Pueblo’s Black Suffragists

We know that Black women in Pueblo were interested in the right to vote but the Chieftain in the nineteenth century, which is the main source for this material (1) was against suffrage so tended not to name local suffragists and (2) was deep in the racial prejudices of nineteenth century America so tended to minimize the successes of non-White residents.  Still, some things can be learned. Here we include a summary and the primary sources that provide hints of the extent of participation of these women in the suffrage movement and in the first year of voting. These sources were found at coloradohistoricnewspapers.org.

These links drop you slightly below the beginning of each section.

Before 1893: School Elections

The original constitution of Colorado written in 1876, ensured women’s right to vote in school elections but not yet in any other elections.  The Chieftain reported that the first time women in Pueblo went to the polls for school elections was in May, 1880.

Source:

Patton’s Purgative Pellets Operate Like a Cham.
And a Vast Amount of Bile Thrown Up. 
The Old School Board Sustained by a Handsome majority.
Nearly One Hundred and Fifty Women at the Polls.

The most exciting election for school directors that has ever taken place in this city occurred yesterday. It was a bitter fight between the two factions—the one headed by A. B. Patton, and the other by the old board. The unrelenting warfare waged by Mr. Patton upon the Messrs. Rice, Hayslip and Hughes has engendered bitter animosities, which, after repeated efforts could not be healed by arbitration, and when the light began yesterday morning it was conceded by all that the struggle would be a hard one. The adherents of both tickets worked like beavers. An extra issued the Democrat, containing a number of misrepresentations, added additional heat to the contest, and the old board were compelled to refute them by printed posters. Wire-pulling and catskinning were the order of the day, and carriages were flying hither and thither with an activity of a circus day. A large number of females voted, a number of whom were colored. It is the first time the women of the city took upon themselves the prerogative accorded to them by law. It was not a resort of the two factions, but so animated had become the controversy, so exciting the contest, that the ladies became as deeply interested as the opposite sex, and by a seemingly tacit understanding they marched to the polls and for once in their lives exercised the right of suffrage.

The excitement was at a white heat all day and did not cease until the polls closed. …

The Successful Suffrage Campaign of 1893

Women in Pueblo, like women across the state, worked to convince men to vote in favor of women’s suffrage. The Chieftain provides the barest sense of how Black women were involved in working for the vote.

Sources:

EQUAL SUFFRAGE.
Mrs. Marble Addresses a Meeting at the Colored Baptist Church. 

Mrs. Marble, the woman’s suffrage leader now in the city, was tendered a reception in the Central block yesterday afternoon from 2 until 6 o’clock. Last night she addressed a meeting at the Colored Baptist church on the subject of equal rights and organized a league for active work in the present campaign. This evening she will address a meeting at the court house and form another league. Tomorrow night she will speak in Bessemer and organize a league there. – Chieftain, October 11, 1893 Chieftain, October 30, 1893

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EQUAL SUFFRAGE.
Mrs. Theresa Jenkins Will Address a Mass Meeting Tonight.

Mrs. Theresa Jenkins, of Wyoming, one of the prominent equal suffrage orators of the west, arrived in the city last night and will be the guest of Governor and Mrs. Alva Adams during her stay in Pueblo. Tonight at 8 o’clock she will address a mass meeting at the county court house, to which all ladies and gentlemen are invited. The colored glee club has kindly consented to sing and will render several fine musical selections.

Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock a mass meeting will be held at the Columbia theatre, which will be addressed by several prominent gentlemen of this city. Mrs. Jenkins will also speak at this meeting, and it is hoped that Mrs. Susan B. Anthony will be here in time to take part in the proceedings. Both of these meetings will be held under the auspices of the Equal Suffrage league of Pueblo and will no doubt be largely attended. – Chieftain, October 30, 1893

 

The First Black Women to Register to Vote

On November 7, 1893, male voters in Colorado voted in favor of women’s suffrage.  On Saturday, December 2 the vote was confirmed and the Governor declared that women’s suffrage was the law of Colorado.  On Thursday, December 7, two women (White) in Pueblo County registered to vote. On the following Monday Lulu Lincoln and Eudora R. Logan registered.

Source:

Women Registering

Mrs. Lulu Lincoln, of Third and Blake streets, precinct 7, is the first colored female elector registered in Pueblo county, having put her name on the books yesterday. She gives her occupation as a school teacher. Miss Eudora R. Logan was the second of her race to register. She lives on Craig street between Fourth and Fifth, in precinct 7, and is a domestic. 

Other women who enrolled themselves were: Mrs. Isabella A. Stevens. 32 block V, precinct 18; Mrs. Margaret B. Wicks, wife of Hon. Platt Wiens, High street, Fairmount park, precinct 6; Mrs. Anna S. Dunn, 115 west Thirteenth street, precinct 3; and Mrs. Anna B. Wadhams, 117 west Fourteenth street, precinct 3.  Chieftain, December 12, 1893

Careful Reading Note:  To see that nineteenth century prejudice, take a look at how the Chieftain talks about the jobs of these two women.  Eudora Logan “is” a “domestic” (acceptable work for a Black woman) and Lulu Lincoln “gives her occupation as a school teacher.”  The implication, I believe, is that the reader is not supposed to  know for sure whether it is true that a Black woman could be a teacher so instead of taking her word for it (as was done with Eudora, and also with Julia Sisson and J. S. Sperry (the two White women who were the first to register) the editors make her profession a claim and not a statement of fact.

The Election Campaigns in 1894

Starting in 1894, Colorado women could vote in all elections.  Women across Colorado formed organizations to teach themselves how to engage in politics.   They also campaigned for their preferred candidates in the first non-school district elections they could vote in.  Elections for city officials took place in May and those for state officials and U.S House of Representatives took place in November. 

Most of our evidence is about Republican activities.  There are two reasons for this.  The Chieftain was owned by Republicans and had more positive things to say about them than about the Democratic or Progressive parties.   Also, in the late nineteenth century, the Republican party was thought of as the party of Lincoln and had the  support most (maybe all?) Black citizens. 

While the Chieftain did a poor job of mentioning women’s names before they achieved the right to vote, once they did, women’s names tended to appear in the paper.  Black women, although to a lesser degree than White women, began to have their names reported.

Careful Reading Note: By the newspaper (run by White men), Black women tended to be seen as subsidiary to groups dominated on the one hand by Black men and on the other hand by White women.  I wonder how much that reflected these women’s actual agency.  When we read that the Colored Ladies Glee Club sang at a women’s political event, should we believe that the Black women were included more completely in the women’s event or that they were viewed by the White women as outsiders because of the color of their skin?  When we read that women have an “auxiliary” club to the Langston Club, should we read that Black women were viewed by the Black men as outsiders because of their sex? Or might the Black women have been perceived by those others as included equally and does the newspaper miss that inclusion because of its own prejudices?

Sources:

The Original Langston Club.

The Langston Republican club met at their hall, corner Third and Main streets, and the following officers were duly elected and installed for the ensuing year: C. Hill, president; G. A. Clarke, vice president; W. F. Holmes, secretary; W. H. Periman, treasurer; W. H. Dean, assistant secretary. The club met with a membership of 82 and several resolutions were adopted. The club has been strengthened since the fall election and has now a roll of 130 members. Much important business was transacted and the club starts out under battering prospects and will no doubt be a powerful factor in the coming election. At their next meeting they intend to organize a ladies’ club. Nathan’s bargains, Central block, beat them all. Twenty-five dollar suits and overcoats selling for 810 this week. The price of the Chieftain has been reduced to 75 cents a month. Now show your local pride by subscribing for your best home paper. – Chieftain, January 2, 1894

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Notice:  This is to certify that the meeting held by a certain faction on Monday, January 1st, 1894, was not a meeting of the Langston republican club. The regular meetings of the Langston club occur on the first and fourth Mondays in the month, but as Monday was New Year’s day the meeting was postponed until Tuesday night. The present officers of the club were elected October 9, 1893, and the constitution and by-laws state that they shall hold office for one year. It will be readily seen that the election was entirely illegal. G. W. Washington, C. L. White, President. Secretary.. Those fine perfect-fitting special tailor made suits and overcoats that A. E. Nathan is selling for 810 formerly sold for 815 to 825. They are beauties. Can’t be equalled in the state. If you want a suit or an overcoat, buy it now. – Chieftain, January 3, 1894

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Langston Club Affairs.

Harmony evidently does not reign supreme among the members of the Langston club of colored republicans. There are two factions each claiming that it is the original and only genuine Langston club. One party held a meeting Monday night and elected officers. Last night the other crowd met and denounced the meeting of the evening previous as a fraud and the election as a delusion. – Chieftain, January 3, 1894

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Objects of the Langston Club.

Article 2 of the constitution of the Langston club sets forth the objects of the organization and is published to set right any erroneous impression which the public may have received. “The objects of this club shall be to advocate, promote and maintain the principles of republicanism, as enunciated by the republican party; to direct and interest in politics those who have heretofore been more or less indifferent to their political duties, to encourage attendance at the primary meetings in order that honest and capable men may be nominated, to guard and defend the purity of the ballot box, to recommend and endorse candidates for public office, to promote the clubs of good government in the city of Pueblo, and to perform such other work as may best conserve the interests of the republican party. C. Hill, President. – Chieftain, January 4, 1894

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LANGSTON CLUB MASS MEETING.

Colored Republicans Hear Addresses at Bessemer City Hall

At the Bessemer city hall last night a mass meeting of colored republicans was held under the auspices of the Langston club.  There was a good sized audience of both sexes and no little enthusiasm was manifested. The meeting was opened with prayer by Rev. William Garnett and the singing of a hymn. J. H. Pennington was introduced and spoke of the condition of the colored race in the south and urged his Pueblo friends to concerted action for the uplifting of their kind. Rev. J. J. Sales and G. W. Watson followed in the same tenor. Chieftain, August 16, 1894

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COLORED REPUBLICAN CLUBS.

Oliver Leaf and Bessemer Union Have Consolidated. The Oliver Leaf Republican club and the Bessemer Union Republican club met at the colored church on C street to consider the matter of consolidation. The meeting was largely attended and a great deal of interest was taken by all concerned. After a general canvass among the members it was agreed that they consolidate and advocate one principle. The following resolutions were adopted:

Whereas, the colored voters of the city of Pueblo, Colorado, feel that the present political contest is one of great importance to the people of our race as well as the white race, and that the security and prosperity of both races depend on co-operation of both in the effort to obtain good government that the liberties and rights of our race as well as the white may be promoted, therefore be it

Resolved That since the politics and policy of government of a country contribute largely to the industrial, moral and religious development of the people, and since the condition of the colored man of this country demands such aid from men and parties as will help them upward in the scale of manhood and true citizenship, and since the maintenance of good government depends on the election of good men with broad and liberal views and exalted ideas of the rights of man and of equal justice to all citizens before the law, and with moral courage to make and enforce wholesome laws regardless of race or color or conditions, placing merit, intelligence and useful citizenship as the proper standard, therefore be it

Resolved, that we ask the exercise of our right to labor in any position which our moral, mental and industrial capacity may fit us. We ask not for money in these great political contests, we scorn it in this connection; we ask not for notoriety, neither are we seeking social equality, but we earnestly ask protection and an equal chance in the race of life for our people, and seeing the great need of union in the midst of our people in order to bring about the desired results, therefore be it further

Resolved, that we the Oliver Leaf Republican club, and the Bessemer Union Republican club, consolidate to advocate the above principles and such as may hereafter be mentioned. The clubs then recommended the following names for candidates:

For representative, James Easter; for constable, Samuel Stuart.

–J. J. Sales, Pres. Oliver Leaf Club. Pink Griffith, Pres. Bessemer Union Club- Chieftain, September 5, 1894

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Colored Republican Clubs. The members of the Bessemer Union Republican league and the Oliver Leaf league are requested to turn out Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Baptist church in the grove. All colored voters, both ladies and gentlemen, are especially invited to attend, as businees of importance will be considered. Rev. J. J. Sales, W. P. Griffin, Presidents. Langston Club Meeting All members and friends of the Langston Republican club are requested to meet at Judge Willauer’s court room in La Veta block on Grand avenue Monday evening. Ladies are especially invited to be present. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:30, as some of the members wish to leave for Denver at 11 o’clock to attend the meeting of the District Grand lodge of Odd Fellows. C. Hill, President. W. F. Holmes, Secretary. – Chieftain, September 9, 1894

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The Oliver Leaf and Bessemer Union Republican clubs met last night in the grove and the majority did not take kindly to the suggestion offered of placing an independent ticket in the field with two or more colored nominees on it Chieftain, September 12, 1894

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ENTHUSIASTIC MEETING.

Earnest Speeches Before Republican Club Members. Judge Willauer’s court room on Grand avenue was the scene of a well attended meeting of the Langston club and the Ladies’ auxiliary of the club last night. President Hill of the Langston club and Mrs. Myers, president of the auxiliary, presided. Enthusiastic speeches were made by John Vest, Rev. Mr. Garnett and O. L. Boyd. Mr. Boyd said among other things that there were 1,250 colored voters in Pueblo county and he hoped to see every one of them stand by the republican party. He especially urged the ladies to organize and see that all the women were registered and that they voted on election day. Chieftain, September 18, 1894

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SAMUEL STEWARD.

Samuel Stewart, the colored man nominated for constable, was born in Nashville, Tenn., August 3, 1870, and is, therefore, 24 years old. He was raised in Topeka, Kas., where he learned the trade of lime burner. He came to Pueblo five years ago and has worked for Buerger Brothers, south side barbers, for four years in the capacity of porter. He is a bright, athletic young man, temperate and steady in his habits. – Chieftain, September 7 and 13, 1894

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TONIGHT’S BIG RALLY.
Joel F. Vaile and Earl M. Cranston Will Address the Republicans.

Joel F. Vaile and Earl M. Cranston will arrive in the city at 6:40 o’clock and will address a mass meeting at the Columbia theater at 8 o’clock. Both gentlemen are excellent speakers and will give addresses on national and state affairs that can not fail to be appreciated by anyone who hears them. The music will be furnished by a colored glee club that has lately been organized. The Tom Bowen Marching club will attend in a body and seats will be reserved for them in the theater. The Bowen Bell Wringers, the newly organized ladies’ club, will have seats on the stage.

CAMPAIGN SOCIAL.
Fine Entertainment by Langston Club Ladies Auxiliary Last Night.

Under the auspices of the Ladies’ auxiliary to the Langston Republican club a very entertaining literary and musical programme was given to a good-sized audience at the Columbia theater last night. The places of honor on the programme were allotted to the Colorado Republican Ladies’ Campaign chorus, who rendered a number of vocal selections in excellent style. The entertainment was gotten up by and was under the personal direction of Mrs. Alice Myers, president of the auxiliary. The chorus sang: “America” as the opening number and were heard also in “John Brown’s Body,” “Poor Davy, Good Bye,”Colorado, Gem of the Nation,” “When Jennie Comes Out to Vote” “Hurrah for Colorado,”‘‘Waite’s Wheels,” and “Voting to Save Colorado.” O. L. Boyd delivered an address with “Patriotism” for his theme, giving the populists many thrusts and dwelling on the necessity of ridding the state of them. He urged all women to stand by the republican ticket and redeem the state. Mrs. Mary Bryant was heard to excellent advantage in a recitation entitled. “Warden, Keep a Place for Me,” and Mrs. Alice Myers did credit to herself in her reading of “Barbara Freitchie.” W. M. Holmes recited an original piece of humorous verse, “Populist Pastry,” that brought down the house. Miss Kate Allen sang “Sweet Marie” with words suited to the campaign, and William Dean gave “A Soldier and a Man.” Both solos were very cordially received. Mrs. Sawyer, pianist and accompanist, played a march that won much applause. James Thomas executed a shuffle with music on banjo and guitar by Messrs. Perryman and Waston.  – Chieftain, October 13, 1894; October 18, 1894 has same article.

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FRIEND OF THE DOWN TRODDEN
Republican Party Merits the Support of Colored People.
ENTHUSIASTIC MASS MEETING. Oliver Leaf Club Addressed in the Grove by J. J. Sails, J. Jennings, A. W. Lennard. Benjamin Mitchell, C. Reece, J. H. Pennington and Others —Ringing Republican Speeches.

The Oliver Leaf Republican club held a large meeting last night in the building at the corner of C and Spring streets. There were good speakers on hand who talked on the issues of the present campaign as well as the national Issues. Candidates Moses, Mitchell, Meales and Kirtland were at the meeting.

Before the speaking began the club held a meeting and by resolutions denounced the action taken at a meeting of colored men in Bessemer Saturday night which denounced J. J. Sails, the president of the Oliver Leaf club. The resolutions were not only complimentary to Mr. Sailes, but pledged the support of the club to the entire republican ticket. W. W. Hood acted as chairman during the business meeting of the club and Harry Anderson, of the Bessemer club presided during the rest of the meeting.

Mr. Sailes was the first speaker and said that he had always been a republican and should continue to be one until a better party could take its place. If the republican party never did any more for the colored race it could easily rest on what it had done. He wished to call the attention of the audience to an article in the New York World of October 2 which he read. The article stated that the constitutional convention which was then in session in that state would undoubtedly adopt the amendment disfranchising 80,000 colored voters. The convention was composed of democrats and it had always been the policy of that party to do everything possible against the colored man. In the present campaign the fight was between the democrats and republicans and if the democrats won it would only act against the colored men. The colored men had lost their franchise in the south through voting with the democrats. He was for Moses and all the rest of the republican ticket and he hoped that every one in the room was the same.

J. Jennings was the next speaker. He went into the history of the republican party and told what it had done for the negro. Abe Lincoln, who was a republican, was certainly the negro’s friend and everyone of them should have his picture in their houses. He thought that Grant was a greater man than Lincoln but that was a matter of opinion. When the passage of 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments had come up every republican had voted for them and every democrat had voted against them. The democratic party was made up of the ragged end of creation and was guilty of all kinds of crimes. Some people had said that Cleveland had given more offices to colored men than Harrison but he had figures to prove that it was not so. There were five tickets in the field in this campaign. One of them was headed by Moses, and the Bible said that Moses should lead the children through the wilderness. The opposition had said that Moses would appoint some of his family to the office? What if he did. It was said that General Grant hunted up every relative he had and gave him an office. Will Moses had made a good sheriff and Art could make just as good a one. He could not see why they should not be given offices if they made good officers. It wasn’t only Moses with him, he wanted to see the whole ticket elected from top to bottom.

Hon. A. W. Lennard was introduced and spoke for about thirty minutes on republicanism and the present issues. Carlile was all right he said but he was in the wrong party. He was in the party which had never done anything for the colored man but on the contrary was always working against him. The opposition were raising a great cry in this campaign against the Moses family. There was no one in the county who had done more to take Pueblo county out of the hands of the democrats than had the Moses family and if they asked for nomination in return for their efforts they should have it.

Benjamin Mitchell, C. Reece and J. H. Penning on followed Mr. Lennard in short speeches in which they urged the colored men to stand by the nominees of the convention and vote the republican ticket straight. They would only be doing themselves an injury by voting any other. All the members of the club were invited to attend the meeting to be held at Bessemer tonight.  Chieftain, October 22, 1895

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Seats on the platform were occupied by Mrs. Carrie Clyde Holly, Mrs. Clare D. Olin, president of the Bowen Bellwringers; Mrs. P. H. Heller, president, and other officers of the Woman’s Volunteer Republican club, and members of that organization and of the Bellwringers. Mrs. Foster’s appearance on the stage during the singing of a selection by the soloist of the colored quartet, which opened the meeting, was the signal for enthusiastic applause Chieftain, October 25, 1894

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Republican Women Meet.

Women voters in precincts 9, 10, 11 and 42 held a joint meeting last night in room 118 in the Central block, which was fairly well attended. Mrs. Carrie Clyde Holly addressed the ladies on the issues of the campaign, and Judge Salisbury made a short talk. The music was furnished by the Colored Ladies Glee club. Chieftain, October 26, 1894

 

Black Women in the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Pueblo Flyer

This pdf is an abbreviated story of Black women’s suffrage, a flyer created for the Juneteenth celebration in Pueblo, CO  in 2020.