Today in Feminist History: The “Overlea Contingent” of Suffrage Hikers Arrives in Baltimore

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 24, 1913: General Rosalie Jones’ suffragist Army of the Hudson is reunited and back to full strength again!

Colonel Craft’s contingent marched into Baltimore, Maryland, on this 13th day of the hike from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. Ida Craft’s small detachment of troops enjoyed a big sendoff this morning from the villagers at Overlea, with four-year-old Albert Ayeman and six-year-old Julia Raspe, both wearing suffrage-yellow streamers, leading the procession out of town.

In Raspeburg, the hikers were met by members of the Just Government League, who gave the travelers a luncheon at the home of the league’s president. Though Colonel Craft’s feet may be in notoriously poor condition after all these days of hiking, her voice is still at its best. After her luncheon speech, some of her listeners were sufficiently motivated to start a suffrage club and will be presenting Craft with a gold medal in Washington on March 3rd for her courage and devotion to the cause.

As was the case yesterday, when the main body of troops arrived, the police were again present in sufficient numbers to give the hikers a pleasant entry into Baltimore. The marchers were joined by a delegation of women from Goucher College as well.

PHOTO: The “Overlea Contingent” of the suffragist Army of the Hudson arriving this morning in Baltimore. Among those in the group is Elizabeth Freeman, in front of Lausanne, the suffragist horse pulling the literature (“ammunition”) wagon. Colonel Craft is just to the left of the police officer at the right of the photo.

General Jones spent today at her headquarters in the Hotel Stafford, sending hikers out to various speaking engagements and to sell postcards bearing photos of the hike and individual hikers, while she made plans for the final days of this exceedingly successful campaign.

But nearly two weeks on the road have caused some dissension in the ranks. Colonel Craft, still angry about General Jones’ decision to push on to Baltimore yesterday instead of stopping at Overlea, as planned, clearly thinks there should be more time spent socializing with the locals even if it means less hiking. A brisk pace was justifiable in New Jersey, with a couple of hundred miles of marching ahead in unpredictable winter weather and over as yet unscouted, muddy roads. But there’s now a full week left until the big parade and pageant in Washington, D.C., and only a relatively short distance to go, so a change of pace and priorities seems in order.

As Colonel Craft put it:

I don’t believe in rushing around the country. We are now engaged in going at a ‘six-day bicycle race speed,’ and I am frank to say I don’t like it. There must be consideration shown to both the pilgrims and to those who offer us their hospitality. I will obey the reasonable commands of General Jones, but when General Jones wants to cut out all the social functions, which I think are necessary to the cause, it is going too far. We cannot slight Southern hospitality. I am going on to Washington, and if General Jones cares to push on in this ‘six-day bicycle’ manner, I will not. I started to Washington, and intend to get there.

Despite some ruffled feathers among the hikers after yesterday’s dispute over where to stop for the night, there is no doubt that the hike will go on. In fact, Constance Leupp was sent ahead to Washington to help coordinate plans for the hikers’ arrival and activities in that city. Leupp will return to Baltimore tonight and plans to march with the troops when they resume their trek day after tomorrow.


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.