In our March 23 post, “Man at washtub, wife votes: an election year retrospective,” we learned about Clara Averill Colby, Libertyville resident and the first women to vote in the state of Illinois after the passing of the 1913 Illinois Municipal Voting Act granting Illinois women the right to vote for Presidential electors, all local offices not specifically named in the Illinois Constitution and on any “local option” issues.
The Chicago Daily Tribune article featuring Clara voting and her husband doing laundry, also contained a photo of six other women that visited the polls that day. We wondered who these women were and went about doing some research.
Mabelle Peck MacGuffin (1884-1979)
Mabelle Milne Peck MacGuffin was born in Ottawa, Kansas to parents F.B. and Emily Peck. After graduating from high school in Ottawa, Mabelle attended Ottawa University, studying Piano and Musical Theory. Mabelle graduated from Ottawa University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Music degree. The State Normal School of Kansas issued Mabelle a three-year renewable teaching certificate. Mabel came to Libertyville sometime after graduation and taught languages for at least one year at the high school.
Mabelle married Paul MacGuffin, a long-time bachelor and successful local attorney who had served as Mayor of Libertyville between 1905 and 1907, on August 12, 1908, one month shy of her 24th birthday. The couple had two children, Lorraine and John.
Mabelle was referred to as a “suffrage agitator” in the 1913 election coverage and encouraged women to vote in favor of the town hall building. “I think I can bring in seven or eight women if I go after them in my automobile,” she said.
In 1921, Mabelle was elected to a two-year term as a Director of the Library Board. Mabelle was instrumental in moving the The Woman’s Club of Libertyville (formerly the Alpha Club and later the Libertyville Woman’s Club) lending library into the Ansel B. Cook home, which became the Cook Memorial Library. She was an active member of the club, holding the office of president at one time.
Mabelle was also active with the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Libertyville and served as a member of the Board of Stewards.
After Paul’s death in 1945, Mabelle moved to Seattle, Washington to be near her daughter Lorraine. She died in December at the age of 95. Mabelle was buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Libertyville.
Caroline Schnaebele (1864-1944)
Della Albertina Schnaebele Chamberlin (1889-1984)
Caroline Salome Link was born in 1864 on a farm near Long Grove, Illinois to Jacob and Salome Link, immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine who settled in Lake County in 1846. The Link farm was located just miles from the Schnaebele farm in the southeastern corner of Ela Township.
Robert P. Schnaebele and Carrie Link were married at the Long Grove Evangelical Church (now the Long Grove Community Church). The Schnaebeles were early members of this church and Mrs. Schnaebele remained an active member for much of her life. After their marriage the newlyweds lived on the Link homestead and farmed. They had two children, a daughter Della, born October 17, 1889 and a son Austin. The Schnaebele family moved to Libertyville about 1905. A few years later, they built a home at 316 South Stewart Avenue that still stands today. Robert served as mayor of Libertyville from 1912-1916.
In 1910, Della was working as a laborer at a duster factory, probably the W.C. Holt Manufacturing Company. Della married Roy Chamberlin during a “pretty home wedding” on October 26, 1912 at Della’s parents’ home in Libertyville with “only the most intimate relatives present.” The couple had two children, Evelyn born in 1914, and Kenneth born in 1919.
On that July election day, Della, about 23 years old, accompanied her mother, Caroline Schnaebele, to the polling place in the afternoon preferring “to finish their regular morning household work before casting their votes. But they were on hand the first thing in the afternoon and cast a ballot in favor of the new town hall.”
In 1944, Caroline was bedridden for about a week before suffering from a fatal heart attack. She died on Easter Sunday. A funeral service was held in her family home on Stewart Avenue and she was buried in a family plot at Ivanhoe Cemetery.
Della lived to the age of 95, and passed away on December 25, 1984 at Winchester House in Libertyville. She is buried in Ivanhoe Cemetery.
The other three women pictured were just a little to young to vote since the new law applied to women 21 years of age and older.
Little is known about Marie O’Connor other than she was enthusiastic about the opportunity to vote. Unfortunately, at the age of 18, she was a little bit ahead of her time.
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported: “A crowd of girls came running breathlessly into the voting place. They had just heard that women were voting and they all decided to try the novelty. ‘I’m afraid you won’t be able to show you are 21,” said Mayor Schnaebele to Miss Marie O’Connor. “Why certainly we are not 21, but we are 18 and of age,’” replied the young woman with a haughty stare and a stamp of her foot.”
LeMoyne Stafford Kelley (1895-1979)
The youngest of 10, LeMoyne Stafford was the daughter of pickle manufacturer Richard W. Stafford and his wife, Marcia Evans Stafford. The Stafford’s owned a house at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Park Avenue as early as 1897. The pickle factory, the Libertyville outpost of the largest individual pickle dealer in the United States at the time, was on the northeast corner of Church Avenue and Second Street.
LeMoyne married Gordon Kelley in 1915 and moved to Lake Forest, IL about that time. Gordon was the City Supervisor of Streets for Lake Forest in 1916 and had his own business installing metal curbing on private drives. The Staffords had two children, Gordon L. Kelley and Stafford W. Kelley.
LeMoyne worked as an assistant manager of Garnett’s department store in Lake Forest and Highland Park, IL and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest. She was a member of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society and a founding member of the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society.
She passed away in 1979.
Gertrude Mowers McDermott (1893-1972)
Gertrude Esther Mowers was born in Half Day, Illinois to parents, Peter and Barbara Mowers. Peter, a veteran of the Civil War was the owner/operator of the Vernon House hotel and saloon in Half Day. Peter Mower retired and moved the family to Libertyville in 1905. Their home was on Milwaukee Avenue “south of the electric station”.
Gertrude married Albert P. (Bert) McDermott, a stenographer from Waukegan, at St. Joseph Church in Libertyville on January 1, 1914. The young couple spent the winter in Libertyville with the Mowers family and then moved to Waukegan where they lived for over 50 years. During this time, Albert’s career progressed from stenographer to reporter of the Circuit Court of Lake County while Gertrude led the household. The couple’s marriage produced three children, Esther Jane, Albert Junior and Reta (Rita).
Gertrude passed away in 1972 with Albert surviving another 5 years without her. They both are interred at Ascension Cemetery in Libertyville with Gertrude’s parents and other relatives in a family plot.
The following two women were not captured by the photographer, but were there to exercise their rights at the inaugural election.
Courtesy of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.
Daisy Eger Morse (1876-1946)
Daisy Eger was born in 1876 in Clayton, Iowa to Xavier and Katherine Eger. She worked as a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in St. Paul, MN, for a time and then moved to Libertyville in 1898 to live with her brother, Henry Eger, a hardware store proprietor. She met Jay Morse, son of an early Lake County settler, and they were married June 15, 1899. After a short time living in Hartley, Iowa, the couple returned to Libertyville where Jay Morse operated a clothing store and served as Libertyville Mayor (1917-1923), Lake County Clerk (1938-1950), and County Treasurer (1927-1938). They had two daughters, Vera and Katherine.
The organizational meeting for the Alpha Club (later the Libertyville Woman’s Club) was held in Daisy’s home in April 1903. She served as president of the organization in 1911 and 1912. She was a member of the Libertyville chapter 438, Order of the Eastern Star. She was worthy matron of the group in 1916 and served for years as secretary. In the 1920s, she was a member of the Libertyville Township High School board.
Daisy went against her husband’s wishes to excise her new rights that July 1913. “My husband told me not to vote, but you see I am here,” said Daisy, who headed a delegation of half a dozen women who applied for ballots.
Daisy was an artist, preferring to paint on china, and worked as a sales clerk in her husband’s store. She passed away at the age of 70 in May 1946.
And finally, the second woman to vote in Illinois….
Linna Wells Corlett (1882-1964)
Linna was born in 1882 in LeRoy, MN, daughter of Edgar and Elizabeth Wells. The family moved to Libertyville sometime before 1900. Linna married Earl Corlett, a mercantile clerk and son of one of Libertyville’s pioneer families, in 1905. Earl served as Libertyville Mayor from 1927-1931. The couple had one daughter, Roma.
Linna was close behind Clara Colby to cast her vote on that first election day after the new Illinois state law passed. Her husband, Earl, was one of the election clerks.
Linna was a matron of the Libertyville Chapter, No. 483, Order of the Eastern Star, and was a trustee of the Presbyterian Church, serving on the building committee for the Maple Avenue church building in 1927. She died in 1964 at the age of 81.
4 thoughts on “The second woman to vote in Illinois”
Oh my God, you found them! Way to go Jenny! : )
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Thisbis the first u have found on our family heritage! Stafford/ LeMoyne/ Kelley