Tales of Two Doctors

One of the quiet places I’ve found to walk during the current Covid-19 pandemic is Riverside Cemetery in Pierre. On a recent visit, I noticed two doctors who both passed away in October 1918. Knowing that was in the depths of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic’s second wave, I thought I’d research their lives and see what their stories were. Surprisingly, from one brief news item in April 1918, I think they shared an office suite, before both passed away a few months later less than two weeks apart. Dr. Youngs did die from complications following influenza, but Dr. Simm died of pneumonia while in military training in Georgia.

A road in the older sections of Riverside cemetery, photo by author, April 2020.
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The 1916 Campaigns

A set of campaigns in South Dakota about the 1916 suffrage amendment to the state constitution involved so many intersecting ideas, details, and stories, that I’m going to put the narrative together here in one place. This will focus on the two sets of campaigning led by ‘out-of-staters’ that generated a lot of press. Then, on my other pages I’ll be able to link back to this post for these two big-ticket campaigns, rather than repeating so much on a number of timeline, biography, etc. pages.

At the start of the year 1916… The state legislature in Pierre had passed a bill for a state suffrage amendment at their session in the late winter of 1915. It was put on the ballot for November 1916. The South Dakota Universal Franchise League under president Mamie Shields Pyle of Huron was the most active organization working in support of the bill, with the assistance of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union also supported suffrage, but was simultaneously waging a campaign for a state prohibition amendment that was also on the 1916 ballot. Working against the suffrage amendment was the state’s auxiliary of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, led by Ethel Jacobsen of Pierre, which re-formed in the summer of 1916. For the first five months of the year, suffragists’ activity had been of the slow-and-steady variety. The SDUFL worked on getting local suffrage leagues organized, Pyle canvassed voters for their opinion on the bill, and local speakers like Myra Weller, Mary Maguire Thomas, and Nina Pettigrew made speaking appearances [Mitchell Capital (SD), July 20, 1916; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), July 21, 1916].

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Knocking at the Door: The Legislative Work of South Dakota Suffragists

Alice M.A. Pickler
“We said we would not have it written in the history of our State that any legislature had ever convened without our knocking at the door for suffrage.”
Upton, Proceedings of the 25th Annual Convention of NAWSA, 1893, 148.

Suffragists were a consistent presence at territorial and state legislatures from 1885 to 1919, and there are indications there were women in attendance in 1868-69 to witness the first votes on equal suffrage legislation here. Though much of the movement for this period is about advocacy for legislation, I’m going to focus below on the active work of women and men interacting with the legislative process in support of expanded suffrage for women. During their advocacy, South Dakota’s legislature met every other year – the odd years – for a short period in January-March.

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Fascinating People from Suffrage Research, part 1

So as I’m doing biographical research on people connected to the suffrage movement in South Dakota, there are quite a few that had lives that I found quite fascinating, apart of their suffrage connections. Some, I’ve written about before, like Laura Alderman, The Queen of Orchardists and Kate Boyles Bingham. Here are some other highlights from the biographies I’ve done so far…

From the Biographies of Women’s Suffrage – A page (more and source links on the Bio pages):

James C. Adams (1842-1902) of Webster SD was born in Virginia, and came to Iowa with his parents, where his father was a doctor. Having served in the Illinois 41st infantry regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War, he then went to Mississippi to publish a newspaper with Republican politics—the party of Lincoln. He faced harassment by the KKK and eventually left Mississippi. He went then to Iowa and came to Webster in 1883. He married Irene Drake Galloway in 1887. In 1891, he was appointed to chair the commission that negotiated the opening of unallotted lands on the Yankton Reservation for white settlement.

Ida M. Anding McNeil (1888-1974) of Pierre was chief clerk and then legislative reference librarian of the state historical department in Pierre from 1906 until 1921. In 1927, she received a commercial license for KGFX radio, having started by broadcasting to her rail conductor husband on an amateur radio. She ran the station until 1962. More; Rosemary Evetts, “Dakota Images: Ida Anding McNeil,” South Dakota History 11(2) (1981).

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Socialism and Suffrage in SoDak

Several Socialist leaders came to South Dakota to campaign for suffrage, and equal suffrage was supported by South Dakota socialists in the 1910s.

Visiting Lecturers and Organizers

In 1898, Ida Crouch-Hazlett (c1870-1941) toured South Dakota for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), but soon after, in 1902, became a prominent organizer and lecturer for the Socialist Party of America. Revealing some of her opinion of class hierarchies, it was reported that she said “that active opposition to the movement has ceased in the state except among classes that have everything to fear from upward social movements” [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 22, 1898The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD)September 23, 1898; et al.]. She spoke often on suffrage as well as Social Reforms [Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), July 29, 1898; Mitchell Capital (SD), October 7, 1898].

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Sheep in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives

The results of another random foray into South Dakota State Archives’ resources after thinking about suffragist Rose Bower speaking on the Fourth of July at Lodge Pole Butte surrounded by grazing sheep in 1914. [See also: Snow in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives.]

First, from the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office’s historic context, Thomas Witt et al. The History of Agriculture in South Dakota: Components for a Fully Developed Historic Context (July 2013):
Sheep ranching took hold in the Black Hills in the mid-1880s. Cattle and sheep ranching expanded in western South Dakota counties after the federal government divided and reduced the Great Sioux Reservation to expand Euro-American settlement [p.13]. Sheep barns may have been one or two stories; the second story often used as a hay loft. They were characterized by large, open spaces (no stalls), good ventilation, ideally with a “grain alley” for feeding during inclement weather, and perhaps hay and grain racks [p.59-60]. Wool warehouses, where sheep farmers could bring their wool for grading and weighing, were located in urban centers along rail lines, east of the Missouri River. The South Dakota Cooperative operated warehouses out of Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Huron, Mitchell, and Belle Fourche [p.99].

Thomas Witt et al. The History of Agriculture in South Dakota: Components for a Fully Developed Historic Context (July 2013), 60.
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The Influenza Epidemic in South Dakota, from Suffragists’ Letters

As I’ve been reviewing scanned correspondence about the November 1918 election and its results in the University of South Dakota’s Mamie Shields Pyle Collection, a number of suffragists around the state reported to the South Dakota Universal Franchise League president Pyle about the status of the influenza epidemic in their communities — the work they had been doing in nursing or how the flu put up obstacles to suffrage work. The epidemic hit in the weeks before the election, ruining final campaign plans, and it continued in the time afterwards when the S.D.U.F.L. hoped to raise money to cover their $3,000-4,000 of remaining debts after the campaign.

[September 7, 2019: I’ll post for now and add to this as I find more… I’ve read through correspondence scans from November 1st to 10th, 1918.]

Notes from the collection:

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