Biographical Sketch of Delia Moore Peets

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Delia Moore Peets, 1862-1929

By Anyssa Queen, student, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

President, Montana Women's Relief Corps; President, Butte Women's Protective Union; President, Butte Consumer's League; hotel housekeeper; union organizer; clubwoman

Delia Peets (née Moore) was born in November 1862 in Williamstown, New York, to Michael and Elizabeth Moore, immigrants from Canada and Ireland, respectively. By 1890, Delia Moore had moved to Butte, Montana, where she married Enoch Walton Peets in December 1897. Census records indicate that the couple had no children. Delia Peets died in Butte in 1929, and she was survived by her husband and sister, who were both later buried with her in Holy Cross Cemetery.

In Butte, Delia Peets worked as a housekeeper at various hotels both before and after her marriage, from 1890 until at least 1913. She worked at the McDermott in 1890, though much of the information found only lists “the Butte” or “Butte Hotel.” Her experiences as a working woman led to her activism in gaining rights and organization for other local working women.

Throughout her life, Delia Peets was heavily involved in clubs and unions. Prior to moving to Butte, she was involved in the Knights of Labor, which she continued to affiliate with after her move to Montana between 1892 and 1895. She served on executive boards throughout her time with the Knights of Labor. Except for her work with the Knights of Labor in New York, most of her club work took place in Montana.

In Montana, Peets continued her participation in groups that promoted workers' rights, particularly for women. She helped found the Butte Women's Protective Union in 1890. Delia Peets was one of six women to be appointed to the committee to draft the constitution and bylaws of the union; she subsequently served as president from at least 1890 to 1891. The Women's Protective Union was the only all-woman union in the state of Montana and had affiliations with the Knights of Labor, the Western Labor Union, and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. The women of this union campaigned for a fair wage, shorter working days, national health insurance, and unemployment insurance, among other things. At the time of its creation, it had only thirty-three members, but the union had grown to five hundred members by the time of Peets's death in 1929.

Delia Peets also was involved in a variety of other working women's groups, including the Deer Lodge Trades and Labor Assembly, the Women's Industrial Institute, and the Consumers' League. In 1894, she served as matron for the Women's Industrial Institute, which was created by the Women's Protective Union and was one of two homes in Butte at the time designed to house working women. In 1919 and 1920, she served as the president of another group dedicated to improving conditions for women workers, the Butte Consumer's League.

Peets also was involved in several patriotic organizations, including the Ladies of Blue and Gray, created in 1898, which aimed to aid widows and dependents of fallen soldiers. She was especially active in the Women's Relief Corps, and she held the several titles throughout her involvement, which extended at least from 1894 until 1922. In 1909, she served as an inspector; in 1911, she was an alternate for the National Convention; in 1915, she was the chairman of a Women's Relief Corps committee that attended the Forty-Third Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, with which the Women's Relief Corps was associated. She later became president of the organization for the state of Montana, a position she held from 1921 to 1922.

Peets also was active in the Women's Protective Assembly and the Butte Old-Timer Club, though less information is available about her involvement in these clubs.

Several of the organizations with which Delia Peets was affiliated, including the Women's Relief Corps, the Consumers' League, and the Protective Union, were connected to the woman suffrage movement. Peets also was personally involved in the successful statewide campaign for women's suffrage in Montana, overseen by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which concluded with the adoption of woman suffrage in the state in 1914.

SOURCES:

“Butte Current Notes.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), November 14, 1890, p. 5, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1890-11-14/ed-1/seq-5/.

Case, Bridgette Dawn. “The Women's Protective Union: Union Women Activists in a Union Town, 1890-1929.” M.A. Thesis, Montana State University, 2004. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.534.4011&rep=rep1&type=pdf.

“The Chinese Question and the Necessity of Buying Only Union-Made Goods Dwelt Upon-Convict Labor.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), January 22, 1894, p.4, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1894-01-22/ed-1/seq-4/.

“Consumers' League Begins War on Sugar Profiteers in Butte.” Butte Daily Bulletin (Butte, MT), September 3, 1920, p. 1, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045085/1920-09-03/ed-1/seq-1/.

“The District Assembly Transacts Its Business and Adjourns.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), January 21, 1892, p. 3, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1892-01-21/ed-1/seq-3/.

Find A Grave. Delia A. Peets. Accessed June 7, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99447418/delia-a-peets.

Finn, Janet L., and Ellen Crain, eds. Motherlode: Legacies of Women's Lives and Labors in Butte, Montana. Livingston, MT: Clark City Press, 2005.

Department of Montana, Grand Army of the Republic. “Session 1894: Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Encampment, Held at Helena, Montana, May 16-17, 1894.” Journal of the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Annual Encampments. Helena, 1894, p.123. GoogleBooks.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Montana,” chapter XXV in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 360-367. [LINK]

“Interesting Meeting of District Assembly No. 98 in Philipsburg.” Philipsburg Mail (Philipsburg, MT), January 31, 1895, p. 2, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025320/1895-01-31/ed-1/seq-2/.

“Departments.” Journal of the 27th National Convention of the Women's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, Salt Lake City, Utah, August 12 and 13, 1909. Boston: Griffith-Stillings Press, 1909, p. 451. GoogleBooks.

“Departments.” Journal of the 29th National Convention of the Women's Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, at Rochester, New York, August 24 and 25, 1911. Boston: Griffith-Stillings Press, 1911, p. 25. GoogleBooks.

“Proceedings of the Forty-Third Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Montana, Held at Helena, Montana, June 20, 21, 22, 1927.”

Journal of the Forty-Second and Forty-Third Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic Department of Montana. 1927, p.58. GoogleBooks.

“Ladies of Blue and Gray.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), May 5, 1898, p. 8, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1898-05-05/ed-1/seq-8/.

Marriage Records. Montana County Marriages. County courthouses, Montana. Ancestry.com.

“Meeting To-Night.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), January 26, 1894, p.3, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1894-01-26/ed-1/seq-3/.

Montana, County Births and Deaths, 1830-2011. Montana State Historical Society, Helena, Montana. Ancestry.com.

“New Officers Chosen By Consumers' League.” Butte Daily Bulletin (Butte, MT), October 13, 1919, p. 6, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045085/1919-10-13/ed-1/seq-6/

“Report of the Splendid Things Accomplished by the Women's Industrial Institute in Butte.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), March 21, 1894, p.4, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1894-03-21/ed-1/seq-4/.

“Resolutions Adopted by the Delegates at Anaconda.” Helena Independent (Helena, MT), January 21, 1892, Morning ed, p.1, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025308/1892-01-21/ed-1/seq-1/.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1890) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1890. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.196 Deliah A Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1896) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1896. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.141 Deliah A Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1905) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1905. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.280 Mrs. Delia Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1908) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1908. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.349 Delia A. Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1911) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1911. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.291 Delia G. Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

R. L. Polk & Co., (1913) Butte, Montana, City Directory, 1913. Butte, Montana: R. L. Polk & Co. p.279 Delia G. Peets. Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana. Ancestry.com.

“The Second Annual Ball of the Women's Protective Union.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), September 23, 1891, p.5, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1891-09-23/ed-1/seq-5/.

“The Women of Butte Urged to Do Their Shopping Before Eight—Yesterday's Meeting at Renshaw's.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT), April 20, 1891, p. 5, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1891-04-20/ed-1/seq-5/.

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