New Hampshire Suffragist, National & Local Civic Leader, Peace Proponent, Lecturer, Teacher: Mary Nettie Chase of Andover (1863-1959)

The Spirit of Woman Power, cover of Suffragist newsletter, December 1918. Internet Archive.

With the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment being passed by the U. S.  Congress, my focus shifts to women (and men) who promoted suffrage in New Hampshire and nationally.  When Mary Nettie Chase’s name was mentioned on “The Turning Point,” web site, I had to wonder why I had not known about her.  All I knew was from this brief notice: “Mary N. Chase, Unknown City: President of the New Hampshire Auxiliary of the NWSA. Delegate at the NWSA 44th Convention in 1912. President from as early as 1906.”

Photograph of Mary Nettie Chase, courtesy of Bates College Archives. Used with permission.

Mary Nettie Chase, the daughter of Rev. Uriah & Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Guilford) Chase, was born 28 Dec 1863 in Wolfeboro NH.   She was the 10th generation of Chase in the United States, a descendant of Aquila Chase. Her father, Rev. Uriah Chase, was a baptist minister who moved frequently, and she moved with him.  There is no doubt that her father was a great influence on her life and her choice to promote suffrage, equal rights and peace.  In 1880 she is shown in the United States Census living with her parents and one of her two brothers in Madison, Carroll Co., New Hampshire.  From at least 1910-1930 she resided in Andover, Merrimack Co. NH, listing herself as “single.”

According to the “Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire,” (vol. 2)  Mary Nettie Chase “attended the North Parsonfield Academy and Auburn High School. She graduated from Bates College (received a Master of Arts). She secured a free scholarship by winning the first prize won by a woman in declamation. She was principal at Gilmanton and Proctor academies and was president of the New Hampshire Suffrage Association.”   She indeed graduated in 1885 from Bates College, whose archivist  kindly provided me with the photograph you see just above.   Additional information about her can be gleaned by the Bates College Alumni notices.  One such notice shows: that she “fitted for college at Edward Little High School, Auburn, Maine. Taught at Green Mountain Seminary, Waterbury VT 1887-90. Married Roscoe Gilbert Watson, June 25, 1890.”  And indeed it seems she was married briefly to Roscoe G. Watson, son of Alfred H. Watson & Abby Watson. [Maine records show this marriage date as 16 June 1890].  By the 1900 U.S. Census she was back to listing herself as single, her surname Chase.

A later Bates College notice shows her name under 1887 graduates as: “Teacher, Green Mt. Seminary, Waterbury Center Vt 1887-90, 1892-95. Lecturer for Vermont Woman Suffrage Association 1895-96. TeacherGilmanton Academy, Gilmanton NH 1896-98. Principal 1898-99; Proctor Academy, Andover NH 1899-1901. Organizer and Lecturer for the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, 1901-2. President, New Hampshire Woman’s Suffrage Association 1901-12. Address, Andover, N.H.”

Some of her letters and papers are archived in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.  They describe her accomplishments as:  “As Secretary for the Society for the Promotion of International Amity at Proctor Academy in Andover, New Hampshire, Chase encouraged the exchange of letters between U.S. students and their counterparts in other lands. Chase also served as Secretary of the New Hampshire Peace Society, and President of the New Hampshire Woman’s Suffrage Association.”

In 1917 Mary N. Chase, in her role as secretary for the Society for the Promotion of International Amity, was working with other New Hampshire peace organizations to promote a better relationship with Pan-American youth and encouraging the number of schools in New Hampshire to include Spanish as part of their language courses (the Manchester NH High School was the only one in the state that did offer it in 1917).  In January of 1920 she wrote a letter that was published in the “Advocate of Peace” newsletter about her attempts to promote letter writing between Quaker school students in America and Germany (this was right after WWI ended).  In March of 1920, in her same capacity, she encouraged correspondence between academy students and Mexican youth.

Around 1940 Mary N. Chase’s name disappears from the newspapers.  She was in her eighties then, and probably decided to retire.  One last article appeared without fanfare among a long list of others who recently died in the Boston Traveler newspaper, published in Boston MA on 31 December 1959. — “DEATH NOTICE: CHASE–In Milton, Dec 30. Mary N. Chase, aged 96 years.  Residence 50 Beacon Street, Hyde Park. Funeral from The Franklin C. Graham Funeral Home, 1161 Hyde Park Avenue, Saturday Jan 2 at 2:00 p.m. Burial in Andover, N.H. Visiting Hours Friday, 7 to 8.

Michelle Belden, Bates College Archivist

Aquila-1 Chase immigrant ancestor
Aquila-2 Chase & Anna Wheeler of Newbury MA and Hampton NH
Thomas-3 Chase and Rebecca Follansbee
Jonathan-4 Chase & Joanna Palmer
Jonathan-5 Chase & Lydia Rollins
Jonathan-6 Chase and Anne Taylor
Edward-7 Chase & Polly Moore
Levi-8 Chase & Sally Page
Rev. Uriah-9 Chase & Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Guilford) Chase [2nd wife]
Mary Nettie-10 Chase


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5 Responses to New Hampshire Suffragist, National & Local Civic Leader, Peace Proponent, Lecturer, Teacher: Mary Nettie Chase of Andover (1863-1959)

  1. Amy says:

    I think I will enjoy this new series—more uplifting than all those sad World War I deaths! And what a debt we owe to women like this. We have come a long way, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.

  2. Pingback: New Hampshire’s Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment | Cow Hampshire

  3. Pingback: Was Your New Hampshire Ancestor a Suffragist? | Cow Hampshire

  4. Kim Hokanson says:

    This is fantastic. I’m really enjoying your work. Do we have any idea in what cemetery she is buried?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Kim, thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. The only information I could obtain about Mary N. Chase’s burial place comes from a very small obituary that is included in the story. She appears to have been buried in Andover, New Hampshire, but in which cemetery, I do not know.

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