Women's Suffrage



Ohio Women's Suffrage Minutes 1890-1895

Caroline McCullough Everhard Papers
Collection of the Massillon Museum (BC 2154.5)



Caroline McCullough Everhard Journal c. January 1890 - September 1901

Discusses many topics including Women's Suffrage, Humane Society, Zoar canal boats, religion, local anecdotes.

Caroline McCullough Everhard Papers
Collection of the Massillon Museum (BC 2154.1)

Everhard Scrapbook c. 1890-1891

Scrapbook of newspaper clippings related to Women's Suffrage, Charity Rotch School of Kendal, the Humane Society, and other organizations.

Caroline McCullough Everhard Papers
Collection of the Massillon Museum (BC 2154.5)




Betsey Mix Cowles was one of the original female graduates of Oberlin Collegiate Institute, the first college in the United States to welcome women.  She drew the attention of the matriarch of women’s rights, Lucretia Mott, because of Betsey’s zeal for education reform, abolition, and woman’s suffrage.  Mott’s parents, the Coffins, lived in Kendal.  Mott visited Massillon in 1847, to speak about their mutual cause, anti-slavery, just before Miss Cowles arrived to teach at the new Union School.

In 1850, Betsey Cowles was president of the Salem Women’s Rights Convention- the first to be held in Ohio.  The mission of those gathered was to influence Ohio legislators to include suffrage for women as they drafted a new state constitution.  Although their immediate effort failed, twenty years later they realized some reward.  As Wyoming was organized, the first territorial governor, Republican John W. Campbell, was expected to veto a woman’s suffrage bill, which had passed in the Democratic legislature.  In contrast to his party line, the governor signed the bill- a milestone in women’s battle for the vote.  Campbell and several friends who had attended the Salem convention out of curiosity were touched by the message they heard and impressed by meeting’s leader Betsey Mix Cowles.

Photograph by Abel Fletcher (1820-1890)
Abel Fletcher Collection, Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

Lucretia Coffin Mott, c. 1851. Lucretia Mott fought for women’s rights and slave emancipation. Her parents lived in Kendal (now Massillon) for a short time. She was a niece of Mayhew and Mary Joy Folger. She delivered a lecture in Massillon in 1847 and reportedly posed for a daguerreotype in Abel Fletcher’s studio during her visit. This photograph was copied from the original Fletcher daguerreotype.

Photograph by Abel Fletcher (1820-1890)
Courtesy Lithgow Osbourne.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Broadside
At the height of the romantic gaslight era, in 1869, community leaders Jacob C. Bucher, Thomas McCullough, Dwight Jarvis, and J. Walter McClymonds built Massillon’s three-story Opera Block on the west side of South Erie Street between Diamond Court and Charles Avenue.  Guests reached the third-floor performance hall by a grand center stair on the first floor, which branched to a twin set of steps to the upper level.  Gas footlights illuminated the stage, which was surrounded by a semicircular gallery.

That elegant stage was a prime stop between Pittsburgh and Chicago.  The $100,000 Bucher Opera House drew famous speakers, musicians, athletes, and actors of the day.  Woman’s suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, thespian Lillian Russell, actors Edmund Burke and Edwin Booth, boxers Bob Fitzsimmons and John L. Sullivan, and atheist Robert Ingersoll were among the headliners.

To advertise the Elizabeth Cady Stanton lecture in 1875, promoters posted broadsides at the opera house and in public areas throughout Massillon.  New York City lithographer William Dreser is credited with the portrait of Mrs. Stanton; W.J. Morgan & Co. Lithographers in Cleveland produced the poster.
Mrs. Stanton may have been drawn to speak in Massillon because the town had a history of feminist activism.  The parents of Lucretia Mott, one of the nation’s earliest suffrage leaders, lived in Kendal, which had become part of Massillon in 1853.  Mott had spoken in Massillon in 1847.  Betsy Mix Cowles presided over a woman’s rights convention in Massillon shortly after Mott’s lecture.  The notorious Victoria Claflin Woodhull had lived in Massillon as a young woman before moving to New York City to become a stockbroker,
a national spiritualist leader, a suffrage advocate, and a presidential candidate.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) and her long-time colleague Susan B. Anthony were the architects and instigators of the influential 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, providing impetus for the woman’s suffrage movement.  At that meeting, Stanton's landmark resolution passed.  She asserted that it was the duty of American women to gain for themselves the sacred right to vote."   Her resolution became the focus of the women’s campaign. A well-spoken orator for the vote, Mrs. Stanton had studied law with her father, who became a New York Supreme Court judge.  As the mother of seven, she brought to the cause the aspect of family and duty to daughters.  Fifteen years after Stanton spoke at Massillon’s Opera House, Massillon’s Caroline McCullough Everhard, who followed in her father’s financial footsteps, led the successful drive for suffrage for Ohio women in school and municipal issues.

Gift of Mrs. Horatio W. Wales (BC 156)
Collection of the Massillon Museum

Caroline McCullough was a young and eager student as Betsey Mix Cowles began teaching at the Union School.  Mrs. Everhard, like Cowles before her, was an energetic activist.  Highly respected for her public charitable works and her administrative ability, Everhard wrote for numerous literary journals, presided over the Charity School of Kendal board of trustees, helped found the Massillon Humane Society and the Massillon High School Alumnal Association, and helped organize and direct the McClymonds Public Library.  In 1885, after the death of her father, Thomas McCullough, she was named to his seat on the board of directors of the Union National Bank, making her the first woman bank director in Ohio.

As a woman of considerable wealth and the owner of taxable property, Mrs. Everhard suffered the injustice of paying money into the city treasury while having no voice in making the laws controlling the community.  Her sense of injustice impelled her to organize and equal rights association for Massillon and Canton in the late 1880s.  In 1889 she traveled to Columbus as a delegate to the Ohio Suffrage Association convention; the following year she was elected president of the association, an office which she held for ten years.

With help from her Canton friend, Governor William McKinley, Mrs. Everhard and her colleagues persuaded Ohio legislators in 1894 to allow females to vote on school issues and to elected to local school boards.  She campaigned zealously in 1895 to elect Elizabeth Folger to Massillon’s board of education, as one of the first women in the state to serve in that capacity.  When a bill was introduced into the Ohio legislature to repeal school suffrage for women, Mrs. Everhard mobilized woman suffrage sympathizers statewide, and they presented petitions bearing forty thousand signatures, squelching the repeal.

The Ohio Suffrage Association, with Mrs. Everhard as spokeswoman, also persuaded the state legislature to allow municipalities the option of permitting women to vote in municipal elections.  Although she was primarily responsible for that milestone, she and the other women of Massillon were denied that franchise throughout her lifetime.

Described by historian John H. Lehman as “a natural reformer,” Caroline McCullough Everhard was described in The Evening Independent on April 15, 1902, as “distinguished in appearance and bearing… quick in thought and word.” Her obituary said she stood “as a continual refutation of the image that a woman suffragist must of necessity neglect her home, husband, and children.”

Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1836-1927)
Victoria Claflin and her sister Tennessee moved to New York City to become brokers on Wall Street.  They were the first women to operate on Wall Street.  They made a fortune only to squander it. Both of the Claflin sisters were active in the women’s suffrage movement and shared the stage with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony during speeches.  
Victoria Claflin Woodhull would lose support of her fellow suffragists with her beliefs.  Woodhull was a Spiritualist and preached “free love.”  When she ran for president in 1872 against Ulysses S. Grant she lost the support of women all around the country with her “free love” platform.  Victoria and her sister were jailed the day of the elections for sending obscenities through the mail.  Woodhull lost the election.  This was no surprise since women were not allowed to vote and she had offended most of the country.




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