Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Dora M. (Wellman) Cryderman, 1868-1933

By Kolby LaBree, researcher Bellingham, Washington

Dora May Wellman was born January 24, 1868 in Clinton, Lenawee County, Michigan to Louis W. Wellman and Mary Jane Miner. Dora had an older brother, Henry "Harry" Miner Wellman, born in 1863, and a younger sister Edith, born in 1873. The family lived in Colorado, then made their way to the Pacific Northwest and had a homestead on the Hannegan Road south of Lynden in Whatcom County.

Dora's mother, Mary Jane (Miner) Wellman, was a suffragist in her own right. Her obituary in 1920 described her as a great suffrage and prohibition worker who formed the first woman's club in Lynden and was a member of the first school board in Fairhaven. Mary Jane (Miner) Wellman's brother was the notorious "Bill" Miner, a train robber immortalized in the book and film "The Grey Fox."

In the 1890s Dora Wellman worked as a clerk and was a soprano in the Oratorio club. Dora received her teacher's certificate and taught school for 8 years. She went on to serve as secretary of the Teacher's Association of Whatcom County. She served 2 years as a member of the county teachers' examining board and four years as a member of the state examining board.

In 1894 at age twenty-six, Dora May Wellman married John Jerome Cryderman, a civil engineer who was a surveyor for the early railroads of Whatcom County. The couple's wedding ceremony was witnessed by pioneer women of Whatcom County - Mrs. Phoebe Judson and Mrs. George Kellogg.

Her husband's work as an engineer brought the couple to various locations around the state. In 1898 in Olympia, Washington, Mrs. Dora Cryderman was treasurer of the newly formed "Equal Suffrage Association" which had 25 members at the time.

In 1910 Dora and John J. Cryderman were living with her parents in Bellingham. In April of 1911 Mrs. Emma Smith Devoe, state president of the Equal Suffrage association was the guest of the family at their home on J Street.

In 1912 Dora Cryderman took up the question of whether a woman who married a "foreigner" would forfeit her suffrage rights, an issue which had been brought up in cities along the Canadian border. Dora promised to work to have the statute altered if she found that women could lose their qualifications for the ballot.

In 1913 Dora made headlines as state organizer of the National Council of Women Voters, when she spoke out publically criticizing Governor Ernest Lister and apologizing for having supported him in the last campaign. She complained of false and misleading statements after he neglected to follow through in offering appointments to women. Her letter to the editor was published in several Washington newspapers.

Dora resigned from her position on the Bellingham library board in 1913 when the couple moved to neighboring Skagit County. Dora and John moved to their property near Blanchard, where they owned an oyster bed in partnership with Dora's father Louis Wellman.

In 1914 Dora Cryderman declared her candidacy for congress on the progressive ticket. Progressive party leaders asked her to withdraw in favor of William J. Bigger, but Mrs. Cryderman refused. She had no campaign backer or manager or major funding. The news reported that she was the first woman to file for congressional honors in the United States "so far as is known." She may have been the first in Washington State, however nationally the honor went to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who ran unsuccessfully from New York in 1866.

The Lynden Tribune described Dora's membership in various organizations, such as the Skagit County Federation of Women's Clubs, the Women's Union Label League No. 256, the Women's Good Government League of Bellingham, the National Committee of Women and Children's Welfare and Daughters of the American Revolution. The paper stated that "Mrs. Cryderman does not wish to be looked upon as a woman's candidate, but as everybody's candidate, able and willing to impartially represent the interests of the district in the National congress and the best that is offered for the people's choice."

Dora Cryderman failed to qualify, but continued in her efforts on behalf of women until her final days. Dora passed away at her home in Blanchard on November 24, 1933 at age 65. Her obituary called her "one of Northwest Washington's most estimable pioneers."


U.S. Federal Census Collection,,, accessed February 2018

Washington State Archives; Olympia, Washington; Marriage Returns; Collection Title: Washington Marriage Records, 1854-2013, accessed February 2018

"Teachers' Association," The Daily Reveille (Whatcom, Washington) September 28, 1890,, accessed February 2018

"Woman Suffrage. The Local Association Held a Meeting Yesterday," Morning Olympian, (Olympia, Washington) September 18, 1898,, accessed February 2018

"Bill Miner Located. Much-Wanted Train Robber Found Sick with Smallpox in Bellingham." Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington) March 2, 1905,, accessed February 2018

Society Section. Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) April 10, 1910,, accessed February 2018

"If Woman Marries Foreigner Does She Forfeit Suffrage?" Morning Olympian (Olympia, Washington) January 7, 1912, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Cryderman Will Speak at Parkland," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) April 9, 1912,, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Cryderman Scores Governor She Helped Elect," Olympia Daily Recorder (Olympia, Washington) June 4, 1913,, accessed February 2018

"Woman Supports Lister In Haste, Repents At Leisure. Organizer of ‘Votes for Women,' Makes Pubic Apology for Stand." Morning Olympian (Olympia, Washington), June 4, 1913, accessed February 2018

"Library Board Member to Leave. Mrs. Dora Cryderman Submits Resignation to Mayor and Will Take Up Residence in Skagit – Successor Not Yet Chosen." Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington),, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Cryderman Joins in Contest for Congress," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), August 5, 1914,, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Dora Cryderman, Candidate for Congress," The Lynden Tribune (Lynden, Washington) August 6, 1914., accessed June 2017

"Mrs. Dora Cryderman, First Woman Candidate for U.S. Congress," Olympia Daily Recorder (Olympia, Washington), August 7, 1914, accessed February 2018

"Fifteen Women in Free-For-All Race for the Legislature," Olympia Daily Recorder (Olympia, Washington), August 26, 1914, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Cryderman Calls," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) November 13, 1919, accessed February 2018

"Club Woman Dies. Mary J. Wellman, County Pioneer, Passes Away," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) June 21,1920, accessed February 2018

"Pioneer is Called. Mrs. Dora Wellman Cryderman Summoned by Death," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) November 24, 1933, accessed February 2018

"25 Years Ago Today," Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington) Dec 14, 1936,, accessed February 2018

"Mrs. Dora Cryderman, Candidate for Congress," Lynden Tribune (Lynden, Washington) August 6, 1914., accessed June 2017

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