Bristol New Hampshire’s Tailor, Stock and Dairy Farmer, Activist, Suffragist: Mary Ann (Powers) Filley (1821-1910)

Mary Ann (Powers) Filley. Photograph from New Hampshire Women. A Collection of Portraits and Biographical Sketches, COncord NH, 1895

Mary Ann (Powers) Filley. Photograph from New Hampshire Women. A Collection of Portraits and Biographical Sketches, Concord NH, 1895

Mary Ann (Powers) Filley was passionate about causes. She was eager to try new careers. She was quick to adopt and promote what mattered to her.

At the age of 11, Mary Ann Powers had lost her mother, and as eldest girl had to take on many “motherly” responsibilities, caring for her younger siblings. Her father did not remarry right away, but when he did it allowed her time to attend an academy, at least for one year to get additional schooling.

She left home and moved to New Jersey to gain expertise in the tailor trade. She lived for a while with her maternal aunt in Lansingburgh, New York. It was there she met her future husband, Edward Augustus Filley, who she married at the age of 30. They immediately moved to St. Louis, Missouri where his business was based.  She gave birth to several children there.

Advertising for Edward A. Filley's Earthenware and China business in 1868

Advertising for Edward A. Filley’s Earthenware and China importing business in 1868

After she had raised her children to adulthood, she began to champion national causes. Two that seemed most important to her were temperance and women’s suffrage. She moved back to New Hampshire, and from there she became notable, along with the now more well-known Marilla Ricker, within the state, and nationally as an honorary vice president of the National Suffrage Association. In 1878 she was one of those who appeared before a Senate Committee to promote suffrage on the national level. [see news report below]

It was around this time that her uncle, who owned the family’s summer home died, and she purchased it. She learned to milk dairy cows, to make butter, to raise cattle. Eventually the hard labor became too much for her, and she converted the farm to a hay-making business. She had a soft heart for animals, and championed kindness toward them.

She died in 1910, ten years before her dream of woman’s suffrage would become a reality. Many years have passed, and it is important that we not forget Mary Ann (Powers) Filley, or women like her, who worked so hard to insure the rights women now have. See her genealogy and more specifics on her life, family, and career below.


Walter Powers [immigrant] & Tinal Shepard
Isaac Powers & Mary Pouleter-Winsgrip
Gideon Powers & Lydia Russell [of Littleton MA and Temple NH, signed Association Test]

William Powers, son of Gideon & Lydia (Russell) Powers, b. 30 Dec 1740 Littleton MA, d 1829 Groton NH; m. 1765 in Stow MA to Elizabeth Gates, dau of Ephraim & Dorothy Gates. She was b. 1748 and d. 1823. He served during the American Revolution as a private under General Stark at Bennington in the NH troops. Late in life he moved to Groton, Grafton Co. NH.
Children of William & Elizabeth (Gates) Powers: [may be more children]
1. + William Powers, b. 11 Feb 1767 Dunbarton NH.

William Powers, son of William & Elizabeth (Gates) Powers, b. 11 Feb 1767 in Dunbarton NH, d 2 Nov 1834 in Groton NH; m. 16 Jan 1788 in Warner NH to Mary Thompson, daughter of Seth & Elizabeth (Thompson) Thompson. She was b. 11 Sep 1769 NH and d. 4 Dec 1857. They lived in Groton, Grafton Co. NH. Lived Dunbarton, Cockermouth, and Groton in Grafton Co. NH.
Children of William & Mary (Thompson) Powers:
1. Betsey Powers, b. 1788
2. William Powers, b. 1790
3. Gideon Powers, b. 1791
4. Mary “Polly” Powers, b. 1793
5. +Jonathan Powers, b. 30 June 1795 Groton NH
6. Benjamin Powers, b. & d. 1797
7. Jacob Powers, b. 1798
8. Ruth Powers, b. 1800
9. Joseph Powers, b. 1802
10. Benjamin Powers 2d, b. 1804

Jonathan Powers, son of William & Mary (Thompson) Powers, was b. 30 June 1795 in Groton, Grafton Co. NH and d. 16 October 1866 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. He m. 3 October 1819 in Hebron NH to Anna Kendall, dau of Ebenezer & Susannah (Allen) Kendall. She was b. 12 Apr 1794 in Plymouth, Grafton Co. NH and d. 16 Aug 1833 in Troy, Rensselaer NY. He m2d) 4 Feb 1841 to Esther Jane Heath. She was b. 9 Nov 1817 in Exeter, Rockingham Co. NH and d. 26 July 1881 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.
[History of Bristol NH]
Children of Jonathan & Anna (Kendall) Powers:
1. William Thompson Powers, b. 8 July 1820 Bristol NH; m. 11 Dec 1838 Louisa Hall, dau of Charles J. & Sara (Gaskin) Hall. Removed to Grand Rapid Michigan. See for more info.
2. +Mary Ann Powers, b. 12 Dec 1821 Bristol NH
3. Deborah Ball Powers, b. 2 April 1823; m. 1 May 1845 in Troy NH to Alfred Osgood Currier [see more] [ granddaughter Julia Currier Woodruff was DAR #131767
4. Susan Dow Powers, b. 3 Nov 1826 Hebron NH; m. 24 May 1843 Caleb C. Heath; see more
5. Ebenezer Kendall “Eben” Powers, d.
6. Jonathan Powers, d.
Child of Jonathan & Esther Jane (Heath) Powers:
7. Daniel Heath Powers, b 2 Nov 1841 in Troy NY, d. 10 April 1924 in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan

Mary Ann Powers [this story is about her], daughter of Jonathan & Anna (Kendall) Powers was b. 12 December 1821 in Bristol, Grafton Co. NH, and d. 6 May 1910 in North Haverill, Grafton Co. NH. She is buried in Haverhill NH. She m. 1 Sep 1851 in St. Louis MO to Edward Augustus Filley, son of Augustus & Amelia (Filley) Filley of Wintonbury CT. He was b. 14 March 1818 in Lansingburgh, Rensselaer NY and d. 12 Sep 1901 Haverhill, Grafton Co. NH, buried Lansingburgh NY. He was a merchant of St. Louis, Missouri. I suspect that near the end of their lives they were “separated.” In 1900 they are living apart, both in NH, he states he is married, she states she is a widow. Her son-in-law Darwin Kittredge and family are also living with her at this time.
Edward Filley, an old resident of the town [Lansingburgh NY} died suddenly [during religious services at the M.E. Church]
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 17 June 1870
DIED 12 Sep 1901, Haverhill, NH
merchant; Cremated at Troy NY
1870 US Census > Missouri > St. Louis Co. > St. Louis > Ward 5
E.A. Filly 51
Mary A. Filly 49
Francis A. Filly 18
Augustus Filly 11
Anna K. Filly 8
Fredrea Kuderhoff 30
1900 US Census > New Hampshire > Grafton > Plymouth
John M. Boynton 56
Martha A. Boynton 53
Edward A. Filley 82 b. March 1818 NY; boarder, married abt 1851, both parents born in CT Retired
Winnifred Homans 23
History of New Hampshire, p 175
MARY ANN (POWERS) FILLEY has for many years occupied a unique place in the hearts of her fellow townfolk of North Haverhill freely giving them the best fruits of her mature years. She was the eldest daughter of Jonathan and Anne (Kendall) Powers who many years ago were highly respect residents of Bristol, New Hampshire, and it was in that village her birth occurred December 12, 1821. As a small child, she attended the “Little Red School House” of the district, and received within its walls the somewhat meagre educational opportunities it was able to offer. Her ambitious nature, however, craved more than the average girl of that period, received, and later she went to Locust Hill Seminary, Springfield, New York, of which Mrs. Abbie Coates was principal, but only received one year’s advantages there. On September 1, 1851 she married Edward H. Filley, of Lansingburgh, New York, leaving immediately for the home he had prepared for her in St. Louis, Missouri. The trip which was of a week’s duration, was remarkably quick for that time. There she lived many years and there all her children were born. As wife and mother Mrs. Filley lived up to the highest standards of New England wifehood and motherhood. She was in every sense of that splendid term a “New England Gentlewoman.” Her advanced ideas of anti-slavery, woman suffrage, equal standard of morals for men and women, made her a prominent and efficient worker in all those lines, at a time when such ideas in a Southern city were far from popular. But her New England training stood her in good part, and she never faltered in the pursuit of those high standards, which to her were the sum of all things hoped for. In the year 1875, coming back to her native State, she lived with her uncle, Joseph Powers, of North Haverhill, and at his death purchased the farm which had been the family summer home for many years. Stocked with high grade Jerseys, she carried it on as a dairy farm and made with her own hands some four thousand pounds of butter in one year. Here she stood for the same ideals as formerly, and here prohibition was her special work. All of the ideas once scoffed at have come to pass, and today her children are told of the wonderful influence for good their mother had in the community, and her memory is held in great respect; there she died May 6, 1910.
Mrs. Filley and her husband were the parents of the following children: Frances Amelia, born August 4, 1852, married D.E. Kittredge, of Mt. Vernon, New Hampshire, 1878; Chloe, born February 26, 1856, died July 5, 1858; Augustus, born July 26, 1858, died April 25, 1904; Anne K., born August 22, 1861.
Women of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches by Frances E. Willard, page 289
FILLEY, Mrs. Mary A. Powers, woman suffragist and stock-farmer, born in the town of Bristol, N.H., 12 Dec 1821. Her great-grandfather, William Powers, an old Revolutionary soldier, was one of the early settlers of the neighboring town of Groton and lived on what is known as Powers’ Hill where her grandfather and father, Jonathan Powers, was born. Her mother, Anne Kendall, whose grandparents were early settlers of the town of Hebron in 1771 became the wife of Jonathan Powers, and dying early, left a family of six children, of whom Mary was the oldest daughter. At eleven years of age she was left with the cares and responsibilities of a woman, filling the place of the mother and making the bread, when she was obliged to stand on a chair to reach the table. The cares so early thrust upon her developed strong traits of self-reliance and capabilities that were afterward shown in her maturer life work. About 1840 she went to reside with her aunt, Mrs. Deborah Powers, of Lansingburg NY, a woman of remarkable individuality of character, in business for many years, who died in 1891 at the advanced age of 101 years. In 1851 Mary Powers became the wife of Edward A. Filley of Lansingburg, and went to St. Louis Mo. to live. There her three children, a son and two daughters, were born. [continues the same as another sketch of her]…. Though entirely not new work to her, she learned the process of butter-making, found a market in Boston for her butter and made one year as much as 4,000 pounds. In connection with the dairy work she continued to raise a fine grade of Jersey stock. Finding the work too great a tax upon her strength, she sold the greater portion of her stock and turned the farm into a hay farm. While raising stock, her attention was called to the fact that the average man is cruel to animals, and it has been one of her special points to teach by precept and example the goof effects of kindness to dumb animals. Her interest in all reforms has been active. From her small community she has sent long petitions to Congress for equal suffrage. She has drawn lecturers into the village, and in many ways made the moral atmosphere of those around her better for her having lived among them.
New Hampshire Women: A collection of Portraits and Biographical Sketches
MARY ANN, daughter of Jonathan and Anna Kendall Powers, was born in Bristol, December 12, 1821. Her earliest recollections are of the falling waters of Newfound river, and rugged Kendal hill, her grandfather’s home, in Hebron. In her early childhood the family removed to Lansingburg, NY, where her mother died when she was eleven years of age, leaving six little children, and she, being the eldest daughter, filled, for a time, a mother’s place. Later she went to reside with Mrs. Deborah Powers, an aunt; but soon, impelled by a desire for independence, she went to Newark NJ to learn tailoring. Becoming proficient, she returned to Lansingburg, where she was engaged until her marriage, in 1851 with Edward A. Filley, a native of that city, then a prosperous merchant of St. Louis, Mo., where they made their home (though coming to New England for the summer) and where a son and two daughters were born. Living a quiet life, though in full sympathy with the reform movements of the day, Mrs. Filley felt no call to work in them until the fall of 1872, when the passage of a bill legalizing houses of prostitution aroused the spirit of womanly indignation, and, with other prominent women of St. Louis, inspired by a desire to save their city and their sons from resulting disgrace, she labored with voice and pen until the repeal of the law was secured. Espousing the cause of woman’s suffrage, she has also labored in its interest, going once before the United States Senate committee, with Susan B. Anthony and others, to urge the enfranchisement of women. Temperance, and the higher moral life have been subjects ever near her heart, and earnestly discussed in the New England home which she bought in 1880, in the town of Haverhill, where, for many years, she has resided, caring for the large farm, yet taking due interest in every movement for the betterment and uplifting of her townspeople, of womankind, and of the world at large, and rejoicing in the progress that is made. [end]
Saturday, January 12, 1878, Evening Star (Washington DC) page 1
WOMAN SUFFRAGISTS AT THE CAPITOL. Another Hearing By the Senate Committee.
The second hearing of the representatives of the Woman Suffrage Association before the committee on privileges and elections took place to-day. On account of the crowd of ladies in attendance at the meetings, the reception room in the rear of the post office was used instead of the committee room. The reception room was packed long before the members of the committee took their places. About the same number of female suffrage celebrities were present to-day as attended the meeting yesterday. There were Mrs. Sara J. A. Spence, Dr. Clemence Lozler, Miss Julia Smith, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Rev. Olympia Brown, Elizabeth Boynton Herbert, Mrs. Tilleston, Dr. Mary Walker, Mrs. Senator Sargent and daughters, Lily Deveraux Blake, Mrs. Thompson of Oregon, Grace Greenwood, Mrs. Lander the actress, Mrs. Mary Clemmer, and Abby Hutchinson Patton…..[speakers included]
Mrs. Mary Powers Filley of New Hampshire, was the next speaker. She related the difficulty which stood in the way of woman suffrage in that state. Wherever the women were not under the influence of their husbands, she said, they favored the suffrage movement. The speaker said that the committee, by giving the women suffrage, would gain immortality that can never be wiped out. She told about attending a town meeting in New Hampshire, where she went for the purpose of seeing how the local authorities would expend the money which she paid in taxes. Her presence had a good effect on the meeting, inasmuch as there was not the usual amount of profane and obscene language on the part of the political leaders of the town.  [article continues with other speakers].
Saturday, September 30, 1882 Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville Indiana) Page 1, announcing the officers of the National Woman’s Suffrage Assocation. The two from New Hampshire were Marilla M. Rickers and Mary Powers Filley.
Children of Edward A. & Mary Ann (Powers) Filley:
1. Frances Amelia Filley, b. 4 Aug 1852 St. Louis, St. Louis MO, d. abt 1923 Rochester, Monroe Co. NY. She m. 29 Oct 1878 to Darwin E. Kittredge, son of Zephaniah & Caroline (McIntire) Kittredge b 15 Jan 1846 Mont Vernon NH, d. 6 Oct 1923 Quincy, Adams, IL. Three children [Kittredge]: Joseph Powers (b 2 Aug 1879 NH), Frances (b 12 Sep 1881 NH) and Mary (b 2 Jan 1884 NH). In the boot and shoe business in Rochester NH.
[Mt Vernon family]
2. Chloe Filley, b. 26 Feb 1856 d. 5 July 1858 St. Louis MO
3. Joseph Augustus Filley, b. 26 July 1858, d. 25 April 1904 St. Louis MO
4. Anna Kendall “Annie” Filley, b. 22 Aug 1861. In 1900 living with mother in Haverhill NH.

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