“Miss Grissell speaks at Christian church tomorrow at 2-30 – and tells the women how to vote.”
Laura Goff used a pencil to write a postcard to her daughter, Mrs. Clabe Wilson at Stuart, on October 19, 1920.
“think I will learn how its done.”
That year, my great grandmother, age 52, the mother of ten and grandmother of three, just may have been the first woman in my motherline to vote.
Just who was Miss Grissell? One of those aggressive suffragettes? She had been a Guthrie Center primary school teacher–in 1909 she was secretary of the State Teachers Association.
But by 1920 Blanche A. Grissell, Republican, had become Guthrie County Recorder.
At 2:30 that October 20, she gave her talk about voting to a meeting of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) at the Christian Church in Guthrie Center.
Election Day that year was November 2. It was the first election after the Great War (WWI), and the first after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
Warren G. Harding won the presidency in a landslide victory.
I don’t know whether Laura Goff voted Democrat or Republican. Her oldest daughter was a staunch Democrat, but a granddaughter was a poll watcher for Republicans for decades.
We granddaughters and great granddaughters of Laura Jordan Goff honored her in 1995 with a commemorative brick in the Plaza of Heroines, a fund-raiser for ISU’s Botany Hall was renovation. It was renamed Carrie Chapman Catt Hall.
Carrie Chapman Catt probably was considered an aggressive suffragette. Valedictorian and only female graduate of Iowa State’s Class of 1880, she became President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, founded the League of Women Voters, and worked for both the League of Nations and the United Nations.
According to an editorial in The Des Moines Register, the Plaza of Heroines is made up of “2,500 bricks engraved with the names of women whose lives touched the world–and whose votes counted.”
Family also honored other women in our motherline:
Her oldest daughter, Leora Goff Wilson.
And Doris’s daughters, Joy Neal Kidney and Gloria Neal–a graduate of ISU.
Carrie Lane Chapman–1890
From The Guthrian, Apr. 24, 1890. Stuart. Miss Carrie Lane Chapman lectured here two nights last week. Her audiences were very much pleased with her address.
She is the same Carrie Chapman Catt referred to above. Leora Goff was born a few months later, in December 1890.
“In remembrance of heroines: The name of Carrie Chapman Catt occupies a place of honor.” The Des Moines Register, Oct. 7, 1995.
State of Iowa 1919-20 Official Register Twenty-Eighth Number, Compiled Under Supervision of W.C. Ramsay, Secretary of State.