Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Alice Isabel Brayton, 1847-1911
By Cody Goergen, student; Dr. Amy Forss, teacher
Undergraduate student, Metropolitan (Omaha, NE) Community College
Geneva, Western NE; Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association
Alice Isabel Duncan was born in Syracuse, New York, November 8, 1847. Her parents were Thomas and Harriet N. Duncan and Alice had one sister being Harriet Eliza Duncan. By the 1850 census, Alice was 13 years old and her father had died, leaving her mother a single parent. In 1867 Alice married Pierce B. Brayton, but the couple never had children. For a while after their marriage they held a house in Syracuse, New York and took in Alice's mother. Pierce worked with his brother starting in 1865 at his railroad ticket office while Alice worked at the Keeping House, a poor house, with her mom. At the turn of the century Pierce and Alice moved to Geneva, Nebraska; her husband died soon after, in 1902. Alice lived with her mother's servant, Anna Anton, until 1911 when both she and her husband were buried back in Syracuse.
In 1881 the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association took root across the state. Woman suffrage, though, wasn't always taken seriously. In 1891 the state legislature considered a bill to enact a secret ballot to lessen voter fraud, ballot stuffing, and intimidation that had been rampant. Here the suffrage movement added a bill on the heels of this progressive change to allow women to vote in municipal elections. As one paper stated, "After wasting more than two hours of time, roll call on the bill commenced. Once the bill was defeated, the legislature could get down to solid work." By 1902 Alice had grown in popularity in Geneva, even becoming president of the local branch of the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association. From here she continued to speak at the annual conventions and address how to continue gaining membership for their cause. Mrs. Braxton continued to show her resolve at the age of 59 when she was elected as the treasurer of the Nebraska Equal Suffrage Association. With receipts and disbursements at hand Brayton showed campaign income and spending to the Omaha Bee, demonstrating to the public the legitimacy of their business as well as their message.
Mrs. Brayton wrote to The Arizona Sentinel in 1908 about the Oklahoma Wooden Indian law and its correlation to woman suffrage. As she wrote, "It is now a misdemeanor to make any image of an Indian, of whatever name or nation, for display in front of a tobacco or any other shop. It is the modern form of 'Though shalt not make for thyself any graven image.' Now what is the reason this measure was so enthusiastically supported by all factions? It is universally conceded that it was because each party wanted to control the Indian vote. And so it goes. It is the Irish vote, the German vote, the Italian vote, and now it is the Indian vote! Will it ever be the woman vote?"
United States Federal Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910, accessed through Archives.com on 11 November 2016 https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6dc2Xp_0xQ0WEhYU1RKdWp2dzQ; Possible poor house: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyononda/hospitals/syrhospwomenchildren.html;
Image of the Brayton grave marker http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=86243417;
Voting reform of Nebraska http://nebraskahistory.org/museum/teachers/material/nebdata/history_minutes.pdf page 146;
Access to newspapers from Chronicling America by the Library of Congress http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?state=&date1=1789&date2=1922&proxtext=Alice+Isabel+Brayton&x=0&y=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&rows=20&searchType=basic;
"Oregon's Innovations," Arizona Sentinel, June 17, 1908.