Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Clara Stauffer Walter, 1870-1960

By Hannah Gates and Magdalena Bustamonte, undergraduate students, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Clara Stauffer was born August 16, 1870, in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, to Peter Frankfenfield (1850-1928) and Sarah (Koplin) Stauffer (1848-1885). Clara Stauffer was the middle child: the oldest was John Koplin Stauffer (1872-1936), and the youngest was, Charles Milton Stauffer (1877-1939). Her mother had another child in 1873, Harleigh Stauffer, but the child died the same year she was born. After Sarah Stauffer's death, Peter remarried and had more children.

Clara Stauffer married Paul Alfred Francis Walter in 1895. Paul A.F. Walter had been born in Berlin, Germany, but he grew up in the same Moravian community as Stauffer, which was how they met. Walter was a journalist, founding the South Bethlehem Daily Globe. With his health suffering, Walter moved his family west, first to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Paul Walter continued his journalism career, editing the Santa Fe New Mexican and later El Palacio. The Walters had four children: Dorothy May Walter (1896-1983), John Koplin Stauffer Walter (1898-1987), and Paul Alfred Francis Walter, Jr. (1901-1973). Karl Peter Walter was born in 1909, but he died two months later.

Like other suffrage leaders in New Mexico, Clara Walter likely came to her suffrage activism through her work in the woman's clubs. She served on the legislative committee for the state federation of woman's clubs, which included work for both suffrage and prohibition. In May 1916, Carrie Chapman Catt sent an organizer to New Mexico to form a state branch for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Santa Fe women organized a local group the next year, and Clara Walter served as its president. In November 1918, First Lady of New Mexico, Deana Lindsey, invited suffrage women to the governor's mansion in Santa Fe to create a coordinated effort for woman suffrage. Walter served with this group as the congressional chair. In January 1920, the Spanish American published a letter Walter wrote to the members of the New Mexico state legislature, imploring that they ratify the federal woman suffrage amendment. On September 18, 1921, the Albuquerque Journal ran a full-page ad from the "Republican women of New Mexico" in support of Senator Holm O. Bursum, on which Clara Walter affixed her name. Not only did Walter support woman suffrage, but also she wanted newly enfranchised women to use their votes knowledgeably. Just like men, women disagreed on Senator Bursum: like elsewhere, women in New Mexico would not vote as a block.

In addition to suffrage work, Clara Walter was involved in local Santa Fe community work. She was active in the Presbyterian Church. She served on the Board of Regents for the New Mexico School for the Deaf for thirty years. She was a pioneer on the Santa Fe Woman's Board of Trade, a group that focused on city improvement projects. She helped secure funding for local museums, libraries, and other educational endeavors.

The Walters remained in Santa Fe for the rest of their lives. Clara Walter continued to be active in social circles. Clara Stauffer Walter died in 1960 at the age of ninety. Paul A.F. Walter died two years later. The Walters were buried in a family plot at Fairview Cemetery in Santa Fe, and three of their children were buried there, too.


Advertisement: To the Women Voters of New Mexico. Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.Mex.). September 18, 1921, Society Section, p.3.

Chauvenet, Beatrice. "Paul A.F. Walter: A Man Who Lived and Wrote Santa Fe History." El Palacio 88, no. 1 (Spring 1982). El Palacio Archive, New Mexico State Library Digital Collections.

Find a Grave. Clara Stauffer Walter. Accessed March 11, 2019.

Find a Grave. Paul Alfred Francis Walter. Accessed March 11, 2019.

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]

"Mrs. Paul Walter Dies Here at 90." Santa Fe New Mexican. September 26, 1960, pp.1-2.

"Mrs. Walter and Mrs. Asplund Have Luncheon for Club Board." Santa Fe New Mexican. January 5, 1940, p.2.

United States Census 1880, s.v. "Clara Stauffer, Northampton, Penn." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, s.v. "Clara Walter, Santa Fe, N. Mex." HeritageQuest.

Walter, Clara S. To the Members of the New Mexico State Legislature. Spanish American (Roy, N. Mex.). January 24, 1920, p.4.

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