Frances Vacher Roundey Tuttle (1873-1953)
By Lisa Hendrickson: Independent Historian
This biographical sketch was first published on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by permission. That database is accessible at https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/VOTESforWOMEN
President of the Madison Equal Suffrage League
Frances Vacher Roundey was born November 21, 1873 in Englewood, NJ to Benjamin Bray and Annie Roundey. Census records state her father’s occupation as a broker and that he was from Marblehead, MA. Her mother, Annie, was a descendent of Pierre Bacot who came from France in 1682 and settled in Charleston, SC. The family had personal connections with Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington. After initially residing in NJ, the family (including older sister Alice) had moved to New York City by 1900. On April 5, 1904 Frances married Joseph Nathaniel Tuttle (1863-1948) in New York City. Joseph was a Yale graduate and had his own law firm specializing in estate and surrogate work. His uncle William Parkhurst Tuttle wrote Bottle Hill and Madison, the complete history of Madison in 1917. The couple had two children and by 1910 was living in Madison, NJ. Their daughter Margaretta graduated from Vassar in 1927 and their son Wainwright graduated in engineering from Yale in 1932. There are many mentions of her in the society pages of the local Madison paper, but not much is known about the details of her life other than that she was very active in local garden clubs for many years. Joseph was active in local politics and was a city councilman in Madison from 1917-1920. Frances V. Tuttle died in Short Hills, NJ on October 2, 1953 and is buried at Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, NJ.
Frances Tuttle was an active participant in the suffrage movement. The earliest documentation shows that she was a member of the Madison Equal Suffrage League and that she acted as its president from 1914-1916. Her first project as president was to organize the group to canvas the town to ascertain the sentiments of the men toward women voting. With a group of more than 15 volunteers they traveled around Madison asking “Do you think women should be given the right to vote?” She spoke to reporters saying, “We do not expect to convert anyone by this canvas. We merely want to know what the men think of women having the right to vote. After the campaigning is over, we will seek to enlist those who favor our cause in the league as members who will not be required to pay any dues. There seem to be many people here who do not take us seriously. We want to let them know that we are indeed earnest that the question is one that will be before the people until it is settled.” The Camden Suffrage Conference was held in Camden, NJ in April 1914 which Tuttle attended and gave a presentation titled “Cooperating with the Legislative Committee”. In May of 1914, the city of Madison celebrated a Suffrage Day filled with speeches, a small automobile parade, and a big demonstration attended by both women and supportive men. Tuttle, as president of the Madison Equal Suffrage League, addressed the crowd along with other local dignitaries. She said, “The object of these demonstrations is to make the men and women of the country realize the strength of our demand for the ballot, to set them thinking on the subject, and to pass resolutions asking the congress to vote favorably on the woman suffrage amendment to the national constitution. The members of the Madison Equal Suffrage League believe very earnestly that our cause is a just one; that women have stood side by side with men in bearing all other responsibilities of life, and that women can take their share of the political duties also. There is one thing certain: We will always use the ballot to protect our homes and our children.” At the 1914 twenty fourth annual New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association Convention, held in Camden, NJ, she was selected to represent the league.
In September 1915 a large suffrage parade was organized in New York City by the Woman Suffrage Party. Over 100 prominent suffragists from New Jersey came in “gaily” decorated automobiles to join in the parade, represented the Madison Equal Suffrage League Frances Tuttle was one of them. After the parade in NYC, the group took the ferry from NY to Jersey City, NJ and then continued to travel to other cities in New Jersey including Elizabeth and New Brunswick. Later, in November 1915 as the chapter’s president, she gave an account of the proceedings of the New Jersey State Woman Suffrage Association board meeting where members of the leagues of fourteen counties had been present. At this meeting she was selected to be the delegate to attend the Washington, D.C. National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention being held in December. During the convention she served as chairman of the reorganization committee. Then in December of 1917 she again attended the forty-ninth NAWSA Convention in Washington, D.C. as one of the thirty New Jersey delegates.
After women gained the right to vote in 1920, Tuttle and her husband Joseph continued to be involved in politics. In 1923 her husband was elected the vice-chairman of the Borough Republican Committee and Frances was appointed to be a member of the Borough Committee which was made up of 29 men and women who were to serve with the ten county committee persons.
“Should Women Vote?” The Madison Eagle (Madison, NJ), January 23, 1914, pg. 4.
“Woman Suffrage Day is Celebrated in Madison by a Big Demonstration,” The Madison Eagle, May 8, 1914, pg. 2.
“Mrs. Joseph N. Tuttle a Delegate at Camden,” The Madison Eagle, November 6, 1914, pg. 1.
“Suffragists’ Tour Started Yesterday,” The Madison Eagle, September 9, 1915, pg. 11.
“Members of Madison Equal Suffrage League Surprise their President With Splendid Gift, “ The Madison Eagle, November 12, 1915, pg. 1.
“Women in War Time,” The Madison Eagle, February 23, 1917, pg. 1.
“Local Delegates Attend National Suffrage Meet,” The Madison Eagle, December 21, 1917, pg. 5.
“Borough Republican Committee Elects Officers,” The Madison Eagle, October 26, 1923, pg. 3.
- Federal Census: 1900, 1910
- US Cities Directories 1822-1995
- NJ State Census: 1915