Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Jennie Waters Jewett, 1849 -1928

By Natalie Martin, Student, Saint Martin's University, Lacey WA

Jennie Waters was born in Vernon County, Wisconsin, on January 16, 1849. Jennie was the first white child to be born in Vernon County after its admission to statehood. The daughter of Charles and Mary Jane (Spencer) Waters--pioneer settlers from Illinois and Cincinnati--Jennie came from a large family. She was a sibling to Charles, Arthur, Ida, Minnie, Spencer, Albert, and Shumway. Jennie was the oldest of eight children, and her mother died when she was fourteen. From that point forward, Jennie stayed and helped raise the other children. The youngest child was practically a newborn.

On March 13, 1870, she was married to A.H. Jewitt (Jewett). It was a cold and snowy day. The snow was so bad (5 feet high) that it took the preacher over six hours to finally get to the house (they decided on home wedding due to the inclement weather) and the groom 24 hours. Still determined the two were happily wed amongst friends and family. Together they traveled to San Francisco via the Union Pacific Railroad one year after it opened. After that they traveled by steamer to Portland and reached the Oregon /Washington area of White Salmon in 1874. It has been suggested that the reason for the move was health-related. The two lived there for forty-six years. Mrs. Jewett and her husband actually learned to speak the language of the Klickitat tribe and established a bond, trust and friendship. The land they had looked at to turn into a resort was used by the local natives as a camping ground and Jennie and her husband had no problem letting them stay and they in turned agreed no molestation of their land or persons.

Mrs. Jewett lived on Jewett Farm, a nursery which they increased by adding 280 acres. They produced fruit and were the first in the area to grow strawberries. Trading was done at a place called The Dalles which was apparently across the Columbia River. Jennie would row across the river, then walk three miles to the store, and then return home. She also delivered mail to Camas Prairie which was a thirty-mile trip on horseback. Jennie was seen as modest and highly regarded in their community. Jennie worked with the youth and community and helped start a Women's club while her husband installed a water system for the town. The two also donated a school site, a church, and a public park and helped start a store for Jacob. It was the first store in the valley. Approximately 35 years Mrs. Jewett watched over the Jewett Resort where they met many people.

She and her husband were very active in the equal rights movement and gave time and money to the cause. She was active in three different fights for women's suffrage--one when Washington was a territory, the other two after it had achieved statehood. For a period of four years, Jennie was county chairman of the suffrage party and went once a month to Goldendale to preside at meetings. She served as vice-President of the state of equal suffrage league and was part of the Daughters of Rebekah which is an international service-oriented organization. She was also a prohibitionist and it is believed she denied Sam Hill, of Maryhill, the purchase of Jewett Farm Resort on the bluff because he proposed a "toast" to close the deal.

Her vice-presidency in the Washington State Suffrage Association was a highly active one, as she is noted for having attended many events that campaigned for women's suffrage. In 1910, she attended the dedication of the Women's Building at Puyallup, Washington, an event that league members used to promote Votes for Women and that Emma Smith DeVoe herself believed was a big step in the direction of political equality for women. The Tacoma Daily News even highlighted her on a list of women leading the suffrage movement in Washington. Jennie was one of the few women who accompanied Mrs. DeVoe to the signing of the suffrage bill by Governor Hay in 1909, officially putting the question of suffrage to the voters on the 1910 general election ballot. The signing was followed by a jubilee meeting and reception in which Jennie was one of the members to help organize and provide entertainment. This referendum was a success and the 1910 election brought full suffrage to Washington women.

Jennie had three children: Lena, Eolus (who died as a child), and Harvey (who was drowned while in college). Lena eventually got married and had her own children.

On their fiftieth wedding anniversary Jennie remarried her husband A.H. and a huge gathering had arrived to celebrate with them. The crowd included not only friends and family but many of the people they had helped and even members of the Klickitat tribe, including the chief. There were eight organizations who also attended to honor the couple. These included: The Odd Fellows, Rebekahs, Klickitat County Pioneer Association, Woman's Club, Commercial Club, Congregational Church, Ladies' Guild and Grange. The two were in their early seventies at the time of their celebration. Eight years later on June 19th Jennie Jewett passed away. Her husband was buried with her when he passed away a few years later.


Figure 1 Cemetery, W., America, N., County, K., Salmon, W., & Cemetery, W.


Figure 2 Gorge Heritage Museum - Historical Figures of White Salmon & Bingen, Washington


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