Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Dr. Abigail "Abby" Mary Redman Fulton, 1827-1911
By Dr. Shannon M. Risk, Associate Professor of History, Niagara University
Doctor in Ellsworth, Maine; Leading Maine Suffragist
Abigail "Abby" Mary Redman was born at Brooksville, in Hancock County, Maine, on September 3, 1827, to Abigail Orcutt and the Honorable John Randall Redman. She was educated at the academy in Blue Hill (where she met her future husband) and began the study of medicine. She married Dr. Alexander Fulton in 1849, and lived in Blue Hill, where Alexander had become a successful medical doctor. Alexander was born in Nova Scotia but trained at the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin College and remained in Maine to practice. After marriage, Abby continued her medical studies in New York and in Europe, where she became an assistant to Dr. Protheroe Smith, studying surgery and gynecology. Dr. Smith had pioneered new techniques and instruments in gynecology as well as anesthetics, operating London's Soho Hospital for Women.
The Fultons moved to Ellsworth so that Abby could care for her elderly parents. After their deaths, in the early 1870s, she sought more study at the Boston University School of Medicine. The Fultons operated their medical practice at the corner of Main and School Street in Ellsworth. The Southwest Harbor Public Library holds an 1881 map showing the location of their practice as well as a photograph of the home. Abby focused her part of the medical practice on women and children.
Alexander deplored slavery and joined the early Republican Party. He worked as a medical inspector for the Union during the Civil War and then served in the Maine House and Senate. Abby, like her husband, supported progressive causes including legislative bills that favored women and girls' safety and women's suffrage. The Fultons' new community of Ellsworth was already a hotbed of reform activity, including agitation for women's suffrage. There, Ann Greely and Charlotte Hill had organized presentations by suffrage speakers like Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone in the 1850s and supported regional and national suffrage associations. Greely and Hill became Abby's peers, with all of them engaged in suffrage activity well into the 1900s. In this supportive group of progressive Ellsworth women, Dr. Abby Fulton embraced suffrage agitation. She became an honorary vice president of the Maine Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) and formed the Hancock County Equal Suffrage League. She continued coordinating that group until a stroke forced her to stop in 1907, ending her activism. She was a featured speaker at the MWSA convention in early October 1892 in Saco, Maine. Fulton joined an emerging celebrity, Maine orator Elizabeth Upham Yates, as a delegate from the state to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) annual convention in 1895 in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a regular contributor of annual membership dues on top of being a lifetime member of the NAWSA, pledging $65.00 in 1893. Later on, the MWSA raised another $50 lifetime membership in her name. Fulton attended the 1902 NAWSA convention in Washington, D.C. She engaged in the first professional women's club, Sorosis, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Wi-mo-dau-sis Club (short for wife-mother-daughter-sister) of Washington, D.C. Back home, she and Alexander belonged to the Unitarian Society of Ellsworth. She often wintered in D.C., which brought her closer to important political actors of the day. Other Mainers also spent the cooler months in the Capitol, including suffragist and close ally to Susan B. Anthony, Jane Spofford, and Abby Fulton was a noted guest at Spofford's D.C. residence.
Abby lived out her last years at the Fulton's summer retreat, Alexandra Cottage, at Southwest Harbor, Maine. In 1907, she suffered a devastating stroke, losing her ability to speak, and spent four years convalescing at the Eastern Hospital for the Insane. The hospital was designed to ease patients' worries, sitting on a "pastoral hill...overlooking the City of Bangor and the Penobscot River. Pine trees were planted around all of the driveways on the campus, as it was thought that patients needed rest and a site away from downtown Bangor" ("Eastern Maine Insane Hospital"). She died on December 6, 1911 in Bangor, Maine, and is buried at Seaside Cemetery in Blue Hill next to her husband. Alexander, after years of declining health, preceded her in death on March 6, 1888. The Fultons had no children.
The Ellsworth American obituary noted that Abby's "positiveness often led her into controversy, and no one ever picked up the gauntlet thrown down by her who did not find her a foeman worthy of her steel...the causes she espoused have lost a brilliant advocate and an indefatigable champion."
1886 Directory of Ellsworth (Maine). Ellsworth, Maine: W. F. Stanwood and W. H. Perry, 1886.
"Abby M. Fulton, 1827-1911." Seaside Cemetery in Blue Hill, Hancock County, Maine. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/121982766/abby-fulton.
"Abigail Mary Redman Fulton." Obituary. Ellsworth American. December 27, 1911.
"Alexandra Cottage - Dr. Abigail Mary (Redman) Fulton Cottage." Photograph. Item 12924. Southwest Harbor Library. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/items/show/8907.
Anthony, Susan B. and Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage, Volume IV. Hollenbeck Press, 1902: 693. [LINK]
Davis, Albert H. History of Ellsworth, Maine. Lewiston, Maine: Lewiston Journal Printshop, 1927: 175-176.
"Dr. Moses Rust Pulsifier: Advocate of Homeopathy and Temperance." The NUUS (The Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth), vol. 49, no. 5 (May 2017): 14. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://uuellsworth.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2017-05-NUUS.pdf.
"Eastern Maine Insane Hospital; Bangor Mental Health Institute; Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center." Photograph and Informational Page. Southwest Harbor Library. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/files/original/12927/Eastern_Maine_Insane_Hospital_-_T.pdf.
Harper, Ida Husted. History of Woman Suffrage, Volume V. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922: 44-49, 194.
Johnson, Lois Crabtree, Curator, Hancock Historical Society. "Abigail Mary Redman Fulton" Individual File.
"Maine's Brilliant Representation." Atlanta Constitution. February 1, 1895: 5.
"The Medical Office of Dr. Abigail Fulton and Dr. Alexander Fulton." Southwest Harbor Public Library. Item 14374. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/items/show/10417.
Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Warren, Ohio: The Tribune Company, 1905: 65.
Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Harriet Taylor Upton, editor. Washington, D.C.: Stormont and Jackson, Printers, 1893: 65, 77, 114, 142, 165, 183.
Author unknown. "Protheroe Smith, M.D. - Mentor to Dr. Abigail Mary (Redman) Fulton." Southwest Harbor Public Library. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/files/original/3016/Fulton_-_Doctors_Fulton_World.pdf.
"Redman, Abigail Mary (Redman) Fulton (1827-1911)." Biography. Southwest Harbor Public Library. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/files/original/12926/Redman_Abigail_Mary_[Redman]_Fulton_[1827-1911].pdf.
Risk, Shannon M. "'In Order to Establish Justice' - The Nineteenth-Century Woman Suffrage Movements of Maine and New Brunswick." PhD diss. University of Maine, 2009.
Silsby, II, Herbert T. "Looking Backward - The Development of Women's Rights Part II," Ellsworth American. March 15, 2001; "Part III," March 22, 2001; "Part IV," March 29, 2001; "Part V," April 5, 2001.
----------. "Looking Backward - Dr. Alexander Fulton." Ellsworth American. February 1, 2001. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/files/original/3016/Fulton_-_Doctors_Fulton_World.pdf
----------. "The World of Drs. Fulton." Southwest Harbor Public Library. Item 3016. Accessed July 23, 2020. https://swhplibrary.net/digitalarchive/items/show/8446.
"The Suffrage Convention." Atlanta Constitution. February 3, 1895: 14.