Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Evelyn Hambidge Merrill, 1883-1939
By Danielle L. Roberts, historian, Fair Haven, Vermont
President and Secretary, Rutland Equal Suffrage League; Recording Secretary, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association
Evelyn Christina Hambidge was born in Ingersoll, Oxford County, Ontario, Canada, in March 1883, the youngest of a large family to George Fowler and Christina Shields Hambidge, first-generation Canadians. George Hambidge died on January 31, 1899, after he fell down a set of stairs at a Toronto boarding house. Within a year of his death, Christina Hambidge and four of her daughters, including Evelyn, moved to Queens, New York, where Evelyn's sister, Margaret, had immigrated five years prior. Evelyn Hambidge attended school at the Mason Castle in Tarrytown before earning a living as a dressmaker. According to the New York State Census in 1915, Evelyn Hambidge lived with her sister and fellow dressmaker, Stella, and her brother and artist, Jay.
Evelyn Hambidge married James Alfred Merrill at the family home at 31 West 51st Street, New York, on April 7, 1917. James Merrill was a judge and lawyer in Rutland, Vermont, and he helped finance and incorporate Camp Farwell, a camp for girls in Newbury, run by Julia Farwell, who taught at Mason Castle. Cassity Mason, who ran the school, also backed Camp Farwell, making it likely that Hambidge's school connections introduced her to James Merrill. The Merrills lived in Rutland, Vermont.
It is likely that Evelyn Hambidge Merrill's experience in Tarrytown also introduced her to women suffrage efforts. In Vermont, she was active in the state and local suffrage groups. On October 27, 1917, Merrill was elected secretary of the Rutland Equal Suffrage League. By May 1918, she was the Rutland league president, and by March 1919, she was serving as the recording secretary of the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association.
Evelyn Merrill remained active in other causes, organizations, and clubs. She was an avid golfer and outdoors woman. She died on September 2, 1939, at the age of 56, of ovarian cancer.
"Address by Mrs. Merrill," Rutland (VT) News, May 2, 1918. Newspapers.com.
Census of Canada, 1891, s.v. "Eva Hambridge, Ingersoll, Oxford South, ON, CA." Ancestry Library.
City News, October 23,1917. Newspapers.com.
"Equal Suffrage Association Elects," Vermont (Windsor) Journal, July 19, 1918. Newspapers.com.
"Fell Down Stairs," Ingersoll (Ont., CAN) Daily Chronicle, February 2, 1899.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "Vermont," chapter 44 in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp.667-80. [LINK]
"J.A. Merrill Married in New York Today," Rutland (VT) News, April 7, 1917, Newspapers.com.
"Many Signers to Suffrage Petition," Rutland (VT) News, August 28, 1918. Newspapers.com.
Merrill, Evelyn H. Letter to the Editor. Rutland (VT) Daily Herald, October 12, 1918. Newspapers.com.
"Mrs. James A. Merrill," Rutland (VT) Daily Herald, September 4, 1939. Newspapers.com.
New York, State Census, 1915, Evelyn Hambidge. Ancestry Library.
Ontario, Canada Births, 1858-1913. Eva Hambidge, March 18, 1883. Ancestry Library.
"Outside of New York," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 15, 1901. Newspapers.com.
"Suffragists Elect Officers," Bennington (VT)Banner, March 13, 1919. Newspapers.com.
United States Census, 1900, s.v. "Evelyn H. Hambidge, Queens, New York, NY." Ancestry Library.
United States Census, 1920, 1930, s.v. "Evelyn H. Merrill, Rutland, Rutland, VT." Ancestry Library.
Vermont, Death Records, 1909-2008, June Evelyn Christina Merrill, September 2, 1939. Ancestry Library.
Vermont News, St. Albans (VT) Weekly Messenger, March 16, 1911. Newspapers.com.
Vermont State Archives, Camp Farwell Corporation File 112 no. 2112 March 6, 1911.