Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Lydia York (Mrs. B.F.) Perkins, 1874-1953
By Blair Forlaw, Citizen Researcher
Lydia C. York was born in 1874 in Bracken County, Kentucky. Her schooling was modest as she completed only as far as the fifth grade.
She became the second wife of Benjamin Franklin Perkins. His first wife had died at age 19 in 1884 at the same time as an infant son died. Lydia herself was probably 17 or 18 when she married. The first of the six children of Lydia and Benjamin Franklin Perkins was born in 1892, when she was 18 and he was 33. Their sixth child was born in 1908.
All of their children were born in Kentucky, but it appears that the family moved to Indiana shortly after the birth of the youngest one. According to the 1910 census, they lived in Connersville, IN and Benjamin worked in a furniture factory. They moved from place to place before Benjamin died at the age of 55 (Lydia was 40 then). The 1920 census found Lydia, now a widow, and her two youngest children living in Rushville, IN. By 1930, her children had left home and Lydia, now 56, worked as a live-in servant in the farm household of William and Jessie Whipple in Harrison, Indiana. In 1940, now 66, she resided in the household of a brother- and sister-in-law, William and Anna Kling, in Shelbyville, IN. Four censuses, four different towns for Lydia in these decades.
Lydia appears as Mrs. B.F. Perkins in records of the National American Woman Suffrage Association between 1909 and 1911. She was a speaker at a state woman suffrage convention in Logansport, IN in March 1909, where she was elected delegate from Indiana to the National Executive Committee. In 1912, she was replaced on the Executive Committee by Mrs. Antoinette D. Leach. I could not find any other reference to Mrs. B. F. Perkins, the suffragist, after that. Nor could I find any evidence that she had been active in the women's suffrage cause in Kentucky before she moved. I also could not find any other Mrs. B. F. Perkins in Indiana in these years.
Other affiliations for Lydia Perkins that emerge in local newspaper accounts include the Women's Club league of Ft. Wayne and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
She died in Connersville, Indiana in November 1953.
Federal Manuscript Censuses for Lydia Perkins, in Kentucky, 1910-1940. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.
Find-a-Grave entry for Lydia C. Perkins, Indiana.
"Program for Ft. Wayne's Sane Fourth," Ft. Wayne (IN) Sentinel, 27 June 1910, p. 10.
"Kendallville Personals," Ft. Wayne (IN) Journal-Gazette, 6 January 1908, p. 6.
"Services Held for Mrs. Perkins," The Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter, 9 November, 1953, p. 1.
The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 6, 1900-1920. Edited by Ida Husted Harper. National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. Pp. 167-168.