Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of M. Anna Parker Hall, 1847-1928
By Lacey N. Bonar, PhD student: West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
Activist in the Suffrage movement, Civil War nurse
Margaret "Anna" Parker was born on February 2, 1849 in Wheeling. She was one of seven children born to two Irish immigrants, John and Margaret Parker. She attended public schools around the Wheeling area and graduated from the Wheeling Female Seminary. Anna married Joseph Hall, an English immigrant, on September 2, 1869 in Wheeling. She would live in Wheeling for the entirety of her life.
Anna was just 12 years old when the U.S. Civil War began, and the conflict had a profound effect on her personal and professional life. Her oldest sibling, William, was killed in action at the battle of Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, West Virginia in 1863. Anna herself worked as a nurse during the war at Grafton Hospital and at the Sprigg House Hotel in Wheeling after the military took over the latter in 1861 to use it as a hospital for war causalities. By tending to wounded and dying soldiers without receiving payment for her services, Anna became known for her compassion and nursing skills.
In the post-war years, Anna became very active in social and political circles around the Northern panhandle of West Virginia. This area of the state was known for its political activity concerning many of the issues prominent in the United States near the turn of the twentieth century, including women's suffrage, temperance, and veteran support. Anna was active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and she organized and served as the first matron of the Miriam Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star.
Anna served as the national president of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic from 1902-03, being the first West Virginian to hold that position. As the oldest women's hereditary organization in the United States, the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic historically aimed to serve veterans and promote loyalty to the Union through community service initiatives. The group's members offered their support to the women's suffrage movement and supported the corresponding resolutions that were introduced into the West Virginia state legislature.
Anna was a prominent figure in the fight for women's suffrage in the Wheeling area where she was active in the Political Equality Suffrage club. She traveled to Washington, D.C. nineteen times to advocate for women's suffrage. She was involved in the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association, an influential statewide organization that worked to energize the public and secure support for women's voting rights. She served as the president of this state organization in 1904. Together with another suffragist from the Wheeling area, Fannie Wheat, Anna spoke at the annual convention of the West Virginia State Federation of Labor in 1906. She explained the issue of women's suffrage and worked to convince the Federation to offer their support to the movement. She and Wheat offered the assistance of the suffragists to the Federation in return. The two women found success when presenting their cases. The West Virginia State Federation of Labor came out in support of women's suffrage the very next day.
Anna played an important role in the women's suffrage movement in West Virginia's northern panhandle, eventually being able to enjoy the fruits of her labor. America's women secured the right to vote nearly a decade before Anna's eventual death in Wheeling on May 17, 1928. Upon her death, Anna was survived by two daughters.
This photograph of M. Anna Parker Hall can be found on the website for the Past National Presidents of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, cited below under "Sources."
Effland, Anne Wallace. "The Woman Suffrage Movement in West Virginia, 1867-1920." Master's Thesis, West Virginia University, 1983.
Hall, M. Anna obituary. 1928. The Wheeling Intelligencer, May 18, pp. 22.
Howe, Barbara J. and Margaret A. Brennan. "The Sisters of St. Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia, during the Civil War." US Catholic Historian 31, 1. Winter 2013.
Fluharty, Linda Cunningham. "West Virginia Nurses in War." http://www.lindapages.com/nurses/cw-parkerhall.htm
"Past National Presidents." Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic. 2011. http://suvcw.org/LGAR/PNP.html