Biographical Sketch of Ellelee Chapman Humes

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ellelee Chapman Humes, 1850-1920

By Kelly R. Horwitz, attorney at Benedon & Serlin, LLP

Charter member of the Huntsville, Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, 1894; Vice-President of Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, 1915-1917; delegate to national suffrage conventions, 1913-1915.

Ellelee Chapman Humes was born in Alabama in 1850-1852 (census records differ) to Reuben and Felicia Ann (Pickett) Chapman. Her father was Governor of Alabama from 1847-1849 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1835-1847. She married Milton Humes, a Confederate veteran, lawyer, and industrialist on June 1, 1870 in Huntsville, Alabama. Ellelee and Milton had no children, but raised her niece, Felicia Pickett Hubbard. Milton died in 1908; Ellelee died on July 24, 1920. Both are buried in Huntsville's Maple Hill Cemetery.

Humes was a civic and social leader. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, President of the Huntsville chapter of Daughters of the Confederacy, served on local committees for the Red Cross and the Huntsville cemetery committee, spoke to the local schools about child labor, served on the board of trustees of the Boys' Industrial School of Birmingham, and was a founder of the Huntsville infirmary.

While Humes's civic involvement was significant, she may be best known for her work on women's suffrage. In 1894, Humes' friend, Virginia Clay-Clopton, founded the Huntsville League for Woman Suffrage, one of the first women's suffrage organizations in Alabama. Humes was a charter member. Humes also was part of a small group of early Alabama suffragists responsible for bringing Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt to speak in Huntsville on January 29, 1895.

The Alabama women's suffrage movement died out for a decade after women's suffrage was omitted from the Alabama Constitution in 1901. In 1912, the movement was resurrected with the formation of the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association (AL ESA). The Huntsville chapter of the ESA was reorganized in November of 1912 with Humes elected as vice-president.

Humes soon took on a significant role at the state level. She attended the first Executive Board meeting of the AL ESA on October 4, 1913 in Birmingham. At her urging, the Association chose to hold its second annual convention in Huntsville on February 4 and 5, 1914.

Humes addressed the AL ESA conventions in February 1915 in Tuscaloosa and in February 1916 in Anniston. She was elected Second Vice-President of the AL ESA at the 1915 convention and re-elected the following year.

Humes worked with Alabama suffragist leaders to organize and address meetings throughout the state with the objective of forming local suffrage organizations and obtaining signatures on petitions to the Alabama Legislature seeking an amendment to the Alabama Constitution permitting women to vote.

Humes' suffrage work was not limited to Alabama. In 1898, she served on the Committee on Organization for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She also was chosen as one of Alabama's delegates to the national suffrage conventions held in Washington, DC in 1913 and 1915, and in Nashville in 1914.

Humes died a month before the 19th Amendment was ratified. Her home state of Alabama did not ratify the Amendment until September 8, 1953.

Sources:

The Hand Book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, vols. 26-30, p. 848.

The Times-Argus, "Married," June 9, 1870, p. 3.

The Montgomery Advertiser, "Speaking of Society: Huntsville," Feb. 3, 1895, p. 3.

New Decatur Advertiser, "In Honor of Mrs. Catt," Nov. 22, 1901, p. 2.

Huntsville Weekly Democrat, "Women for Suffrage," Nov. 13, 1912, p. 3.

Huntsville Weekly Democrat, "Personal Section," Sept. 3, 1913, p. 3.

The Cullman Tribune, "Mrs. Pankhurst Is Not To Be Invited To Visit Alabama," Oct. 9, 1913, p. 4.

Huntsville Weekly Democrat, "Alabama Equal Suffrage Association Convenes in Annual Convention," Feb. 11, 1914, p. 4.

The Decatur Daily, "Huntsville E.B. League," Sept. 8, 1914, p. 4.

The Tuscaloosa News, "Opening Session of Suffrage Convention," Feb. 3, 1915, p. 5.

New Decatur Advertiser, "A Modern Joan Leads the Hosts to Victory!" Jan. 28, 1915, p.2.

The Fort Payne Journal, "Re-Elected Head of Suffragists," Feb. 10, 1915, p. 2.

New Decatur Advertiser, "Equal Suffrage Notes," Oct. 21, 1915, p. 1.

New Decatur Advertiser, "A Tribute to Mrs. Ellen Stephens Hildreth," Feb. 24, 1916, p. 1.

The Albany-Decatur Daily, "Prominent Woman Dies in Huntsville," July 24, 1920, p. 1

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