August 9, 2022
101 North Commercial Street Morgan, Utah 84050
Politics

Morgan Historical Society cuts ribbon on marker to honor Morgan Woman Suffrage Association

With mid-term elections tomorrow, it might be easy to take for granted having the right to vote. Rachel Turk, Morgan’s Historian, reminded a small group gathered at the Morgan County Library that voting has not always been a right of women.

Women in Morgan had the right to vote in their local elections from 1870 to 1887. In March of 1887, the United States Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which revoked the voting rights of all Utah Women. Feeling the need to fight back, the Utah Woman Suffrage Association was organized under the National Woman Suffrage Association on January 10, 1889.

“The women of Morgan who were feeling the injustice of losing the right to vote decided to follow the leaders at the state level and organized a local chapter of the Women’s Suffrage Association in Morgan, Utah,” commented Turk. The first meeting was held June 22, 1889, in the Morgan City school house located on the northwest corner of block number 29. Mrs. Lydia Rich, chaired the association with Miss Delia Smith as secretary and Mrs. E. Worlton as Chaplin.

At this first meeting of the Morgan Woman Suffrage Association, officers were sustained. President, Mrs. Hulda Cordelia Thurston Smith; vice-president, Mrs. Esther Francis; alternate, Mrs. Addie Hunter; third vice, Mrs. Mary Ann Eddington; secretary, Miss Delia Smith, correspondent secretary, Miss Lovenia Francis; and Treasurer, Mrs. Jeanetta Hogg. Executive Committee members were: Mrs. Emma Clark, Mrs. E Wild, Mrs. Avilda Dickson, Mrs. Jane Brough, Mrs. Louise Carrigan, Mrs. Lena Edholm, Mrs. Sarah Wardley. Turk pointed out that women were represented that were in different stages of their lives, hence the Mrs. Miss.

At the meeting, the Constitution of the National Women’s Suffrage Association, the By-laws and Regulations were read and adopted by the group. Afterward, Smith, the president of the newly formed association, was asked to give a short address. She said, her heart was enlisted in the Woman’s cause, and she never could see why women should be subject to laws she had no hand in making, nor ruled over by those not of her choice, that men and women should work together politically as well as religiously and socially. She went on to say, “There was a wide field in which women could be profitably employed….they could materially aid in correcting many of the evils of the day.”

“In the following years, as the Territory of Utah worked to become a state, the women of Utah worked alongside the men to make sure that women’s suffrage was included in the new State Constitution; which wasn’t a given, as there was some debate about whether it should be included or not,” said Turk. “Ultimately it was and so, on January 4, 1896, when Utah was granted statehood, it became the third state in the nation to grant full women’s suffrage.”

One hundred and thirty-three years later with the financial help of the Pommeroy Foundation in partnership with the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites and Better Days 2020, Morgan County received a marker to commemorate the first Morgan Women’s Suffrage Association meeting. The school house in which they met is no longer standing; however, the marker was placed near the site which is where the Morgan County Library currently stands.

This project began in 2019 with Better Days, a women’s history, non-profit origination, which was founded five years ago to celebrate woman suffrage in 2020 by placing markers along the National Votes for Women Trail. This celebration would coincide with 100 years of women having the right to vote in the United States. In 2019 Better Days, then called Better Days 2020, began working with Turk to find the names of the women who helped with the suffrage movement in Morgan County and to have a marker placed. However, this project was delayed due to the pandemic. When Turk felt it was safe to have a gathering again, she wanted the ribbon cutting to take place on the anniversary of the day Morgan Woman Suffrage Association first met.

Meeting Wednesday, June 22, outside the library where the marker was placed, a small group gathered to honor these women of Morgan County who fought for the right to vote. Katherine Kitterman, executive director of Better Days, attended the event giving a few remarks about the significance of placing these markers. “There are a lot of markers and monuments to men; there aren’t as many for women out there and this is a great way to not only rectify that but to show that there are people right in our neighborhood who make change happen…because what people stood up for and spoke out for in the past has changed our future and opened doors for us.”

Turk then gave the history of Morgan Women Suffrage, saying at the end of her speech, “ Today, I hope we learn from these visionary, strong women to not take our right to vote for granted…For those of us in positions of power or privilege, may we follow in the footsteps of these Morgan women, and work to protect the rights of all our citizens and neighbors.” With tears in her eyes, Turk cut the ribbon on the marker that is located on the south side of the library.

Morgan County is one of 250 sites nationwide receiving a marker for woman suffrage, being the seventh one to be placed. “Better Days is proud to work with the local leader all across Utah to celebrate women’s contribution to our history.”

For more information about the organizations that helped Morgan Historical Society place this marker go to https://www.betterdays2020.com/https://www.wgpfoundation.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwntCVBhDdARIsAMEwACnijLH-BA72ud9WnD2TDD4eC1zD5dyRPaaOG5mg8xrNVCkHeVJFwS8aAuEtEALw_wcB, http://ncwhs.org/votes-for-women-trail/#trail.

Verlene Johnson - Schools Editor
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