Biographical Sketch of Harriet Fitch Noble

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Harriet (Hattie) Fitch Noble, 1848-1930

By Ana M. Kurland, librarian, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

Congresswoman, Temperance and Suffrage

Harriet F. Luckett was born in Iowa Territory in 1848, the daughter of Maria and Joseph A. Luckett. At the age of two, her family moved to California to try their luck in the Gold Rush. Her father opened a saloon and bowling alley in Betsville, near the Oregon border. Hattie was sent to Portland to attend St. Helen's Hall school.

Her family settled in Idaho City in 1865, and she joined them two years later and became a schoolteacher at the age of nineteen. Her father, a founding member of the local Mason Lodge, died in 1872.

Little is known about how she first became involved in politics, but she was elected Engrossment Clerk for the 1875 session. She also married William B. Noble in 1875, a gold prospector and entrepreneur that had moved to Idaho in 1861, having been born in Kentucky in 1823. He was much older than Hattie. He owned several businesses, including the Buena Vista Bar Company. He preceded his wife in being elected to the school board. A head injury left him with brain damage and never recovered. He died in 1898. They had four children, Gertrude (1876), William (1877), May (1880), and Harry (1883). Gertrude, May, and William lived in Boise, and Harry moved to Seattle.

After William's death, Hattie took over the businesses. That is when she became involved in the Democratic Party, temperance movement, and suffrage. She was elected to the state legislature in 1898. The results of the election were published the same day as her husband's obituary.

Hattie was not only an establishing member and secretary of the local Ladies' Auxiliary in Idaho City, but also helped establish a reading library, ironically, just for men. The Idaho World newspaper of December 5th, 1893, has a short article which reads, "To the People of Idaho City — Greeting: We, the undersigned ladies of Idaho City, have formed "The Ladies' Columbian Auxiliary," which has for its object the establishment of a reading room and library for the young men of the town. We ask the aid of every good, energetic man and woman in this enterprise; aid of the ladies, by co-operation in the work and joining the society; aid of the men, by membership in reading room and words of encouragement in our behalf. We know and understand that "in unity there is strength," and we call on all good citizens to unite with us and help us carry on this good work, to the end that the young men of our town may be benefitted.
.... By order of the President. Hattie Noble, Secretary."

In 1896, Idaho gave women voting rights, and in 1898, three women were elected to the state legislature: Harriet, as Democrat from Idaho City, Republican Clara Campbell from Boise, and Populist Mary A. Wright from Rathdrum. Their spending allowance was $5 per day for up to 60 days, plus another $5 for postage and phone service. If the session went over 60 days, they did not receive any payment.

Hattie moved to Boise and served on the Committee for Enrollment and Public Health. Among the bills she discussed were prison overcrowding, dental services provider qualifications and regulations regarding imitation butter. The Committee recommended the building of a new prison for men, to provide water and power to the women's prison, and the improvement of the Soldier's home.

Mrs. Noble also argued in favor of a poll tax to build roads in the state.

However, she did not run again for office.

Hattie died on August 21, 1930 and is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.

SOURCES:

Armitage, Sue. Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest. (Oregon State University Press, 2015).

Barry, Richard. What Women Have Actually Done Where They Vote: A Personal Investigation into the Laws, Records, and Results of the Four Equal Suffrage States: Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. New York: New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, 1910. Internet resource: https://archive-org.proxy.binghamton.edu/details/whatwomenhaveact00barr

Carver, Sharon S. "Club Women of the Three Intermountain Cities of Denver, Boise and Salt Lake City between 1893 and 1929" (Unpub. Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 2000).

Idaho State Historical Society, Reference Series, number 1052, Harriet F. Noble, 1994.

Idaho State Historical Society, Reference Series, number 1055, Idaho Women Legislators, 1994.

Mead, Rebecca J. How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Print.

Penson-Ward, Betty. Who's Who of Idaho Women of the Past (Boise: Idaho Commission on Women's Programs, 1981).

Stanton, Elizabeth C, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda J. Gage, and Ida H. Harper, Ida Husted, eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Salem, N.H: Ayer Co, 1985. (v. 6) [LINK]

Swank, Gladys Rae. Ladies of the House (and Senate): History of Idaho Women Legislators since Statehood. 1978. Print

Tyler, Pearl. "Idaho's Twenty Years of Women Suffrage." I, Outlook, 1916.

U.S. Census, 1850, Columbus City, Louisa County, IA; 87, (Luckett) #94. Ancestry.com.

Cox, Elizabeth M. "Women Will Have a Hand in Such Matters From Now On": Idaho's First Women Lawmakers." Idaho Yesterdays 1994 38(3): 2-9. Two years after Idaho enfranchised women in 1896, three women were elected to the Idaho legislature: Populist Mary A. Wright, Democrat Harriet F. Noble, and Republican Clara L. Campbell. All three women proved adept and skillful as legislators, making significant contributions to the fifth Idaho legislature. None ran for a second term. America: History and Life, 33:6444

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