Tag Archives: Wilmer Kearns

More from Bess on “Suffrage Storytelling,” plus news notes!

WATCH THE VIDEO ON SUFFRAGE WAGON

Being an Independent Woman in 1903 wasn’t easy! Find out more on “Suffrage Storytelling” on Vimeo.

COMING SOON: We’ll meet Wilmer Kearns who starts complicating young Edna’s life because she wanted to go slowly out into the world and not get tangled in a romance, at least not right away.

“SUFFRAGE STORYTELLING” so far: Episode #1  Episode #2

IN OTHER NEWS: The “10 Days in a Madhouse” movie release date has been pushed back to November 20, 2015 to position for The Golden Globe Awards and The Academy Awards. Based on investigative reporter Nellie Bly’s undercover exposé, the film follows Bly as she feigns insanity in order to be committed into Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum before the turn of the 20th century.

Nellie Bly was in the front lines of women reporters entering a world that had been dominated by men. Bly covered the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC and supported the women’s suffrage movement. She was a trailblazer in the world of journalism. “10 Days In A Madhouse is directed by Timothy Hines (War of Worlds the True Story), and it is produced by Susan Goforth.

Did you miss the special program at Suffrage Wagon Cafe about August 26th and the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment? Stop by and catch up with the cafe programs that were launched in March of 2015.

PARTY SCHEDULED: Suffrage Wagon Cooking School is celebrating its first birthday this summer and fall. Watch for special features.

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

Episode 2 of “Suffrage Storytelling”: How Bess got in even more trouble!

Season 1 of “Suffrage Storytelling” reveals the lives of young women in 1903 from on Vimeo.

Whenever Edna Buckman could, she took the train to center city Philadelphia to meet her best friend Bess at the Market Street teahouse. Bess, the rebel, loved telling Edna stories after they took their seats and ordered from the menu. Edna especially liked hearing Bess talk about George Sand, the French woman novelist who wore men’s clothes and adored attention from her many lovers, both women and men.

When Bess strolled down Market Street, she showed Edna how she imagined George Sand walked with a cocky swagger. Bess insisted that Sand made fun of men on their high horses, right to their faces. Edna believed Sand felt entitled to do whatever she pleased because she traveled in aristocratic creative circles and could get away with being different.

“People like us can’t turn into George Sand. It will only come back to haunt us,” Edna said. “Who cares anyway?” Bess asked, throwing up her hands and glancing around at the other teahouse patrons who couldn’t hear or understand their conversation. Bess could be blunt when explaining her problems to her best friend.

MR. WEISS DIDN’T MINCE WORDS ABOUT HIS DAUGHTER’S BEHAVIOR

Mrs. Weiss had been horrified after daughter Bess delivered a tirade about women’s second-class roles at home at the Sunday dinner table in front of all the relatives. This is why Mrs. Weiss supported Philip in his plan to take Bess out of the pool of young single women by marrying her. Philip, an old friend of the Weiss family, had been like a distant cousin to Bess. She’d grown up seeing him at the homes of family and friends on special occasions. Of all the eligible young men in Germantown, Philip couldn’t be considered the best prospect for marriage, but he wasn’t the worst either.

“Philip’s nice, but I’d rather train to be a teacher than get married,” Bess said.

“Maybe there’s a special arrangement for a man and woman to agree on. Family, yes. And freedom too,” Edna suggested.

“Philip’s too much of a traditional man,” Bess responded as the two women ordered another round of oolong tea.

THE BOOK THAT GOT BESS IN TROUBLE AT HOME

The day of their meeting at the Market Street teahouse, concern about Bess and her parents took up most of the conversation. Not long before, Bess got in trouble after her mother found Mary Wollstonecraft’s controversial 1798 book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman under the bedroom mattress. Bess had borrowed the work from the city library and read it twice. Then she wrapped it in paper, tied it with string, and passed it around among her classmates at school. This was bad enough when her father found out. But when Bess didn’t show any interest in marrying Philip, her parents lowered the boom and confined Bess to her room after school and weekends for a month.

Mr. Weiss wasn’t supportive of his daughter’s plan to become a teacher. He believed higher education beyond high school would be wasted on a young woman. Mr. Weiss emphasized that he wouldn’t pay a cent for his daughter’s advanced education. He was furious that the school Bess attended with Edna, Friends Central in Philadelphia, had exposed Bess to unconventional ideas. In his opinion, women were created by God to be subordinate to men, and the Bible said so. Quakers like Edna’s family believed that boys and girls, men and women, were equal under the eyes of heaven, something Mr. Weiss didn’t know when he caved into pressure from his daughter that she get a high school education.

“WOMEN SHOULD STAY IN THEIR PLACE,” MR. WEISS SAID!

The Weiss family weren’t Quakers, but they lived in a Germantown neighborhood in Philadelphia with Quakers like the Buckman family, people they liked. When Bess decided she wanted to attend a Quaker secondary school with Edna, the idea didn’t seem so out of the ordinary to her father. Mrs. Weiss believed some education made young women better wives. Overall, Mrs. Weiss agreed with her husband’s position and lectured Bess about how men functioned best in their “sphere” of the larger world. Women’s special qualities of purity and morality qualified them for their own realm of responsibility back at home with the family, Mrs. Weiss added.

If Bess became argumentative, her father made his position clear: “Women should stay in their place.” Her mother called politics a “dirty business” because she believed women could be contaminated by too many thoughts about voting. Correcting the stain created by men in society could be addressed by women without a change in the law to extend voting rights. Mrs. Weiss called this “municipal housekeeping,” or community reform work, the highest form of work suitable for women’s attention.

BESS AND EDNA ARGUED ABOUT MARRIAGE

“Marriage is a bad deal for women,” Bess emphasized in her teahouse talk with Edna as they finished the last crumbs of the scones on their plates. “I’m holding out to meet the special man who will love and support me,” Edna responded.

Bess didn’t comment. Being an outsider who questioned the world as it was couldn’t have been easy for Bess when even her best friend Edna didn’t embrace all her ideas. Several school chums of Bess and Edna agreed with society’s prevailing view that politics were corrupt and women had enough to do caring for family affairs without adding more to their responsibilities.

With each passing year, however, ideas about women’s roles were changing as more Friends’ Central women graduates enrolled in the few colleges and universities open to them. Some of these young women believed that since patriarchy constituted the devil they knew, women voting could turn out to be they devil they didn’t know. If Bess and Edna examined these issues in their own lives, they weren’t alone in struggling with a fundamental issue facing their generation: To what extent would they put themselves on the line to be free? Bess represented a hard liner. Edna hoped to find a middle way.

EDNA BELIEVED LUCRETIA AND JAMES MOTT HAD WORKED OUT EQUAL PARTNERSHIP IN THEIR MARRIAGE

Bess identified with radically-minded women such as suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony who didn’t mind being called a “war horse,” “battleaxe,” and “unsexed.” Anthony believed that women’s freedom was more important than worrying about being called nasty names. Words like war horse and unsexed were used often by men like Mr. Weiss to label women who supported social equality and freedom. Bess described herself as a restless “New Woman,” a category of individuals who had no intention of finding self fulfillment within the limitations of “true womanhood” and marriage.

Only Lucretia Mott’s husband, James Mott, represented one of the few examples Edna found of an ideal Quaker man who could be himself and yet uphold his partner’s dignity and right to a full expression of power in the affairs of the material world. In Edna’s mind, the Motts had demonstrated the potential of equal partnership at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 when both participated fully in the landmark women’s rights convention. In 1903, Edna hadn’t met Wilmer Kearns yet. After she did, the couple met at the Market Street teahouse as they got to know each other better. Teahouses represented a refuge, not only for Edna, Bess and Wilmer, but for many young people of their generation.

STORY RESOURCES: GET OUT THE WIKIPEDIA:  George Sand. Germantown. Lucretia Mott. Friends’ Central. Quaker. Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Mary Wollstonecraft. Susan B. Anthony. James Mott.

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The book that got Bess in trouble: Women’s suffrage storytelling special!

WATCH THE VIDEO ON SUFFRAGE WAGON

Suffrage Storytelling is how we reach women voters, young voters, teachers, students & American history fans! on Vimeo.

SUFFRAGE WAGON CAFE PROGRAM on Suffrage Storytelling by Marguerite Kearns, your cafe host.

On the street where Edna grew up in Philadelphia, her best friend Bess became an outsider compared to most of the other young women interested in marriage and starting a family at the turn of the 20th century. Bess insisted on remaining single because of the limited rights for married women. This caused considerable distress for Bess because she loved men and romance and fashionable dresses. But Bess drew the line in terms of what she’d have to sacrifice in terms of her freedom. And so in her mid teens Bess announced to family and friends that although she invited love and romance into her life, she drew the line at marriage.

MR. WEISS WANTED HIS DAUGHTER BESS TO CHOOSE MARRIAGE, NOT FREEDOM

In the larger world, Bess wasn’t alone. Many young women like Bess longed for choices and opportunities. Increasing numbers of them, like Bess, were in a position to receive an education paid for by their fathers. Mr. Weiss wanted his daughter to be the best possible wife for a man. This included becoming a clever conversationalist, someone skilled in household management, music and art –all of the skills and opportunities that could be acquired with a proper education. And so at home, Mr. Weiss caved into pressure from his wife and daughter for Bess to attend high school, an opportunity denied to most young women of that generation.

BESS RAIDED THE PUBLIC LIBRARY SHELVES FOR BOOKS BY WOMEN WRITERS

Suffrage Storytelling features tale about how Bess got in trouble with her parents! on Vimeo.

When Bess attended high school with her best friend Edna, Bess raided the public library shelves and borrowed books from teachers. She read radical women writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Margaret Fuller. Bess also heard stories about Lucretia Mott who turned the heads of old Philadelphia fogies with her radical abolitionist organizing. Many men quaked in their boots when hearing about the ways in which Lucretia Mott and her husband James Mott practiced equality in their marriage relationship. The word got around about how James played an essential role at the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

YOUNG WOMEN LIKE BESS WANTED TO LIVE A FULL LIFE & THIS GOT BESS IN TROUBLE

Young women like Bess traveled to New York City to witness for themselves the outrageous bells of Greenwich Village who strutted and pranced and showed off their liberated views about women’s equality and freedom. To her father’s dismay and regret, Bess turned out to be exactly what her father despised: an independent thinker, someone committed to remaining single and spending all her free time looking for cracks in the family’s armored existence. All of this came to a head when Mrs. Weiss found the book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft under Bess’ mattress in her bedroom.

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WILMER KEARNS ENTERED THE PICTURE . . .

Young Edna Buckman followed in the footsteps of her best friend Bess and announced her intention not to marry. But this resolve was eroded when she met Wilmer Kearns at an art exhibit in Philadelphia. We’ll find out about how this disagreement about marriage impacted the friendship of Bess and Edna on “Suffrage Storytelling.” The ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft and other women writers weren’t taught in school during my youth. Today I find it fascinating to discover the impact they had on my grandmother Edna and other young women like Bess, as well as the previous generation of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others.

COMING SOON: THE BOOK THAT GOT BESS IN DEEP TROUBLE WITH HER PARENTS. You’ll be able to experience the book yourself on audio.
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Suffrage Storytelling series to be launched at Suffrage Wagon Cafe on July 8, 2015

Watch the Video

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is introducing its women’s suffrage storytelling series on July 8, 2015. Are you subscribed? This long-awaited series links story to facts. People who follow the Suffrage Wagon love the details and how the cafe is opening its doors. Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe.

Check out past story videos and start following the adventures of Edna Buckman Kearns and Wilmer Kearns. Teachers and students who follow the suffrage wagon tell us that they love the facts best when delivered with story. And Bess is a rebel girl, someone who challenges her best friend Edna Buckman who’s determined to become an activist in the women’s suffrage movement. Bess views herself as an outsider, and she’s headed out into the world as a free independent woman. No marriage for Bess. But Edna had romance on her mind.

Links to Suffrage Wagon News Channel‘s updates and announcements: Our second year of telling the story of the July 4th co-conspirators. National award for “Spirit of 1776” music video, plus other video highlights for women voters. Path through History weekend in NYS includes programs on women’s rights. Women’s history myth and free ebook, “Jailed for Freedom” by Doris Stevens. June special program from Suffrage Wagon Cafe about the perks of visiting Seneca Falls, NY. Get prepared for the upcoming “Suffragette” film from the UK by checking out the BBC series, “Shoulder to Shoulder.”

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Great news about national award for Suffrage Wagon music video, plus 9 suffrage storytelling videos!

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Don’t be left behind! Head out to Votes for Women centennial celebrations in 2020 and 2017! on Vimeo.

GREAT NEWS:

The National Federation of Press Women has awarded the Suffrage Wagon music video, “The Spirit of 1776: A Suffragette Anthem,” second price in its category (32A) in the national media competition. “Spirit of 1776,” an anthem to sing along with, inspired by the horse-drawn wagon and used by activist Edna Kearns, is now in the collection of the New York State Museum. This award-winning music video by songwriter and performer Eighty Bug recognizes the vast grassroots network that became necessary to build support for women voting over a period of 72 years.

OTHER VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM SUFFRAGE WAGON NEWS CHANNEL:

1. The video story of how “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon came to travel for the suffrage movement.  YouTube.  Vimeo.

2. What happened on July 1, 1913 when the “Spirit of 1776” wagon hit the streets to organize for the suffrage movement is highlighted in numerous newspaper articles in the metropolitan New York City area. YouTube.  Vimeo.

3. Little Serena Kearns accompanied her mother Edna Kearns on the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776.” This video highlights the many ways in which Serena became a poster child for the women’s suffrage movement on Long Island and in NYC. YouTube. Vimeo.

4. The Kearns family (Edna, Wilmer and Serena) set out on the “hike” to Albany, NY with Rosalie Jones to see the Governor about women’s suffrage on January 1, 1914. This video highlights the march. Vimeo.

5. Edna Kearns worked closely with many women on Long Island to organize for the vote. This video focuses on Rosalie Jones and her highly-publicized marches and events.

6. Edna’s husband, Wilmer R. Kearns, not only supported his wife and daughter in suffrage movement activities, but he participated as well.

7. Photos from the life of suffragist Edna Kearns. The family photo album snapshots.

8. Edna Kearns and Serena Kearns picketed the White House in 1917.

9. The “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon played an important part in the 1913 organizing campaign on Long Island. The wagon was also used for speakers’ platforms, for exhibits and suffrage parades in New York City.


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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.

BUT WHAT ABOUT EDNA’S DETERMINATION NOT TO MARRY?

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.

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Kearns Family Members Got Together over the Holidays: Marguerite’s Musings

Marguerite's Musings

It’s always fun to stumble on a family connection. It’s one thing to know that my Kearns relatives are still based in Beavertown, PA where my grandfather Wilmer Kearns was born. And it’s even more exciting to know the extent of their ties and how they spent the holidays visiting, either in the NYC area or Beavertown, PA

I found a social notice of Max and Peg Kearns (Wilmer’s brother and sister in law) visiting Wilmer and Edna Kearns in 1917 in the South Side Observer of Long Island, December 30, 1917. “Mr. and Mrs. Charles Maxwell Kearns, of Pennsylvania, are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer Kearns for several weeks.”

I’m busy documenting how Wilmer Kearns served as treasurer of Kearns Motor Car Company, the family business,  when he and Edna lived in New York City. And Lulu Kearns, Wilmer’s sister, played an important part of suffrage organizing with my grandmother Edna Kearns in 1913.

A holiday video greeting.

Another opportunity to celebrate the holidays with the Suffrage Wagon on Vimeo.

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