Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Susan Evans Taylor, 1863-1962
By Linda Jacobson, Librarian and Keeper of the North Carolina Collection Gallery, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Founder, Morganton Equal Suffrage Association; Third Vice President, Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina, Inc.
Susan Evans Taylor was born in Rockfish, North Carolina, in 1863 to Erasmus Evans and Susan Mosely Murphy. The family lived at Woodland, the family home in Cumberland County. Susan Evans married Dr. Isaac Montrose Taylor (1857-1921) in 1889. The couple settled in Morganton, North Carolina, where Dr. Taylor founded Broadoaks Sanatorium, a private institution for patients with psychological disorders. The Taylors raised seven children: Alexander, Susannah, Sarah, Erasmus, Elizabeth, Hariotte, and Catherine. Susan Taylor remained in Morganton after Isaac's death in 1921. She died in 1962 at the age of 99 and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery.
On July 10, 1913, Susan Taylor invited a group of six women to her Morganton home to form a suffrage association. Named the Morganton Equal Suffrage Association, it was the first local women's suffrage group in the state. Other associations were created in Charlotte, Hickory, Salisbury, High Point, and Greenville, followed by the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina, in November 1913. The formation of these groups represented the first significant advances for the women's suffrage cause in North Carolina since 1894, when the first statewide suffrage association was formed in Asheville but languished for lack of support. Taylor's involvement in the League is documented in the report of the second annual convention in Asheville in 1915, when she was elected third vice president of the organization. No convention was held in 1916, and Taylor is not mentioned as a participant in convention proceedings of 1917-1919. Taylor is listed as one of North Carolina's “Prominent Women's Right Pioneers” in Doris Weatherford's Women in American Politics: History and Milestones.
Several newspaper articles document Taylor's volunteer work for other progressive causes in the 1910s and early 1920s. Most highlight her role at the state level in the General Federation of Women's Clubs, a nationwide organization that endorsed voting rights for women in 1914. In May 1914, Raleigh's News and Record praised Taylor for her leadership of the Community Club of Morganton, which had made civic improvements in that city's sanitation and schools. The Statesville Record and Landmark reported that Taylor served as the first director of the Statesville district of women's clubs in 1922.
Taylor was recognized in the state for her civic work, and in 1915 Governor Locke Craig appointed her as a delegate to the Second Annual Meeting of the National Conference of Charities and Correction in Baltimore. In 1916, the News and Observer reported that she would represent Morganton at the Southern Forestry Association Congress in Asheville. In January 1918, the Morganton News-Herald announced that Taylor was one of four North Carolina women under consideration for a new advisory board to the Democratic National Committee.
Newspapers.com: “Governor Names Delegates to Forestry Conference,” News and Observer [Raleigh], July 6, 1916; “Regular Monthly Meeting of Woman's Club,” Statesville Record and Landmark, April 27, 1922; “North Carolina's Federated Clubs,” News and Observer [Raleigh], May 17, 1914; “Brief Notes of Recent Happenings in North Carolina,” News-Herald [Morganton], April 8, 1915, “The Delegates are Appointed,” Morning Herald [Durham], April 3, 1915; “Morganton Woman May Be Appointed on Advisory Board,” News-Herald [Morganton], January 17, 1918
Burke County Public Library microfilm: “Mrs. Taylor Dies at 99; Rites Today,” News-Herald [Morganton], May 7, 1962
Proceedings of the Second Annual Convention of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina, accessible at https://search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb4166214
Weatherford, Doris. Women in American Politics: History and Milestones,
Ancestry.com: North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011
Find a Grave marker photo: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35087349/susan-taylor
The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, 1900-1920 [LINK]