Otis Willcox, Mary (c. 1862 – 1933)

Otis Willcox, Mary (c. 1862 – 1933)

  • <p>Mary Otis Willcox (detail), The Women Voter 1917. Courtesy of the Staten Island Museum.</p> <p>Mary Otis Willcox (detail) The Women Voter, 1917 Gift of Arthur Hollick Collection of Staten Island Museum | A1919.1371</p>

Mary Otis Wilcox was the daughter of Sydney Howard Gay and therefore grew up in that powerful abolitionist family. During the Civil War Draft Riots her life and that of her mother were threatened while her father protected the offices of the New York Tribune, where he worked.

Mary carried on the philanthropic activities of her family into the Progressive Era, becoming very active in the suffrage movement. In addition, she and her husband donated land to the congregation of the Shiloh AME Zion Church (see image below). After her husband's death Mary sat on the Board of Trustees at the Tuskegee Institute (see article below).

"Described as “indefatigable” by her fellow suffragists, Willcox began her work as an officer in the Political Equality Club and then spearheaded the local campaign as Chair of the Staten Island Woman Suffrage Party. A wealthy woman, Willcox was able to host many of the Party’s events in her home, provide her car to transport suffrage speakers around the island, and give generously to the movement’s fundraising efforts. She and her husband, William G. Willcox supported many of Staten Island’s charitable organizations, including the Red Cross, Shiloh AME Zion Church, and the Staten Island Museum. In fact, at her death, the Museum recognized her as the first woman to serve on its Board of Trustees." (Text courtesy of the Staten Island Museum exhibit "Women of the Nation Arise.")

Read an article Mary wrote for The Women Voter at: https://tinyurl.com/y26yx7sc.

  • <p>Shiloh AME Zion Church. Image courtesy of Debbie-Ann Paige.</p>
  • <p>Mary Otis Willcox is made a trustee of the Tuskegee Institute at Howard University. The New York Age, 24 May 1924, p4.</p>