Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Lula Belle Rochester Weaver, 1881-1964
By Hallie Borstel, independent historian
Little is known about Lula Belle Rochester's early life. Records indicate she was born March 8, 1881 in southwestern Mississippi. According to her obituary, Belle's parents were Allan T. and Frances Rochester. Allan was married several times. Belle had at least one younger sister, Maud, who was born in 1884 and a half-brother, Charles E., born 1892. She likely had other half- and step-siblings. By 1906, Belle had moved to Shreveport in Caddo Parish, Louisiana and was working as a stenographer. Shortly before her 27th birthday, Belle Rochester married Samuel Polk Weaver in a "quiet" ceremony.
Sam Weaver, ten years her senior, worked in the timber industry. He had previously been married and had three children at the time of their marriage. Sam and Belle quickly had their first child, a daughter named Maud Frances born in the summer of 1909. After Maud came Samuel Polk Jr., born in 1912, and James Martin, born in 1916.
The birth of her children seems to have spurred an interest in the well-being of children for Belle, as she became very involved in the Tomkies Kindergarten. This interest in childhood well-being and children's education continued throughout her life. In 1920 she was a member of the executive committee of the Kindergarten Association, and in 1922 she served as "kindergarten chairman" of the "kindergarten conference, extension of Louisiana." The aim of this work was to advocate for free, public kindergartens.
Belle was a member of the Shreveport Equal Suffrage League from at least 1918-1919. She did so with the apparent support of her husband, as he was quoted in a Shreveport Times newspaper article in November 1918 saying he agreed with his wife's plans and ambitions regarding suffrage and would "give it [his] vote."
Belle's other social activities included the Shakespeare Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Louisiana Federation of Women's Clubs, the Shreveport Live Avenue P. and T. Club, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and her work with the kindergarten associations. In 1921, she served as an election commissioner.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Belle was active in various arts and culture organizations, such as the Author's Club and a committee for the Shreveport Civic Symphony Orchestra. She also became a Junior League member.
Sam died in 1956, and Belle passed away in 1964 in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
Charles E. Rochester, Belle's younger brother, is listed in the 1900 Census as the adopted son of W. Joseph Edwards and Lula Edwards. Her sister Maud, later Mrs. M.M. Judd of San Antonio, was living as a boarder with the Herron family in West Monroe, Louisiana that same year. A 1900 Census record for Belle herself could not be located.
1900 U.S. Census
1910 U.S. Census
1920 U.S. Census
1930 U.S. Census
The Caucasian [Shreveport, La.]
Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973 [Ancestry.com]
Louisiana Deaths 1850-1875, 1894-1960 [FamilySearch.org]
Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1819-1964 [Ancestry.com]
The New Orleans Item [New Orleans, La.]
Shreveport, Louisiana City Directory, 1907
The Times [Shreveport, La.]
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans, La.]
U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [Ancestry.com]
Woman's Enterprise [Baton Rouge, La.]