Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Serocia (Mrs. S.F.) Leonard, 1829-1913
By Evelyn Thompson, Undergraduate, Saint Anselm College
Local Committee; Finance Committee, Vermont Woman Suffrage Association
Mrs. S. F. Leonard was a woman's suffrage activist from the years 1885 to 1904. She was a resident of the town Glover, Vermont during her years in the suffrage movement but it is not clear if that is the only place she resided during her lifetime. Given that she is listed as Mrs. S. F. Leonard rather than Miss S. F. Leonard, she must have been married before her years as a suffragist. She is listed as a Local Committee member for the years of 1885, 1888, 1889, 1902, 1903, and 1904 of the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association (VWSA). Between these years her committee involvement with the organization is unknown. She is also listed as a member of the Finance Committee during the year 1885.
It is thought that she was one of the original members of the VWSA as she attended the first meeting of the VWSA on January 14th and 15th in 1885. Mrs. S. F. Leonard is listed as petitioning the House of Representatives in Vermont "praying for enactment of a law enabling women to vote in all municipal elections" in 1888 and "praying the Legislature to enact a law granting municipal suffrage to women who are taxpayers" in 1900. In 1889, Mrs. S. F. Leonard attended the Orleans County Convention hosted by the VWSA where Miss Alice Stone Blackwell was also in attendance. At the convention, local committee member for Glover, Mrs. S. F. Leonard, is mentioned as reporting "that only eight or ten persons in that place had refused to sign the suffrage petition."
As to Mrs. S. F. Leonard's identity, that remains something of a mystery. When involved with suffrage, she is only listed as Mrs. S. F. Leonard and there is no mention of her beyond suffrage records. Based on these conclusions, it would be safe to say that Mrs. S. F. Leonard was only a name she used when involved in suffrage activity and went by a different name in her personal life. There is plausible evidence that her full name is Serocia French Leonard.
Serocia French was born on January 28, 1829, in Glover, Vermont. Her father, Lindol French, was 26, and her mother, Sophia Betsy Clark French, was 23 at the time of her birth. Serocia married Charles Steward Leonard of Glover on January 25, 1855. They had one child, Laura, born on March 6, 1857, who died of meningitis at the age of seven, on March 20, 1864. In 1893, Charles died and was buried in Westlook Cemetery in Glover. A few years after her husband passed, in 1905, Serocia moved to Manchester, New Hampshire where she "has made her home with a very pleasant family, in a pleasant location in the city, who have made her later years as comfortable and pleasant as could be possible." Serocia died on February 26, 1913 in Manchester when she was 84 years old. Even though not much information is known about Serocia, in her obituary she is listed as "always an interested attendant and supporter of the Universalist church, a teacher in the Sunday school, and a helper in the society in all its meetings, and the general interest of the village and town."
As for Serocia French Leonard's connection to Mrs. S F Leonard, besides the initials S. F. matching Serocia French, she was also a listed resident of Glover, Vermont during the years Mrs. S. F. is noted as living there. The connection between the two is actually in an advertisement that ran in the Orleans County Monitor on November 13, 1893 and March 5 1894. The advertisement is one for someone selling a "Wood Shop with Water Power Shafting, etc" in Glover Village. In the advertisement, it mentions the previous owner being a C. S. Leonard and to contact Mrs. S. F. Leonard if interested. Besides the obvious connections to Glover, the initials C. S. Leonard were her husband's initials, and he was a woodworker as well as a painter and tub maker, the kind of profession that would need a large workshop. After Charles's death in 1893, Serocia would not need her husband's workshop, therefore putting it up for sale.
The years of Mrs. S. F. Leonard's involvement with the local committee of the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association can be found for 1885 on page 32 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XVI, Issue 4, for 1888 on page 22 The Woman's Journal Vol. XIX, Issue 3, for 1889 on page 193 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XX, Issue 25, for 1902 on page 206 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XXXIII, Issue 26, for 1903 on page 200 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XXXIV, Issue 25, and for 1904 on page 223 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XXXV, Issue 28. Her involvement on the finance committee is mentioned on page 5 of the December 24, 1885 edition of the Vermont Christian Messenger, https://www.newspapers.com/image/490690788/?terms=s%2Bf%2Bleonard%2Bglover.
Mrs. S.F. Leonard's petitions of The Vermont House of representatives, as made in 1888 and 1900 can be found on page 22 of the Journal of the House of the State of Vermont, as published in 1889, and on page 119 of the Journal of the Senate of the State of Vermont as published in 1901 respectively. This can also be found, for 1888, at https://books.google.com/books?id=i6lMAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA66&dq=Mrs.+S.+F.+Leonard,+Glover&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjxqqbyvuHgAhWGpFkKHUUkCxgQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=Mrs.%20S.%20F.%20Leonard%2C%20Glover&f=false, and, for 1900, at https://books.google.com/books?id=IntDAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA119&dq=Mrs.+S.+F.+Leonard+vermont&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqhamQrO7gAhXhy4MKHXZIAncQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=Mrs.%20S.%20F.%20Leonard%20vermont&f=false.
Information about the first annual meeting of the VWSA that allows the assumption about her status as a founding member to be made can be found on page 32 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XVI, Issue 4. Information regarding the 1889 Orleans County Convention and Mrs. S.F. Leonard's involvement can be found on page 193 of The Woman's Journal Vol. XX, Issue 25.
Information about Serocia French Leonard's life and her family tree, including her birthdate, parents names, marriage record, and other pertinent information can be found on ancestry.com under the "French Leonard Family Tree"https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/159861224/family/familyview and specifically under "Serocia French Leonard" https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/159861224/person/342093428802/story.
The workshop advertisements that allow the connection between S.F. Leonard and Serocia to be drawn can be found on page 6 of the November 13, 1893 edition, and on page 6 of the March 1894 edition https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/403718495/ of the Orleans County Monitor, published out of Barton, Vermont. A record of Charles Leonard's occupation can be found in the Glover Vermont Town Directory for 1884 http://www.nekg-vt.com/dir/dir_glover-1884.htm?h=Leonard.
Serocia French Leonard's obituary can be found on page 8 of the March 5, 1913 edition of the Orleans County Monitor https://www.newspapers.com/image/403783859/?terms=serocia%2Bfrench.