Grandmother Whitson’s Vote (in 1920)

By Martha W Hertel

Date unknown

Eliza Rakestraw was born into a Quaker family in a Pennsylvania county full of other Quakers. Born about 1840 at the same time the women’s suffrage movement was gaining momentum. She was in a large family. When a brother turned 21, he and his father went off to vote. She was left at home. From that day on she became a women’s suffrage convert.

In 1920 the 19th Amendment was passed. It gave women the right to vote. That fall, Grandmother must have been staying with us, her daughter Mary Whitson Warren and family, in Forest Home, in the White Farmhouse at the top of the hill. My older sister, Jean, tells of Grandmother voting for the first time at age 80.

She dressed in her “Sunday Best” and came out the front door, an occurrence in itself since it was seldom used. One of the hired men met her at the front door with a horse and buggy. He drove her down the Warren Road hill, a short, steep incline, to the voting place. She voted. He drove her back up the hill and home.

After 80 years she voted!

Acknowledgement: The text was transcribed in 2019 by Lucy Hertel Staley, Martha Warren Hertel’s daughter.