Biographical Sketch of Pearl Still (Nowlin)

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Pearl Still (Nowlin), 1881-1969

By Foster Dickson, Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, Montgomery, AL

Frances Pearl Still was born on February 21, 1881 in Elmore County, Alabama to William Cason Still and Martha Frances “Fannie” Cousins Still. Her father, born in 1836 in South Carolina, came to Alabama as a boy and first lived in Chambers County. During the Civil War, he fought with the 60th Alabama Infantry and was wounded at Chickamauga. After the war, he married Fannie Cousins in Elmore County in 1870, when he was 32 and she was 19. They first lived in the rural community of Good Hope, then in Wetumpka, where he made a living as a merchant. Their daughter Pearl was the second to youngest of their eight children. Sadly, William Still died in 1892, when Pearl was only eleven years old.

From a relatively young age, Pearl Still was working as a teacher all over the state of Alabama. By the 1897–1898 school year, she was an elocution instructor at Birmingham's East Lake Atheneum, a short-lived private girls' school that closed in 1900. Shortly thereafter, she was teaching music in Buyckville, in rural Elmore County. However, by the mid-1900s, Pearl Still had moved to Birmingham and was working there as a stenographer. During the 1907 – 1908 year, Pearl Still was once again teaching elocution, this time in Luverne, in Crenshaw County, where she was one of six women on the faculty. However, her life was not completely consumed by work; a social announcement from 1908 explained that she spent a month of that summer in Pensacola with a friend. In the summer of 1910, the Wetumpka Herald shared that Pearl Still had returned from Huntsville to Wetumpka to spend the summer with her mother.

Through the first half of the 1910s, Miss Pearl Still continued to accept teaching positions around the state. The 1910 census shows her living with her mother in Wetumpka, along with siblings Marcus, Eula, Annie, and Laura. She and two of her sisters are listed as being schoolteachers. In April 1911, the newspaper in Scottsboro announced her as the “teacher of elocution and physical culture in the High School” and remarked that she had just been in Huntsville. In September 1911, the Wetumpka Herald explained that she had left for Cullman to teach there. In 1912, Florala City Schools hired Miss Pearl Still to teach elocution and physical culture for their upcoming school year.

The only mention of Pearl Still in Alabama's suffrage movement comes in February 1914, when she was a delegate for Pell City to the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association's second state convention, which was held in Huntsville. Pell City is located to the east of Birmingham on the Coosa River. The next year, in 1915, another woman, Miss Ellen Spear, is listed in an organization newsletter as Pell City's representative.

On October 26, 1915 Frances Pearl Still married George Gordon Nowlin in Wetumpka. Pearl's brother, Probate Judge Marcus D. Still, married the pair. Nowlin was a native of north Alabama, and the 1920 census has them living in Bradley County, Tennessee where George was a farmer. Her occupation was listed as “None.” By 1930, the couple was living in nearby Chattanooga, where George Nowlin was selling insurance.

After her husband's death in 1938, Pearl Still Nowlin remained in Chattanooga and worked as a dietician in a hospital. The couple had no children.

Frances Pearl Still Nowlin returned to Alabama in the1950s and was living in Montgomery when she died on April 4, 1969. She was buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Sources:

The Weekly Herald (Wetumpka). September 11, 1911. p. 5.

The Pensacola News Journal. July 12, 1908. p. 10.

The Andalusia Star. May 22, 1913. p. 8.

The Andalusia Star. September 12, 1912. p. 5.

The Lafayette Sun. May 24, 1922. p. 8.

The Luverne Journal. January 2, 1908. p. 4.

“Graduating Exercises at the Atheneum.” The Montgomery Advertiser. June 2, 1898. p. 3

“Florala Teachers Are Selected.” The Opp Messenger. June 21, 1912. p. 1.

The Progressive Age (Scottsboro). April 21, 1911. p. 1.

“The Luverne School.” The Troy Messenger. September 23, 1908. p. 3.

The Weekly Herald (Wetumpka). June 2, 1910. p. 3.

The Weekly Herald (Wetumpka). September 12, 1907. p. 1.

Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 – Population. Buyckville, Elmore County, Alabama. Sheet 8. accessed on ancestry.com

Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 – Population. Bradley County, Tennessee. Sheet 17. accessed on ancestry.com

Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930 – Population. Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. Sheet 16B. accessed on ancestry.com

Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940 – Population. Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. Sheet 5B. accessed on ancestry.com

Elmore County Marriage License. p. 502. Alabama, County Marriages, 1805 - 1867. accessed on ancestry.com

Montgomery, Alabama City Directory, 1957. p. 459. accessed on ancestry.com

Chattanooga, Tennessee City Directory, 1931. p. 1303. accessed on ancestry.com

US Social Security Death Index, 1935 - 2014. accessed on ancestry.com

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