Biographical Sketch of Ellen Virginia Bates Gibson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ellen Virginia Bates Gibson, 1845-1922

By Tanya M. Shlosman, B.A. and M.A., American History

Born to Dr. Stephen Walker Bates and Sarah Hogan Bates, Ellen V. Gibson (1845-1922) was one of six children. The Richmond Climax Newspaper lists Mrs. Lucy W. White, Mrs. J.C. Miller, W.H. Bates, J. Tom Bates, Sallie Bates, and Ellen V. Gibson as Bates' children. Sallie Bates was noted as recently deceased at the time of her mother's death.

She married William Gibson, a farmer who had been born in Ireland, and they had one son. Much of her adult life was spent as a widow (her husband died in 1884) and in active service to her community.

Gibson was a member of the Madison County Equal Rights Association and the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. She served in various roles including Chair of the Work Among Young People (1890-1894), Superintendent of Bible Study (1897-1898), and Delegate to the National Convention (1897). She served as president of the Pattie A. Clay Infirmary, on the committee to raise funds for “the Women's Monumental Fund” which was to be erected in memory of Governor-Elect William Goebel, and she was a member of the Democratic Club after women won the vote in the 1920.

There is little information to be found regarding Gibson; however, several newspaper articles repeatedly refer to Gibson's letter writing campaigns to various local, regional, and national officials, advocating for not only women's suffrage but also for an age of consent law to limit marriage for girls younger than eighteen. She placed a strongly-worded notice in the Richmond Climax in 1899 warning hunters to stay off her property,

Gibson died in 1922 at the age of 77 at her home, Ellendale, of an unnamed illness that she suffered from for weeks. In her obituary, her son, John R. Gibson, his wife, Lucy Magoffin, and their two children, Maria, and John Jr. were listed as Gibson's surviving relatives. Ellen V. Gibson is buried in Richmond Cemetery in Madison County.


1880 U. S. Census,

William Gibson,

The Richmond Climax:
“Judge Benton Holds That Women May Vote”
“A Venerable Lady Dies,” March 25, 1896
“Annual Report of the Pattie A. Clay Infirmary,” December 2, 1896
“Warning to Hunters!” December 13, 1899
“Ladies Goebel Monument Committee,” March 21, 1900

Richmond Daily Register
“Mrs. Ellen Gibson Goes to her Reward,” May 2, 1922
“Democratic Women to Organize Club,” May 3, 1920

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