Biographical Sketch of Louisa M. Sophia Von Gellhorn Boylan

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Louisa M. Sophia Von Gellhorn Boylan, 1867-1952

By Karen J. McLennan, Independent Scholar

Born Louisa M. Sophia Von Gellhorn in Prussia/Germany on March 19, 1867, she emigrated at age one with her mother, Ulricke Mathilde Carolina, and five siblings from Hamburg, Germany to New York City. They arrived on May 12, 1868. Her father, Heinrich/Henry Von Gellhorn arrived in the United States the previous year. The family settled in Clay, Iowa. Her father was a miller and died in 1880, leaving behind his widow with eight children. Louisa was thirteen years old. In 1893, Louisa Von Gellhorn married Christian Balmer Boylan, an Anglo-American, also of Clay, Iowa. They relocated to Shawnee, Oklahoma where Louisa's husband was President of a mining company and a Socialist Party member. They had three children.

Boylan was an active member of the Equal Suffrage Association of Oklahoma and Indian Territory (later the Oklahoma Woman Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter). In addition, she was a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W. C. T. U.), the Foreign Missionary Society and Willing Workers of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, the Penny-A-Day League, and the Ladies Thursday Club. She was a frequent speaker and hosted meetings in her home.

On December 14-15, 1904, the first Convention of the Equal Suffrage Association of Oklahoma and Indian Territory was held. Members of women's clubs and the W. C. T. U. came from across the territories for the cause of women's suffrage under the leadership of Laura Gregg, territorial organizer from Omaha, Nebraska. She along with Louisa Boylan gave the "splendid addresses" preceding that of the featured speaker, Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, President of the NAWSA. When officers were elected, Louisa Boylan became the Recording Secretary for the Equal Suffrage Association.

Boylan remained active in women's clubs and the W. C. T. U for many years. She died on March 30, 1952 at age 85 in Joplin, Missouri where she and her husband relocated in 1939 from Wewoka, Oklahoma, to be near their daughter.

Sources: "Louise Gellhorn" Hamburg Passenger Lists 1850-1934,, accessed 17 August 2019; "Heinrich Gellhorn" New York, Passenger and Crew Lists 1820-1957,, accessed 31 August 2019; "Henry Heinrich Gellhorn, Sr" U. S. Find-A-Grave Index 1600s-current,, accessed 31 August 2019; "Louise Gellhorn" U.S. Federal Census, 1880, Clay, Hardin County, Iowa,, accessed 16 August 2019; "Louisa Gellhorn" Iowa, Select Marriages Index 1758-1996,, accessed 16 August, 2019; "Louisa Boylan" U.S.City Directories 1822-1995,, accessed 16 August 2019; The Oklahoma City Times (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), 26 September 1917; The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, Oklahoma), 23 October 1905 and 15 October 1906; "Louise Gellhorn" New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1957,, accessed 25 April 2020; "Louisa S. H. Boylan" U.S. Federal Census, 1910, Shawnee, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, accessed 16 August 2019; The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), 17 December 1904; The Shawnee Daily News-Herald (Shawnee, Oklahoma), 19 March 1916; The Byars Banner (Byars, Oklahoma), 14 June 1907; Ida Husted Harper ed., The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 5, 1900-1920, (New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 521 [LINK]; Oklahoma State Register (Guthrie, Oklahoma), 22 December 1904; The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, Oklahoma), 23 October 1905; The Chickasha Star and Telegram (Chickasha, Oklahoma), 27 October 1905; Edmond Enterprise (Edmond, Oklahoma), 19 June 1924; "Louise Boylan" U.S. Federal Census, 1940, Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri, accessed August 2019; Joplin Globe (Joplin, Missouri), 1 April 1952.

back to top