Margaret Ashley Bellinger
(1846–1929) Margaret, born in Ilion, was inspired by Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Anna H. Shaw, who spoke at the nearby Herkimer Opera House in 1894. They were seeking support for a women’s suffrage amendment to be added to New York State’s constitution. Shortly thereafter, Margaret was one of 50 women who met at the Ilion YMCA to form a Political Equality Club. Susan B. Anthony spoke at that meeting.
Margaret was elected Corresponding Secretary. At the same meeting the group formed the Herkimer County Political Equality Club and she was elected Recording Secretary. Political Equality Clubs were organizations within the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). These local clubs were intended to broaden suffrage support in small towns and rural areas. Even though the 1894 suffrage amendment to the state constitution was defeated, the women leading these local clubs continued their work.
In 1914, Margaret trained other women in suffrage campaign strategies in a Suffrage School in Syracuse, New York. In 1915, Ilion participated in the Suffrage Liberty Torch relay that started in Long Island and ended in Buffalo. Ilion club member, Maria Louisa Haughton, carried the bronze suffrage torch from Little Falls to Utica. In 1917, the Ilion club hosted the annual Herkimer County Women’s Rights Convention at Wilcox Hall in Ilion.
In addition to her suffrage work, Margaret was recording secretary in the Women's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) dedicated to prohibiting alcohol, labor laws, prison reform, and suffrage. The Herkimer County organization had over 300 members in 1900. Margaret died at the age of 83.
Armory Hill Cemetery
Section 3, Lot 113
Benedict Avenue, Ilion, NY 13357