Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary "Mollie" Gill Beatty Rhodes Patterson, 1856-1924
By Nancy Alexander Simmons, Fairfax Station, VA
Woman Suffrage Activist
Mary "Mollie" Gill Beatty was born on October 25, 1856, in Steubenville, Ohio. She was the daughter of Abigail Ann Johnston Beatty and Alexander John Beatty; her father was a glass manufacturer. In 1870, she attended the Steubenville Female Academy and in 1875, she graduated from the Cleveland Female Seminary. On February 17, 1879, she married Charles Milton Rhodes, who was a wholesale grocer, in Ohio; the newspaper referred to her as "an accomplished belle." She had two children from this marriage: Abby Caroline, born in 1880, and Charles Milton, born in 1882. The couple divorced and, in 1894, she married James Clifford Patterson, a wool merchant. The newlyweds and her children moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, where she had two more children: George Beatty, born in 1895, and Jane, born in 1897.
In 1902, Patterson and her family moved to Orlando, Florida, where she became active in civic affairs. In the summer of 1912, Patterson was selected temporary chairman at the organizing meeting of the Civic League in Orlando. It addressed issues such as the unsanitary condition of the public school and the jail, as well as the need for benches in the parks. At the end of the meeting, Patterson became chair of the membership committee. She later served as the league's vice-president, but resigned from the position in 1913. However, she remained active in the organization for many years.
In December 1913, the first mention of Patterson's suffrage work appeared in a news article. The article announced that the Equal Suffrage League would have a short program at each meeting and that Patterson was asked to "take charge of 'Current Events.'" In January 1914, the Equal Suffrage League elected officers; all of the current officers were re-elected, including Patterson as fourth vice-president. In April 1915, Patterson gave the Equal Suffrage League a "gorgeous yellow satin banner, outlined, bordered with heavy gold fringe and bearing in black the inscription, Orlando Equal Suffrage League." She was unable to attend the meeting at which it was presented, so suffragist Alice Kollock presented it for her. The banner served the league for many years, as it was mentioned in an article about the league celebrating its fifth anniversary in 1918; the same article reiterated that the banner was donated "by an absent member, Mrs. J. C. Patterson." On Sunday, April 27, 1919, The Orlando Sentinel published a statement by the City Attorney E. W. Davis that "women of Orlando could go ahead and register under the new act granting suffrage to the women of Orlando." On Tuesday, the paper reported that there had been a heavy turnout on Monday of women registering to vote. Patterson was among the eighteen who had registered.
In addition to her suffrage activities, Patterson was a member of the Episcopal church. She was also active in the Rosalind Club, serving as its president for a time. The Rosalind Club was founded by women in the 1890s as a direct reaction to the formation of men's clubs and was considered Orlando's oldest private social club for women. She was also vice-president of Sorosis, another women's club in Orlando.
On June 16, 1924, relatives found Patterson dead in bed at her home in Orlando, Florida. She is buried there in Greenwood Cemetery beside her second husband, who had died in 1918.
1900 U.S. Census, Massachusetts. Brookline, Norfolk County, p. 6, Enumeration District 1024. Digital images. Ancestry.com.
1910 U.S. Census, Florida. Orlando, Orange County, p. 14B, Enumeration District: 0110.
"Banner Presented to Equal Suffrage League." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida), April 14, 1915, p. 5.
Belmont Chronicle (Saint Clairsville, Ohio), March 6, 1879, p. 3.
"Civic League Organized." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida), June 20, 1912, p. 3.
"Equal Suffrage League to have Program." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), December 11, 1913, p, 8.
Find a Grave, database and images, https://www.findagrave.com. Find a Grave Memorial no. 29741958, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Orange County, Florida, USA.
Find a Grave, database and images, https://www.findagrave.com. Find a Grave Memorial no. 34726025, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, Orange County, Florida, USA.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 114.
"Mrs. Patterson Found Dead at Her Residence." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), July 17, 1924, p. 7.
"Mrs. Rush Elected Vice-Pres. Civic League." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), December 7, 1913, p. 8.
Peters, K. "The Rosalind Club." Orlando Memory. December 18, 2015. Available online at http://orlandomemory.info/organizations/the-rosalind-club/
"Suffrage League Officers Re-elected." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), January 15, 1914, p. 8.
The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), March 3, 1918, p. 28.
U.S., High School Student Lists, 1821-1923 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com.
U.S., School Catalogs, 1765-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com.
"Women Can Register Says City Atty. Davis." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), April 27, 1919, p. 1.
"Women Registering Under New Act." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), April 29, 1919, p.5.