Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Helen (Mrs. William T.) Perkins, 1865-1927

By Bethany Montgomery, Student: Saint Martin's University, Lacey, WA

Oregon resident, Washington Suffrage supporter

Helen A. Benson was born on December 15, 1865 in San Jose, California, to Henry Clark and Matilda Martin Williamson Benson. Helen was the eighth of ten children.

Helen Benson married William Tecumseh Perkins on July 25, 1886. William worked in advertising, and as chief clerk at the state treasury department. His most well-known accomplishment was bringing the battleship Oregon to Portland. With William Perkins, Helen had six children, Fred Milton Perkins (1887), Mildred Clare Perkins (1889), William Henry Perkins (1890), Helen Gertrude Perkins (1892), Phillip Benson Perkins (1893), and Dorothy Abigail Perkins (1904). Both Fred and William were appointed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis after high school.

Although she continued to live in Marion, Ore., she was the recording secretary of the Seattle chapter of the Washington Equal Franchise Society which began in March 1909. By 1910 she was serving as the Society's treasurer. The Society sought to win the support of other local women, whom they saw as apathetic in support of their cause. However, the society also strived to maintain the womanly character of their members, stating their displeasure in "militant women." As noted by the president of the Society, its goal was "not to antagonize any existing movement in the same direction, although we are quite independent of any other. We stand in exactly the same light as a campaign committee and have every hope of success."

She moved to Portland a few years later. Her son Fred died in 1924, and her husband William died in 1926 of spinal meningitis. Helen Benson Perkins passed away on March 11, 1927 in The Dalles, Oregon. She left behind 5 of her 6 children and 11 grandchildren. Her son, William, worked as city editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings.


Helen Abigail Benson Perkins (source unknown)


Photo courtesy of "Primarily Washington,"

Accessed online at


Ancestry. (n.d.). Retrieved November 07, 2017, from

Helen Abigail Benson Perkins (1865-1927) - Find A... (n.d.). Retrieved November 2017, from

Wikitree. (n.d.). Retrieved from (n.d.). Retrieved from

"Page 087 : Entire Page," PRIMARILY WASHINGTON, accessed December 4, 2018,

"Helen A Perkins." 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006. Year: 1910; Census Place: Salem Ward 1, Marion, Oregon; Roll: T624_1284; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0221; FHL microfilm: 1375297

"Helen A Perkins." U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

"William Perkins Dies." Statesman Journal. Salem, Oregon. 15 June, 1926. Pg. 1. Newspapers Publisher Extra.

"Appointed to Naval Academy in Annapolis." Statesman Journal. Salem, Oregon. 10 December, 1908. Pg. 5. Newspapers Publisher Extra.

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