Grafton suffragist honored with historic marker

Ted Watson and daughter Tennessee Woodhull Watson at the Lucy Daniels dedication. Photo by Paula Benson

GRAFTON, Vt. – On Saturday, July 16, at 1 p.m., a small group of residents and history buffs gathered in Grafton to witness the dedication of an historic marker honoring suffragist Lucy Joslyn Cutler Daniels, or “Lou,” as she was called around town. The commemoration was held at 3 Main Street, Lou Daniel’s former residence and the current home of Bill Watson and his daughter, Tennessee Woodhull-Watson.

The marker is one of four in Vermont, with more than 2,300 nationwide, that establish the National Votes for Women Trail which honors people, places, and events important to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Lou Daniels made significant contributions to women’s voting rights, including her efforts to persuade the National American Woman Suffrage Association to include more Black women in the movement, specifically the infamous 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., in which she participated. It was the first large, organized political march on Washington, with thousands of women from all over the world in attendance, and notably ended in violence incited by a rowdy crowd of reportedly inebriated men.

Lou was arrested twice, in 1917 and 1918 as a “Silent Sentinel,” picketing in Washington, D.C. She was arrested a third time in Boston in 1919, while protesting President Woodrow Wilson upon his return from Europe.

At Saturday’s dedication ceremony, historian and author Marilyn Blackwell spoke for a few minutes, as did local historian and long-time Grafton resident Patsy Cooperman. The Grafton Cornet Band played several selections, including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Bill Watson brought to our attention that the band’s attendance was somewhat significant, given that in 1914, when Lou Daniels was organizing a parade for suffrage in Grafton inspired by the one that had taken place in Washington, D.C., the Cornet Band declined to participate. Undeterred, Lou Daniels reportedly brought in musicians from Massachusetts to perform instead.

The marker will remain through Oct. 10, 2022 as part of the temporary exhibit.


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