Biographical Sketch of Mary Tocher

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Tocher, 1869-1958

By Kelly Kirk, Instructor of History, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, South Dakota

Suffragist, clubwoman

Born in 1869 in Canada, Mary married William Tocher in 1894 and moved to Livingston, Montana. In Livingston, Mary Tocher fully embraced the suffrage cause.

To this end, Tocher became the chairman of the Park County Suffrage Committee in 1914. Papers reported that she made "her influence felt for suffrage." To publicize the suffrage committee and its work, Tocher brought on additional women to conduct press work, focusing both on social events and on the suffrage work being conducted on a local and statewide level. She also collaborated with the Livingston newspaper's new editor, who was amenable to printing news about the suffrage movement.

In July 1914, Montana suffragists decided to focus time and attention on specific communities that lagged in their support of suffrage. Tocher joined Jeanette Rankin and others in Billings for an "encampment," where they spent several days sharing information about the suffrage movement, "fully armed with much literature and a rich vocabulary." Later that year, Tocher arranged national suffrage leader Dr. Anna Howard Shaw's visit to Montana. Shaw met with the suffrage group in Livingston before traveling with Rankin to Helena. Tocher traveled with them, bringing twenty suffragists with her to march in a parade in the capitol city. She also served as the marshal for the Livingston delegation at the Women's Day Parade.

Once women's suffrage had been achieved in Montana, Tocher continued her commitment to civic organizations. She joined the Montana Good Government League—the successor to the statewide suffrage organization—and became its congressional chairman in 1916. In 1919, she worked with the Young Women's Christian Association on a "carry on" campaign that focused on expanding and enhancing the organization's programming.

Tocher passed away in 1958 and is interred at Mountain View Cemetery in Livingston, Montana.

Sources:

"Good Progress in this Work," Great Falls Daily Tribune. (Great Falls, Mont.), Feb. 23, 1919, pg. 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

"Locals," The Suffrage Daily News. (Helena, Mont.), Sept. 24, 1914, pg. 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

"Locals," The Suffrage Daily News. (Helena, Mont.), Sept. 26, 1914, pg. 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

"Life in Livingston," The Anaconda Standard. (Anaconda, Mont.), Jan. 28, 1894, pg. 10. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

"Mary Tocher." Find A Grave. Last edited November 10, 2010, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/61418733.

"Miss Jeanette Rankin Talks to Women's Clubs," Big Timber Pioneer (Big Timber, Mont.), 04 June 4, 1914, pg. 7. Montana Newspapers. Montana Historical Society. http://montananewspapers.org.

"Officers of Montana Good Government Committee," Big Timber Pioneer (Big Timber, Mont.), Aug. 3 1916, pg. 4. Montana Newspapers. Montana Historical Society. http://montananewspapers.org.

U.S. Census. Year: 1920; Census Place: Livingston Ward 3, Park, Montana; Roll: T625_974; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 85. Found at https://www.ancestrylibrary.com.

"Weekly Bulletin," The Dillon Examiner (Dillon, Mont.), July 1, 1914, pg. 2. Montana Newspapers. Montana Historical Society. http://montananewspapers.org.

"Weekly Suffrage Bulletin," The Daily Missoulian. (Missoula, Mont.), July 17, 1914, pg. 7. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.

"Weekly Suffrage Letter," The Flathead Courier (Polson, Mont.), Sept. 24, 1914, pg. 6. Montana Newspapers. Montana Historical Society. http://montananewspapers.org.

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