Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Maria C. Arter, 1829-1915

By Malori Basilico, Dr. Amy Forss, professor

Undergraduate student, Metropolitan (Omaha, NE) Community College

Maria C. Arter, maiden name Kingsbury, was born March 19, 1829 in Welshfield, Ohio, to Benjamin Kingsbury and Cynthia Wilder. She married Jason R. Arter at the age of 26. She had two sons, Winfield and Charles Arter. Maria's husband was a surgeon in the Civil War (1861-65), died in 1873, and was buried in Oil City, Pennsylvania. After she retired she resided with her son, Charles in Kirkwood, Nebraska.

Maria Arter was involved in the anti-slavery movement in 1860, even before the civil war began, so being active in social movements was a big part of her character. Before she was married, Maria was a teacher and continued to teach after her husband passed away. Therefore she was alone with her two sons for a long period of time and unlike other women with husbands she had to be more independent. For example, in 1883, at the age of 54, she left Pennsylvania and moved to Rock County, Nebraska, which at that time was still an unsettled frontier.  Maria bought her own land as well as another 160 acres under the Timber Culture Act according to Our Herald newspaper (Lafayette, Ind.), which took a lot of grit.

In the Lafayette Herald newspaper, she's described as a devoted suffragist, a gifted writer and speaker, Maria was mentioned again in another suffragist newspaper describing her again as a great writer and lecturer, so she was known for her activities outside her local community. One article also mentioned lectures she gave after moving to Stuart, Nebraska. Maria was very active in promoting her causes even at the age of 70. In 1899, she registered to vote in Lincoln, Nebraska, which demonstrates she did more than just attend meetings. She was without a doubt a strong believer in her work and refused to not take action into her own hands. She was described in the Omaha Daily as a tremendously stubborn woman. She did a lot of traveling for her time and she was undoubtedly an independent woman. After a lengthy life, Maria C. Arter died at the home of her son, Charles, northwest of Stuart, on July 3, 1915. Mrs. Arter was 86 years of old, and her death was the result of her extreme age. She had been a resident of this county for more than 30 years, and was a woman of marked intellectuality and literary attainments. She was buried next to her husband, Jason Arter, in Oil City, Pennsylvania.


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