Today in Feminist History: Good News from the Suffrage Scout Car

Today in Feminist History is our daily recap of the major milestones and minor advancements that shaped women’s history in the U.S.—from suffrage to Shirley Chisholm and beyond. These posts were written by, and are presented in homage to, our late staff historian and archivist, David Dismore.

February 22, 1913: Cheered by the news from Scout Car Driver Olive Schultz that the road ahead today was merely “bad,” and therefore a substantial improvement over yesterday’s atrocious conditions, the suffrage hikers left on an 18-mile trek from Havre De Grace to Belair, Maryland, this morning.

Day 11 of their Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., hike started out in a steady, but not heavy, rain as the Army of the Hudson was escorted out of town by the local high school principal and some of his students, all bearing yellow suffrage banners.

But while the weather and the roads have been hostile ever since the troops crossed into Maryland, General Jones has been quite pleased by the enthusiastic reception from the people she’s meeting along the way. Today was no exception as the hikers went through small villages such as Dogtown, Howling Run, Constantinople and Webster.

In Constantinople, the hikers were welcomed by Henry Jobbins, the “one man band.” On his back was a big drum with cymbals, operated with his elbow, and in front an accordion. Though the pilgrims enjoyed the concert, the same can’t be said for Lausanne, the suffragist horse, who immediately bolted and nearly overturned the literature (“ammunition”) wagon. Once the horse was led out of earshot, the performance continued, much to the delight of the now strictly human audience.

PHOTO: Scout Car Driver Olive Schultz, who motors ahead each day to gather up-to-the-minute information about road conditions so the hikers will know what to expect, and who also contacts city officials, newspaper reporters and hotel operators at each of the hikers’ next stops.

In Webster, half the population turned out for the festivities. At Churchville, the hikers were given lunch, and in return were happy to give speeches, with Elizabeth Freeman doing so while standing on a chair, and General Jones speaking as well. 

After lunch, things took a brief downturn when the troops encountered one snake and six anti-suffragists. The nearby snake startled General Jones as she was drinking some water from a spring, causing her to remark: “This is the worst fright I have received since the hike began !” When passing by six women waving anti-suffrage banners, the marchers merely cheered “Votes for Women !” once and moved on. 

The “Regular Army” troops are always supplemented by those who want to show their support, as well as be able to say that they have been a part of this historic event. So, tonight a member of the wealthy Biddle family of Philadelphia turned up at the hikers’ hotel in Belair, intending to do some walking tomorrow. Representing the opposite end of the economic spectrum is William Johnson. He wears a “Sons of Veterans” (of the Civil War) uniform, and has now re-joined the suffrage army. He began marching in Newark, Delaware, but ran out of money and had to spend two days working at a mill in Elkton, Maryland, to earn enough to continue to D.C.

It was late afternoon when the little army, accompanied by First Troop, Owl Patrol of the Boy Scouts, straggled into Belair. The hikers were far apart, so the line of marchers stretched out over two miles. For the second day Colonel Craft was the last to arrive. There is more concern than ever about the condition of her feet, which are now so swollen that she cannot fasten her shoes. But “I am going through,” she said tonight, and she fully expects to be ready for duty again tomorrow, when the hikers plan to walk 21 miles to Overlea, and be within five miles of Baltimore. There was some talk of going all the way to Baltimore tomorrow, but a huge welcoming celebration is planned for the day after tomorrow, so a delegation from that city came out and asked the hikers to stay on schedule, which they agreed to do. 

One final piece of news cheered the hikers tonight. A message was received from Police Marshal Farnan reassuring the marchers that a large contingent of Baltimore police officers will greet them, so there will be no repetition of the incident in Philadelphia when only 6 officers were assigned to escort the hikers through an unruly crowd of 2,000 upon their arrival.


David Dismore is the archivist for the Feminist Majority Foundation. His journey from would-be weather forecaster to full-time feminist began with the powerful impression made by a photo and a few paragraphs about the suffragists in his high school history textbook; years later, he had his first encounter with NOW—in which he carefully peeked in a window before opening the door to be sure men were allowed. He was eventually active in the ERA extension campaign of 1978, embarked on a cross-country bikeathon for it in 1982 and even worked for pioneers Toni Carabillo and Judith Meuli.