Tag Archives: Edna Kearns

Suffrage Wagon Cafe special program with award-winning songwriter Eighty Bug!

Award-winning songwriter program & interview with Eighty Bug at Suffrage Wagon Cafe on Vimeo.

Welcome to the May 8, 2015 special program of Suffrage Wagon Cafe where we’re featuring Eighty Bug, her music production team, and the Heritage Museum of Orange County (California) for the music video “Spirit of 1776: A New Suffragette Anthem.” They were recipients of a first-place award from New Mexico Press Women at their annual conference and awards ceremony. A first-place award was for a video for a nonprofit web site, Suffrage Wagon News Channel, that has been publishing since 2009. Marguerite Kearns is the host of Suffrage Wagon Cafe.

NMPW judges said that the music video, “’Spirit of 1776’: A Suffragette Anthem” is “a high-quality, engaging video with a great story well done.” The music video “’Spirit of 1776’: A Suffragette Anthem” is available on YouTube.


Eighty Bug, "Spirit of 1776" musicThe song “Spirit of 1776 by Eighty Bug is also available on itunes.


The award-winning video of three and a half minutes highlights one version of the grassroots organizing that’s considered fundamental to American women campaigning for voting rights. This took from the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY to the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At that time, millions of women across the United States voted on November 2, 1920.


The creative team for the music video includes Eighty Bug (Production/Costumes), Edwin Carungay, Lesha Maria Rodriguez (Directors/Videographers),and Jon Lagda (Art Director). The video and song features The Suffragist Sisters, led by Eighty (Banjolele, Ukulele, Bass and Lead Vocals), famed violinist Lisa Lui (strings) Eighty’s younger sister Savannah (Backing Vocals), Ashli Lee Christoval, and Laura Guaico, The song was rounded out by Max McVetty (percussion), JRAT (guitar, mixing and mastering) with special thanks to Adam England, Jamie Sue Hiber, and The Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, CA.

Awareness of women’s suffrage movement history is gathering steam as more suffrage centennial celebrations are scheduled throughout the nation, according to Eighty Bug. She points out that this year, 2015, is the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It will be celebrated on August 26, 2015.

Eighty Bug award


Because the Heritage Museum of Orange County was able to provide a set, a wagon, a blacksmith shop, and staff support, Eighty Bug took the project a step beyond just writing the song. She organized friends and family members to act and perform in the various scenes, film, and edit the performance into a polished production.

The “Spirit of 1776” wagon featured in the award-winning music video is a suffrage movement artifact now in the collection of the New York State Museum that was used by Edna Buckman Kearns. The horse-drawn wagon that inspired the music video is considered an icon of Votes for Women campaigning because of its 1776 taxation without representation message. This represents a call of patriotic protest and a return to the spirit of equality and freedom written into the Declaration of Independence. The music video highlights the tens of thousands of grassroots activists throughout the nation that it took to win voting rights for women over the period of 1848 to 1920.


“Patriotic protest was a significant theme during the 72-year Votes for Women campaigning,” Eighty Bug said. “I am thrilled to have been a part of this exciting project that features the rich creative talent that can be found in our community. What we are doing is especially relevant today. Women around the world are still struggling for equality, without the ability to vote, to own land, or to be free from tyrannical and oppressive situations.

“Even here in America, women get paid less and are often treated subserviently. It is something we must change. Hopefully this song will get people to sing along and create a spirit of equality that breaks old-school suppressions. Women and men of every color and background should be treated fairly. I’m hopeful but aware of the deep changes we must still make. Please pick up an instrument and sing along. The lyrics and the chords are on the YouTube page. I encourage others to make a video like this one supporting women’s equality worldwide.”


Suffrage Wagon Cooking School features the dessert recipes of Eighty Bug on Vimeo.

Suffrage Wagon Cooking School is a special feature of the suffrage wagon platform. The horse-drawn campaign wagon, the “Spirit of 1776,” will be exhibited at the New York State Museum in 2017 during the state’s centennial celebration of the win for women’s voting rights in 1917.

Suffrage Wagon Cafe

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Comment on the Suffrage Wagon blogMeet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.


Women’s suffrage movement news features Nellie Bly & more

Suffrage Movement News Notes from Suffrage Wagon on Vimeo.

April’s news notes are highlighted in this video that also promotes the next program at Suffrage Wagon Cafe: May 8, 2015. An interview and special feature with Eighty Bug, award-winning performer and songwriter who just won an award for “Spirit of 1776: A Suffragette Anthem.” What are you doing for August 26th, the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? A great time to plan a trip to the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. –in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Nellie Bly on Google

Have you heard about the upcoming film, “10 Days in a Madhouse”? It’s due for release on September 25th. When I opened my browser to do a search, I almost fell off my chair to see Nellie Bly staring at me as a Google image. More.

Nellie Bly opened doors with her investigative reporting. And what better way to find out more than to stand in line for your ticket when the film opens this fall.

Nellie Bly

When Edna Kearns pounded on the doors of newspaper editors in NYC with her activist columns and suffrage news, her ability to find receptive ears was due, in part, to trailblazing Nellie Bly. The film “10 Days in a Madhouse” is getting attention at the Bentonville Film Festival. Great news! And check out the movie trailer and an audio reading from Nellie’s own writing! A special feature from Suffrage Wagon Cafe.


FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is openMeet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Comment on the Suffrage Wagon blog.

Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

Washington’s Spies and the link to the “Spirit of 1776” wagon: Suffrage Wagon Cafe special program

TURN: Washington’s Spies shows Long Island in 1777 and Suffrage Wagon Cafe program shows what happened 100+ years later on Vimeo.

Special Program: Suffrage Wagon Cafe

“TURN: Washington’s Spies” Foreshadows Suffrage Wagon Confrontation in 1913 by Marguerite Kearns

Activist Rosalie Jones was a loose cannon on Long Island back in 1913. She was controversial in public and in her own family. Rosalie Jones appeared often in the newspapers for her stunts and unusual Votes for Women demonstrations, such as marching to the state capitol and demanding to see the governor in 1912 and 1914. Without Rosalie Jones, we wouldn’t know that after more than 100 years after the American Revolution, some people on Long Island still supported English King George III.


Back in school, no teacher ever mentioned that during the war for independence significant numbers of Americans identified themselves with the British. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly today than Long Island as portrayed in the A&E television series, “TURN: Washington Spies” that goes into its second season on April 13, 2015. The tensions within Rosalie Jones’ own family on Long Island made the issue of Tory loyalties simmer and spill into the public arena in 1913.

If it hadn’t been for the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon and its 1913 journey for Votes for Women organizing on Long Island, the continued polarization of the population might not have come to light. This confrontation in Huntington, NY is featured in this special article I wrote for New York Archives.


The players in July 1913: Suffrage activist Edna Kearns who drove the horse-drawn wagon called the “Spirit of 1776” into Huntington, NY and Mary Livingston Jones, the mother of suffragist Rosalie Jones. Mrs. Jones identified herself as the descendant of Long Island Tories and demanded the activists stop immediately in their use of the “Spirit of 1776” wagon. Edna Kearns told a Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter (who covered the incident) that Mrs. Jones’ tirade made her fear for her life.

Mrs. Jones insisted the old horse-drawn wagon had been in the possession of Tory descendants the previous century, and she threatened legal action against the New York State Woman Suffrage Association for misrepresenting its history. The confrontation at the Huntington, NY parade had been provoked, no doubt, by the disagreements suffragist Rosalie Jones had with her mother and sister. Jones family members considered themselves the elite of Long Island for their long-time residency and old money. Rosalie didn’t view the Tory position and the anti-suffrage position as linked together. Her mother and sister did, however. In a 1913 article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mrs. Jones spoke of Tories and their prominence on Long Island as if the war for independence just happened yesterday.


Long Island was divided in loyalties in 1776. A significant number of colonial sympathizers moved away after the Battle of Long Island. And the island became even more entrenched in loyalist support in the aftermath of the British capture of New York City. This was well portrayed in “TURN: Washington’s Spies” during its 2014 first season, enough for the intrigue and spy thriller to hook two million Americans and have them glued to their TV sets. So the TV series going into its second season performs a much-needed service of expanding the understanding of American history, even if some of the details have been crafted to meet the storytelling requirements of Hollywood.

Mrs. Mary Livingston Jones halted the Votes for Women parade in July 1913 with her claim that the “Spirit of 1776” wagon had been in the possession of her ancestors, the Hewletts, before the suffrage movement decided on the vehicle’s use for grassroots organizing on Long Island. It was, therefore a Tory icon, not a patriot one, Mrs. Jones insisted.

The suffragists disagreed and proceeded to carry their own message of patriotic protest to towns and villages all over Long Island during the summer of 1913. More than 20 newspapers, including the New York Times, covered the splash caused by the “Spirit of 1776” wagon and its supporters at suffrage demonstrations, rallies, and special fundraising events. See representative media. No legal action resulted, despite Mr’s Jones’ threats. Without the confrontation in Huntington, NY, we wouldn’t be privy to the fact that Long Island remained polarized between loyalists and patriots, on some level at least, more than a century after the end of the war for independence.


If you’ve been following “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” the Hewlett name should be familiar to you. He’s the TV character wearing a red British uniform, not a bad guy actually –more like a decent guy in an extremely awkward situation. It’s not politically correct these days to make our former enemies, especially the English, look too bad. This happened back in 1917 with filmmaker Robert Goldstein, and a controversial trial that sent Goldstein off to federal prison for ten years. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson later commuted Goldstein’s prison sentence to three years. But the filmmaker’s crime had been specific: making the English look like brutes during the war for independence in his silent film, a crime not addressed under the First Amendment during World War I.

A 1913 Long Island history clearly identifies the Hewletts as the largest and most powerful of all Tory families on Long Island. So it shouldn’t have been necessary for the TV series to import a Hewlett from England to wear a red coat. In actuality, Hewlett represented a well-known household name for Tory support on Long Island. Hewlett family members remained on Long Island after the American war for independence after they officially declared their loyalty to the new nation.


Pressures to become patriots didn’t make the Hewletts revolutionaries overnight any more than the threat of death convinced many Jews to willingly convert to Christianity at the time of the Inquisition. This had been Mrs. Jones’ point (indirectly) when she confronted the suffrage activists on the streets on Huntington, NY in July 1913, a perspective preserved by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter’s account. Mrs. Jones made it clear that her relatives, the Hewletts, resented being linked to the colonial cause.

Long term, the Hewletts’ conversion to patriots seems to have been enough for family members to continue living on Long Island after the American Revolution without limping around, tails between their legs. Later, Hewlett family members became the source for stories told to the suffrage activists that the “Spirit of 1776” wagon had been a symbol of patriotism, not Tory loyalties. The suffragists took advantage of the opportunity to spread this patriotic protest message in 1913. Patriotic protest had been a key theme of the suffrage movement going back to 1848 when the Seneca Falls, NY signers of the Declaration of Sentiments linked their civil rights struggle to the spirit of 1776 and the American Revolution. In 1913, Edna Kearns and other activists dressed in colonial costumes and milked the patriotic protest theme for all it was worth in the cause of votes for women.

But the Hewletts couldn’t shed their loyalist associations easily. The state education department, back when the agency was in charge of historical street markers, produced one marker to stand in front of the home of Richard Hewlett in Rockaway, NY. There, Richard Hewlett was acknowledged as the local Tory who planned the capture of General George Washington. Long Island newspaper accounts during the 1920s suggested that Tory loyalties and the threats on the life of George Washington were, in the opinion of many local residents, best forgotten. But with the second season of “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” we’re treated to a new spin on an old story.

RESOURCES: Videos about Rosalie Jones demonstrate how her support for Votes for Women might have annoyed her mother and sister who were avid supporters of the state and national anti-suffrage cause. “Rosalie Jones and her band of activists marched to Albany, NY in January 1914″; “Rosalie Jones’ hikes to Albany get people’s attention”; “Rosalie Jones; High-Profile Long Island Suffragist.”

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is openFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future.

Season 2 of “TURN: Washington’s Spies” has “Spirit of 1776” wagon wrinkle!

Program on TURN at Suffrage Wagon Cafe



The A&E television series, “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” opens its second season on April 13, 2015. The series in its first season introduced an awareness of the nation’s first spy ring to a broad audience. The spy ring, the Culper Ring, dates to 1778 and the war for independence. Its informants provided essential information to General George Washington and his army.

The spy ring was based, in part, on Long Island that English troops occupied when they held New York City. Long Island residents were significantly divided between loyalty to the colonists and loyalty to the British.

The drama of this A&E television series foreshadows what happened more than 100 years later in 1913 when women’s suffrage activists drove the horse-drawn wagon the “Spirit of 1776” into Huntington, NY on Long Island. They had no reason not to expect that local residents would greet them warmly. So they didn’t anticipate that a local resident might provoke a confrontation.


Many Long Island’s old families hadn’t forgotten the American Revolution by 1913 as well as the sympathies of their family members and ancestors toward the British king. Some descendants still carried resentments over the American Revolution’s outcome. And they weren’t hesitant to express themselves about their then controversial points of view.

Edna Kearns and other women’s suffrage activists left the Manhattan office of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in early July 1913 and headed to Long Island for a month of Votes for Women organizing. They drove the
Spirit of 1776 suffrage campaign wagon. The name of the wagon and its alleged controversial origins lured descendants of former Tory sympathizers out of the closet to a confrontation with some descendants of Patriot sympathizers in Huntington, NY.


The April 8, 2015 Suffrage Wagon Cafe program will give the details about Mary Livingston Jones, the well-known descendant of Long Island Tories, who was involved in this confrontation. Mrs. Jones also opposed the movement to extend voting rights to women, and she viewed the two issues as related. What makes this tale distinctive is that Mrs. Jones’ daughter, Rosalie Jones, was a well-known women’s rights activist associated with Long Island’s Votes for Women organizing campaign.

After the battle smoke cleared from the war for independence, most people conveniently forgot or dismissed their family members and ancestors’ sympathies with the English. Not so on Long Island. This fascinating story clearly demonstrates the repercussions.

The New York State Museum will exhibit the “Spirit of 1776” wagon in Albany, NY during New York’s suffrage centennial celebration in 2017. The “Spirit of 1776” wagon was used as a speakers’ platform for Votes for Women organizing, in suffrage parades in New York City and on Long Island, as well as for exhibits, rallies, and special events.

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Meet friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Reporter Nellie Bly goes undercover on Day #2 of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s grand opening festival

Marguerite Kearns, your host

Suffrage Wagon Cafe: nellie Bly

With your host, Marguerite Kearns.

I’m back on this second day of the women’s history festival celebrating the opening of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. This four-day festival started with my welcome greeting followed by the opening of the doors of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. There was even a reminder that when you’re planning your next vacation, take a look at the video about visiting Seneca Falls, New York. It’s in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Some folks consider it a destination for travel, but for me and many others, it’s a pilgrimage that women’s suffrage movement fans take seriously.


In this Suffrage Wagon Cafe feature, we’re focusing on Nellie Bly, one of America’s early investigative reporters. And there’s an upcoming film: “10 Days in a Madhouse.” Pull up a seat for two videos and an audio selection. The more I know about reporter Nellie Bly, the more I appreciate the shoulders on which my grandmother Edna Kearns stood when she covered and edited Votes for Women news for New York City metropolitan newspapers from 1910 to 1920.

Many people are aware of America’s early press women especially Nellie Bly and Margaret Fuller. Relatively few are aware of how suffrage activists were in this wave of America’s early press women. They made noteworthy contributions as editors, columnists, publicists, and reporters.

SPECIAL ON SUFFRAGE WAGON CAFE: The production team for the upcoming film, “10 Days in a Madhouse” estimates its release date to be late in September of 2015. 

Nellie Bly, America’s muckraker, press woman, investigative reporter, and her “10 Days in a Madhouse” on Vimeo.

10 Days in a Madhouse Trailer from TriCoast Studios on Vimeo.

AUDIO READING OF “10 DAYS IN A MADHOUSE”: This is a selected reading from Librivox. Nellie Bly’s writing about her undercover work is in the public domain. This edited selection is part of Suffrage Wagon’s audio collection on Soundcloud.


AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The “Suffragette” film from the UK has released its international distribution date as October 2015.

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

A message from Marguerite Kearns on Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s opening: March 28, 2015

A welcome from your Suffrage Wagon Cafe host, Marguerite Kearns.

Marguerite Kearns’ welcome message for Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s opening, the go-to place for women’s suffrage programs on Vimeo.

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is open. Welcome! This video highlights a special greeting from me, your host Marguerite Kearns. It’s important to note how Americans are making a connection today between their family histories and the larger sweep of American history. I’ve been telling everyone: “The result has been like a jolt of electricity that’s redefining our cultural identity. Dry accounts in history books aren’t enough anymore. We want our history alive and relevant.”

The Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s special campaign is called the “Spirit of 1776.” The goal is to restore the women’s suffrage movement to its proper place in American history. It’s about time this remarkable part of American history emerges from the shadows. I started out on this journey to find out about my suffragist grandmother, Edna Kearns, and I’m discovering so much more. Follow Suffrage Wagon Cafe on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Voting rights and how they were won continues to be a critical issue for our times. And because a woman may run for the U.S. presidency in 2016, the story of how women won the vote will be of increased interest. You can stay in touch with Twitter, Facebook, email and the quarterly newsletter. Follow the Suffrage Wagon.

The Suffrage Wagon Cafe is open. Join us for women’s suffrage history, events and issues! on Vimeo. We have menu items that have been prepared at the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School.

Seneca Falls, New York is a pilgrimage and a destination. Enjoy the highlights of visiting the national park at Seneca Falls, New York in this video feature. 

OTHER NEWS: Do you know that the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage campaign wagon will be exhibited at the New York State Museum in 2017, the state’s 2017 suffrage centennial observance? Video announcement.

Opening of Suffrage Wagon CafeStay current with the programs of Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Have fun with us at the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School.

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Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube. There are more than 100 videos made for and highlighting our channel. Follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Valentine’s Day Special: My grandmother Edna May Buckman loved Wilmer Kearns, but she didn’t want to get married!

Marguerite's Musings

Edna1914ArticleTennesseeby Marguerite Kearns

I’m not saying that my grandparents wore these particular coats shown below, but they certainly glanced at the winter styles and were, I suspect, influenced by the fashion.

The styles appear on the same page as an article about Grandmother Edna and her suffrage movement organizing and activities.

If I transpose my grandparents onto the couple in the newspaper, I imagine Edna thinking in 1915 that Wilmer turned out to be quite a supportive and loving husband.


In 1904 one of Edna’s letters to Wilmer Kearns (then working in NYC) described friends and family members’ puzzlement by the couple’s  infatuation with each other and they wondered if the relationship could be moving in the direction of becoming serious. After all, Edna had announced her intention not to marry early in her teenage years. And Wilmer and Edna came from very different backgrounds. Many young women, like Edna, preferred to be free and independent, unless, of course, they found the exceptional guy, which Wilmer turned out to be.

The conscious decision to remain single wasn’t all that unusual in the 19th and early 20th century. Edna’s childhood friend Bessie, for example, found support in other women, who like her, preferred to remain single. And this recent article from Massachusetts also documents the larger context. Edna’s friend Bessie at the turn of the 20th century was fascinated with the Cult of Single Blessedness, another variation of the same trend.

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Stay up to date with audio podcasts and videos. Celebrate suffrage centennials and women’s freedom to vote. And follow SuffrageCentennials.com for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. Check out Suffrage Wagon’s video channels on Vimeo and YouTube.