Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary E.R. Dempster, 1851-1923

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton. University

Mary E. Hoag was born in March 1851 in Pennsylvania, the second of six children of Jedidiah and Electa Hoag. By 1870 the family lived in Rochelle, IL where she was employed as a school teacher; her father was a minister with personal estate valued at $1,000 and real estate at $5,000.

Mary married first in 1871 to Norris Robertson. By 1880 the couple and two children, 4 and 1, and lived in Toledo, OH, where Norris was employed as a druggist. The family migrated to Illinois at some point in the next decade and Norris passed away in Rockford, IL in August 1891, leaving Mary a widow at the age of 40. In 1893 Mary remarried to John A. Dempster and by 1900 the family resided in Omaha, NE, where they lived with three of her children, ages 24 to 14, and two lodgers. John worked as a real estate agent.

Mary Dempster served as the treasurer of the Nebraska state woman suffrage association between 1901 and 1903. In 1903 the Omaha Woman's Club, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the state suffrage association held a joint meeting in Omaha to propose legislation protecting women's property rights. During the meeting, Mary Dempster entertained the women at her Omaha home.

No further newspaper references enable one to reconstruct Mary Dempster's suffrage activism until a brief story notes her death in March 1923.


Federal Manuscript Censuses, Mary Hoag, Rochelle, IL, 1870; Mary E. Dempster, Omaha, NE, 1900 and 1910; Mary E. Robertson, Toledo, OH, 1880. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

Find-a-Grave, death record, Mary Hoag, 4 March 1923. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

Find-a-Grave, death record, Norris Leyman Robertson, 9 August 1891. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

Find-a-Grave, death record, John A. Dempster, 20 December 1914. Accessed via Ancestry Library Edition.

"Woman in Club and Charity," Omaha Daily Bee, 20 Dec. 1903, p. 14.

"Memorial Service Feature of Woman's Club Meeting Monday," Omaha Morning Bee, 18 March 1923, p. 25.

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