Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists 1890-1920

Biography of Martha Ann Sessions Luley, 1841-1921


Martha Ann Sessions Luley, Who's Who Among Minnesota Women: A History of Woman's Work in Minnesota from Pioneer Days to Date (1924). Available online via Google Books:

By Dr. Linda Janke, History faculty, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids, Minnesota and Megan Buche, undergraduate student, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Martha Ann Sessions was born in Arkwright, New York in June 1841, the oldest of four children born to Holland and Ann Eliza (Jenks) Sessions. The Sessions family, originally from France, immigrated to Connecticut in the seventeenth century and her ancestor William Martin served in the Revolutionary War.

At the age of 17 Martha married Frederick William Luley, a German immigrant, in Buffalo, New York. The couple moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, where their first child (Emma Luley) was born in 1860. The family later moved to Minnesota where they had three more children (Frederick, Georgia, and Myrtle Luley) born in 1866, 1869, and 1884. Martha's husband founded the Luley Meatpacking Company in St. Paul, which was described as one of the largest in Minnesota, employing more than 25 people during the busy season. Frederick died suddenly of heart failure in St. Paul in 1908.

Martha was a participant and leader in over 30 social welfare organizations, including the Minnesota Equal Franchise League, Women's Civic League, Women's Welfare League, Housewives League, Daughters of the American Revolution, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, the League of Protestant Women, and several missionary societies. She served as board president of the Women's Christian Home. Martha was also a leader in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, where she took an active role in working to promote temperance among lumbermen.

The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 lists Martha Luley as a charter member of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, founded in 1881. The Minnesota report in the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 records M.A. Luley as active in the suffrage movement in the 1900-1920 period, but provides no further details.

According to the authors of Who's Who Among Minnesota Women, in March 1921, Martha went out in "inclement weather" to hear a speech given by Mrs. Anna Gordon, president of the W.C.T.U. and a "lifelong friend." After this excursion, Martha developed pneumonia and died five days later.


Family Tree for Frederick Luley.,

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 27 September 2020), memorial page for Frederick W. Luley (1832-23 Nov 1908), Find a Grave Memorial no. 176223971, citing Oakland Cemetery, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Barb Walker (contributor 47034601) .

Fostile, Mary Dillon. Who's who Among Minnesota Women: A History of Woman's Work in Minnesota from Pioneer Days to Date, 1924. Google Books,

National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Lineage Book. Volume 114: 1915.


Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN): November 7, 1894; February 25, 1887; November 25, 1908; November 24, 1912.

St. Paul Globe (St. Paul, MN): July 27, 1891; August 28, 1896.

The Advocate (Buffalo, NY): March 3, 1859.

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