Voting with Susan B. Anthony

box with the word "Vote" on it

Voting with Susan B. Anthony was a daunting task. Every year at this time, I like to reflect on Susan’s sisters who accompanied her on that fateful November day in 1872. You may enjoy a full account of her voting, arrest, and trial.

Lovers of Anthony lore often refer to Susan’s youngest sister, Mary, as the wind beneath the famous reformer’s wings. It’s easy to see why:

  • Mary remained single,
  • cared for mother Lucy Anthony in her widowhood,
  • kept the Madison Street home where numerous family members lodged  (including Susan),
  • and was a leader in the Women’s Political Equality Club.

But who were the other two sisters voting with Susan?

Guelma Penn Anthony, the oldest child in the Anthony family, attended Miss Moulson’s Academy in Philadelphia and, like Susan, taught for several years. While the family lived in Battenville, NY, Guelma married Aaron McLean, the son of her father’s business associate. Susan’s letters, as well as anecdotes about him, suggest a fond, easygoing relationship with her brother-in-law.

Eventually, the McLeans moved from Battenville to Rochester, where they lived for several years at 17 Madison Street with Susan, Mary, and their mother Lucy. (Hannah and her family lived next door.) The McLeans had four children, but only one lived a full adult life. Susan’s biography gives a glimpse of the crushing blow of the death of Ann Eliza McLean, whom Susan referred to as the most beloved of all her nieces. “She was twenty-three years old, beautiful and talented, a good musician and an artist of fine promise.” (Harper, 241) Shortly after the untimely death of her son Thomas, Guelma became ill and did not recover.

Despite the fact that Guelma was suffering from tuberculosis, she joined Susan, Hannah, and Mary to register for the 1872 election at the local barbershop. After Susan was tried and convicted for that vote, she remained in Rochester for many months, largely due to Guelma’s rapidly-failing health.

A short time after Guelma’s death in 1873 at the age of 55, Susan wrote to her mother, “Our Guelma, does she look down upon us, does she still live, and shall we all live again and know each other?” (Harper, 446-7)

Who was Susan B. Anthony’s sister Hannah?

Susan B. Anthony’s sister Hannah Anthony Mosher was the next younger child in Susan’s birth family of four girls and two boys. The Anthony sisters formed a powerful impetus to woman suffrage and created bonds that lasted beyond death.

After their father Daniel’s catastrophic financial losses in the panic of 1838, the older sisters went into teaching and sent money home to help the rest of the family. Guelma, the oldest sister, married first. Before Hannah’s marriage to Frank Mosher in 1845, Susan helped her make a Feathered Star quilt

Image by Jessie Ziegler

When Susan, Merritt, and Mary moved with their parents to Rochester, NY, Hannah and Guelma stayed behind with their husbands. The Rochester Anthonys moved to a farm and soon after brother Daniel Read (D.R.) Anthony moved in with them. Within a decade, both he and Merritt moved to Kansas.

Reunited in Rochester

Susan must have been delighted when the Moshers relocated with their four children to Rochester in the late 1850s, taking up residence at #19 Madison Street. Not long after, the Anthonys from the farm moved in to #17 next door to the Moshers. Eventually, Guelma and her family shared  #17.

#17 Madison Street, which was home to Susan, Mary, Guelma, and many others in the Anthony family. At the far right, you can see the porch of #19, home of Hannah and Frank Mosher. Photo by Jeanne Gehret.

As I’ve noted before, all four of Susan B. Anthony’s sisters voted with her in 1872 and were arrested for it. At the time they committed this alleged crime, Guelma was suffering from consumption (tuberculosis), which took her life in 1873. By that time, Hannah, too, was showing signs of the deadly disease.

In the second half of the 19th century, consumption was killing 1/7 of the people in Europe and the U.S. It got its name by causing its sufferers to lose a lot of body weight. It would be another two decades before Robert Koch discovered that it was contracted through bacteria.

Seeking a cure

Not wanting to lose her, D.R. and Susan prevailed on Hannah to seek her health in the west, as many Americans were doing at the time.

Hannah spent several weeks in Denver trying to get better. When she didn’t improve, she went to stay with D.R. and Annie in Leavenworth, KS. Frank and the children visited her there. Distraught, Susan canceled her speaking engagements to keep vigil by Hannah’s deathbed in 1877. Hannah was buried in Leavenworth in the Anthony plot.

Shortly afterward, Hannah’s daughter Louise went to live with Mary Anthony (and Susan) in Rochester, where she remained until she finished her schooling. Thus, the bonds among the sisters extended to Louise’s care after Hannah died. Sadly, only one of Susan B. Anthony’s sisters remained.

On the occasion of Hannah’s death, Susan’s authorized biography said,   

“Between herself [Susan] and this sister, just nineteen months younger, beautiful in character and strong in affection, there ever had existed the closest sympathy. For the last decade they had been separated only by a dooryard, they had shared each other’s every joy and sorrow . . . .”

ida husted harper, life and work of Susan b. anthony, vol 1, p. 488

The Anthony influence also endured in Hannah’s three sons who, following their Uncle D.R.’s example, worked in the insurance business for the rest of their lives.

All for Suffrage, part 2

Susan B. Anthony and siblings

Susan B. Anthony’s siblings, like her parents, were all for suffrage. They supported the right of every American citizen to vote, regardless of sex or race. (See my previous post about her parents.)

Continue reading

Author Talk on Susan B. Anthony’s Kin

“All For Suffrage: Susan B. Anthony’s Kin” will be Jeanne Gehret’s topic in an evening presentation at the Penfield (N.Y.) Public Library this coming Thursday, April 27, from 7-8:30. Admission is free.

Miss Anthony’s devotion to woman suffrage is well-known. Lesser-known is how she also campaigned for black suffrage–and how her entire family supported her in both efforts.

Come discover how the members of Susan’s family thought for themselves and stood up for their beliefs–even when they risked public disapproval, arrest, the ruin of career, or death.

Copies of The Truth About Daniel, the first in the Dauntless Series about this amazing family, will be available for sale and author signing. This talk commemorates the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in New York State.

Catch my book on TV today!

The Truth About Daniel was featured today on FOX morning news. Click here to watch the newscast. I liked how they included images, but you may be confused about the picture of people standing in front of a house. It’s not Daniel’s house in Missouri, but the Anthony farm in Rochester. As far as we know, Daniel lived there with his family of origin before he moved to Kansas with the Emigrant Aid Company.

Please share this post!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I had fun writing the romance portions of this book, especially the three chapters where Daniel bumbles through a proposal to Annie and finally gets it right.

Thanks to the great people at Fox news. They have also filmed our Tool Thrift Shop and our English country dancing group. (Dancing and romancing go hand in hand in The Truth About Daniel.)



The Anthonys in Rochester

I have blogged extensively about the Anthony family in Kansas and Martha’s Vineyard because those two areas were the focus of my first book in “The Dauntless Series.” In the process, I’ve slighted one of the most obvious places anyone should mention when discussing the Anthony family: Rochester, NY, where all of Susan’s nuclear family lived at various times between 1848 and 1907.

So here’s my commitment: I will include the Rochester connection on a regular basis from now on. Not only am I currently researching Rochester sites and people that the Anthonys knew, but I have also created a program entitled “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” where I will share my findings in person with a Powerpoint program. Several libraries have already booked this presentation, in addition to costumed appearances, to celebrate New York State’s centennial of woman suffrage.

If you want to share some Rochester historical tidbits or old photos, please scroll down to the bottom of this page and use the comment box.

I am excited that tomorrow I will be getting a private tour of the Talman Building on Rochester’s Main Street. It was the home of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper The North Star and also a site on the Underground Railroad. Watch for upcoming entries and photos from that visit!

About the photo on today’s post: I never stop puzzling over it. It was taken on the Anthony farm near Rochester, and none of the people in it are identified. Do you find their poses as curious as I do? I like to think that the man on the extreme right is Daniel Read, but have no way of knowing other than that he seems to be copping an attitude!

This is the home where both Daniels–Susan’s father and brother–lived, as well as Merritt. None of the men in the family ever lived on Madison Street, where the famous Susan B. Anthony House stands today. Two chapters of my book take place in this farm home.

Rustling Horses in Huron, KS

D.R. Anthony had many financial irons in the fire–early investment in Kansas land, political appointments, the insurance business, and a newspaper business that became a family dynasty. But more than once he was accused of horse stealing, and he openly told family that he had “liberated” steeds during his jayhawker raids on Missouri.

This guest post discusses his large stock farm that adjoined lands owned by his sisters Mary and Susan.

The Anthony Stock Farm in Huron, Kansas

For many years The D.R. Anthony family owned the property known as the Anthony Stock Farm or Ranch west of Huron, Kansas, north of Leavenworth County, in neighboring Atchison County. Originally, the property was part of a land grant from U.S. President James Buchanan to Col. Daniel R. Anthony, who purchased it at a sale of the Delaware Indian lands in Osawki, Kansas, in May 1856.  He paid $1.75 per acre and agreed, as did other buyers, to improve the land, build a house and live there a certain number of days each month.  Col. Anthony bought four quarters for himself and one quarter each for his sisters, Susan B. Anthony and Mary S. Anthony.  Years later, the Anthony family noted that all three built cabins and resided on their farms the required amount of time.

Col. Anthony donated part of his land for the town of Huron (named after the Huron tribe of Indians), platted in April 1882 and later deeded 20 acres to the railroad, which made Huron an important shipping and supply community.

Initially operated as a livestock farm, horses and cattle were kept on the ranch.  The Anthonys came often to ride the horses, first by horse and buggy and later on the train from Leavenworth.  The property was also utilized by the Cavalry from Fort Leavenworth, on their way to Fort Crook, Nebraska.

In 1888, Col. Anthony had a lithograph of his magnificent farm distributed to Kansas newspapers.   One commented that the bird’s eye view of the ranch showed “that the colonel knows how to lay out and improve a farm –and make it pay, too—as well as conduct a first class newspaper.  If ‘Farmer’ Anthony gets the nomination for the governorship, he will be enthusiastically supported by his fellow farmers.”  DR’s desire to become Governor of Kansas was never realized.

(The lithograph will appear in the next post along with part two of this article.)

This post courtesy of Mary Ann Sachse Brown


Susan B. Anthony at Mt. Hope Cemetery

SBA graveThousands experienced the beauty and peace of Mt. Hope Cemetery yesterday when they gathered at the grave of Susan B. Anthony in a fitting tribute to one of America’s greatest women. Rochester officials estimate the crowd at 10,000 visitors. Continue reading

Where is Hannah Anthony Mosher buried?

Tomb, Tomb of Hannah Anthony MosherHannah was the third child of Lucy and Daniel Read. (Imagine D.R. growing up with three older sisters!) There are suggestions that she also taught (like Guelma, Susan, and Mary) before her marriage to Eugene Mosher in 1845, for which Susan helped make a Feathered Star quilt. Susan’s diaries and biography demonstrate that the three oldest sisters remained close all their lives, for they all lived in two red brick houses on Madison Street in Rochester.

Hannah bore three sons and a daughter. By the time her sister Guelma died in 1873, Hannah was already showing signs of tuberculosis herself and, at the urging of Susan and D.R., spent time in Colorado for her health and then took up residence in Leavenworth with D.R.’s family. Eventually Hannah’s husband and children were called from Rochester, and she succumbed to her illness.

She was buried in Leavenworth, KS, the first of the clan to be interred there. Susan stayed in Leavenworth for six more weeks, eventually returning to Rochester with Hannah’s only daughter Louise, who would live with Susan and Mary until she graduated from the Rochester Free Academy. (Harper p. 477)

Close-Up on Anthony Family

HeaDSCN0933ring about Susan’s westward-bound brothers, I began to wonder about their similarity to their famous sister. Who among their parents’ dinner guests inspired Susan, Daniel and Merritt to become such active proponents of reform? Continue reading