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Kearney, Belle (06 March 1863–27 February 1939), temperance advocate, suffragist, and legislator, was born Carrie Belle Kearney in Madison County, Mississippi, the daughter of Walter Gunston Kearney, a planter, lawyer, and politician, and Susannah Owens. Kearney was educated consecutively by a governess, public school, and the Canton Young Ladies’ Academy until the family could no longer afford the tuition. Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, she led the life of an impoverished “belle”: her autobiographical account describes taking in sewing for former slaves as well as dancing at the governor’s inaugural ball....

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Somerville, Nellie Nugent (25 September 1863–28 July 1952), suffrage organizer and legislator, was born Eleanor Fulkerson Nugent, in Greenville, Mississippi, the daughter of William Lewis Nugent, a lawyer, and Eleanor Fulkerson Smith. She was born with a deformed right hand, and her parents feared she would not survive; however, apparently most people who knew Somerville in her adult years were not even aware of her defective hand. Her mother died when Nellie was two years old. She was raised primarily by her grandmother S. Myra Smith until 1870, when she moved with her father from Greenville to Jackson. There he practiced law, became well known and wealthy, married again, and had another family....