Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Eleanor Hume Offutt, 1894-1955
by Kate Byars, student, University of Kentucky
Eleanor Hume was born on September 20, 1894 to Dr. Enoch Hume and Mary South Hume in Frankfort, Kentucky. Dr. Enoch Hume was a physician who served as a Kentucky state representative from 1875 to 1877 and as mayor of Frankfort from 1905 to 1906. He died in 1911, leaving Hume with her mother and brother, Dr. Edgar Hume. Hume attended the Friends' School in Washington DC until 1914. The Hume family spent most of 1914 in Europe. They traveled to destinations like Berlin and Munich, Germany before settling in Florence, Italy. Hume attended the prestigious Chateau Brillantmont boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland during this time and her brother sought medical training. The trip was intended to last for several years, but it was cut short due to the Great War. Hume and her mother returned to the United States in November 1914, though Edgar Hume stayed to continue his studies. Hume resumed her schooling in Washington DC following the move.
In 1917, Hume's brother enlisted in the Army. By 1919, Dr. Edgar Hume was a colonel and the chief medical director for the nation of Serbia. Dr. Edgar Hume served in World War II as well, reaching the rank of Brigadier General. He was chief of the Allied Military Government in Italy in 1945. At the time of his retirement at the rank of Major General in 1952, he was the most decorated medical officer in American history. Hume often visited him in Washington, France, and at his other stations.
Eleanor Hume was heavily involved in the community. As a young woman, she was a member of a service organization known as the Entre Nous Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Girls' Bridge Club, often hosting meetings in her home, which became a lively spot for balls and card parties as well. In the late 1910s she became involved in suffrage. She was chosen as a Franklin County Equal Rights League delegate to the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA) meeting. In 1918 she was elected press secretary of KERA. At the annual KERA meeting in 1919, Hume reported over 100 new papers that had published articles in support of suffrage. This list included the Louisville Courier-Journal, which had long been an enemy of the movement.
Christine Bradley South, president of KERA from 1916-1919, was Hume's aunt. The pair were close not only in their personal lives, but in their suffrage work as well. South was likely the reason for Hume's initial interest in suffrage and involvement in KERA. When Eleanor Hume married Henry Frederick Offutt, an insurance man, on October 4, 1919, the ceremony took place at South's home.
Offutt was present in January 1920 for the ratification ceremony in which Kentucky Governor Edwin P. Morrow signed the 19th Amendment. Following this victory celebration, the new bride settled into married life. She gave birth to the couple's only child, a daughter also named Eleanor Hume Offutt in 1926. On January 5, 1933, Henry Offutt passed away in Frankfort at the age of 42. He was buried in Frankfort Cemetery. His widow never remarried.
Offutt remained involved in the community and politics. She was a key figure in the Woman's Democratic Club of Kentucky, serving as president of the organization from 1937 to 1941. She served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1936 and 1940. Offutt hosted the inauguration receptions for several Kentucky Governors. Due to her family connection to the medical profession, Offutt was also president of the Kentucky State Medical Association auxiliary. She was involved in the Kentucky Federation of Women's Clubs and the Kentucky Historical Society for many years. In 1951 Offutt began serving on the state boards of both organizations.
It seems fitting that Offutt, widely known for her hospitality, also inspired the creation of Kentucky's signature bourbon balls. At a party celebrating Frankfort's 150-year anniversary in 1936, Offutt commented to professional chocolatier Ruth Hanly Booe that the two best tastes in the world were Kentucky bourbon and Booe's Mint Kentucky Colonel chocolate. This gave Booe the idea to combine the two into the treat known as the bourbon ball.
Aside from her political dealings, Offutt had a passion for antiques and furniture. She ran an antique shop in Frankfort for much of her life and wrote numerous articles on American furniture and antiques. Offutt even arranged for a showcase of antique Kentucky furniture to take place in Richmond, Virginia in collaboration with the Kentucky Federation of Women's Clubs and the Kentucky Historical Society.
After several months of illness, Offutt died on December 13, 1955 in Frankfort at the age of 61. She is buried at the Frankfort Cemetery.
Eleanor Hume Offutt in the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
Enoch Edgar Hume in the U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
"Edgar Erskine Hume" in the Arlingtoncemetary.net Directory
Henry F. Offutt in the 1920 United States Federal Census
Henry F. Offutt in the Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1965
The Louisville Courier-Journal:
"Gala Occasion," May 1914.
"Quail Shooting," November 29, 1914.
"Card Party for Visitors," July 20, 1913.
"Mrs. M'Chesney's Dance," August 13, 1916.
"Capital Social Notes," May 28, 1916.
"Capital Society is Gay," May 7, 1916.
"Few Events of Importance on Calendar," November 18, 1917.
"Kentuckians Make Social Season in U.S. Capital Lively," August 17, 1919.
"Mrs. Offutt to be Speaker at Meet," October 27, 1937.
"Democratic Women Refuse to Ban Wallace," December 19, 1939.
"Approves School Proposal," October 24, 1941
"Clubwomen Reminded of Vote Duty," September 24, 1948.
"Calling All Derby Visitors to Check Their Antiques," May 6, 1951.
"U. of L. Girls Talk Charter Despite Heat," August 5, 1945.
"Wartime Medicine is Topic as State Doctors End Meeting," September 21, 1944.
The Paducah Sun:
"U. D. C. Program for Frankfort Convention," October 14, 1924.
The Owensboro Messenger:
"Kentucky D. A. R.," April 20, 1914.
"Honors Flow to Kentuckians In Shadows of National Capitol," May 27, 1923.
"Henry F. Offutt, Frankfort, to be Buried Saturday," January 6, 1933.
"Kentucky Delegates to Leave Today for Democratic National Convention," June 21, 1936.
The Bourbon News:
"Frankfort Residence Suffers from Fire Visitation," July 22, 1919.
The Maysville Public Ledger:
"What Happened at Kentucky Equal Rights Meeting," March 22, 1919.
The Paducah News-Democrat:
"Society and Clubs," June 27, 1923.
"Mrs. Cromwell Aids Voters to Register," September 10, 1924.
The Danville Advocate-Messenger:
"Mrs. Offutt, Prominent Frankfort Woman, Dies," December 14, 1955.
"Ruth Booe: 'The Mother of Bourbon Balls,'" October 25, 2018.
Eleanor Hume Offutt in the Kentucky, Death Records 1852-1965.