Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Laura Faustina Pearson (Pierson) (Mrs. F. A.) Kezer, 1850–1934
By Beth Kanell, author, Waterford, Vermont
National American Woman Suffrage Association: Corresponding Secretary from Vermont
Laura Faustina Pearson was born on February 28, 1850, in Rochester, Vermont. Census documents identify her as white. Her father, John Pearson (Pierson), was active in the community; her mother, Olive [or Olivia] Wallbridge Pearson, came from a large and influential New England family.
Although Laura Faustina Pearson grew up in Rochester, her secondary education took place in Randolph, where she graduated in 1873 from Randolph State Normal School. This school, which operated from 1867 to 1911, was devoted to teacher training. She became a teacher, and taught three terms in Rochester. Her teaching career may have begun before graduation, since Rochester listed her as a teacher in 1870.
Laura Faustina Pearson's brother John Franklin Pearson (1842-1864) enlisted in the Union Army. He died at Cold Harbor, Virginia, on June 3, 1864.
In 1874 Laura Faustina Pearson married Fayette Albe Kezer, whose family members had resided for generations in Wentworth, New Hampshire. The couple married and resided in Rochester, Vermont, where Mr. Kezer, whose sales career spanned fertilizers to insurance to clothing, would later serve in the state General Assembly. They had two children: Frank F. Kezer (1878–1943; died of gunshot to the heart) and Alice Kezer (1883–1976), both of whom resided in Rochester all their lives.
Laura Kezer was already active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) in 1884. At the 10th annual meeting of the W.C.T.U. of Vermont, held in Middlebury that September, she gave an enthusiastic report, in her role as “State Superintendent” (and for Windsor County, “Press”), about the W.C.T.U. national newsletter, the “Union Signal,” leading to a pledge by the state group to subscribe to 75 copies. She proclaimed, “Chickens, geese, cows, needles, paper rags – everything must be put under levy, if necessary, to bring into the house every week the best thought from the best temperance pens, to keep up one's own intelligence and to interest the husbands who vote, and the children who will soon, on the great question.”
Although she suggested that the members' work include making information available on temperance to local newspapers, her appearances in the newspapers around the state related almost entirely to the meetings of the Rochester W.C.T.U. group at her home in Rochester over the years 1891–1914. The group also provided entertainment in Rochester.
In 1901 she was president of the W.C.T.U. of Vermont and spoke at the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association convention, held in Rochester on June 25 and 26. In 1908 she served as vice-president of the W.C.T.U. at the state level.
For the 43rd annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, held in Louisville, Kentucky, in October 1911, she attended as Corresponding Secretary for Vermont, one of three members attending from the state. No further mention of her suffrage activism was made in the local newspapers after 1914.
On May 9, 1934, Laura Faustina Pearson Kezer died of senile dementia in Rochester. She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, where her husband and children eventually joined her.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI. [LINK]
Minutes of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Vermont Held in Middlebury, September 16th, 17th and 18th, 1884.
National American Woman Suffrage Association, Proceedings, October 19 and 20 [1911, 43rd annual convention].
The Normal Register: A History of the First Vermont State Normal School, Its Instructors and Alumni. Montpelier, VT: Argus and Patriot Steam Job Print., 1885.
Regional newspapers: Herald and News [West Randolph]; St. Johnsbury Caledonian; Burlington Weekly Free Press; Spirit of the Age [Woodstock].
The Vermont Watchman, February 20, 1889.
Vermont Death Records, 1909–2008, Ancestry.com
Wallbridge, William Gedney. Descendants of Henry Wallbridge, ... with some notes on the allied families. Litchfield, Conn. Philadelphia: Franklin Printing Company, 1898.
1910 U.S. Federal Census.
Acts and Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Vermont, 1890.
Vermont Year Book, 1891.
Walton's Vermont Register, 1910.