Timeline of South Dakota Suffrage, 1897-1898

Before 18891889-18901891-1896 — 1897-1898 — 1899-19081909-19101911-19121913-19141915-19161917-1918After 1918

Key Players

Anna R. Simmons
Emma Cranmer
Della Robinson King
Alice M.A. Pickler
Ida Crouch-Hazlett (Colorado)
Laura A. Gregg (Iowa)
Henrietta G. Moore
Mary Garrett Hay
Laura M. Johns (Kansas)
Carrie Chapman Catt (Iowa)
M. Lena Morrow (Illinois)
Julia Mills Dunn (Illinois)
Emmy Carlsson Evald (Illinois)
Ulrikka F. Bruun (Chicago IL)
Mrs. W. Winslow Crannell (Albany NY)


February-March: In the 1897 legislature, with favorable committee reports, a suffrage amendment passed both chambers and was signed by the governor to go on the ballot in November 1898. Advocacy efforts were led by Anna Simmons and Emma Cranmer, who also did campaign and organizing work over the following summer. Simmons and Jane Breeden were “constantly on duty” during the six weeks of the state legislative session, with assistance from Henrietta Lyman, Emma Cranmer, and Carrie Dollard.  Breeden and Cranmer were invited to speak from the Senate platform and were reportedly “listened to with much courtesy and attention” by the senators as well as others from the House, state offices, and clerks who came in to hear them [Kimball Graphic (SD), February 13, 1897, February 20, 1897, pg 1, pg 2, February 27, 1897; The Woman’s Column 10(9) (February 27, 1897), 1; 10(12) (March 20, 1897), 3; Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), March 5, 1897; Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), July 2, 1897; Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 790-791; Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage vol. 4, 557].

“The lobby of the house was crowded with women while the bill was under consideration and out of deference to that body, which yesterday passed a measure against wearing high hats, they appeared without headgear.  It is said that this action so pleased some of the members that four additional votes were secured for the bill.”
Kimball Graphic (SD), March 6, 1897 [an “Anti” editor].

“we must now take hold of South Dakota, and I feel sure that, with all of the educational work done there in the campaign of 1890, we shall be able to carry that State provided the National chips in with its money and its organizers, and helps Mrs. Simmons and Mrs. Cranmer, the two leading women, to begin at once the precinct organization in every county. I hope Mrs. Catt will send Miss [Mary Garrett] Hay at once to S. Dak. to teach Mrs. Simmons how to begin that kind of organizing.”
— Susan B. Anthony to Mariana Wright Chapman, February 27, 1897
MWC Family Papers, SFHL-RG5-260, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, Item ID: A00180019.

July: Simmons and Cranmer led Equal Suffrage Day at the Lake Madison Chautauqua. The day included talks in the W.C.T.U. tent, lectures at the auditorium, a Round Table and a School of Methods on citizenship, and a symposium of talks on suffrage by local men [Madison Daily Leader (SD), June 30, 1897, July 1, 1897].

Della Robinson King of Scotland, S.D. ran “almost entirely at her own expense the South Dakota Messenger, a campaign paper which was of the greatest service” [Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage vol. 4, 558].

The Mitchell Capital newspaper, on October 8, 1897, reprinted an article “The New Woman” by Mitchell resident Louise L. Hitchcock that had been written for the Messenger.
“[The New Woman] is popularly supposed to be advanced in her ideas, and holds ‘views’ concerning politics and religion—A woman with bloomers and a sphere… she would ordinarily look with disfavor upon domesticity as interfering with her career….
The progressive age, the broadening of educational advantages, and the necessity of the winning of bread has surely developed a type of woman not known in the past. [Yet] the New Woman as pictured in the press is a caricature not known in real life…. while our ideal New Woman has entered this broader field, she has retained her delicate womanly instincts, and is still the same loving mother, devoted wife and affectionate sister known to the poets of the past.”

September 28-30:  The South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association convention was held at the county courthouse in Mitchell, presided over by president Anna R. Simmons. The featured speaker was Elizabeth Upham Yates of Maine [Mitchell Capital (SD), September 24, 1897 (includes the full program), October 1, 1897 pg 1, pg 3; Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage vol. 4, 558].

In her presidential report at the Mitchell convention, Simmons spoke “of the situation as things had occurred in the past and offered some good advice and counsel as to the future work which confronted the association, urging the members to be kind and gentle in their discussions, leaving entirely out of their discourses and remarks anything that savored of sarcasm.” 

Alice Pickler’s remarks were “in reference to the past work of the association concerning what had been accomplished in former years as to securing the franchise for woman.  In a historical way she associated the white ribbon of the W.C.T.U. with the yellow ribbon of the suffrage movement.  Mrs. Breeden questioned the propriety of associating prohibition with the present subject and thought the entire forces should be spent in bringing to a successful issue and not sidetrack the main issue.  The president stated that equal suffrage was the main and the sole object of the meeting but that all W.C.T.U. ladies were welcome to join the movement.”

“The ladies seemed to realize that they have a very hard fight on their hands, due mostly to the fact that those whom they wish to talk to particularly, the men, don’t attend the meetings in sufficient numbers to furnish them much encouragement.”
Mitchell Capital (SD), October 1, 1897, page 1 and 3.

September-November: National speakers Laura A. Gregg (IA), Rev. Henrietta G. Moore, Mary C.C. Bradford (CO), Mary Garrett Hay, Laura M. Johns (KS), and Carrie Chapman Catt participated in county conventions and suffrage meetings planned in South Dakota. Local women who spoke at campaign events included Anna R. Simmons, Rev. Eliza Tupper Wilkes, and Dr. Mary T. Lowrey [The Woman’s Column 10(39) (September 25, 1897), 2; Union County Courier (Elk Point SD), October 14, 1897, pg1; pg5; October 21, 1897; Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 21, 1897, October 30, 1897, November 10, 1897, November 12, 1897; Kimball Graphic (SD), October 23, 1897, November 13, 1897; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), November 5, 1897, November 12, 1897; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), November 11, 1897, November 25, 1897; Mitchell Capital (SD), November 12, 1897, pg. 3, pg. 7, November 19, 1897; Saint Paul Globe (MN), November 17, 1897; Rachel Foster Avery, ed., Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association : and the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Woman’s Rights Convention, at the Columbia Theatre … Washington, D.C., February 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 1898 (Washington DC, 1898), 11, 111; Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage vol. 4, 557. More with each speakers’ profile in Invaluable Out-of-Staters].


February: Anna Simmons presented South Dakota’s appeal for support to the NAWSA executive committee meeting in Washington D.C. and Carrie Chapman Catt put forward a motion for $5,000 support but action on the motion was postponed [Avery, ed., Proceedings (1898), 17]. In Simmons’ state report she told them that SDESA had “determined that our work shall be carried on separate from all other issues and from the standpoint of justice and liberty.  It will not be due to our S.D.E.S.A. if any other organization in its anxiety to help the cause, takes up the work” [Avery, ed., Proceedings (1898), 111]. According to histories, NAWSA and Carrie Chapman Catt reportedly broke off aid to SDESA because of its entanglements with the WCTU and third-party politics [Egge, Woman Suffrage and Citizenship, 94; Egge, “Ethnicity and Woman Suffrage,” in Lahlum & Rozum, Equality at the Ballot Box, 228; Nelson in Lauck et al., 142]. There were outside speakers sent to South Dakota, however, including Ida Crouch-Hazlett.

April: The South Dakota Equal Suffrage Association held its annual meeting in Sioux Falls at the opera house. Speakers included Mary E.  Collson, Mrs. George W. King, Mrs. Osgood, Clara Richey, Rev. G.M. House, and Ida Crouch-Hazlett [Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 791].

Ida Crouch-Hazlett arrived in the Black Hills from Colorado and “had been given the Hills counties to organize.” In April she spoke at the city hall auditorium in Hot Springs before going to Sioux Falls for the state meeting [Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), April 8, 1898, April 15, 1898; Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 791]. She returned to the Hills then, speaking at Centennial, Belle Fourche, Minnesela, Rapid City, et al. [Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times (SD), May 24, 1898; Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), July 29, 1898].

June 21-22, 25: The South Dakota Scandinavian Temperance Society held its fifth annual meeting in Bradley, and one of the resolutions passed was in favor of equal suffrage [Lahlum in Lahlum/Rozum, Equality at the Ballot Box, 174]. 

August: The Monthly South Dakotan published a symposium of articles on equal suffrage, with opposition pieces by Mrs. Edward M. Williams and Marietta M. Bones, and support pieces by Della Robinson King and Anna R. Simmons [McLaird, “Dakota Resources: The Monthly South Dakotan,” South Dakota History 11(1) (1981), 70-72, quoting the issue – 1(4) (Aug 1898), 59-63].

September: Anna Simmons and Emma Cranmer continued campaign lecture tours, speaking almost nightly [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 22, 1898; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), September 23, 1898; et al.]. According to one article published in Colorado after the election, Simmons’ “eldest daughter, a girl of 19, can look after things at home during the weeks when her mother is gone.  Mrs. Simmons is a motherly looking, handsome woman, and makes an earnest, convincing address.” In the same article, Cranmer reported that she had “‘spent considerable time in the Russian settlements in Turner county and met with a surprisingly cordial reception.  One of the Russian women who took part in an entertainment to raise money for suffrage work had stacked fifty stacks of grain this year.  Surely she is entitled to the ballot.  The Scandinavian vote is ours in a very large measure, and they are giving us aid and co-operation which is effective and encouraging.  Bishop O’Gorman of Sioux Falls, is an ardent suffragist, and his outspoken utterances will carry great weight in the coming election with the Roman Catholics of the state.'” [Springfield Herald (CO), November 11, 1898].

Through the month of September, Crouch-Hazlett also toured through eighteen points around Minnehaha County [Süd Dakota Nachrichten (Sioux Falls SD), September 1, 1898; Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 8, 1898, et al.]. It was reported that Crouch-Hazlett claimed “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, 1898; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), September 23, 1898; et al.].

After hearing that Crouch-Hazlett’s talks “do more harm than good for the equal suffrage cause,” the Mitchell suffrage club cancelled her talks there, but she refused their authority to cancel the engagements [Mitchell Capital (SD), September 30, 1898]. She commented that it was “the culminating point of differences of opinions among the state suffragists regarding the methods of conducting a successful campaign” and that “it is folly to appeal to merely the church-going people in the treatment of a question that must be settled at the polls by all classes of people.  It has been said all along by the best suffragists in the state and elsewhere that this would be the rock upon which South Dakota would split” [Mitchell Capital (SD), October 7, 1898]. Others in the county hosted her, including talks at the Methodist church in Mount Vernon–one on Saturday evening on suffrage and one on Sunday evening on social reforms–and they commented that she was a “forcible and logical speaker… will be the occasion of much talk and much thought by both men and women.  We believe that much good has been accomplished by her coming here” [Mitchell Capital (SD), October 7, 1898, October 21, 1898]. In late October, she went also to Bon Homme County [Mitchell Capital (SD), October 21, 1898].

September-October 17: Mrs. W. Winslow Crannell (Albany NY) did a two-week South Dakota speaking tour in opposition to equal suffrage. A woman speaking against woman suffrage had a great impact. Crannell was a leader in the New York State Association Opposed to the Extension of Suffrage to Women, and, according to historian Paula Nelson, had been invited to Minnesota by Marietta Bones. Her tour took her to Yankton, Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Huron, Aberdeen, Vermillion, Milbank, and stops in-between. The Sturgis Record printed Anti literature, while suffragists in Sturgis invited Lena Morrow, an Illinois suffragist working in South Dakota, to counter their arguments [Mitchell Capital (SD), October 14, 1898; The State Democrat (Aberdeen SD), October 21, 1898; Kimball Graphic (SD), October 29, 1898; Topeka State Journal (KS), November 5, 1898; Griggs Courier (Cooperstown ND), December 8, 1898; “Albany anti-suffragist Mrs. W. W. Crannell, to campaign in South Dakota.” JK1881 .N357 sec. XVI, no. 3-9 NAWSA Coll series: Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911, Library of Congress; Scrapbook 3 (1897-1904); Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, vol. 3 (1915), 791; Nelson in Lahlum/Rozum, Equality at the Ballot Box, 139-142, 145].

October: A (another?) state convention was held in Sioux Falls with speakers Carrie Chapman Catt, Henrietta Moore, and Mary G. Hay, and many sessions open to the public [Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage vol. 4, 558-559].

Touring speakers who promoted equal suffrage also included M. Lena Morrow (IL), Julia Mills Dunn (IL), and Emmy Carlsson Evald (IL, Swedish-American) [Madison Daily Leader (SD), September 29, 1898, October 6, 1898; Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), November 4, 1898; Hot Springs Weekly Star (SD), October 7, 1898, October 14, 1898; Kimball Graphic (SD), October 7, 1898, October 14, 1898; Topeka State Journal (KS), November 5, 1898]. Dunn and Morrow’s expenses were paid by the Illinois state suffrage association [Anthony/Harper, History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4, 599]. Ulrikka F. Bruun also came from Chicago to speak to Norwegian audiences, including at the Norwegian Lutheran church in Madison and in Dell Rapids [Madison Daily Leader (SD), October 18, 1898, October 19, 1898]. Because there were no NAWSA organizers directing state efforts, the SDESA did more outreach to certain ethnic communities. Yankton County’s chair Matilda Vanderhule requested German and Scandinavian speakers from the SDESA. One of the speakers who did come, Emma Cranmer, only spoke English, but prioritized reaching new audiences by touring rural ethnic communities, with 13 stops in 15 days. She reported “inroads among Scandinavians” with a Norwegian newspaper agreeing to publish campaign literature and a Danish storekeeper agreeing to distribute it to their customers. The SDESA eventually sent Norwegian speakers to Yankton County for limited tours [Egge, “Ethnicity and Woman Suffrage,” in Lahlum & Rozum, Equality at the Ballot Box, 228-231].

“Victory for the women in this election means the addition of 100,000 voters to the state. For the most part they are white persons, native born, and for them is claimed a high average of intelligence, industry and thrift.”
Kimball Graphic (SD), October 14, 1898.

November: The suffrage amendment was defeated by over 3,000 votes [Kimball Graphic (SD), November 26, 1898; Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), December 2, 1898; The State Democrat (Aberdeen SD), December 9, 1898; Black Hills Union and Western Stock Review (Rapid City SD), October 21, 1910].

When the amendment failed at the 1898 ballot, Carrie Chapman Catt blamed the complications of South Dakota’s third-party politics and their foreign-born supporters, many of whom were anti-prohibition. According to historian Sara Egge, she said she would refuse to support the SDESA until they effectively broke off from the WCTU, and, in December, she wrote to local suffrage associations encouraging them to bypass the state organization and work directly with NAWSA [Egge, “Ethnicity and Woman Suffrage,” in Lahlum & Rozum, Equality at the Ballot Box (2019), 232].

Before 18891889-18901891-1896 — 1897-1898 — 1899-19081909-1910
1911-19121913-19141915-19161917-1918After 1918