Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Jane Sophia Appleton, 1816-1884
By Amy R. Neises, web editor
Jane Sophia Appleton was born on July 30, 1816 to Thomas A. and Elizabeth Hill. Her father was a notable lawyer in Bangor, Maine. In 1835, she married Moses Lark Appleton, a lawyer who briefly represented Bangor as a state legislative representative. They had three children: Edward, Francis, and Margaret. Jane died on March 30, 1884.
Jane was involved with advocating for women's rights from the start of the national movement, sometime between 1820 and 1830.
A writer and editor, Jane coedited Voices from the Kenduskeag, an anthology of pieces written anonymously by Mainers. This book contained a short story, “Vision of Bangor in the Twentieth Century,” written by Edward Kent, a former governor of Maine. In Edward's tale, a time traveler discovered that women's suffrage succeeded, but it didn't progress. Women were too easily distracted by domestic duties and petty affairs (hair appointments, gossip, and too-handsome political candidates), to get any real governmental work done.
Jane wrote a cheeky response later in the book, “Sequel to ‘Vision of Bangor.'” In it, she observed that since women were already advising their husbands on managing affairs, they were well equipped to effectively run the country. Jane also predicted a future that closely resembled what true suffrage looked like in the 20th century, where women enjoyed the same opportunities as men. Consequently, they were no longer forced to marry to escape poverty. If they did choose to marry, their husbands shared household duties, so their wives could continue to work.
She was involved in the Bangor branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union after its founding in 1874. Besides organizing protests that raised awareness on the dangers of alcohol, this union focused on other social issues that included reforming prisons, labor laws, and women's rights.
Image of Jane's grave marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/53362553/jane-s.-appleton
Image of Thomas A. Hill's grave marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47412027/thomas-a.-hill/photo
Image of Moses Appleton's grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94574680/moses-lark-appleton
Marriage record: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F4XW-J4D
1860 census: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDC4-VWQ
1850 census (Moses' occupation, he's listed as M.L. Appleton): https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6V3-DKX
Voices from the Kenduskeag (1848)
Appleton, Jane Sophia, and Barrett, Cornelia Crosby, Voices from the Kenduskeag. Bangor, Maine: D. Bugbee, December 31, 1848.
“Vision of Bangor in the Twentieth Century,” Edward Kent, page 61
“Sequel to ‘Vision of Bangor,'” Jane Appleton, page 243
Review of Voices from the Kenduskeag: https://www.lwcurrey.com/pages/books/157224/mrs-jane-sophia-appleton-mrs-cornelia-crosby-barrett/voices-from-the-kenduskeag
Edward Kent's information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Kent
Woman's Christian Temperance Union