Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Grace Hodsdon Boutelle, 1869-1957
By Jany Pinon, University of California San Diego
Grace Hodsdon Boutelle was born on March 27, 1869, in Augusta, Maine. Renowned for her beauty, she was the eldest of three daughters born to Captain Charles Addison Boutelle and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hodsdon. While various factors contributed to Miss Boutelle's political development, her relationship to her father was key.
Charles Boutelle was well known for his various accomplishments and loyalty to the United States. During the Civil War, he served as an officer in the Union Navy. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1866 and within the same year married Grace's mother. In 1870, he began working as editor-in-chief of the Republican paper, the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, which drew him into politics. He was elected as a U.S. Representative to the 48th Congress and served for eighteen years until his retirement in 1901.
Grace, who graduated from Bangor High School and occasionally wrote for the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, moved with her father to Washington, D.C., and served as his secretary. She also accompanied him to various social events after her mother's death sometime after 1880. The opportunity to work with her father, who commanded such respect in the country and enjoyed direct access to the political world, no doubt enabled Grace to gain confidence and expanded her horizons. She remained by his side until his death from pneumonia in 1901. Then in 1903 she set sail on the American liner named Friesland to England, where she would work as a correspondent for The Boston Transcript and develop into a suffragist.
Although Miss Boutelle published various pieces on politics, traveling, society, and even poetry over the course of the seven years she lived in England, it was her involvement with the London suffragists that drew the greatest attention. In August of 1909, the Buffalo Commercial reported that she had "achieved great notoriety in England for her strenuous part in suffragette campaigns." The paper added that seemed to have "inherited her father's independence and fighting qualities, as well as his brains." When Miss Boutelle returned to Bangor and spoke to the women's Athene Club in June 1910, she claimed to have been imprisoned in Holway Jail in London with other suffragists. There is little information about her specific involvement overseas, but other papers published in the States described her as one of the more "bold suffragettes."
In 1910, she traveled from England to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and eventually made her way to Minneapolis, Minnesota, around 1912. While in Minnesota, her involvement in the community was primarily as a teacher, performer, as well as an accompanist for voice and piano. She did address a suffrage tea in Minneapolis in March 1912 at a meeting intended to recruit members for a College Women's Suffrage club being formed. Then in November 1913 she welcomed British suffrage activist, Emmeline Pankhurst, who made a three-day visit to Minneapolis.
Around 1947, she returned to her family's summer hometown in Bangor, Maine, where she would become a member of the First Church of Christ Scientist. It is uncertain why she moved back, but it followed the death of her youngest sister, Anne Boutelle. On August 24, 1957, she died at the age of 88 in a nursing home. On August 27, 1957, Miss Grace Hodsdon Boutelle was buried alongside other family members on their family lot in the Mt. Hope Cemetery where it all began - Bangor, Maine.
"Charles A. Boutelle." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 9, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_A._Boutelle.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, "Boutelle, Charles Addison 1839-1901," Biographical Directory of The United States Congress. Collection of the US House of Representatives, 2021.
History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, "BOUTELLE, Charles Addison," https://history.house.gov/People/Listing/B/BOUTELLE,-Charles-Addison-(B000673)/ (2021)
"Maine, Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1990," FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKMB-YDRV: 3 March 2021), Grace H Boutelle, 1957; citing Burial, Bangor, Penobscot, Maine, United States, Maine State Library, Augusta; FHL microfilm 1,769,301.
"C.A. Boutelle's Will Is Allowed," The Bangor Daily News, August 2, 1901, p. 5.
"Prominent Bangor Woman Dies in Camden," The Bangor Daily News, October 17, 1947, p. 16
"Grace Boutelle, Prominent Local Resident Dies," The Bangor Daily News, August 26, 1957, p. 17.
Wayne E. Reilly, "Bangor Suffragette Jailed in London," The Bangor Daily News, August 23, 2010, pp. 21-22. Accessible online at https://bangordailynews.com/2010/08/23/living/bangor-suffragette-jailed-in-london/
"Pillsbury Concert Course to Open on Wednesday Night," The Minneapolis Star, December 2, 1922, p. 6.
"From Fighting Stock," Olean Evening Times, July 27, 1909, p. 2.
"Holiday Week at the Capital," The Philadelphia Times, December 27, 1896, p. 5.
"Grace Hodsdon Boutelle: Piano-Voice," Star Tribune (Minneapolis), October 20, 1912, p. 28.
"Grace Hodsdon Boutelle: Voice and Piano," Star Tribune (Minneapolis), September 5, 1915, p. 59.
"Suffrage Tea," Minneapolis Star Tribune, 5 March 1912, p. 10.
"Mrs. Pankhurst to Reach City Today," Minneapolis Morning Tribune, 6 November 1913, p. 11.
Classified ad, Star Tribune (Minneapolis), November 7, 1915, p. 34.
Jacqueline R. DeVries, "Those Who Came from Curiosity Remained from Interest," Minnesota History, 67:3 (Fall 2020), 146-52.
Tomlinson, Richard. "Grace Hodsdon Boutelle." The British Newspaper Archives, 2021. https://blog.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/bwg_gallery/grace_h_boutelle/.
"United States Border Crossings from Canada to United States, 1895-1956," database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XGMK-W2K: 14 November 2019), Grace Hodsdon (Unknown) Boutelle, 1910.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Bangor, Penobscot, Maine; Roll: 486; Page: 212A; Enumeration District: 029. https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/16126295:6742
Year: 1900; Census Place: Bangor, Penobscot, Maine; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0079; FHL microfilm: 1240597. https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/22310424:7602