St. Louis’ Resident Suffragette

     Elizabeth Avery Meriwether broke Nineteenth Century convention by illegally registering and voting in the 1872 U.S. Presidential election, addressing the 1884 Democratic Convention and writing several short stories in support of woman’s suffrage.  Although she would live to be 92 years old, she died several years before she saw her dream realized with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 20, 1920.

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Elizabeth Avery Meriwether at 58 years old

     Elizabeth Avery was born to Nathan Avery, originally from New York, and Rebecca Rivers in Tennessee on January 19, 1824.  Nathan Avery moved to Tennessee seeking opportunity in this developing town.  Elizabeth grew up to marry Minor Meriwether.  Minor Meriwether served as an officer in the Confederate Army during the United States Civil War.

     As early as 1878 and probably earlier, Elizabeth Avery was a member of the National Association of Women’s Suffrage.  Meriwether also wrote short stories.  Meriwether used this skill to write persuasive stories in support of women’s right to vote.  Meriwether was also politically active in other areas.

     In 1884, Mrs. E. A. Meriwether addressed the Democratic National Convention.  Meriwether’s tongue-in-cheek introduction of a resolution to ban the education of women in any form drew an angry reaction.  The convention goers refused to take up the issue of women’s suffrage.

     In 1884, Minor and Elizabeth Meriwether moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  Elizabeth was 60 years old and Minor was 57.  In 1883, Elizabeth Avery Meriwether submitted a bill to the Tennessee Legislature to protect taxpayers who were being levied additional taxes after they paid the original tax bill.  Mrs. Meriwether stated that the bill was to make up for other citizens who would not pay.

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Elizabeth Avery Meriwether in Her Later Years

     The legislature may not have passed the bill because soon the family relocated to St. Louis.  Elizabeth continued to work for women’s suffrage until her death at 92 years of age on November 4, 1916.  Four years later, American women would win the right to vote.

     Elizabeth Meriwether accomplished many heroic things but like most people, she made many mistakes.  Minor Meriwether helped to organize the Klu Klux Klan in her Memphis kitchen before they moved to St. Louis.  While some would argue that it was the work of Minor Meriwether, Elizabeth wrote a couple short stories that showed the Klan in a favorable light.

     Minor Meriwether, who plied his trade as a lawyer, died on June 6, 1910.  Mr. Meriwether was 83 years old and died at the family home, 3716 Delmar Boulevard.  Elizabeth would survive him by six years.  Both Minor and Elizabeth Meriwether are buried in Bellefountaine Cemetery.

     Did you know about Elizabeth Avery Meriwether and her links to St. Louis?  Is Mrs. Meriwether a heroine, villain or something in between? You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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