Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mrs. Ella Clark Brower, 1855-1942

By Kendra M. Stachum, Dr. Amy Forss, Professor
Metropolitan Community College

Mrs. Ella Brower born November 6, 1855 from Owego, New York, was a telegrapher for the Erie Railroad Union and Western Union, in Owego, and the youngest of ten children of Ezeckial Hyde and Nancy Williams Clark. She married Mr. Martin Brower, in 1885. Mr. Brower was the youngest child of Arlineus and Mary Marther Brower. His family settled in Fullerton, Nebraska in 1882. Mr. Martin was born on March 21, 1847 in Ohio. At some point in his young life he moved to Illinois, and graduated from Lombard College, Galesburg, in 1871, after which he was appointed Master of Chancery in Illinois. In 1884, he was admitted to the practice of law in the Nance County (NE) Bar. While in Fullerton, his main interest and source of income was that of being a loan agent. He was elected as Nance County judge for the Populist Party for one term. Although the top vote-getter on the Prohibitionist party's slate of candidates, he twice was defeated as the party's candidate for Nebraska Attorney General. He was appointed President of the Fullerton National Bank in 1900, eventually acquiring majority control of the Bank. Martin remained president until his death in 1920.

Living with Mr. and Mrs. Brower, were Mrs. Brower's two maiden sisters, Frances and Lucy Clark. They did the housekeeping and cooking, enabling Mrs. Brower to devote her time to the causes of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibitionist party. While attending the National American Woman Suffrage Association and proceedings of the Jubilee Convention in St. Louis Missouri, March 24-29, 1919, she was assigned as the First Auditor for the Red Cross and Chairman for Nance County.

Ella Brower was among nineteen Nebraska suffragists who played a crucial legal role in securing women's right to vote. In particular, the State Legislature passed a limited suffrage bill in April 1917, granting women in Nebraska the right to vote in Presidential elections and for many local and county offices. Anti-suffragists mounted a campaign to put the bill before the state's voters. Brower was among named nineteen suffragists who opposed the referendum petition and exposed so many instances of fraud and forgery in obtaining signatures that the State Supreme Court threw out the petition, refused to hold a referendum, and upheld the new suffrage law. Thus, Brower was part of the legal struggle that secured the right to vote for Nebraska women even before the passage on the Nineteenth Amendment.

Mr. and Mrs. Brower had three children: Robert Brower, born in 1896, attended the University of Nebraska in 1914, and graduated with his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1919. Daughter, Mary Letitia (b. 1886), served with the American Red Cross overseas during World War II and was a career teacher in Fullerton and Bloomington. Mrs. Brower passed away on Sept 21, 1942.


For a biographical sketch of Martin Brower, see

Finding aid to correspondence of Martin Brower, Nebraska State Historical Society; accessed online at

Find-a-Grave at

Ella Brower family information found on

Special Thanks

Mr. Scott Mahoney, Library Supervisor, Elkhorn Valley Campus, Metropolitan Community College. Mr. Mahoney, played a pivotal role in helping research Mrs. Ella Brower.

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