Biographical Sketch of Francis McEwan Belford

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Francis McEwan Belford, 1839-

By Natalie Pace, student, Colorado State University.

Born on January 13, 1839, Francis McEwan grew up in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. It was in Lewistown that she met and married Mr. James B. Belford on May 1, 1860. The couple had four children, sons Samuel Wiley Belford, Frank Belford, Herbert Kowan Belford and daughter Frances Wayne. The family moved several times, living in Missouri and Indiana, before moving settling in Colorado around 1870. Shortly after moving to Central City, Colorado, Francis began work on what would become one of the biggest projects of her life: the Lincoln Highway. She had the opportunity to meet with President Abraham Lincoln in 1860 at the Illinois Statehouse; the meeting had a lasting impact on her ideas regarding the United States and unity. Once in Colorado, Francis set about planning for a road to connect the East to the West, in an attempt to prevent such isolation as that which led to the Civil War. This road eventually became known as the Lincoln Highway, in recognition of President Lincoln, and Francis McEwan Belford became known as the "Mother of the Lincoln Highway."

In addition to her work on the Lincoln Highway, Francis McEwan Belford was involved many groups and organizations. One of the main causes she championed after moving to Colorado was temperance, due to her concern regarding the number of saloons that existed in the state. This led her to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and she would become a prominent member of the organization. This work introduced her to the world of politics and suffrage work. In the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, she is referred to as one of the state's "pioneer suffragists," but no further details are offered. She believed that women could best bring about change at the ballot box, with particular emphasis on the importance of temperance, peace, and education. When women received the right to vote in Colorado in 1893, Belford was the first woman elected to the State Board of Charities and Corrections. A confirmation for the State Board of Agriculture followed in 1913, and she continued her involvement in the public sphere.

Her husband, James B. Belford, supported her in her suffrage advocacy as the History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 (p. 31) quoted in remarks he made in the U.S. House of Representatives in December 1883: " I desire to know whether a woman is a citizen of the United States or an outcast without any political rights whatever. . . . ."

Education was another area Belford was highly involved with. She served as a member of the Board of Directors at the State Teachers' College for five years, and on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Agricultural College. Belford was also trustee for the State Normal School at Greeley and the Colorado Agricultural College. During her time on the State Board of Charities and Corrections, the Board created the State Home for Dependent Children and the Girls' Industrial School.

A celebration for Belford's seventy-fifth birthday took place at the Women's Club in Denver, Colorado, and many prominent community members of the time attended, including Colorado Governor Elias M. Ammons. Belford passed away on January 27, 1921 at the age of eighty-two in Denver, Colorado. Her funeral followed two days later on January 29, and she was laid to rest at Riverside Cemetery, remembered in tribute as "Denver's Most Loved Woman."


Baker, James H., and LeRoy R. Hafen, eds. The History of Colorado. Vol. 3. Denver, CO: Linderman, 1927.

"Clubs Honor Mrs. Blle." Montrose Daily Press. 6th ed., sec. 163 (January 13, 1914) belford-------0.

"Judge Belford Dies Suddenly Suffers Hemorrhage of the Brain and Fails to Regain Consciousness. Famous Statesman 8 Tate Supreme Court Justice, Member of Congress and Noted Orator." Colorado Transcript. 44th ed., sec. 9 (January 13, 1910).

"Mrs. Belford , one of the oldest residents of Colorado." Routt County Republican. 13th ed. (November 5, 1915)

"Named for Board of Agriculture." Aurora Democrat. 4th ed., sec. 18 (February 21, 1913) belford-------0-#.

Semple, James Alexander. Representative women of Colorado: a pictorial collection of the women of Colorado who have attained prominence in the social, political, professional, pioneer and club life of the state. Denver, CO: Alexander Art, 1911. See p. 19 for a photograph of Mrs. Belford.

Semple, James Alexander. "Representative Women of Colorado - Denver." Representative Women of Colorado. Accessed April 14, 2017.

"Senate Confirms the Nomination of Mrs. Belford." Herald Democrat. January 20, 1899.

Harper, Ida Husted, Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, and Mathilda Joslyn Gage, eds. History of woman suffrage. 1900-1920, 1922. [LINK]

"Mrs. James B. Belford: ‘Mother of the Lincoln Highway'." The Lincoln Highway National Museum & Archives-Francis M. Belford. March 15, 2010. Accessed April 03, 2017.

"Widow of J.B. Belford Dies." Herald Democrat, January 28, 1921. OF J. B. BELFORD DIES-------0-.

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