Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Janette Hill Knox, 1845- 1920

By Louis Belley, Undergraduate, Cynthia Culver Prescott, Associate Professor, University of North Dakota, and Trista Raezer-Stursa, Archivist, North Dakota State University

Vice President, Red River Valley University; President, New Hampshire Women's Temperance Union; Vice President, North Dakota Equal Suffrage Association; Lecturer; Writer

Janette Hill Knox was born on January 24, 1845, in Londonderry, Vermont. She was the daughter of Reverend Lewis Hill of the Methodist Episcopal Church and Olive Hill (nee Marsh). In 1869, Knox graduated as a valedictorian of her class while attending Montpelier Seminary and taught 30 terms in public schools. On January 9, 1871, in Craftsbury, VT, she married Reverend Martin Van Buren Knox, a Methodist Episcopal pastor and Civil War veteran. In 1873, after their only child, a son, died at birth, they moved to Kansas, Knox received a bachelor's degree from Baker University in 1879, where both she and Martin taught. She then earned a master's degree at Boston University. They then moved to New Hampshire, where she was elected president of the State Women's Temperance Union (WTCU) in 1881 and served as president for eleven years. She also served as the president of the board of trustees of the New Hampshire Mercy Home, a state reformatory intuitions for women. She received her doctorate from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA.

In 1892, the Knoxes relocated to Wahpeton, North Dakota, where Martin served as president of Red River Valley University, a private Methodist college. Janette taught German, French and English there for seven years. While in Wahpeton, she served as vice president at large of the North Dakota WCTU for eight years and was a member of the Women's Literary Club. Knox also became involved in the suffrage cause in North Dakota. On March 22, 1900, according to the Congressional Record the US Senate, "Mr. Hansbrough presented a petition from Flora B. Naylor, president, and Janette Hill Knox, secretary on behalf of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Dakota, praying for the adoption of a sixteenth amendment...prohibiting the disfranchisement of the United States citizens on account of sex." Knox then served as vice president at large of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Dakota and secretary of the State Woman Suffrage Association. In November of 1900, Knox ran for Superintendent of Schools on the Independent and Democrat ticket.

After 1900, shortly after Martin ended his presidency at the Red River Valley University, the Knoxes moved to Stoneham, Massachusetts, where Janette served as the corresponding secretary for the state's WTCU for eight years and was editor of "Our Message." She published a temperance novel, Justa Hamlin's Vocation, in 1902. Knox was widowed in 1912 and died on July 28, 1920 in Vermont while visiting her niece.


Wipperman, M.A. "Certificates of Nomination," The Wahpeton Times (Wahpeton, ND), November 1, 1900, 3.

"Janette H. Knox," The Wahpeton Times (Wahpeton, ND), September 27, 1900, 1.

Orleans County Monitor (Barton, VT), August 4, 1920, 1.

U.S. Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore, eds., A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-Seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life (Buffalo: Charles Wells Moulton, 1893).

Edwin Emerson, Jr., comp. and ed., The College Year-Book and Athletic Record for the Academic Year 1896-97 (New York: Stone & Kimball, 1897), 257.

Dorothy Weatherford, Women's Almanac 2002 (Oryx Press, 2002), p. 280.

John William Leonard, Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women in the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. New York: The American Commonwealth Company, 1914. [LINK]

Ida H. Harper, et al., History of Women's Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]

Author Unknown. "Representative Women of North Dakota." Western Womanhood, Vol. I, no. 3, Buffalo, ND, September, 1894, p. 1, and February, 1896, pp. 2-3.

Congressional Record – Senate, 1900, pg. 3156.

Saunders, Eben E. "North Dakota Builder," Fargo Forum, June 22, 1918, pg. 7.

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