Julia Frances Ashley Pierce

Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage

Personal Information

Date of Birth

07/31/1843

Date of Death

12/20/1926

Primary Residence

Barnard

Religion

Universalist

Historical Significance

Julia Frances Ashley Pierce was born in Barnard, Vermont on July 31, 1843 and was the eldest daughter of Madison and Hannah Jewett Ashley. Although information about Pierce's childhood is scarce, it is evident that she had educational opportunities and enlightening experiences outside of the domestic sphere. However, at the core of Pierce's personal and moral growth was her devotion to the Universalist Church, her unflagging loyalty and interest promoting the successful administration of its affairs.

Pierce was married to Mr. Edward L. Pierce of Rochester on October 24, 1871. While carrying out her household tasks and raising two sons, Leslie D. Pierce and Chester E. Pierce, Pierce became active in Vermont's Equal Suffrage Association, serving as a most capable President and accomplished public speaker for a number of years. An article from the Chelsea Herald, published on February 8, 1917, begins, "Randolph has survived the shock occasioned by the holding, at the high school auditorium last Friday evening, of its first public meeting for disseminating equal suffrage wisdom." Pierce and Annette W. Parmelee of Enosburg Falls were the featured speakers, with Pierce opening the meeting by touching upon the growth of the movement in Vermont since the first suffrage convention held in St. Johnsbury on November 8, 1883.

Despite her many personal and public responsibilities, Pierce found time in her busy schedule to own and operate a millinery shop and to become one of the original incorporators of the Rochester Electric Light & Power Department. An unwavering pride and interest in her community prompted Pierce, along with her sister, Mrs. Ellen Pierce, to build the Pierce Memorial Hall in 1916. Even though the building was owned by the Pierce family, the beautiful auditorium and meeting rooms constructed within its walls were always made available for local affairs. The structure has since been donated to the Town of Rochester and remains a source of pride and enjoyment to the town.

Pierce died of pneumonia on December 20, 1926 at the age of 84 in Rochester, having been ill only a week. Her obituary simply stated that, "Her devotion to her children and . . . six grandchildren cannot be measured in words. Her hospitable home whose doors have opened wide for many years to old and young, rich and poor, to those in need of comfort, and to those with whom she rejoiced, will not be quite the same even with her loyal sister left. Her cherished garden will miss her love and care; the garden whence so many flowers have gone to comfort the sick and sorrowing and to gladden the house of worship, the garden where her friends so often found her, remains a living memorial to a beautiful life."

Organizations or Movements

  • President, Vermont's Equal Suffrage Association

Occupations

  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Public Speaker
  • Business Owner
  • Business Incorporator

Education

  • High School

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "The Vermonter" Link