Lula M. (Fish) Lesure1875 - 1949
One of the first female city councilors in Keene.
Lula Lesure became active in local and state politics the same year that the 19th amendment passed, guaranteeing most American women the right to vote. She served as one of the first female city councilors in Keene and was a very active member of the community for years.
On October 23rd, 1875, Lula Mary Fish was born in Keene to Albert and Mary (Boyd) Fish. At the time, her father worked as a mechanic but he later became a house carpenter. Lula grew up in Keene and eventually married traveling salesman George Henry Lesure at the age of 20 years. The Lesure family manufactured and sold medicine for animals as the John G. Leisure Company.
George soon took over his family’s business in Keene, becoming the proprietor of the firm. Two years into their marriage, their son Paul, was born and the family moved to 140 Winchester Street, next door to George’s parents.
In her 40s, Lula became an active member of many women-led clubs and societies in the city. In 1916 and 1917 she served as one of the vice presidents of the Froebel Club—an organization dedicated to the development of kindergartens, named after German educator Frederick Froebel.
In addition to her support of early childhood education, Lula was a supporter of local healthcare initiatives and issues related to women’s role in society. She was the secretary of the Hospital Aid Society from about 1921 to 1926. She also was an active member of the Keene Women’s Club and, at one point, even served as their president.
In 1920, the year women won the right to vote, 45-year old Lula was elected to city council, representing Ward 5. She was one of seven women elected to office that year and one of five elected to the city council. During her term, she served on the public parks, public library, fire department, and comfort station committees. The comfort station committee was established as a result of a national movement to increase the number of public restrooms and safe gender-segregated spaces in public spaces.
After serving her two-year term as City Councilor, Lula became Vice-President of the League of New Hampshire Women Voters (formerly known as the New Hampshire Women’s Suffrage Association). In 1923 and 1924 she served as their President. Lula was also a member of the Women’s Division of the New Hampshire Republican Party and attended their meetings. In 1928, topics included women who were indifferent to voting, the rise of criminals in America, and a need to curb criminal behavior.
On March 16th, 1949 Lula Mary Lesure died at her son’s home in Texas. She is remembered for her public service to the city of Keene and for her work on behalf of women in New Hampshire.
Biography by Grace Phippard, August 2020