986) who would also be active in Kentucky suffrage work and a son Thomas Jefferson Smith, Jr. (1904-1944). Thomas J. Smith, Sr., who was the state banking commissioner, died in 1916. Elise then married George D. Jefferson (1863-1937) on November 25, 1920. Jefferson was Canadian, and the marriage took place in London, England. Following their union, the couple resided in Italy but travelled extensively. After Jefferson's death in 1937, Elise married a third time. She wed Alessandro Gagliardini (1903-1966) in New York City on January 15, 1938. Throughout her life she enjoyed swimming and other outdoor sports. She died in 1964 in New York and is buried in Richmond Cemetery, Madison County.
While she lived in Kentucky, Elise Bennett Smith was active in local and state women's organizations between 1907 and 1918. During her marriage to Thomas J. Smith, Sr., she resided in Richmond, Frankfort, and Louisville. She was the president of the Kentucky Federation of Women's Clubs and a member of the Madison County Suffrage Association. She served as delegate to the 1913 NAWSA convention and served as a NAWSA Executive Committee member on several occasions. She became president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association in 1915, a position she held for one year. In 1917, she became corresponding secretary for the state organization. After the death of her first husband, she spent most of her time abroad and returned to the United States only occasionally between 1919 and 1938.
Woman's Who's Who of America : a Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915, Leonard, John W., 1849-1932 editor.
"Succumbs Suddenly in Cincinnati Hotel; Thomas J. Smith Victim of Heart Disease" Louisville Courier Journal, Oct. 12, 1916
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington D.C., Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 1215; Certificates: 37361, 18 May 1920, viewed online at Ancestry.com 8/7/17
Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3792802&ref=acom , viewed 8/7/17
National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, DC, Records of District Courts of the United States, 1685-2009 (NARA Record Group RG 2, viewed online at Ancestry.com 8/7/17
New York City Municipal Archives, New York, New York, Borough Manhattan, Marriage Indexes, 1907-1995 [database online in Ancestry.com] viewed 8/7/17
"Mrs. B. C. Jefferson to wed again at 66," New York Times, January 13, 1938
Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=19985225&ref=acom viewed 8/7/17
Kentucky Equal Rights Association. (1894, 1907, 1908, 1911, 1917). Minutes of the ... annual convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. S.l: s.n. https://archive.org/details/minutesofannualc7913kent accessed August 7, 2017
"Capital quiet during Lent," Louisville Courier Journal, March 19, 1916
From my journal, random thoughts, Elise Chenault Bennett Gagliardini, New York, 1958.
Randolph Hollingsworth, "Elise Bennett Smith, 1917," H-Kentucky, https://networks.h-net.org/elise-bennett-smith-1917, accessed September 14, 2018