Biographical Sketch of Jeannette Sickler (Sichler) Pease (Phelps)

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Jeannette Sickler (Sichler) Pease (Phelps), 1868-1951

By Liisa Reimann, undergraduate studfent, Saint Anselm College

Press Superintendent, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association; Secretary, Burlington Equal Franchise League

Jeanette Sichler, was born on December 4, 1868, in Detroit, Michigan. She was one of seven children born to German immigrants Benjamin and Louisa (Hahn) Sichler. The middle child, Jeannette had two older sisters (Annie and Olga), an older brother (Benjamin Jr.), and three younger brothers (Alfred, Louis, and Eddie). Benjamin supported the family by working as a druggist and, later, Louis joined his father's business as a clerk. Jeannette followed her sister Olga into teaching and taught for a time at Jefferson School.

Circa 1907, at the age of 39, Jeannette married George Lucius Pease, a wealthy widower ten years her senior. There is some indication that George was Jeannette's second husband. Michigan marriage records indicate that a Jeannette C. Sickler, daughter of Benjamin E. Sickler, married dentist William C. Herbert in 1890. George Pease was a native of Charlotte, Vermont — an entrepreneur who moved from his parents' country farm to pursue dreams of business ownership in Burlington. Working his way up the entrepreneurial ladder, he held a variety of jobs before founding and managing the Burlington Shirt Company. Pease Mountain, which is named for his family, was part of his estate at the time of their marriage. George was a member of the First Church of Burlington and it is assumed that Jeanette became a member of the same congregation. They maintained a house at 322 South Prospect Street in Burlington. It does not appear the couple had any children.

Jeannette was an independent, active citizen and was involved in the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA) and the Burlington Equal Franchise League (BEFL), elected as the League's Secretary in 1912 and serving as VESA's Press Superintendent in 1913. The newspaper coverage of the BEFL election noted, "Women intending to visit New York and Boston this season and who wish to become in close touch with the national movement should also communicate with Mrs. Pease," indicating that she was well-connected with other suffragists.

The Burlington Free Press routinely noted her engagements, trips away, and visitors over the years. A member of the Automobile Club of Vermont, she was the registered owner of a 21 horsepower Chevrolet as early as 1920. She also appears to have been an active member of the Bull Moose Party (the informal name of the Progressive Party), which was an offshoot of the Republican Party that gained notoriety for splitting the party by supporting Theodore Roosevelt as their candidate in the 1912 election and essentially helping elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson. When she couldn't attend party meetings herself, George did so as her representative. George died in 1926 at the age of 67. The following year, on October 14, 1927, Jeannette married widowed New York City ear, nose, and throat physician Haskell S. Phelps (aged 61). The couple wed in New York, but returned to Jeannette's home in Burlington where Phelps, who had family ties to the city, may have continued to practice for a short time. The following year however, it seems that Haskell sold off his medical instruments and office supplies. At the same time, Jeannette offered Pease Mountain—164 acres with an orchard, tea house and individual log cabins—up for sale at the price of $3,000.

Haskell's death, in Hollywood, CA in 1932, left Jeannette a widow for the second time. Jeannette appears to have relocated to Hollywood permanently sometime after Haskell's death, and died there herself on August 13, 1951. In her will, she left $500 to the University of Vermont for the purpose of creating a memorial to her first husband, George, in the form of a bronze tablet, to be hung over a fireplace in a log cabin, or a stone marker on Pease Mountain or its approaches.

Burlington City Directories: 1888, 1904, 1908, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931
Detroit City Directory: 1890
New Jersey Marriage Records 5/31/1902
New Jersey Marriage Index, Bride Index, 1901-1903
New York City Directories: 1913-1917, 1922, 1925
Passenger List, SS George Washington, 4/7/1927 —
United States Census: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920

Burlington Free Press:
11/30/1908 p.10
5/10/1911 p.10
5/7/1912 p.8
6/19/1912 p.11
9/27/1912, p. 7 for quote on visiting New York and Boston.
12/3/1913 p.7

Burlington Suburban List 4/4/1907

Rutland Herald 1/5/1916

Child, Hamilton. Gazeteer and Business Directory of Chittenden County, Vermont 1882-1883. Syracuse, 1882.

Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, Vol. VI. New York: J.J. Little & Ives, 1922. [LINK]

back to top