Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Wilhelmina D. "Minnie" Yoast Morgan, 1843-1910
By Kristin L. Kuhlmann, Nursing Program Director
Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico
President of Kansas Equal Suffrage Association
Mayor of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, 1889 (all female council and police judge)
President of Kansas Women's Press Club
President of Kansas Women's Republican Association
Wilhelmina "Minnie" Yoast was the daughter of E.S. and Hannah Rogers Yoast. She was born on March 2, 1845 in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the Civil War, Minnie Yoast was active in the Christian Sanitary Commission, and was a volunteer nurse in a military hospital located in Cincinnati. On March 21, 1864, she married William Albert (W.A.) Morgan in her family home in Cincinnati. The couple had two children, William Yoast (W.Y.) Morgan (1866-1932) and Anna Katherine Morgan Coe (1879-1963).
The young family moved to Cottonwood Falls, Kansas in 1871, where they established the Chase County Leader newspaper, which never missed publishing an issue until it was sold in March 1903. As a Republican, W.A. Morgan served in both houses of the Kansas state legislature; in the House of Representatives from 1879 and as state senator from 1893-1895. Serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, Mr. Morgan had enlisted as a private, and mustered out of the Army three years later as a first lieutenant. Based on their life experiences and political views, important issues requiring their focus included temperance, suffrage and the welfare of veterans and their families.
Minnie Morgan successfully provided leadership to women's clubs and societies throughout the state of Kansas. She was a member of the Topeka chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and served as president of the Kansas Women's Press Club, the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association, and the Kansas Women's Republican Association. She was an active member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for many years. She also served as department president of the Women's Relief Corps of Kansas, and as chair of the Executive Committee for the Mother Bickerdyke Home near Ellsworth, Kansas, a 160-acre community opened in 1897, as a self-sustaining home for widows and orphans of Civil War veterans.
When women in Kansas gained school suffrage in 1861, optimism was high in 1867, when Kansas became the first state to hold a referendum on women's suffrage, which failed to pass. Not willing to concede defeat, the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association doggedly led a campaign to obtain voting rights for women in municipal elections. As a result of years of dedication, in April 1887, Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman mayor in the nation, when she won election in Argonia, Kansas. In the same election cycle, women also won all five seats on the Syracuse, Kansas city council.
Just two years later, in April 1889, Minnie Morgan was elected mayor of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. An all-woman city council served with her, and included members Alice Hunt, Sadie Grisham, Elizabeth Porter, Barbara Gillett and Elizabeth Johnson; Mrs. D.G. Groundwater also served as police judge. Unfortunately, Minnie Morgan did not live to see the Kansas Equal Suffrage Amendment pass on November 5, 1912. After an extended illness, she died on December 16, 1910 in her home in Cottonwood Falls. However, her son, W.Y. Morgan and his wife, Mary "Colie" Adair Morgan*, would continue to be diligent advocates for national women's suffrage until the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution was successfully ratified in 1920.
*See the NAWSA biography of Mary Frances "Colie" Adair Morgan. [LINK]
Blackmar, F. W. (Ed.). (1912). Kansas: A cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, towns, prominent persons, etc.: William Albert Morgan. Retrieved October 7, 2017 from http://www.ksgenweb.com/archives/1912/m3/morgan_william_albert.html
Edwards, R. (1997). Angels in the machinery: Gender in American party politics from the Civil War to the progressive era. NY: Oxford University Press.
FindAGrave.com. (2016, January 30). 1LT William Albert Morgan. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=157622706&ref=acom
FindAGrave.com. (2016, January 30). Wilhelmina D. "Minnie" Yoast Morgan. Retrieved October 3,2017 from https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=157622959
Kansas Historical Society. (2016, January). Mary A. "Mother" Bickerdyke. Retrieved October 7, 2017 from https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/mary-a-mother-bickerdyke/15633
McCabe, M. (2015, March). First in the Midwest: Kansas' role in the women's suffrage movement. Retrieved October 7, 2017 from Council of State Governments - Midwest website: http://www.csgmidwest.org/policyresearch/0315-kansas-womens-suffrage.aspx