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The West Virginian
August 19, 1920


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Suffrage Movement Locally

Twenty-five years ago, on November 2 [28], 1895, in the old normal school building in Fairmont avenue there gathered a little band of half timid women and a few men. The purpose of the meeting was to hear an address on suffrage to be delivered by Miss Anna Dregs of Kansas, and if advisable to organize a suffrage band. So timid and afraid were the women at this time that not one of the gathering could be prevailed upon to introduce the speaker for fear of public censure which was rife at this time against strong minded women or women who wanted to vote. Even the men were afraid to take a stand but finally Hon. Bernard L. Butcher was prevailed upon to introduce the speaker. So splendid was the address delivered that the women took courage and when a rising vote was taken as to how many believed in the suffrage cause nearly every woman in the gathering stood to her feet, some of them, according to one present, hardly holding up their heads and almost hiding their faces. An organization was perfected at this meeting which has stood throughout the quarter of a century intervening. When a call was made for persons to pass the hat for a collection, much hesitation resulted as many of the women feared to take such a forward step and place themselves in the limelight as exponents of the cause, while firmly believing in the cause yet afraid of the censure that might result. Finally Mrs. Charles Manley and Mrs. Charles M. Ritchie stepped forward and passed the hat.

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The organization was called the Fairmont Political Equality club and started off with a charter membership of 44. The following officers were elected: President, Mrs. Margaret J. Grove; vice president, Frank Kelley; recording secretary, Miss Grace Brahm; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Beulah Boyd Ritchie; treasurer, Miss Ida Burns; auditors, George Morrow and Charles M. Ritchie.

Mrs. Grove, who is the mother of Mrs. Charles E. Manley, of this city and has attained the age of 88, was the first president of the local suffrage organization and much of the success of the club is due to her untiring efforts. While never aggressive, Mrs. Grove was ever firm and stood pat on all issues which had to do with the bettering of the conditions of women and in hastening the day when she would be given equal suffrage with women. . . .

"Fighting the Long Fight" Chapter 1