When suffragist Alice Paul was buried in 1977 in a Quaker graveyard tucked away in Cinnaminson, there was no marker to show where she was laid to rest.

Her only survivor was her nephew, who said he didn't want any "crazy, women's-rights women traipsing around the family plot," said Barbara Irvine, a founder of the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, created to honor Paul's role in history.

After Paul's nephew died, the foundation helped pay for a humble gravestone to mark her resting place near a red Japanese maple in the Westfield Friends burial ground, Irvine said. That was a decade after Paul's death.

The little-known detail stands in stark contrast to the crowd that gathered at Paul's grave this month.

On Election Day this year, Paul's final resting place became a destination, attracting scores of people as the sun shone brightly and then later turned into drizzling rain. They came to pay homage to Paul for the critical role she played in winning women's suffrage on a historic day when a woman appeared on the ballot for the first time as a presidential candidate backed by a major party.

"There were a ton of visitors, maybe two dozen in the morning and afternoon that I could see," said Debra Hojsak, director of advancement at Westfield Friends School, adjacent to the burial ground. "People would take pictures and leave flowers, and one person left a note . . . People were very emotional and were thanking Alice Paul for the privilege of voting."

Hojsak said the schoolchildren visit the grave site each year and wear ribbon sashes of gold, purple, and white - the colors of the suffragist movement - to learn about Paul and the struggle to pass the 19th Amendment.

Irvine and Jean Perry, another founder of the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation, also have held candlelight vigils at the grave site to commemorate the Nov. 14, 1917 "Night of Terror," when Paul was force-fed and tortured following a hunger strike in a Virginia workhouse. Paul had been imprisoned after she led daily picketing at the White House, which is credited with moving the suffragist cause forward.

"We did a sort of reading of the trials she [Paul] suffered while in prison," Perry said. Later, the Centennial Foundation became the Alice Paul Institute, and it sponsored occasional candlelight vigils and held lectures about Paul at the graveyard.

But for many years after Paul's death, her role in the decades-long suffragist movement was largely eclipsed by other leaders. That changed this year when the Washington headquarters of the National Woman's Party, which she cofounded, was designated a national monument by President Obama and her image was approved for inclusion in a yet-to-be-redesigned $10 bill.

But her grave had not been on the public's radar until now.

Many of her ardent supporters, including Irvine, showed up at the Westfield Friends burial ground on Election Day. "I just wanted to talk to Alice," Irvine said, adding that she visits often in the hope of finding inspiration.

Irvine recalled how Alice Paul's nephew, Donald Paul, took legal control of her possessions when she became elderly. He had contacted the Centennial Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution to see if they wanted to purchase any of Alice Paul's items. Paul had never married, and Donald Paul was her brother's son and the only one left in the family. After his death, the Centennial Foundation and a few of Paul's cousins chipped in and paid for the gravestone, Irvine said.

On Election Day, some visitors were seeing the grave site for the first time. "I found a list of suffragette sites on Facebook and decided to come here today," Marielle Meth, a social worker from East Windsor, Mercer County, said, noting she had never been there before. Suzanne Gili Post, a program coordinator at the Katz Jewish Community Center and a poet from Haddonfield, came for the first time, too. She became misty-eyed as she said "thank you" to Paul at the grave, where bouquets were piling up.

In Rochester, N.Y., hundreds made the pilgrimage to the grave site of renowned suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Still others gathered at sites in Philadelphia dedicated to suffragists such as Mary Grew.

They placed their "I Voted" stickers on the gravestones of those suffragists in New York, Philadelphia, and also in tiny Cinnaminson.

The four-acre Cinnaminson burial ground has about 1,200 gravestones including Paul's, which is located behind the meetinghouse and close to a basketball net set up for the schoolchildren. The Quaker burial site is also the final resting place of Joseph Stokes, a doctor who played a role in creating an effective measles vaccine, and Samuel Leeds Allen, inventor of the Flexible Flyer sled.

Paul was born and raised on a Quaker farmstead in Mount Laurel and attended Moorestown Friends School, near Westfield Friends. She also went to Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania and earned multiple degrees before she made women's suffrage her life's work.

When she died in a Moorestown nursing home at age 92, she was buried in her family's plot in Cinnaminson along with her parents, her two brothers, and her sister. Her sister Helen is in an unmarked grave, according to burial records.


856-779-3224 @JanHefler