Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Grace E. DeVault, 1876-1960

By Devin Mata, Student, University of California, San Diego

Grace Ellen Johnson was born in Montgomery County, Indiana on November 29, 1876, daughter of William and Mary Johnson. She first married Ensyl Barr DeVault, an attorney, in 1904. Although they divorced in 1925, they remarried on December 31, 1926 and remained married until their deaths. They had two sons and one daughter-- Paul, Ralph and Ruth, born in 1908, 1916 and 1918, respectively. She and her husband were both members of the Kewanna chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. According to the Kewanna Herald, Mrs. DeVault became an officer of the order by 1919, continuing as a part of the order until at least September 1951 when it was documented by the Logansport Press that she was still an active member. According to the US Census, she resided in Monon, Indiana as of 1910 but left to live most of her life in Kewanna, Indiana--arriving sometime before 1914. She remained in Kewanna until 1952, when she left to live with her daughter in Hicksville, Ohio.

The first evidence of Grace DeVault's suffrage activity is documented by The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, in which it states that DeVault was elected as a chairman of the Indiana Equal Suffrage Association (ESA) at the annual convention in October 1914. The ESA, alongside 28 other affiliated societies, "voted to cooperate with the Legislative Council of Women and work for Presidential suffrage." In 1915 the groups achieved a unanimous resolution for state and national woman suffrage at the national convention of miners in Indianapolis. The following year, DeVault, as a representative of the ESA, met with the State Board and the Women's Franchise League (WFL) of Indiana to once again foster cooperation and in attempt to incorporate the ESA and WFL together. This is confirmed by a Kewanna Herald article from May 19, 1916. Ultimately, the work of these organizations would result in the Maston-McKinley Partial Suffrage Act in February, 1917.

In addition to suffrage work, based on newspaper accounts, DeVault was an active member of the community and of the First Baptist Church. She hosted events for various clubs in addition to the Order of the Eastern Star, spoke at Parent-Teacher association meetings, participated in church aid events and more all throughout her time in Kewanna. Although DeVault's documented contributions towards women's suffrage are mostly limited to the events between 1914 and 1917, there is also no indication that she left the ESA. She died in Hicksville, Ohio on June 26, 1960 followed shortly by her husband, still in Kewanna, on December 12 of that year.


"Chapter, XIII: Indiana." History of Woman Suffrage, Vol VI. 1900-1920, edited by Ida Husted Harper. New York, NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 168-169. [LINK]

"Ensyl Barr DeVault". Accessed 5/30/21

"Grace Ellen DeVault." Accessed 5/30/21.

The Kewanna Herald, May 19, 1916. p. 5. Accessed via NewspaperArchive.

The Kewanna Herald, December 19, 1919. p. 1. Accessed via NewspaperArchive.

Logansport Press, March 30, 1950. p. 10. Accessed online via NewspaperArchive.

Logansport Press, March 11, 1949. p. 4. Accessed online via NewspaperArchive.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, January 6, 1927. p. 8. Accessed online via NewspaperArchive.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, January 30, 1926. p. 8. Accessed online via NewspaperArchive.

Logansport Pharos Tribune, September 30, 1926. p. 6. Accessed online via NewspaperArchive.

Nahmias, Leah. "Women's Suffrage | Indiana." Accessed 6/2/21.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Monon, White, Indiana, Roll: T624_389; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0214.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Union, Fulton, Indiana; Roll: T625_432; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 77.

"Woman's Franchise League of Indiana." Archives and Special Collections. Alexander Bracken Library. Accessed online.

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