Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Clare “Clara” Barnett Buckner, 1875-1947
By Shelby Reed, student, Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, Arkansas
Clare (sometimes written “Clara”) Lou Barnett was born February 8, 1875 in Fayetteville, Tennessee. The oldest of four children, her parents were James William Barnett, a Confederate veteran born September 1846 in Virginia, and Julie C. Gordon, born December 1849 in Tennessee. Julie Gordon Barnett died in July 1881 at the age of 31. J. W. Barnett died in July 1922 at the age of 75.
As a young woman, Clare Buckner attended and hosted high-profile social events in Fayetteville, Tennessee. At 21 she married Dr. A. G. Buckner on December 23, 1896. The couple had three children: daughters Julia born 1898, Elizabeth born 1900, and son Allison Garret Jr born 1903. Within a few years Dr. Buckner became a prominent member of the community of Fayetteville, president of King College, active in politics, and in the Presbyterian church.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Buckner supported the Democratic Party. In October of 1914 Clare presented flowers to and made a speech in support of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Rye. After her children were grown, Clare continued to participate in social events, such as serving as president of the Chrysanthemum Club, while Dr. Buckner frequently served as toastmaster for various events. In 1917 Dr. Buckner was appointed adjutant general of the state of Tennessee. Soon after he took office, the family moved from Fayetteville to Nashville. This move brought Clare to the capital and a more connected political environment.
While her husband, as state director of dental hygiene, traveled frequently, Clare Buckner was busy in her work in community outreach and furthering the cause of women's suffrage in Tennessee. 1919 was a particularly busy year for her. In January she spoke at a luncheon that kicked off a suffrage convention in Nashville. In March 1919 she put in hard work as the legislative chairman of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association. In May 1919 she participated in a “tag day” to raise money for Alvin York who was returning from his service in World War I.
Her suffrage work paid off as Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to assure ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 1920.
Bucker continued her social activities, participating in and attending events put on by the Ladies' Hermitage Association, the Vanderbilt Women's Club and Vanderbilt Glee Club, among others. Her travels to see friends and family in neighboring states were frequently reported in Nashville's society pages.
On February 3, 1947, Clare Barnett Buckner died of heart failure in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. She was buried on the 15th of February, joining her parents in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Fayetteville.
Daily News-Journal (Murphreesboro, TN). October 18, 1929, p. 3. Newspapers.com.
Find a Grave. “Clare Lou Barnett Buckner.” https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/113395518/clare-lou-buckner
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage Vol. VI. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. Pp 605. [LINK]
Knoxville (Tennessee) Independent. September 29, 1917, p. 8; May 24, 1919, p. 3; Newspapers.com.
Moore, John Trotwood and Austin Powers Foster. Tennessee: The Volunteer State, 1769-1923. Volume 4. P. 898.
Sequachee Valley News (Tennessee). August 17, 1899, p. 1. Newspapers.com.
The Tennessean. July 14, 1896, p. 6; August 4, 1896, p. 3; December 25, 1896, p. 3; October 28, 1914, p. 14; February 21, 1915, p. 21; February 26, 1915, p. 7; February 13, 1917, p. 12; October 7, 1917, p. 31; July 2, 1920, p. 5; September 22, 1920, p. 12; February 16, 1921, p. 2; , July 16, 1925, p. 6; January 16, 1919, p. 5; May 18, 1919, p. 47; December 31, 1922, p. 18; April 20, 1924, p. 23; February 16, 1925, p. 6. Newspapers.com.
Tennessee County Marriages. 1790-1950, Lincoln County. Familysearch.org
Tennessee Deaths, 1914-1966. Familysearch.org.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedule, 1910. Heritagequest.com