Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Louisa “Lulu” Pile Little, 1852-1909
By George and Christina Legg, Rolling Hills Estates, CA
President of the Los Angeles County Equal Suffrage League; President of the Los Angeles Political Equality League; Member of the Friday Morning Club
Louisa “Lulu” Pile, sometimes Pyle, was born in Illinois in March 1852 to William A. and Hannah Cain Pile. William Pile was a distinguished individual, rising through the ranks of the Union Army during the Civil War to that of general, and later he served as a member of Congress, as the U.S. Minister to Venezuela, and as the Governor of the Territory of New Mexico. After moving to California in the 1880s, he was one of the founders of the city of Monrovia in Los Angeles County.
Lulu Pile married Eldridge William Little in May 1874 in New York City, and they had one child, William E. Little, who was born in May 1875. Lulu Little suffered poor health 1870s and 1880s. In 1878, she “become an invalid,” prompting her husband to be “compelled to abandon his business occupations and seek the restoration of his wife's health.” This sabbatical lasted until late 1886 when the Littles moved to California, and he resumed his law career. Eldridge Little had a distinguished career, including serving as Chief Clerk of the Union Army Quartermaster Corps during the Civil War, as editor of the Philadelphia Daily Herald and Sunday Chronicle, and as the City Attorney of Monrovia following the Littles' move to California in 1886. Eldridge Little died in 1902, leaving Lulu Little a widow. There is little record of Lulu Littles's civic activities until her emergence as a community leader and suffragist following her husband's death.
From 1902 until her death in 1909, Lulu Pile Little became active in civic organizations. According to her obituary in the Los Angeles Herald, she was “one of the most active and prominent clubwomen of Los Angeles and was widely known on account of her writings and active advocacy of the cause of woman suffrage.” She was an early worker for equal suffrage as a member and officer of the Los Angeles County Equal Suffrage League, serving as vice president at large and as president of the League for a number of years. Upon her death, the Los Angeles Herald reported that “she labored diligently that she might promote the cause of equal suffrage, a principle in which she thoroughly believed.” California granted statewide suffrage to women in 1911.
Lulu Little was also a member and officer, including a stint as president, of the Los Angeles Political Equality League, a precursor to the Political Equality League of Los Angeles. This group was founded to bring prominent men into the equal suffrage movement and win support in the legislature. She also served as vice president of the California State Suffrage Association, elected at the state convention in 1907. It was widely rumored that Lulu Little was offered the office of president but declined the appointment.
In addition to her suffrage associations, Lulu Little was a member of the Los Angeles Friday Morning Club (FMC), the largest women's club in California for many years. Founded in 1891 by Caroline Severance, a noted abolitionist and suffragist and close friend of Susan B. Anthony, the FMC was credited with founding the first public kindergarten and first juvenile court in the United States.
Louisa “Lulu” Pile Little passed away on June 1, 1909, in Los Angeles. Her body was cremated and the final resting place, if any, of her ashes is not known. Her son, William, died less than a year after she did, in April 1910.
CAPTION: Louisa “Lulu” Pile Little, President, Los Angeles County Equal Suffrage League, ca. 1907.
CREDIT: “Prominent Suffragist Ends Years of Labor.” Los Angeles Herald. June 3, 1909, Part II, p.5. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Biographical Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside (https://cdnc.ucr.edu).
Ancestry.com. Devin Pipes [Public] Family Tree.
Ancestry.com. New York, NY, Extracted Marriage Index 1866-1937.
“Attorney to Speak at Joint Meeting.” Los Angeles Herald, December 13, 1907, p.5. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Biographical Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside (https://cdnc.ucr.edu).
Cooney, Jr., Robert P.J. Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement. Santa Cruz, CA: American Graphic Press, 2005.
“Eldridge W. Little.” In An Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, California, pp.543-44. Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1889. InternetArchive.
Find a Grave. Hannah Elizabeth Cain Pile. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178970824/hannah-elizabeth-pile.
Find a Grave. Louisa P. “Lulu” Pile Little. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178973239/louisa-p-little.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “California.” Chapter IV in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 35-66. [LINK]
Historical Data Systems. American Civil War General Officers, The Union Army Vol. 7. Ancestry.com.
Lewis, Roselle M. “Venerable Friday Morning Club Pulls Up Stakes.” Los Angeles Times. November 17, 1985, Part VI, pp.22-23. Newspapers.com.
“Prominent Citizens for Equal Suffrage.” Los Angeles Herald. September 30, 1906, Part II, p.10. Newspapers.com.
“Prominent Suffragist Ends Years of Labor.” Los Angeles Herald. June 3, 1909, Part II, p.5. California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Biographical Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside (https://cdnc.ucr.edu).
U.S. Census, 1900, s.v. “Lulu P. Little, El Monte, CA.” HeritageQuest.
Wilson, James Grant and John Fisk, eds. “Pile, William A.” In Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889. Vol. 5: Pickering-Sumter, p.19. Rev. ed. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1900. InternetArchive.
“Women Arrange Last Meeting of Season.” Los Angeles Herald. May 22, 1908, Part II, p.1. Newspapers.com.
“Women Will Plant Trees at Arbor Day Exercise.” Los Angeles Herald. March 6, 1908, p.10. Newspapers.com.
Women's Clubs. “Elected Vice President.” Los Angeles Herald. October 8, 1907, p.6. Newspapers.com.