Biographical Sketch of Bessie Mouffe

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Bessie Mouffe, 1885-?

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, SUNY Binghamton

Bessie Taylor was born in 1885 in Missouri to Leslie (or Lesley) and Jesse Taylor. She married a Belgian immigrant, Florent Mouffe, in California in 1903. The 1910 census found the couple living in Belvedere in Los Angeles county with two children. Florent was a naturalized citizen and an electrician. In 1915 and 1916 Bessie was active in the Woman Citizens' Club of Reno, Nevada, serving as the secretary one year and recording secretary the next. In April 1916 she was among those Reno suffragists who greeted members of the Congressional Union's "Suffrage Special." train, which brought eastern suffragists on a tour of western states, where women had won the vote. The goal of the campaign was to make Democratics pay at the polls for the failure of Woodrow Wilson to secure a federal woman suffrage amendment.

By 1920, Bessie and Florent and their family were back in Burbank, where Bessie was working as a manager in the theater industry and her husband continued as an electrician. Advertisements in The Burbank Review for the Victory Theater in June 1921 listed changing performances daily with Will Rogers in "An Unwilling Hero" being the top billing that week. A feature story described the theater as a "modern motion picture house," and urged Burbank residents not to go all the way to Los Angeles when they could enjoy the "leading actors of the screen" right "at home." Bessie's parents also lived in Burbank and her father, Mr. L.B. Taylor, was noted as the theater's business manager. In 1929 Mouffe bought the theater and opened a new theater/playhouse and in August 1931 she sold the "business and fixtures"

By 1940 Florent had remarried and was living with his new wife and mother-in-law in Glendale in Los Angeles county. Whether the couple had divorced or Bessie passed away is uncertain.

Sources:

Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK].

Federal manuscript censuses, 1910-1940 for California and Nevada.

"Women Organization Will Meet Tomorrow," Reno Gazette-Journal, 4 May 1915, p. 8.

"Civic League Elects New Set of Officers," Reno Gazette-Journal, 6 May 1915, p. 5.

Untitled, Reno Gazette-Journal, 29 April 1916, p. 6. Suffrage Special story.

Untitled, Burbank Daily Evening Review, 7 August 1931, p. 10.

Numerous advertisements for Victory Theater, Burbank Review, 1920-1921, accessed online via Newspapers.com.

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