Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Hettie (Mrs. Carl) Osterheld, 1870-1940
By Vasistha Bhargavi and Thomas Dublin
Hettie Faber was born in New York state about 1870. In some censuses her parents were said to be born in England, in others, in Germany. In 1895 she married a fellow New Yorker, Carl Osterheld and the couple did not have any children. Carl Osterheld was a physician and the couple lived in Yonkers between 1900 and 1920 according to federal manuscript censuses, and probably until 1928, the year of Carl's death. The 1930 census found Hettie, a widow, now 60, living in a Manhattan hotel on W. 72nd St.
In 1913 Carrie Chapman Catt headed up a statewide suffrage petition campaign, with New York divided into twelve campaign districts. Hettie Osterheld chaired the 9th district that included Yonkers. A newspaper account of the petition campaign in the New York Sun indicated that Mrs. Osterheld was the final person who assembled all the petitions and forwarded them to "a committee" in New York city "which will convey them to Washington."
Her suffrage support extended beyond the petition campaign. In January 1914 Mrs. Osterheld greeted a suffrage march led by "Gen." Rosalie Jones and headed for Albany as it passed through Yonkers. In June 1916, Mrs. Osterheld spoke twice before suffrage groups. She spoke first at a meeting of the 4th Assembly District suffragists in Port Chester, as that group went on record supporting military training for boys. A week later, she was among the speakers at a suffrage rally that drew more than a hundred supporters to the Dobbs Ferry country estate, "Thorwood," home of Mrs. Henry Garrison Villard. In November 1916 Mrs. Osterheld joined the board of directors of the New York Woman Suffrage Association.
Carl Osterheld supported his wife's suffrage activity. A newspaper account in February 1912 noted that Mr. Osterheld had charge of "the men's table" at a Suffrage Market held at 180 Madison Avenue in New York city.
In 1918, the first statewide election after the successful suffrage referendum in 1917, Mrs. Osterheld volunteered to work on the re-election campaign of governor Charles Whitman. Whitman lost that fall to the Democrat Alfred E. Smith.
Mrs. Osterheld participated in a number of civic activities beyond her suffrage work. In March 1913 she served on the Executive Committee of the International Committee on Marriage and Divorce, a group that worked for "Uniform divorce laws." In 1920 Mrs. Osterheld joined a campaign, sponsored by the Home Bureau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to canvass households in Westchester County. Volunteers were to visit every home and provide "Lessons in marketing, menu planning, cooking, sewing, budget making, feeding and care of children," among other domestic activities. The advice was intended to help housewives "stretch the dollar."
A death record indicates that Hettie Osterheld passed away in Mexico in 1940.
Ancestry.com for death records for Carl and Hettie Osterheld.
Federal manuscript censuses for 1900-1930 accessed through HeritageQuest.com. Yonkers for 1900-1920 and New York city for 1930.
Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]
"A Suffrage 'Market,'" New York Sun, 13 Feb. 1912, p. 9.
"Would Stop Elopements," New York Times," 8 March 1913, p. 7.
"Suffrage Campaign in State," New York Sun, 5 July 1913, p. 1.
"'Ouch' Is Hikers' Cry on First March," New York Sun, 2 January 1914, p. 14.
"Suffragists Favor Training for Boys," New York Tribune, 3 June 1916, p. 11.
"`Thorwood' Suffrage Rally," New York Sun, 10 June 1916, p. 7.
"Suffs Have Own Thanksgiving," New York Tribune, 24 November 1916, p. 7.
"Women of Westchester County . . . ," New York Herald, 18 January 1920, p. 39.
"Rival G.O.P. Camps Tell of Defections," New York Herald, 7 July 1918, p. 14.