Ada Louise Kendall

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Ada Louise Kendall (Davenport)

Birthplace: Erie, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Loren Daniel Davenport and Esther Davenport
Wife of Frederick Willard Kendall
Mother of Gilbert Marjorie Kendall; Frederick W Kendall, Jr; Sidney Chaddock Knapp and Davenport Kendall

Occupation: Newspaper Writer
Managed by: Alice Zoe Marie Knapp
Last Updated:

About Ada Louise Kendall

In January, 1919, Ada Davenport Kendall had joined a band of distinguished women from all over the United States to march on Washington and protest in support of women’s right to vote. They chained themselves to the fence outside the White House, so that they couldn’t be driven away, and they were taunted and beaten…

Many of the women protesting with my great-grandmother in 1919 were society women, wives of prominent politicians, elegant and dignified, and they couldn’t believe how they were treated when all they were asking for – peacefully – was the right to vote.

Many of them were jailed. Ada was sent to the notorious Occoquan workhouse – where conditions were far more ghastly than most people know. The Occoquan, she wrote, was “a place of chicanery, sinister horror, brutality and dread” from which “no one could come out without just resentment against any government which could maintain such an institution.” Family legend has it that her husband, Frederick Kendall, printed her letters to him in his newspaper and eventually word of the atrocities to these women spread around the country. She got the jail, the jailers, and some dreadful politicians into so much trouble that she was released early, and theybegged her to leave the jail.

Of course, she refused. She insisted that every single suffragette who was still being held – without charges, without a trial, and treated with great cruelty – had to be released as well. After that she was confined to solitary again and when she protested that treatment again by going on a hunger strike she was forcibly fed – which, the way it was done back then, was another form of torture.

When she was twenty, she became the first woman reporter for the Buffalo Express. The then city editor, Frederick Kendall, (he later became publisher) objected strenuously – but within two years they were married. I love to imagine their conversations!

While Ada was incarcerated at the infamous Occoquan workhouse, she spent much of her time in solitary confinement, where she made friends with one of the many rats, shared with it her meager portion of maggot-infested food, and named it Machiavelli.

A poem by her:


Like flash of wild bird in the night, A tender fleeting thing, — Or like a breath of soft sweet air When Winter kisses Spring, — As falling rose leaves in the rain Her fragrant presence seems ; She is the answer to my soul — The lady of my dreams.

With wild unrest she fills my heart, The tender fleeting thing, And yet I would not touch her hand Or still her wandering. As well imprison opal fire Or catch the moon’s white beams ; — And so I follow with my soul The lady of my dreams.



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Ada Louise Kendall's Timeline

March 31, 1867
Erie, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States
May 1891
Age 24
New York
June 1893
Age 26
New York
May 1895
Age 28
New York
August 1897
Age 30
New York