Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Grandmothers Eligible to Vote in Their First Presidential Election, 1920

In three more years we'll be celebrating the centennial of the women's right to vote in  presidential elections.  But this presidential election year seems as good as any to make note of which female ancestors first voted in the 1920 presidential election, their ages, and where they were living at the time.

In 1920 the candidates for president were Republicans Warren G. Harding for president and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, for vice president; and Democrat James M. Cox for president and Franklin D. Roosevelt for vice president.

The November 1 issue of The Youngstown Vindicator published a sample ballot.  (Election Day was November 2 in 1920.)  I don't know if its intended use was to educate people on the candidates and issues or for people to mark and take to the polls with them.  (I think it's interesting that the Democratic symbol was a rooster and the Republican symbol was an eagle.)

My grandmothers who cast votes in their first presidential election:
  • Emma Meinzen Bickerstaff was 27 years old.  She lived in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio.  She had 2 children, ages 5 and 2.
  • Mary Thompson Bickerstaff was 48 years old.  She lived in Mineral Ridge, Austintown Township, Mahoning County, Ohio.  She had several daughters who would have been eligible to vote also.
  • Lydia Bell Thompson was 69 years old, with several daughters of voting age.
  • Tressa Froman Doyle was 53 years old, living in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. 
  • Elvira Bartley Gerner was 66 years old.  She lived in Bruin, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  She had six living daughters of voting age.
  • Catherine Saylor Froman was 76 years old.  She lived in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Of course, I wonder how strong my grandmothers' opinions were, how versed they were in the topics, and how their husbands felt about their wives voting.  I would especially like to know for which candidates they cast their votes.  It's unlikely I'll ever know.  But I hope they all voted in that historic election.


Copyright ©2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. What an interesting and timely topic. I need to see which of my ancestors were eligible to vote.

    1. I wonder if there was an air of anticipation or excitement, Wendy. Women had already voted in the fall the year before and in the primaries in the spring of 1920 but it was their first time voting for a president. The things I wish I'd asked my grandmother!


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