Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Katherine F. McGerr, 1873-1947
Iowa State University
Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia
Katharine F. Dore was born in 1873 in Wisconsin, according to the 1875 Nebraska State Census. Her father, Patrick Dore, was born in Ireland, and her mother, Ellen Dore, was born in New York, according to the 1860 US census. In the 1875 Nebraska State Census, it showed that Katharine Dore moved to Rock Creek Precinct, Lancaster, Nebraska at the age of two. Later in life, McGerr had a family and actively participated in the suffrage movement.
Her future husband, Patrick McGerr, was born in 1870 and also living there at that time, according to the 1875 Nebraska State Census, so they may have known each other from a young age. She most likely met her husband and moved to Colorado afterward, where they were married on April 26th, 1897 in Victor, Colorado, according to the State of Colorado Division of Vital Statistics Marriage Record Report. The 1900 US Census states that they were living in Colorado with a two-year-old daughter, Helen, and her husband was a gold miner. The US Federal Census reveals that in 1910 they had moved back to Nebraska and, by 1918, had four daughters.
After these early travels, Katharine McGerr was an active participant in a case against members of the Anti-Suffrage Association. A bill signed by Nebraska Governor Keith Neville on April 21, 1917, as stated by Ida Usted Harper in the 1922 History of Women Suffrage, "gave women the suffrage for presidential electors, all municipal and most county officers." Harper described how the Anti-Suffrage Association did not agree with this bill and started a petition to have voters vote on the issue. Additionally, Harper mentions that there was a large case where suffragists like Katharine McGerr worked against this anti-suffrage petition; in particular, McGerr was part of the association challenging the signatures on the petition. Ultimately, Harper reveals that on June 28th, 1919, the Nebraska Supreme court ruled that the signatures were fraud and the anti-suffragists lost their case. According to Alice Stone Blackwell in The Woman Citizen, "the association had valuable and indispensable aid from such workers as Mrs. Katharine Mcgerr of Falls City." Thus, McGerr's opposition to the Anti-Suffrage Association contributed to the defeat of the referendum, ultimatley securing the voting rights of women in Nebraska.
Katharine McGerr died in 1947, according to her gravestone located at Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, with her name spelled "Catherine" on the gravestone. Along with research found regarding McGerr's early and family life, it is clear that her aid opposing the anti-suffrage petition helped the women of Nebraska get their voting rights.
"1860 US Census." Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"1875 Nebraska State Census." Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"1885 Nebraska State Census." Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"1900 US Census." Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"1910 US Census." Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
Blackwell, Alice Stone. The Woman Citizen, Vol. 3. Illinois: Indiana University Library, Feb. 8, 1919, p. 763. Accessed online at: https://books.google.com/books?id=KtMRAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA783&lpg=PA783&dq=katharine+mcgerr+the+women+citizen&source=bl&ots=-34ZO03NU0&sig=Z57QfeVtO0x9dKBG6h5TkraP1JA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjM_MHZjO7WAhWl5IMKHX3pAzYQ6AEINjAG#v=onepage&q=katharine%20mcgerr%20the%20women%20citizen&f=false.
"Calvary Cemetery (Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska)." Catherine F. McGerr footstone. Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
"Certificate of Marriage: Partick T. McGerr to Katie F. Dare, 26 April 1897, Victor, Colorado." Marriage Record Report, El Paso County, Colorado. Ancestry.com. Accessed September 26, 2017. http://ancestry.com.
Harper, Ida Husted. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6. New York: JJ Little and Ives Company, 1922. [LINK.]