Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Estelle Agnes Bennett Smith Burton Twitchell, 1872-1952
By Neil G. R. Condit and Truemy Brewer, undergraduate students, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Suffragist, historian, and essayist
Estelle "Stella" Agnes Bennett was born on January 31, 1872, in New Albany, Indiana. She was one of ten children born to farmers, Joseph Bennett (1837-1876) and Martha Jane Naudain Bennett (1840-1914). The family claimed Huguenot lineage. Her father died in fall 1876, when Estelle was only four years old, leaving her two eldest brothers, William and Corbit, to tend to the family farm. By 1885, her family moved to Superior, Iowa, where William and Corbit continued their work as the Bennett family farmers.
Stella Bennett married several times. On September 4, 1889, she married James C. Smith in Superior, Iowa. The couple welcomed a son on September 20, 1890, Don Bennett Smith. However, the marriage did not last. By the 1900 census, Estelle Smith was living with her mother and brother, and James Smith had remarried to Anna (Riley), who was raising Don Bennett Smith. By the 1910 census, Estelle Smith had become a Burton, a widowed dressmaker living in Franklin, Iowa.
By 1913, Estelle Bennett Burton had moved to New Mexico, where she worked as a historian, writer, and secretary. She published several essays in the Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography, which was edited by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, a successful attorney, historian, and politician in the state. Burton worked as Twitchell's secretary for several years before the two were wed on June 26, 1916, at the Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe.
In addition to writing, Estelle Bennett Twitchell advocated for woman suffrage after her move to New Mexico. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, a woman's Republican club was formed in 1916, and these women were "squarely in favor of a federal female suffrage amendment." Listed among the officers was Estelle Twitchell as secretary. In 1917, she was elected secretary of the Santa Fe branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She served with Clara Walter, who had been a witness at her wedding a year earlier, and Ellen Palen. In September, Twitchell spoke before the branch on the topic of "Women Taking the Place of Men in the Local Business World." The meeting was held at Deana Lindsey's residence, and other speakers included noted suffragists Kate Hall and Katie Kimbrough Laughlin. In October, Twitchell represented the Santa Fe Woman's Club at the state club federation's convention.
Besides suffrage, Estelle Twitchell kept busy in other women's groups. In 1918, Twitchell was named publicity chair for the woman's auxiliary of the State Council of Defense, and she was elected associate conductress for the Santa Fe Order of Eastern Star (Freemasons). She served on the Santa Fe county board of education in 1919, and she was elected corresponding secretary of the Santa Fe Woman's Club in May 1920. She was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Archeological Institute of America, the Young Women's Christian Association, and the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.
Ralph Emerson Twitchell died on August 26, 1925. After his death, Estelle Twitchell took to a more private life and remained in Santa Fe. She primarily supported herself by working as a landlady, renting out rooms at the Twitchell Apartments, located at 406 Grant Avenue. Estelle Bennett Twitchell died on October 13, 1952, after an illness. She was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Santa Fe alongside her third husband.
CAPTION: Estelle Bennett Burton, ca. 1915.
CREDIT: Koehler, A. E., ed. New Mexico: The Land of Opportunity. Albuquerque: Press of the Albuquerque Morning Journal, 1915. HathiTrust. Image on p.11.
1880; Census Place: Franklin, Floyd, Indiana; Roll: 276; Family History Film: 1254276; Page: 140B; Enumeration District: 065; Image: 0285. Ancestry.com.
1900; Census Place: Franklin, Linn, Iowa; Page: 15; Enumeration District: 0075; FHL microfilm: 1240443. S.v. "Stella A. Smith." Ancestry.com.
1900; Census Place: Superior, Dickinson, Iowa; Roll: 429; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 1240429. S.v. "James C. Smith." Ancestry.com.
1910; Census Place: Franklin, Linn, Iowa; Roll: T624_410; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0086; FHL microfilm: 1374423. Ancestry.com.
1930; Census Place: Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 2341134. Ancestry.com
1940; Census Place: Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Roll: m-t0627-02452; Page: 65B; Enumeration District: 25-18. Ancestry.com.
Burton, Estelle Bennett. "The Taos Rebellion." Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography 1, no. 2 (October 1913): 176-209. HathiTrust.
Burton, Estelle Bennett. "Texas Raiders in New Mexico in 1843." Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography 2, no. 3 (January 1915): 309-22. HathiTrust.
Burton, Estelle Bennet, "Texas Raiders in New Mexico in 1843, II." Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography 2, no. 4 (April 1915): 407-29. HathiTrust.
Burton, Estelle Bennett. "Volunteer Soldiers of New Mexico and their Conflicts with Indians in 1862 and 1863." Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography 1, no. 4 (April 1914): 386-419. HathiTrust.
"Capital City Notes." New Mexico State Record (Santa Fe, N.Mex.). May 28, 1920, p.8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn93061701/1920-05-28/ed-1/seq-8/.
"Children Before Starting School Thoroughly Examined; Mrs. Warren Makes Most Interesting Report." El Nuevo Mexicano. January 23, 1919, p.7. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn94056869/1919-01-23/ed-1/seq-7/.
"Col. Twitchell and Mrs. Burton Wed." Lovington Leader (Lovington, N.Mex.). July 14, 1916, p.1. Newspapers.com.
"Col. Twitchell Quietly Married to Mrs. Burton." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.Mex.). June 28, 1916, p.3. Newspapers.com.
"Eastern Star Chapter of Capital City Elects." New Mexico State Record (Santa Fe, N.Mex.). December 13, 1918, p.1 Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn93061701/1918-12-13/ed-1/seq-1/.
"Fare and a Third Rate Given for Big Federation Meeting at Carbon City in October." Santa Fe New Mexican. September 15, 1917, p.2. Newspapers.com.
Find a Grave. Estella Twitchell. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/57016731/stella-agnes-twitchell.
Find a Grave. Ralph Emerson Twitchell. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/33009414/ralph-emerson-twitchell.
Guide to the Ralph Emerson Twitchell Papers, Fray Angelico Chavez History Library, Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, N.Mex. See Box 7, Folder 1-10 for Estelle Bennett Twitchell. Available online through the Rocky Mountain Online Archive.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "New Mexico." Chapter XXX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 434-439. [LINK]
Jenkins, Myra Ellen. "A Dedication to the Memory of Ralph Emerson Twitchell 1859-1925." Arizona and the West 8, no. 2 (1966): 103-106.
Koehler, A. E., ed. New Mexico: The Land of Opportunity. Albuquerque: Press of the Albuquerque Morning Journal, 1915. HathiTrust. Image on p.11.
Marriages. Smith-Bennett. Spirit Lake Beacon (Spirit Lake, Iowa). September 6, 1889, p.3. Digital Archives of Dickinson County.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 2216; Volume #: Roll 2216 - Certificates: 265350-265849, 07 Apr 1923-09 Apr 1923. Ancestry.com.
New Mexico State News. Spanish American (Roy, N.Mex.). January 26, 1918, p.6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92061524/1918-01-26/ed-1/seq-6/.
Obituary. "Twitchell, Estella Bennett." Santa Fe New Mexican. October 14, 1952, p.11. Newspapers.com.
"Old Santa Fe Tells Inspiring Story of Good Bishop Dunlop of the Early Days." Santa Fe New Mexican. July 25, 1916, p.6. Newspapers.com.
"Partition Notice." Highland Weekly News (Hillsboro, Ohio). September 9, 1885, p.4. Newspapers.com.
Superior. Spirit Lake Beacon (Spirit Lake, Iowa). October 3, 1890, p.3. Digital Archives of Dickinson County.
"Suffragists Start Meetings on 6th." Santa Fe New Mexican. September 1, 1917, p.2. Newspapers.com.
Twitchell, Estelle Bennett. "A Protestant Missionary Bishop: Rt. Rev. George Kelly Dunlop, S.T.D., Bishop of New Mexico and Arizona, 1880-1886." Old Santa Fe: A Magazine of History, Archaeology, Genealogy and Biography 3, no. 11 (July 1916): 252-58. HathiTrust.
Yesterday in Old Santa Fe. From October 13, 1916. Santa Fe New Mexican. October 13, 1941, p.4. Newspapers.com.