Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth Sherman Denham Elliott, 1842-1925
By Kaydra Townsend, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Elizabeth Sherman Denham was born on April 14, 1842, in Princeton, Illinois, to Eunice Conant Storrs and Butler Denham. She had two sisters, Lucy Storrs (1837-1907) and Mary (1840-1913), neither of whom married. Butler Denham died on August 8, 1841, in Princeton before Elizabeth was born. On January 18, 1843, the widowed Eunice Denham married abolitionist Reverend Owen Lovejoy, who had been boarding at the 1,300-acre Denham farm. The location was noted as an Underground Railroad stop for those escaping slavery. The Lovejoys had seven additional children.
Elizabeth Denham frequently used her stepfather's name, although neither she nor her sisters were legally adopted. She attended Princeton High School, and she wrote on its history years later. She supported abolition and served as a congressional secretary to Owen Lovejoy during the early 1860s. She married Isaac Hughes Elliott on December 17, 1867. Issac Elliott had served in the Thirty-Third Regiment Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The couple had four sons survive to adulthood: John Lovejoy, Richard Storrs, Walter White, and Roger Sherman. Bertha P. Elliott died at age 9.
With their children grown, Elizabeth and Isaac Elliott decided to farm cattle in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1894. Elizabeth Elliott took her abolitionist and suffragist politics with her. In 1899, she was a founder and was elected vice-president of the Roswell Woman's Club. In 1913, she served as president of the Orchard Park Women's Club. She received a mention in the History of Woman Suffrage for her work in New Mexico. The Elliott family moved to Westchester County, New York, by the 1920 census, where Isaac Elliott died on December 3, 1922, when he was 84 years old. Elizabeth Elliott returned to the Midwest but died on February 15, 1925, in Waterloo, Iowa, at age 82.
Elizabeth Elliott left a legacy behind. Her life was filled with ventures like helping to end slavery and supporting the women's suffrage movement. She witnessed a great deal of events in her life, like the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
For a portrait of Elizabeth Elliott, see “Group of 36 Bureau County Old Settlers,” in G.W. Skilling and E.H. Masters, Beautiful Bureau: A Collection of Photographic Reproductions of the Picturesque, Historical, Or Otherwise Interesting Scenes of Bureau County, Illinois. Princeton: 1894, p.85. GoogleBooks.
Elliott, Elizabeth. “The High School in the Township.” In Souvenir Echoes of the Princeton Township High School, 1867-1892, by Richard Alston Metcalf. Princeton, Ill: T.P. Streeter & Son, Printers, 1892, 49-50. HathiTrust.org.
Elliott, Isaac Hughes. History of the Thirty -Third Regiment Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, 22nd August, 1861, to 7th December, 1865. Gibson City, Ill: Regiment Association, 1902. GoogleBooks.
Elliott, Simon. The Elliott Families, 1762-1911: A History and Genealogy with Biographies. Princeton, Ill: 1911, pp.57-63. InternetArchive.org.
Find a Grave. Butler Denham. Accessed October 29, 2018. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83462083.
Find a Grave. Eunice Conant Storrs Lovejoy. Accessed February 12, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83462388/eunice-conant-lovejoy.
Find a Grave. Isaac Hughes Elliott. Accessed October 29, 2018. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118875382.
Haberkorn, Ruth Ewers. “Owen Lovejoy in Princeton, Illinois.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 36, no. 3 (September 1943): 284-315. JSTOR.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “New Mexico.” Chapter XXX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 434-439. [LINK].
Hastings, Emiko and Meg Hixon. “Finding Aid for Owen Lovejoy Papers, 1829-1943.” Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Last updated 2012. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/clementsmss/umich-wcl-M-689lov?view=text.
“Roswell Woman's Club-Officers, Program for Year and Membership.” Roswell Daily Record (Roswell, N. Mex.). October 5, 1930, p. 30. Newspapers.com.
Winslow, Helen M., ed. Official Register and Directory of Women's Clubs in America. Vol. 15. Shirley, Mass., 1913, 173. GoogleBooks.
“The Woman's Club of Roswell,” El Paso Daily Herald(El Paso, Tex.). June 15, 1899, p.2. Newspapers.com.
United States Census 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 s.v. “Elizabeth Denham (Dunham)/Elliott, Princeton, Bureau, IL.” HeritageQuest.
United States Census 1900, 1910, s.v. “Elizabeth Elliott, Chaves, NM.” HeritageQuest.
United States Census 1920, s.v. “Elizabeth Elliott, White Plains, NY.” HeritageQuest.