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Hormel Historic Home: Learning about the women who marched

Being a female, I wish I could say that I am well versed on the history behind the passing of the 19th Amendment. But before our recent History Happy Hour event, I was not.

Jaimie Timm, Mower County Historical Society Curator, enlightened a crowd of over 30 on the national and regional chain of events that led to the success of the women’s suffrage movement that gave women the right to vote in all elections in 1920.

Now, 100 years after the ratification of that amendment, I am afraid most women take for granted the rights that the well-known Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought so hard for. Through conventions, petitions and parades, awareness was raised about why women felt they should be allowed the same rights as men. Some women endured arrests and violence to get their voice heard, and all females (and I would suggest males) owe them thanks and recognition in this anniversary year.

Minnesota was a leader in the suffrage movement and became the 15th state to ratify the new amendment. Mower County was home to many advocates for equal voting rights. Alpha Boostrom (wife of the Normal College President), Gertrude Skinner (superintendent of schools) and Sarah Catherwood (mother of attorney S.D. Catherwood) each played a role in educating women about the cause.

Though neither Jaimie nor I could find reference to Lillian Hormel in any documents related to suffrage, I do feel that she and husband George were progressive in their thinking about the value of the female mind. George gave credit to his wife for much of the company’s success in its early days and in 1907 made her a member of the company’s Board of Directors. His sister Lizzie and Mrs. A.L. Eberhart were also elected to the board at this time. Eberhart was quoted in the Mower County Transcript on Aug. 30, 1920, saying that she believed most women “are putting considerable time and study on the issues and that women are entitled to the vote and will use it to the best advantage.”

To learn more about the 19th Amendment, mark your calendars to visit the Mower County Historical Society in August as they host a traveling exhibit about the history of the movement.  Upcoming History Happy Hour presentations will feature topics that showcase the role of women in the military, in the schoolhouse, on the farm and even in baseball.

I may be late in learning the history of my gender’s quest for equal rights, but I can do my part now in hosting programs that we can all learn from.

Austin Wedding and Event Showcase

  • 12-3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 26
  • Plan your wedding or other special event from start to finish at this annual event featuring Caterers, Florists, Photographers, Venues, and more. Complimentary champagne, $5 per person

MarySue Hormel Harris and Family

  • 4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28
  • All are invited to a reception to welcome MarySue Hormel Harris and her family.  She will play a short selection of piano music by Frederic Chopin. Refreshments served, free.