Biographical Sketch of Charlotte Fredericka Jones

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Charlotte Fredericka Jones, 1879-1950

By Laurie A. Rofini, Chester County Archives and Records Services, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, Penn.

Charlotte Fredericka Jones was born in London, England, on January 3, 1879, while her parents were traveling in Europe. Her father, Charles F. Jones, was an heir to an extensive estate. Charlotte's mother, Anna M. Ralston Jones, was the stepdaughter of Colonel Francis C. Hooton.

Charlotte Jones grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with her parents and two younger brothers. The family attended the Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) and appears to have been well off. By the time of her father's death in 1897, Charlotte's parents had separated, her father having moved in with a cousin living nearby.

By summer 1903, Jones was living in Philadelphia and employed at the Booklovers Library. There she met Louis A. Zicaliotti, an Englishman of Greek parentage. Without telling her family, the two married. Jones then wrote to her mother from New York City, divulging the marriage and the couple's plans to travel to England. Believing that Zicaliotti was after Jones's trust fund, Anna Jones dispatched the West Chester chief of police to New York. He convinced Jones to return to West Chester with her new husband. Zicaliotti, however, soon left West Chester for England after Jones and her family refused to provide money for him to establish a business and he refused to go back to his job at a locomotive works. Jones remained at her mother's, eventually filing for divorce. After the uncontested divorce was granted, Jones resumed use of her maiden name.

Jones's life was marked by grand gestures. In 1907, Jones attended the annual Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association convention and proposed that PWSA request the state's political parties to endorse woman suffrage. This was dismissed as "impracticable." In 1909, Jones wrote to the West Chester Borough Council, enclosing "a copy of a petition which will be presented to Congress by the National American Woman Suffrage Association . . . The 400 residents of West Chester who have signed this petition believe that women should be allowed to vote at all elections." Jones contended that if the proposed new sewer system were approved without women's votes, women could not "legally be compelled to pay a single cent of taxes" to pay for it. The request was apparently never acted upon.

Jones moved west and attended law school at the University of Washington; by 1914, she was practicing law in Seattle. She then moved to California, where she attempted to regain family property and challenged what she saw as a corrupt civil service system. Jones engaged in lawsuits throughout her life. Some were personal, such as challenges to a cousin's estate or her water bill. She took a suit against a Chester County bank to the US Supreme Court. Other cases concerned disputes arising from her political campaigns.

Jones ran for office multiple times, all unsuccessfully. Her first known attempt was as a Democrat in 1909 for the West Chester school board. She ran as a Socialist, first in Washington and then for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives upon her return to West Chester. Her 1924 flier said she was "45 years old and would rather fight than eat." She later ran twice for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as a Communist.

Jones moved from West Chester to Philadelphia. She died there in 1950 in a trailer park, leaving personal property to a European cousin instead of her surviving brother, and she donated money to the Socialist Society of the United States.

SOURCES:

No personal papers of Jones have been located. The most useful sources on her life are government records and newspapers. Sources include: divorce and estate files, Chester County, Pennsylvania; West Chester Borough Council records, Chester County Historical Society; newspaper clippings file, Chester County Historical Society; federal population census; Philadelphia Inquirer; and Evening News (Harrisburg, PA). See also, Ida Husted Harper, ed., "Pennsylvania," chapter XXXVII in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920 (New York, NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), pp. 550-64. [LINK]

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