Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Laura Divine Burckett Durfey, 1854–1932
By Elizabeth Alleman Peterson, Mount Airy, MD
Laura Divine was born January 18, 1854, in Sharon (Madison County), Mississippi. She married Mr. C. W. Burckett in 1875; they had three children. The Mrs. R. W. Durfey of the woman suffrage movement is actually the second Mrs. R. W. Durfey. Mr. Burckett died in 1895 in Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1904 Laura Burckett married Robert W. Durfey in Madison County.
Robert W. Durfey was born in 1858 in Washington County, Mississippi. His family moved to Yahoo and then to Madison County. He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad for seven years, and married Lena Johnson in 1877. In 1889 they moved to Canton, where Durfey worked as a liveryman; he was also a real estate dealer. They had nine children. Lena Johnson Durfey died in 1902.
After their 1904 marriage, Robert W. Durfey and Laura Divine Burckett Durfey in 1907 bought "Grand View" on South Washington Street in Vicksburg, paying $10,000 for the beautiful home overlooking the Mississippi River. Not much is known about Mrs. Durfey's participation in the suffrage movement. However, she seems to have supported the cause. In March 1910 it was reported that the Christ Church Exchange held a suffrage event at Mrs. Durfey's home, Grand View. In April that same year, the Vicksburg Evening Post reported that Mrs. Durfey participated in Tag Day—a fundraising event that takes place in the street with the donor receiving a tag indicating that he or she has made a donation to the cause.
In April 1914, the Mississippi State Fair opened in Jackson. For the first time, a section of the parade was devoted to Woman Suffrage. Six women wore white gowns with yellow silk badges; Laura Durfey was one of the six. They were cheered as they marched.
In 1916 the Durfeys moved to Jackson. By 1933 they had moved to Shreveport, where Robert Durfey died in 1936. He is buried in Canton Cemetery in Mississippi.
Laura Durfey died on December 26, 1939 at the age of 85, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Shreveport.
"Christ Church Exchange." VicksburgEvening Post, March 11, 1910, p. 1. www.newspapers.com.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 332. [LINK]
Heritage Quest City Directories. US City Directories 1822–1955. https://www.ancestryheritagequest.com/HQA/CityDirectories.
"In Memoriam." The CantonTimes, May 16, 1902, p.4. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86074075/1902-05-16/ed-1/seq-4.
Laura Burckett Durfey, grave marker, Greenwood Cemetery, Shreveport, Mississippi, digital image, billiongraves.com.
"Lovely Suburban Home Brings Ten Thousand Dollars From Mr. R. W. Durfey, Real Estate Dealer." The Greenville Times. March 16, 1907, p. 1. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85034374/1907-03-16/ed-1/seq-1/.
Mississippi History Now. "New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman's Suffrage Movement in the Southern States," Oxford University Press, 1993. www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/245/mississippi-women-and-the-woman-suffrage-amendment.
Robert W. Durfey, grave marker, Canton City Cemetery, Canton, Madison County, Mississippi, digital image, FindaGrave.com.
"Tag Day." Vicksburg Evening Post, April 29, 1910, p. 9. www.newspapers.com.
"Tag Day." http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tag-day?s=t.