This biographical sketch first appeared on the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States and appears here by courtesy of the publisher, Alexander Street.
Biography of Elizabeth A. Chalk Herring, 1844-1926
By Rigby Philips, undergraduate, University of Maryland, College Park
Elizabeth A. “Lizzie” Chalk was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 22, 1844. Her parents were Elias and Elizabeth Chalk, and she had six siblings. Elias Chalk worked as a mechanic and laborer at Lanvale Factory in Jones Falls Valley, and Elizabeth Chalk kept house. Lizzie Chalk’s siblings were William, born in 1835; Sarah, born in 1837; Francis, born in 1840; Mahala, born in 1846; George, born in 1848; and Ida, born in 1853. When Lizzie Chalk was still living with her parents, she worked as a seamstress.
During the 1860s, Lizzie Chalk married Wilton S. Herring, a freight agent for the Northern Central Railway (NCRR). He worked at three stations in Maryland throughout his career at NCRR: Calvert Station, Jackson’s Wharf Station, and Canton Station. The Herrings had three children: Laura, Florence, and Willie. Elizabeth Herring resided on Gittings Avenue near Govanstown, Maryland, in Baltimore County for most of her adult life. In February 1890, Wilton Herring died suddenly, leaving her a widow.
Elizabeth Herring, a devout Christian, was active in the Govanstown religious community and was dedicated to charity work. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal denomination and was the president of the Ladies’ Aid Society at Govanstown Methodist Episcopal Church. In addition, she was active in the Baltimore branch of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society at Madison Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church and a member of the Ladies’ Emory Grove Home Improvement Association. In 1902, she served on a committee at Eutaw Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore to send Christmas boxes to several cities in India, China, Korea, and Japan.
Elizabeth Herring was especially active in the Baltimore County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), where she was a member of the executive committee. She also served as a Baltimore County delegate at several national conventions between 1892 and 1908. Herring personally advocated for prohibition of the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in addition to the prohibition of liquor traffic in 1894. She was elected the superintendent of the White Ribbon Herald, a WCTU newsletter, at the 24th Annual WCTU meeting in Baltimore County. The white ribbon, meant to symbolize purity, was the badge of the WCTU and was featured on the union’s logo.
One of Elizabeth Herring’s most important accomplishments was her foundation of the Era Club of Baltimore County in 1893 per the request of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, of which she was a member. The Era Club was a suffrage club for women, an acronym of sorts standing for equal rights association. Herring served as president of the Era Club until at least 1906.
In her lifetime, Elizabeth Herring faced two horrific experiences involving fire. In 1894, Herring’s barn was struck by lightning and the house kitchen caught on fire when the charge traveled along the electric wire. The fire was extinguished quickly without much damage. However, in 1901, a frame stable on her property in Govanstown was allegedly set on fire by two young boys playing with matches. The building was destroyed, and Herring blamed the loss on the county’s fire alarm telegraph, which she claimed was broken. The county commissioners decided that there was nothing to be done in regard to the complaint.
In her later years, Elizabeth Herring lived with her daughter, Laura Herring Anderson, and her family. Herring died on June 26, 1926, in Baltimore City. She was buried alongside her husband at Loudon Park Cemetery.
Find a Grave. Elizabeth A. Chalk Herring. Memorial no. 115525223. Accessed June 9, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115525223/elizebeth-a-herring.
Find a Grave. Wilton S. Herring. Memorial no. 115524761. Accessed June 8, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/115524761/wilton-s-herring.
“Gifts For Next Christmas.” Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD). May 22, 1902, p.7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Maryland,” chapter XIX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 258-76. [LINK]
Lantz, Emily Emerson. “Demand the Right to Vote.” Newspaper Clipping. Baltimore, MD. February 7, 1906, 4pp. Miller National American Woman Suffrage Association Scrapbooks. Scrapbook 4. Rare Books and Special Collections. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. First pages of clipping available at: https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbcmil.scrp2004702/. Last pages of clipping available at: https://www.loc.gov/item/rbcmiller002835/.
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“Large Stable of Mrs. Elizabeth Herring Destroyed by Fire.” Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD). September 10, 1901, p.7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
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“State W.C.T.U.” Midland Journal (Rising Sun, MD). October 9, 1903, p.2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89060136/1903-10-09/ed-1/seq-2/.
“W.C.T.U.” Cecil Whig (Elkton, MD). October 8, 1892, p.3. Newspapers.com.
“Baltimore County W.C.T.U. Holds Annual Meeting.” Baltimore County Union (Baltimore, MD). September 26, 1908, p.3, col.5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016368/1908-09-26/ed-1/seq-3/.
United States Census 1850, 1860, s.v. “Elizabeth Chalk, Baltimore, MD.” Ancestry Library Edition.
United States Census 1880, s.v. “Lizzie Herring, Baltimore, MD.” Ancestry Library Edition.
United States Census 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920, s.v. “Elizabeth Herring, Baltimore, MD.” Ancestry Library Edition.
Wilson, William Bender. History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company: With Plan of Organization,Portraits of Officials and Biographical Sketches, Volume 1. Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates & Company, 1895, pp.283-84. GoogleBooks.
“Wire Struck By Lightning.” Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD). June 15, 1894, p.7. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.