Biographical Sketch of Anna Casanges

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Anna Casanges, 1860-1948

By Linda J. Dunn, retired IT specialist

Concert Pianist, Activist in the Suffrage movement

Anna Sidney (Gaff) Casanges was born in Ohio in 1860 and died in Maryland in 1948. Her parents were John Gaff, a merchant born in Ohio, and Sarah Anna (Kelly) Gaff, born in Pennsylvania. Anna was active in suffrage work while living in the East and became the Louisville WSA (Woman Suffrage Association) program chairman in January 1910. When their family moved across the Ohio River to New Albany, Indiana, she founded a New Albany WSA organization and was president for five years. Anna was appointed the Indiana WFL (Woman Franchise League) chairman for Floyd County in June, 1912, and was also a delegate to the first WFL convention in Logansport that same year, where she was elected third vice-president. She was elected second vice-president in 1914. After moving to Indianapolis, Anna was a member of the amalgamation committee that planned and coordinated the merger of the Indiana Franchise League with the Equal Suffrage Association in 1916 and hosted at least one of their meetings at her home. Her daughter, Marguerite, born in 1893 in New York, joined her mother in suffrage work. She spoke at the Logansport convention in 1914, was an officer on the state board in 1916, and was seventh ward chairman for the Indianapolis suffrage League in 1917.

Anna's husband, Constantine Perdiky Casanges, was supportive of her suffrage efforts and spoke to at least one WSA meeting. He was a Turkish citizen of Greek parentage who had been exiled for his political activities opposing Turk rule of his home providence of Epirus. After gaining US citizenship, Constantine continued his efforts for his homeland while also becoming active in US politics. He was a member of elite Progressive groups and became a friend of Theodore Roosevelt. It was during their time in New York or New Jersey that Anna began her activities for woman's suffrage.

The family moved from New York to Louisville about 1909, after a business bankruptcy, and then to New Albany shortly afterwards. They planned a winter stay in Indianapolis in 1913 with Anna returning to New Albany occasionally for her WSA presidential responsibilities; however, the move became permanent when Constantine journeyed to London in January, 1914, in an effort to sway the Ambassadorial Conference to favor Greek rule for his home province. Constantine became stranded overseas due to WWI and journeyed to his hometown of Janina. Once there, he was elected to Greek's Parliament, imprisoned, released, imprisoned again, and eventually became a Governor General. Anna returned to Indianapolis where she took a position with the John Herron Institute and resumed her work for women's suffrage. She moved to Maryland with her son as he continued his education, and taught piano. She exchanged letters with Constantine (in English, French, and Greek) until his death in 1930.

Despite her reduced circumstances, she continued pushing women's rights. Family lore says she was a feisty woman who once walked into a Gentleman's Club, seated herself, lit a cigarette, and ordered a scotch before being escorted out.

SOURCES:

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Year: 1870; Census Place: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: M593_1207; Page: 31B; Family History Library Film: 552706. Ancestry.com (website).

National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books (152 Vols.) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2000.

The Cincinnati Daily Star, April 6, 1875, p.1.

Ancestry.com. Indiana, Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA

Our World, Volume One, edited by Herbert Sherman Houston. “The Man With Three Countries; The Story of Constantine Casanges, Born a Subject to the Sultan, but of Greek Parentage, Naturalized American Citizen, Leader of Greek Royalists, Prospective Minister to Washington and Soldier of Fortune,” by A. E. Johnson

Indianapolis Star Jan 18, 1914 p. 22.

Indianapolis Star July 1, 1915 p.6.

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) Oct 12, 1914, p.10

The Courier-Journal, (Louisville, KY) Mar 4, 1913 p.8.

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) Jun 15, 1912 p. 12.

The Indianapolis News, October 30, 1915, p. 7.

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