Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Mary E. Spencer Morgan (Beeman), 1849-1924
By Mary Packard and Julie Ozek, undergraduate students, Saint Anselm College
Vermont Woman Suffrage Association, Finance Committee
Mary Elizabeth Spencer was a first-generation American, born on April 9, 1849, in Brattleboro, Vermont. She was the daughter of Eliza and Simeon Spencer, a Methodist preacher. Both of her parents were born in Wiltshire, England, around the year 1813. Mary Spencer had one sibling, Charles, who was born around 1854. Reverend Simeon Spencer died in 1865, and the loss of his father made Charles, who worked as a store clerk, the head of the household. Mary Spencer and her mother Eliza lived with him and his wife Anna. Mary Spencer was a schoolteacher for at least a decade, and later in life she worked as a clerk in a dry goods store.
Mary Spencer contributed to women's suffrage through her participation in the Vermont Women's Suffrage Association. In 1887, the third annual meeting of this association was held at Barton Landing. This meeting elected the board, reported on the association's success, and passed resolutions declaring that women were entitled to all the privileges of citizenship that white men were entitled. At this meeting, Spencer was elected to the finance committee. In 1889, she chaired the committee. In June 1889, Spencer introduced Alice Stone Blackwell at the Methodist Church in Brattleboro, when Blackwell spoke there on equal suffrage.
Mary Spencer married Richard Morgan on June 3, 1890, at the age of 41. Richard Morgan was born in 1827 in Windsor, England, and he preached in the Vermont Methodist Episcopal church. The couple married in Rockingham, Vermont. While Richard had children from his first marriage, Mary and Richard Morgan did not have children. In 1893, Mary Spencer Morgan became a widow when Richard Morgan died suddenly in a buggy accident that also injured her severely.
Around 1899, Mary Morgan attended meetings of the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and by 1908, she was the president of the Windham County WCTU. According to the Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, she presided over the 1913 county convention, in which the WCTU women endorsed equal suffrage. While the census listed Morgan as living in Shelburne, Massachusetts, she appeared to visit Windham County, Vermont, often enough to serve as president of the county's WCTU.
In 1900, Mary Morgan rented a house in Wilmington. She worked as a dry goods clerk, and her mother lived with her. By 1908, Mary Morgan had moved to Shelburne, Massachusetts, and continued working as a clerk. On November 5, 1914, she married Leonard Beeman, and the couple lived in Shelburne. Mary Beeman was a widow again in 1920, and she died on January 31, 1924, in Shelburne. She was buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Find a Grave. Mary Elizabeth Spencer Beeman, posted October 31, 2013. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/119611617/mary-elizabeth-beeman.
Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915. Mary Spencer Morgan to Leonard Laman Beeman, November 5, 1914, Shelburne Falls. Ancestry Library.
"Morgan-Spencer," News and Citizen (Morrisville, VT), June 12, 1890. Newspapers.com.
"Rev. Richard Morgan," in Official Minutes of the Vermont Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Held at Bradford, Vermont, April 18-23, 1894, Fiftieth Session, pp.64-66 (Montpelier: Press of the Argus and Patriot Co., 1894). Google Books.
United States Census, 1850, s.v. "Mary Spencer, Brattleboro, Windham, VT." Ancestry Library.
United States Census, 1860, s.v. "Mary Spencer, Dover, Windham, VT." Ancestry Library.
United States Census, 1870, 1880, 1900, s.v. "Mary Spencer, Wilmington, Windham, VT." Ancestry Library.
United States Census, 1910, s.v. "Mary Morgan, Shelburne, Franklin, MA." Ancestry Library.
United States Census, 1920, s.v. "Mary Beeman, Shelburne, Franklin, MA." Ancestry Library.
Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908. Mary Spencer, marriage, June 3, 1890, Rockingham. Ancestry Library.
"Vermont Woman Suffragists in Session," Vermont Watchman and State Journal (Montpelier, VT), February 20, 1889. Newspapers.com.
"Wilmington," Vermont (Brattleboro) Phoenix, June 21, 1889. Newspapers.com.
"Woman Suffragists," Burlington (VT) Free Press, February 22, 1889. Newspapers.com.
"Woman Suffrage Meeting," St. Johnsbury (VT) Caledonian, February 3, 1887. Newspapers.com.
"Women Favored Equal Suffrage," Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, May 27, 1913. Newspapers.com.