Maria Louisa deBernabeu Steuart Haughton
(1869–1963) Maria Louisa was born in Maryland, but came to Ilion with her husband who was a Vice-President at the Remington Arms Company, Inc. She became involved in the Women’s Political Union, founded in 1907 by Harriot Standon Blatch (daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton). Its purpose was to educate women on how suffrage could change their lives. Blatch focused her recruiting efforts on wealthy women, who had the time and resources to work for the suffrage movement. In 1912, Ilion hosted its first meeting of the Women’s Political Union. In 1913 Maria hosted a Women’s Political Union meeting at her home. In 1915, she was the Chairwomen on Speakers and Meetings. She was also a suffrage activist for various organizations including the Ilion Suffrage Study Club and the Herkimer County Suffrage Convention.
Equally important, Maria Louisa was a principal participant in the 1915 Suffrage Torch relay. She carried the Suffrage Torch (patterned after the Statue of Liberty torch) from Little Falls to Utica. She was one of only twelve New York State women who were Suffrage Torch carriers.
The Suffrage torch relay was a central component in the strategy to win support for the 1915 referendum to add a suffrage amendment to New York State’s constitution. It was the public relations brainchild of Harriot Stanton Blatch, National President of the Women’s Political Union. The Suffrage Torch car relay began on June 8 in Montauk, Long Island and finished on July 31 in Buffalo. The route included major cities and small towns including New York City, Amsterdam, Little Falls, Utica, Canastota, Cazenovia, Syracuse, Cortland, Ithaca, Olean, Salamanca, Jamestown and Buffalo. The automobile that carried the torch was decorated with banners of white, purple, and green and the words “Votes for Women and Victory on November 2,1915.” Suffrage receptions, meetings and conventions were held enroute.
The Haughton family moved from Ilion to Schenectady, New York. While there she continued her leadership role in civic activities, including board member of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), the county child welfare board, and the Humane Society.
Maria Louisa died at the age of 93. She is featured in Part 1 of Herkimer County's documentary on Women's Suffrage. Click on Learn More below to see for yourself.
Plot M-3 85
907 State Street, Schenectady County, NY 12307