I would imagine that like myself, many of you who are pursuing your family's history have learned a bit about history in general during the process. I was surprised to read about Lydia Taft and her Massachusetts vote, and I had formerly believed that the women's suffrage movement really didn't begin until after the Civil War; how wrong I was. In the decades after the revolution women embraced it's concepts of, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Though few in number in those early years, social issues such as the temperance and abolitionist movements began to draw women into the public sphere. It was only a matter of time before they realized their own freedom was also a goal worth fighting for.
Still, the last thing I expected to find was a female ancestor of mine, living in an early 19th century farming community, being mentioned in election returns. Yet last evening, while checking the New York State Historic Newspapers site for the surname "Garner", I found the article below. Most of the search results were for the verbs "garner" or "garnered", but this one article, dated 1831, was quite different. In fact I read it twice just to be sure I was interpreting it correctly. In November of that year, Lucy Garner received one vote for the office of county coroner! In 1831! In Cayuga County, New York!
|Lucy's name by the red X|
I would dearly love to know who it was who voted for Lucy, and what their motivation was, but all my attempts to find more information about this have proven fruitless. I don't know that she actually wanted the position of coroner, or that she actively solicited votes. She certainly could not have expected to prevail. Thirty five years later in 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a close associate of Susan B. Anthony, would run for a seat in congress to highlight the absurdity of a woman's legal ability to run for office, while at the same time being ineligible to vote. Maybe Lucy Garner did the same?