Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920
Biography of Jennie Curtis (Mrs. Henry W.) Cannon, 1851-1929
By Jodi Oaks, Librarian, Mohawk Valley Community College
Mrs. Henry W. Cannon was born Jennie Olive Curtis in New York or Minnesota, circa 1851 to Mary Abigail Curtis and Gold Tompkins Curtis. The location and year of her birth is not consistently recorded, with sources listing either New York or Minnesota, along with various years of birth during the 1850s. She had one sibling, a brother named Gold T. Curtis, Jr. born in 1857. In 1853, her family moved to Stillwater, MN. Her father was an attorney. During the Civil War, he enlisted in Company K, Fifth Minnesota Regiment and died of dysentery in St. Louis on July 24, 1862. Her mother died at 84 years old in October, 1909 in Delhi, N.Y. In November, 1879, she married Henry White Cannon, a banker. They had two sons, George Curtis Cannon born in Minnesota on September 23, 1882 and Henry White Cannon, Jr. born in New York City on September 10, 1887. In May, 1884, her husband was appointed Comptroller of the Currency under President Chester A. Arthur. He resigned from this post in 1886. That same year, they moved to New York City where Mr. Cannon accepted a position as President of Chase National Bank. Their permanent residence was at 288 Madison Avenue and they spent summers at their home in Delhi, N.Y.
Cannon was an active participant in the suffrage movement in New York State and was a leader in the movement in Delaware County. Cannon organized an Equal Suffrage Convention held in Delhi, N.Y. on June 15 and 16, 1914. The convention included many speakers in support of woman suffrage, including Carrie Chapman Catt. Cannon also planned a mass meeting in Hancock, N.Y. on October 6, 1915 to spread the word regarding woman suffrage. That same year, she conducted a suffrage campaign by automobile to towns throughout Delaware County. She was referred to as a "forceful and talented speaker." Cannon kept headquarters for the suffrage campaign in Delhi, N.Y., where she hosted suffragists for regular weekly meetings. It was reported that she kept a complete card index of every voter in Delaware County, and used this information in the suffrage campaign. Her suffrage activities went beyond Delaware County, and included work at the state and national level. Cannon was elected Corresponding Secretary at the 45th convention of the State Woman Suffrage Association held in Binghamton, N.Y. in October, 1913. In 1915, she was elected third Vice-Chairman at the annual convention in New York City, when all societies that worked during the Empire State Campaign Committee consolidated under the State Woman Suffrage Party, into which the State Woman Suffrage Association merged. Cannon also later served as Vice President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Her summer home in Delhi, N.Y. is the current location of the Town of Delhi Historical Society and is referred to as the Cannon House. On January 24, 1917, a charter was granted for the Cannon Free Library in Delhi, N.Y. The building and an endowment to run the library were given to the town as a gift in memory of Cannon's parents-in-law, George Bliss Cannon and Ann Eliza White Cannon. On September 8, 1929, Cannon died while traveling on board a ship named the Majestic. Her husband died April 27, 1934 at his winter home in Daytona Beach, F.L. They are buried in Woodland Cemetery in Delhi, N.Y.
U.S. Census Bureau, 1860, "Gold T Curtis, Stillwater City, Washington, Minnesota, United States." Records Office, Washington D.C., 1879, "District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950: Henry W Cannon and Jennie O Curtis, 21 Nov 1879." National Archives and Records Administration, 1898, "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925: Jennie Olive Cannon." New York State Census, 1905, "Henry W Cannon, Manhattan, A.D. 27, E.D. 16, New York, New York." U.S. Census Bureau, 1910, "Henry W Cannon, Manhattan Ward 21, New York, New York, United States." U.S. Census Bureau, 1920, "Henry W Cannon, Manhattan Assembly District 10, New York, New York, United States." National Archives and Records Administration, 1925, "New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957: Jennie O Cannon." On suffrage activities, see Ida Husted Harper, "Chapter XXXI: New York" [LINK] in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (New York: Fowler & Wells, 1922), 440-89; "Equal Suffrage Convention: First Suffrage Convention in Delaware County," Delaware Gazette, June 3, 1914, 3; "Mrs. Henry W. Cannon, Assembly District Leader," Delaware Gazette, June 17, 1914, 3; "Suffrage Convention," Delaware Gazette, June 24, 1914, 2; "Mrs. Cannon Uses Voters' Card Index," New York Times, September, 26, 1915, X9. For digitized copies of Delhi Women's Suffrage Club records and Cannon's scrapbook of news clippings and photographs, see Delaware County Historical Association, Jennie Curtis Cannon Collection, https://nyheritage.org/collections/jennie-curtis-cannon-collection. On wedding of son, see "Evade Elaborate Wedding," New York Times, September, 8, 1911, 7. On husband, see Henry Clay Williams, "Cannon, Henry White" in American Encyclopedia of Biography (New Jersey: Metropolitan Publishing, 1893) 140-144; "H.W. Cannon Estate Left to His Family," New York Times, May, 9, 1934, 13. On death of mother, see "Mrs. Mary A. Curtis," New York Times, October, 12, 1909, 9. For archival collection finding aid of materials belonging to father and family, see Minnesota Historical Society, Manuscripts Collection, Gold Tompkins Curtis and Family: An Inventory of Their Papers, http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00305.xml. On her death, see "Mrs. Cannon Dies at Sea," New York Times, September, 9, 1929, 19.#x200e
Images of Mrs. Henry W. Cannon, ca.1851-1929:
"Mrs. Cannon's Equal Suffrage Car," 1914, Delaware County Historical Association, Jennie Curtis Cannon Collection, https://nyheritage.org/collections/jennie-curtis-cannon-collection.
For more images of Cannon and her "Equal Suffrage Car," see Delaware County Historical Association, Jennie Curtis Cannon Collection, https://nyheritage.org/collections/jennie-curtis-cannon-collection.