There has been much publicity marking 2019 as the 100th year of women securing the right to vote.
The suffragists’ hard fought battle was truly a grassroots movement, as seen by the number of local women members (perhaps as many as 400 women) of the Kenosha County Equal Suffrage League and the Political Equality League of Kenosha. Kenosha County’s population in 1910 was just under 33,000.
Up until recently, the names of many of the suffragists here were unknown, but a 1915 article posted online by the Kenosha County Suffrage 100 group on the county website has bestowed a sense of pride on the descendants of those courageous women.
One of those courageous women was Sarah Adelia Barter.
At the age of 69, Sarah Adelia Barter was one of the older members of the Kenosha County Equal Suffrage League in 1915. She was to be one of five county delegates representing Pleasant Prairie that year at the Wisconsin Equal Suffrage League convention.
Sarah Lieber was born in Spafford, Onondaga County, NY, on July 31, 1846, one of 11 children born to James and Clarissa (Andrews) Lieber. At least four of Sarah’s siblings did not live to adulthood.
At 22, Sarah married Fredrick Barter, age 28, in Kenosha County on March 10, 1868. Sarah’s younger sister Emma married Fredrick’s older brother Albert.
The couple had eight children: Ellen, Nellie, Arthur, Fred D., Clara, Frank, Addie and Edith.
Despite her dedication to the suffrage cause, she never got to vote in a statewide or federal election.
Sarah Barter died at the age of 70 on July 15, 1916, more than three years before Congress passed the Susan B. Anthony Bill in June 1919.
She is buried in Vale Cemetery in Kenosha County, just south of the White Caps Subdivision on Highway 50.
Possessed inner strength
Sarah’s grave is a place Joanne Getschman Johnson, of Kenosha, and her daughter Lynne Weil, of Madison, have visited.
Sarah is Johnson’s great-grandmother on her mother’s side.
Johnson was surprised and delighted to find Sarah on the list of delegates of the Kenosha County Equal Suffrage League of 1915.
“I’m incredibly proud that my great-grandmother was part of the suffrage movement. She had to be a very strong woman to overcome those obstacles in her way of life when women were thinking to be inferior to men,” Johnson said. “This (movement) was an absolute major change in how women perceived themselves.”
Johnson said she never met her great-grandmother, as Sarah died when Johnson’s mother Alice Getchman was 9 years old. But Johnson attributes her and her daughter’s strong female inner strength to Sarah.
Two in family tree
Two of the KCESL members of 1915 — Titiana Hill and Anastasia Waters Wade — couldn’t have predicted that they’d land in the family tree of Kenoshan Susan Wade Horsely.
As a child, Horsely knew both women: Hill is her great-aunt and Wade her grandmother, one on each side of her parent’s families.
Titiana N. Hill was a member of Kenosha’s leading transportation family, which owned the Hill Steamboat Line that operated at Kenosha’s shore for 22 years.
Titiana — or “Taine” as she was called by family members — was the eighth of nine children born to Leonidas L. and Flora Hill on July 30, 1895. The Hill family relocated here from Fish Creek, Wis., in Door County in 1903
The Hill family lived on the outskirts of town on the south side of 35th Street east of 22nd Avenue.
A talented pianist, she graduated from Kenosha High School in 1914, and it was about this time she was inspired by the suffrage movement and joined the KCESL.
Titiana became a private music teacher, teaching beginning piano, and her great-niece was one of her students.
Horsely recalled her “Aunt Taine” as being a very down-to-earth, loving, jovial, motherly type of a person.
Titiana married Mark Kindt and raised three children just doors away from her parents’ home.
“I remember having dinner there,” Horsely said. “She was domestic — a good cook and a gardener.”
Late in life, Titiana and Mark moved to Prescott, Ariz., where she died in 1983.
Titiana’s older sister Eva had married Alfred Meredith Fegan. They were Horsely’s grandparents, and their offspring Florine was Horsely’s mother.
Florine married Horsely’s father, Elmer Wade, whose mother Anastasia Waters Wade was a suffragist, thus Horsely’s dual heritage.
Horsely has more recollections of her Grandma Anastasia than of her Great-Aunt Taine.
Grocer grew gladiolas
Born in County Wexford, Ireland, on Sept. 26, 1881, Anastasia came to the United States as an infant. Her birth family came to include nine younger siblings.
She married William J. Wade on Aug. 27, 1902, at St. James Catholic Church in Kenosha. Eventually, their family grew to five children, including Elmer.
Anastasia was 34 years old in 1915 when she was a member of the KCESL.
Back then, William was a factory worker, and they lived on Sixth Avenue in the German northside enclave. By 1930, the Wades had bought property near the Washington Golf Course at 2630 Washington Road, where they lived adjacent to their small grocery store.
Horsely remembers her grandmother as a sweet lady with a beautiful garden who grew gladiolas and raspberry bushes.
“On each of her (nine) grandkids’ birthdays, she’d bake us a ‘Sunshine’ cake and fudge,” Horsely recalled. “She was quite religious, and when we would go over for sleepovers, she’d have us down on our knees bedside, saying our prayers before bed.”
Horsely remembers Grandma Anastasia playing Parcheesi with her and her brother on those nights.
Anastasia died on her 65th birthday in 1946, having a heart attack upon learning of the death of her sister, Margaret. Horsely was then 11 years old.
“She was obviously out there in society and taking a role with those who were recruiting for suffrage. I would never have thought of her as being so engaged. I only thought of her as my sweet little old grandmother,” Horsley said.
“They got a lot of women involved, and it took a long time to get that amendment through. My generation takes it for granted, but when I started thinking about it, it’s pretty amazing what they did.”
If you would like to see if your Kenosha ancestor was a delegate from the Kenosha County Equal Suffrage League of 1915, visit http://www.kenoshacounty.org/2028/Was-Your-Great-Grandmother-a-Suffragist.