A bit over one hundred years ago, women voted in a US Presidential election for the first time.
The road to the point was a long and difficult one. Some of the leading proponents of women’s suffrage are now well-known names from history — Susan B. Anthony in the United States, Emmeline Pankrust in England, and others.
One activist for women’s suffrage was certainly just as vocal and, at an important point in her crusade, was a visitor to Mansfield.
It was in July, 1912 when Rosalie Gardner Jones and her friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman, made it to Richland County. Jones was well-known by this time, the daughter of a well-to-do society matron from Long Island who actively fought against the same issue and, often, her own daughter.
The night before their arrival, Jones and Freeman had spent the night in a farm house after a storm hampered their trip from Ashland.
On their first day in town, the two addressed a crowd of 500 in the northwest corner of Central Park before distributing leaflets at the nearby Opera House (behind the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Memorial Building). The next day they could be spotted doing the same thing on Park Avenue West and Marion Avenue accompanied by their trademark little yellow wagon.
In subsequent days they set up a soapbox from which to speak to workers at Ohio Brass — several of whom attended and listened — and also traveled to Bellville and Butler. They were here for a total of one week before continuing west to Crestine and Bucyrus.
Jones followed Pankhurst’s model in organizing large, public marches to advertise their cause. During the most famous of those, from New York City to Albany, she led over 200 women over 175 miles in 13 days.
In response, the Episcopal Bishop of Albany called them a “Band of Silly Women.” As for Jones, her followers gave her the honorary title of “General.”
Once the right to vote was secured, Jones largely retired from public activism.
In the above photo, Jones is on the right with two fellow suffragettes during a literature distribution.
Sources: Wikipedia, Manfield News Journal, New York Times; Photo: Public Domain