Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Grace Hilliker Smith, 1884-?

By Kathleen Resch, student researcher, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana


Grace Hilliker Smith was born in 1884 in Madison, Wisconsin to Anna and Herbert Hilliker. Her father was born in Vermont and her mother was a German immigrant. In 1899, Smith graduated from Rhinelander High School, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. She then moved to Montana, where she met Wilbur L. Smith of Ohio. They wed on August 14, 1907 in Helena, Montana, where he worked as a clerk. The couple had no children.

During her time living in Montana, Smith was active in the fight for woman suffrage through the Montana Equal Suffrage State Central Committee. Smith was the first Treasurer when the State Central Committee formed in 1912. Smith was later named the financial officer for the State Central Committee in 1913, serving until 1916.

The Montana Equal Suffrage State Central Committee, a branch of National American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Jeanette Rankin, campaigned for woman suffrage in Montana. The State Central Committee worked closely with the national suffrage movement. The women of the State Central Committee worked to visit every county in Montana and gain support for equal suffrage, often holding open-air events. Describing the Committee's work, Rankin asserted: "Montana's suffragists are delighted over the campaign tour." Rankin also mentioned that a crowd at a recent event in Missoula had drawn 1,500 people.

On November 14, 1914, Montana adopted woman suffrage. The State Central Committee continued to work after suffrage was passed in Montana to gain support for a national suffrage amendment. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, the Equal Suffrage State Central Committee became the Montana Good Government State Central Committee.

There is no record of Smith's continued participation in Montana politics, however. Sometime before 1920, the Smiths moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. By 1930, they shared a household with Grace's widowed mother and adult sister, and Grace Smith's occupation was listed as homemaker. Her death date is unknown.


Anthony, Susan Brownell, Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, and Gage, Matilda Joslyn. The History of Woman Suffrage (Rochester, N.Y., 1922), Vol. 6, pp. 362-65. [LINK]

Grace Hilliker Marriage Record, Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA:

"Legal Notices," Red Lodge Picket. (Red Lodge, Mont.), April 4, 1902, p. 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Helena, Montana Directory, 1900. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:

"Jeanette Rankin Letter," Montana Good Government State Central Committee records, 1895-1919 (bulk 1913-1919). From the Montana Historical Society Research Center, digitized in Montana Memory Project.

Larson, T. A. "Montana Women and the Battle for the Ballot." Montana The Magazine of Western History 23, no. 1 (Winter 1973), p. 34.

Rhinelander (Wis.) Board of Education, Catalog and Courses of Study of the Rhinelander Public Schools. (Madison: The University of Wisconsin), p. 49. Google Books.

"The State Campaign for Women's Suffrage," Suffrage Daily News. (Helena, Mont.), Nov. 2, 1914, p. 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

U.S. Federal Census, 1910 Census record: Year: 1910; Census Place: Helena, Lewis and Clark, Montana; Roll: T624_833; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0161; FHL microfilm: 1374846.

U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Minneapolis Ward 5, Hennepin, Minnesota; Roll: T625_834; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 98.

U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1930; Census Place: Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota; Roll: 1097; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0203; FHL microfilm: 2340832.

Ward, Doris Buck. "The Winning of Woman Suffrage in Montana," (M.A. Thesis, Montana State University, 1974), p. 125.

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