Hall of Fame of Delaware Women
Mary Seward Phillips Eskridge
In 1883, when Mary S. P. Eskridge was born, most people felt that a woman’s place was in the home, and Mary became a dedicated homemaker. She also became more: ultimately, paving the way for today’s woman. Mary was a teacher for a short while in Bethel, DE before her marriage to Capt. John R. Eskridge in 1903, After the birth of her first two children, she joined the Seaford Acorn club becoming its president in 1913, and continuing active Club work well into the 1960s. Mary was elected vice-president of the Seaford Parent Teacher Association in 1915 and remained active that association until 1936 after serving a two-year term as the Association’s President. Mary jumped at the chance to join the suffrage rights movement in 1919. She was propelled from being vice president of the Seaford branch on September 12 to Sussex County co-Chairman the following day, and to State Treasurer by November 1919. This work led Mary to become active in the Delaware League of Women Voters where she served as Treasurer and assisted in the caravans that toured Sussex County in 1924. Mary’s husband became Mayor of Seaford in 1920 with Mary by his side campaigning for him. In 1922, she was elected a Sussex County member of the new Democratic State Committee and in 1928 was elected Democratic National Committee Woman of Delaware, a position she held for eight years. After WWI, Mary served as Western Sussex Chair of the Victory Loan Program and became a driver for the Red Cross Motor Service transportation program. Under the New Deal she worked for the National Youth Administration Program and the WPA in Sussex County. During WWII she accepted a position with the Seaford Shipbuilding Company. Mary S. P. Eskridge died in 1967 while visiting her daughter in Texas. Read more about the incredible accomplishments of this inductee.
Margaret Burton White Houston
Margaret Burton White Houston (1864-1937) “felt deeply about the times and the social struggles of her sex.” In 1897, as a young wife and mother, she appeared before the Delaware Constitutional Convention and urged that the new Constitution grant Delaware women the right to vote. At that time, she spoke for the Equal Suffrage Clubs of Sussex County. She was also a founding Vice- President of the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association and worked tirelessly on behalf of woman's suffrage. Margaret Burton White Houston was also involved in other activities on behalf of women and her community. She was a founder and first president of the New Century Club of Georgetown (1898), a women's club devoted to civic improvement. Perhaps its most notable accomplishment was establishing the Georgetown Library. Mrs. Houston served as an early president of the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs (1903-05). Before becoming involved in the suffrage movement, Mrs. Houston, along with her mother and sisters, was active in the temperance movement, which they believed would benefit women who suffered abuse from drunk partners and was a forerunner of today's efforts to quell domestic violence. Margaret Burton White Houston was well educated, being an 1887 graduate of the Academy of Newark Delaware, and she was a talented helpmate for her husband, Robert G. Houston, a Georgetown lawyer and publisher. In a 1983 remembrance, her niece recalled that Margaret Burton White Houston “was a firebrand who never hesitated to speak her mind, most decidedly, on anything she felt important.” But at the same time “her remarks were polite, and she never knowingly insulted anyone, no matter how incensed she felt.” Along with her suffrage activities and civic involvement, Mrs. Houston raised three children, opened her home for extended stays by family and other visitors, and enjoyed baking, gardening and painting watercolors. Read more about the incredible accomplishments of this inductee.