When the Gadsden Purchase became a U. S. territory, frontier women began their struggle for “Equality before the law, without distinction of sex or color” as resolved by Lucy Stone and members from across the nation at the 1850 first National Woman’s Rights Convention four years earlier. A growing number of American women and men sought to shape a better life and the opportunity to shape a more equal society in the rough new territory. Basic survival out west required a more equal partnership in sharing in the hard work to establish ranches, businesses and families.
The earliest Anglo women to settle in Tucson were Apache attack survivor Larcena Pennington Page Scott of Tennessee (1837-1913), Josephine Brawley Hughes of Pennsylvania (1839-1926), Anna Austin Lord (1839-1929) and Maria Wakefield Fish (1845-1909) of New York and Harriet Bolton Wasson of Maine (1834-1923). Their children would continue the fight for Arizona suffrage.
Reformer Lucy Stone’s husband Henry B. Blackwell believed the leading male supporters for Arizona suffrage tended to “[r]efugees from the chaos of the East, middle class Americans who favored reform and respected women and had chosen to look for a better life in the socially undisturbed west.” (Laurerman citing Kraditor Ideas, 72) However, not all males fit this profile and frontier women slowly gained their suffrage in area’s deemed within “woman’s sphere”.
In 1866 the territorial legislature passed a comprehensive married women’s property act.
Almost from the establishment of the 1872 Arizona Territorial school law, mothers of school age children or female property owners could vote.
In 1883 the 12th territorial legislature enacted a bill allowing all women to vote in school board elections.
In 1897 the territorial legislature approved and governor signed a bill allowing female tax payers to vote, but the territorial Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. (de Haan 378 )
Did the first five Anglo women in Tucson register in these early stages of suffrage? Maria Wakefield Fish ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 1883, but was defeated by the liquor interests. Harriet Wasson moved out of town in 1885 and Anna Lord left sometime in the 1880s.
Who were the Pima County women who registered to vote in these elections? More research is needed.
In the Pima County General Register for 1912-1913 the following women were found:
17 Aug 1912 ARNA J. KOONS #1553 623 N. 7th Ave., clerk, 26, 66”, 130#
[b. 1886, MI; 2 kids per 1920 and 1930Census]
5 Oct 1912 LOUISA A. GOLDSCHMIDT #2571 378 N. Main St., housewife, 30, 66”, 140#
The date may be a typo since she registered 18 April 1913 with same number.
DeHaan, Amy. “Arizona Women argue for the vote.” Journal of Arizona History (p. 375-394), 2004. Arizona Historical Society Library and Archives, Tucson, AZ.
Great Register 85.3.65 Pima County Recorder’s Office, RG11SG5, History and Archives Division, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. Phoenix, AZ.
Laurerman, Thomas. De Sexing the Ballot Box. 1973.