Susie Bird

Susie Bird (Belle Fource) served as the northwest district campaign chair [Ida Husted Harper, ed., The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (New York: J.J. Little & Ives, 1922), 588].

“Miss Susie Bird, the new president of the northwest district, is well qualified to be the leader of the suffrage forces in this campaign.  She is a resident of Belle Fourche, was for some years a teacher in the public schools of that town and has also had eight years experience as Superintendent of schools, four years in Meade Co., and four years in Butte Co.  Because of so many years in public life she has a wide acquaintance in this suffrage district, which includes all the territory north of the Belle Fourche river and west of the Missouri river and because of her faithful work as a teacher and as a County Superintendent she is held in high esteem by all who know her.  Last year Miss Bird traveled for several months on the Pacific Coast and was a keen observer of conditions in suffrage states and quick to note the beneficial effects of the ballot on the women themselves.  Always a friend of the suffrage cause she came home enthusiastic, and ready to do all in her power to help win in this campaign in South Dakota.  I trust the people of Lemmon and vicinity may have the privilege of hearing Miss Bird in some of her public addresses in this campaign as she is a pleasing and effective speaker.  As our leader she will do all she can to win the ballot for South Dakota women.  Let us all help! — Nina D. Pettigrew”
[Lemmon Herald (SD), March 27, 1914]

Part of her campaign included a speech on suffrage at Quammen’s Hall in Lemmon, June 19th [Lemmon Herald (SD), June 5, 1914, June 12, 1914].  The event also included piano selections by Mrs. E.J. Morris and the organization of a local suffrage league with fourteen members; Bird stayed with Mrs. G.E. Lemmon during the visit [Lemmon Herald (SD), June 26, 1914, page 4, page 7]. In October 1914, Bird went to Deadwood for the speech of Jane Addams, who came from Chicago to speak during the State Federation of Women’s Clubs meeting [Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), October 15, 1914].

With Blanche Barber and Jean Taylor of Meade County and Mrs. C.N. Cooper of Lemmon, Bird was described in October 1914 as having “done excellent work in the northwest district, and report that sentiment in this part of the state is favorable to suffrage” [Woman’s West of the River Suffrage Number, Rapid City Daily Journal (SD), October 26, 1914, page 5].

In 1915, she sat on the advisory board for the SD Universal Franchise League [Forest City press (SD), November 24, 1915].

Photograph 1893: “Portrait of Susie Bird, class of 1891″ Leland Case Library, Black Hills State University, Digital Library of South Dakota.

Bird also had a large acreage near Belle Fourche, ran for state superintendent of instruction, and was involved with Sunday school associations [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 11, 1902 and October 18, 1906; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), March 26, 1909 and September 30, 1910; Forest City Press (SD), April 5, 1916].

Susannah Bird was born in Osakis, Minnesota in 1863 [census records on Ancestry.com].  She moved to Santa Cruz, California between 1910 and 1920, eventually settled with her sister Amy McLain, and continued teaching until 1935 [Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA), March 3, 1943; “Susannah ‘Susie’ Bird,” Find-a-grave.com].

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