Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890 – 1920
Biography of Eunice Pond Athey, 1847 - 1921
By Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, Assistant Professor, Montana State University
Eunice Pond was born on December 1, 1847, in Hazel Green, Wisconsin, a town known for its lead mines and for the violence that sometimes erupted between the men who labored to bring the ore to the surface. Pond's family was probably not wealthy. The 1850 U.S. Census lists the family as living as boarders in the home of Jefferson Crawford in nearby Benton, Wisconsin.
There are few details of her life early life. Her mother Emily gave birth to a second daughter in 1850 and a third girl in 1854. The latter child would die just weeks before her second birthday. Pond Athey's obituary suggested that she initially traveled to the American West in 1869 to help with the effort to gain suffrage in Idaho. The 1870 Census, however, lists her as a schoolteacher in Clackamas County, Oregon. If her obituary is correct, she moved West for reasons that were similar to those of many of her contemporaries. In the mid-nineteenth century, western states frequently afforded women increased opportunities to participate in political and civic life. Pond's marriage to a local lawyer and accountant named Morrison C. Athey in 1870 had the potential of removing her from public life. The couple had at least four children: Lenora, Lynton, Mornay, and Orley. The labor involved in caring for several children and for the family's home frequently prevented women from fully realizing their ambitions. The Atheys, however, sometimes employed a servant.
There are records of her involvement in women's suffrage in the 1890s. The Atheys had moved to Idaho, possibly from Oregon. Her husband worked as an attorney. When the state had held a constitutional convention in 1889, Abigail Scott Duniway and Harriet Skelton addressed those present, exhorting them to give women the right to vote. The measure failed. In 1896, however, Idaho approved a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. Athey's obituary suggested that Susan B. Anthony gave her credit.
An article that Eunice Pond Athey published in the Midland Monthly in 1896 described club work in the state. Her article documented the existence of clubs devoting to ensuring Idaho's representation at the Chicago World's Fair, creating circulating libraries, and fostering the appreciation of art and music. It is likely that Pond saw this work as being related to suffrage campaigns, as both were focused on the "improvement" of women. In her later life, Pond Athey was involved in several local clubs, including the Order of the Eastern Star and the Ladies of the Grand Old Republic. She died in Portland, Oregon, in 1921.
"Mrs. Eunice Pond Athey, Suffrage Champion, Dies," The Oregon Daily Journal (May 13, 1921), pg. 2.
Athey, Eunice Pond. "Women's Clubs in Idaho," The Midland Monthly Magazine Vol. 6 (1896): 74 – 84.
Crowley, Donald and Florence Heffron, The Idaho State Constitution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 9, 148 – 149.
McLernon, Carol March. Lead-Mining Towns of Southwest Wisconsin (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), 13.
"Morrison C. Athey." Oregon Biographical Index and Other Index Card File. Oregon Historical File, OR. Index Collection; Pioneer Index.
Multnomah County, Oregon. Certificate of Death, No. 1121 (1921), Eunice Pond Athey, Oregon State Archives, Salem, Oregon.
Pond, Daniel Streator. A Genealogical Record of Samuel Pond and his Descendants (New London, Ohio: George R. Runyon, 1875), 99.