If you mention the term ‘Committee of Safety‘ to a New Hampshire history researcher, they will probably think of the American Revolution, when trusted prominent men from each town were appointed to regulate and take control of local government, especially as royal officials left or were expelled.
What is little know today is that a Committee of Safety, also known as the Committee of One Hundred, was appointed by the Governor of New Hampshire, just prior to World War I. This committee’s regulating power was far less extensive than that of its predecessor, but its membership was similarly drawn from the public sector, and was entirely male (though ancillary sub-committees and auxiliary committees included some women).
The responsibility of these committees collectively was to oversee and report to the governor on: food production, recruitment, hygiene and medicine, emergencies, industry, transportation, finance, aid societies, dependent soldiers and sailors, military equipment and supplies, aviation, mobilization and concentration camps, naval, state protection, speaker’s bureau, Americanization, War Historian, Non-War Construction, and Woman’s Committee. They helped also to coordinate towns and cities within the reach of their committees.
We should remember that in 1917 women had not yet been granted the right to vote, and so it is not unusual that women’s names are absent among the ninety [and one hundred]. “War was not merely one of armies but of peoples as well…” [ “The New Hampshire Committee on public safety.”]
A few weeks before the United States officially declared it had entered the World War, on 13 March 1917, the governors of the New England States met for a conference in Boston MA. The meeting had been called by the then governor of Massachusetts, S.W. McCall.
New Hampshire’s governor was the Hon. Henry W. Keyes who attended. Following this event, in a letter dated 28 March 1917 letters were sent to ninety (90) private citizens and the mayors of the ten cities of New Hampshire, notifying them of their appointment as a member of the “New Hampshire Committee of One Hundred on the Public Safety.”
The members of this committee were initially given a headquarters in the Committee Room on the third floor of the State house “known as room 156,” and at the adjournment of the Legislature, the Senate Chamber along with two small offices were placed at their disposal. Rooms 156, 157 and 158 became devoted to sub-committees and equipment storage.
The entire list of all those appointment and historical details can be found in “The New Hampshire committee on public safety. Personnel, list of committees, record of organized works, financial statement,” published at Rumford Press, Concord in 1922. On April 11, 1917 the Executive Committee of the Committee of One Hundred on Public Safety wrote to each town asking them to appoint a local Executive Committee on Public Safety to cooperate with the state organizations. If a town had a member of the original Committee of One Hundred, appointed by Governor Keyes, it was recommended that person be also a member of the local committee. The local food supply was of major concern.
The Justice Department, along with the co-operation of the Executive Committee of the Committee on Public Safety took charge of all affairs in the State involving any form of disloyalty. The New Hampshire Committee on Public Safety was taken over as a part of the national system, through the Council of National Defense.
The list of names for all of the sub-committees and local committees of the Committee on Safety is lengthy. For the remainder of this story I am focusing only on the women who were involved. Of the subcommittees, the “Speaker’s Bureau” included the name of only one woman, Mrs. Mary I. Wood of Portsmouth, NH whose photograph appears at the top of this story. She also served as chairman of the New Hampshire Division, Woman’s Committee, Council of National Defense. The “Americanization” subcommittee includes the name of Harriet L. Huntress of Concord NH, and Helene (Borgman) Husband whose spouse Richard Wellington Husband was a professor at Dartmouth College, and a member of the One Hundred.
NEW HAMPSHIRE DIVISION, WOMAN’S COMMITTEE, COUNCIL OF NATIONAL DEFENSE (Auxiliary Committee)
The members of this committee included:
—Mrs. Mary I. Wood, Portsmouth, Chairman (Food Conservation). She was born Mary Inez Stevens, daughter of John L. & Jean A. (Brand) Stevens. She married George A. Wood. Suffragist. [See her biography].
—Miss Anne W. Hobbs, Concord, Vice-Chairman (Women in Industry, Traveler’s Aid). She was the grand-daughter of Nathaniel & Armenia s. (Aldrich) White, and daughter of Armenia “Minnie” White & Horatio Hobbs. Her brother Nathaniel White Hobbs was one of the original One Hundred.
—Mrs. Albertus T. Dudley, Exeter, Secretary (Educational Propaganda). She was born Frances Perry, daughter of Dr. William Gilman & Lucretia Morse (Fisk) Perry. She married in 1890 to Albertus T. Dudley. She died in January 1953, and is buried Exeter Cemetery. She was a prominent ANTI-Suffragist per “Women in American Politics: History and Milestones, p. 29.
—Mrs. Susan C. Bancroft, Concord, Treasurer (Extension of Nursing Service). Susan C. Wood was the daughter of Bartholomew & Janette (Burke) Wood. She married Charles P. Bancroft. Buried Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.
–Mrs. Wesley Adams, Derry (Co-operation with the Grange). She was born Mabel F.M. Nevins daughter of William P. & Julia D. (Shipley) Nevins. She married on 21 June 1908 in Londonderry NH to Wesley Adams.
–Mrs. O.B. Brown, Berlin. She was Caroline Lewis (Gordon) Brown, wife of Orton Bishop Brown, and a member the Colonial Dames.
–Mrs. Alpha H. Harriman, Laconia (Co-operation with Women’s Clubs and Parent-Teachers’ Association). She was Alice May Stratton, daughter of Guilford Dudley & Eva Louise (Wing) Harriman who m.4 Oct 1904 in Gorham NH to Alpha Haven Harrison, son of Nathaniel Gile & Rhoda (Allard) Harrison.
–Miss Harriet L. Huntress, Concord (Americanization). Daughter of James L. & Harriet Page (Perkins) Huntress [Read her biography, photograph above].
–Mrs. Richard W. Husband, Hanover (Social Service). She was Helene Borgman, born 5 May 1878 Penn Yan NY, died June 1947 California. A graduate of Leland Stanford. She is buried in Dartmouth College Cemetery. She married Richard Wellington Husband, later Professor of the Classical Languages at Dartmouth College.
–Mrs. George F. Morris, Lancaster (Child Welfare). She was Lulu Juliett (Aldrich) Morris who married in 1894 to George F. Morris.
–Mrs. David E. Murphy, Concord (Commercial Economy). She was Katharine Louise Prentis, daughter of Edmund Walter & M. Fannie (Campbell) Prentis, born 12 March 1882 NY NY; married Apr 26, 1905 in NYC to David E. Murphy.
–Mrs. William H. Schofield, Peterborough (Liberty Loan). She was Mary Lyon-Cheney, dau of Edwin B. & Charlotte (Ward) Lyon. [see partial biography]
–Mrs. George D. Towne, Manchester (Manchester Unit). She was Elizabeth A. French, dau of George A. & Louise M. (Fabens) French; She m1) Charles T. Means; m2d) George D. Towne. She is buried Valley Cemetery Manchester.
CHAIRMEN OF SPECIAL WAR ACTIVITIES
Mrs. W.H. Schofield, Peterborough, Chairman Women’s Liberty Loan Committee [see].
Mrs. R.W. Husband, Hanover, Field Representative, American Red Cross [see]
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].