Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Nina Belle Graves Huston Darroch, 1868-1938
By Henry Curtis, student-researcher, University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Chair, Park County Woman's Suffrage Association/Park County Montana Equal Suffrage Association; First Vice President, Montana Daughters of the Confederacy
Nina Belle Graves was born in January 1868 in Saline County, Missouri, the fourth of seven children. Her parents, Edward D. and Belle Boyer Graves, were Kentucky-born Baptist farmers, living in Miami, Missouri. Belle Graves was a widow by 1880, listed as the head of household. Nina Graves married local journalist, Harry Lee Huston, on October 19, 1887. By 1900, they were living in Johnson, Polk County, Missouri, with two sons, Joseph (b. 1889) and Leon (b. 1891). By 1903, Nina Huston had moved to Livingston, Montana, and press coverage listed her as the first vice president of the Montana Daughters of the Confederacy.
At some point, Nina Huston's marriage to Harry Huston ended, and she married prominent local sheep rancher and soon-to-be state senator, John M. Darroch, on November 17, 1907. As a result, she took on the task of managing a household of nineteen—seven laborers (two of them J.M.'s adult sons, John J. and Taylor), two cooks (one J.M.'s adult daughter, confusingly also named Nina), four herders, two cooks, an engineer, and three small Webb children, whose parents worked at the ranch. From 1913 on, Nina Darroch's name crops up repeatedly in society pages of various Montana papers, often regarding her involvement in Livingston society, notably the Victoria Club, a regularly-meeting supper club, which awarded prizes to its members for intra-club speaking competitions.
Nina Darroch was at the forefront of the fight for woman suffrage in Montana. In June 1913, she represented Park County at a statewide woman suffrage conference led by Jeannette Rankin, which saw the unification of various county-level organizations under the umbrella of the Montana Equal Suffrage Association (MESA). The Billings Daily Gazette (Billings, Montana) reported on the meeting as front page news. Darroch gave two addresses, one announcing that she had secured a promise from Montana Bar Association president John T. Smith that suffragists could send a speaker to the bar's annual retreat, and one on the topic of equal suffrage, “which was enthusiastically applauded.” This meeting also placed “particular stress...on child labor conditions,” proclaiming their relief as “the greatest work of women.” Darroch subsequently joined MESA state secretary, Eleanor S. (Mrs. Harvey) Coit, in speaking at the August Bar Association meeting.
As chair of the Park County Women's Suffrage Association, Darroch also helped organize local suffrage clubs. At the founding of the Livingston Suffrage Club on February 13, 1914, she announced “that she would organize every precinct in the county for state woman's suffrage,” regardless of population. Furthermore, she attended the suffrage parade at the state fair in the summer 1914, part of the campaign which resulted in the successful adoption of woman suffrage at the state level that fall.
Nina and John Darroch retired to Spokane, Washington, over the winter of 1917-1918, appearing in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Nina Darroch died in Los Angeles at the age of seventy on December 25, 1938.
“Big Timber News.” Billings Gazette(Billings, MT). August 15, 1913, p.5. Newspapers.com.
“Bozeman Society.” Butte Miner (Butte, MT). September 23, 1917, p.17. Newspapers.com.
Darroch, Nina. Surnames A-E, 1930-1939, California Death Index, 1905-1939, p.1581. Ancestry Library Edition.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. “Montana,” chapter XXV in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, pp. 360-367. [LINK]
“In Bozeman,” The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT). 28 Apr 1918 p. 22, Newspapers.com.
“Livingston News.” Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT). February 13, 1914, p.12. Newspapers.com.
Harry Lee Husten, marriage certificate, Saline, MO, October 19, 1887. Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002. Jefferson City: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm. Ancestry Library Edition.
Nina B. Huston, marriage certificate, Livingston, MT, November 17, 1907. Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1967. Montana State Historical Society, Helena, Montana. Ancestry Library Edition.
“Meeting at Livingston.” Big Timber Pioneer (Big Timber, MT). February 12, 1914, p.8. MontanaNewspapers.org. http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/sn84036123/1914-02-12/ed-1/seq-8/.
“The State – Livingston.” Baker Sentinel (Baker, MT). November 6, 1917, p.6, col.4. MontanaNewspapers.org. http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/sn84036028/1917-11-06/ed-1/seq-6/.
“State Division Organized,” The Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, MT). 25 Sep 1903, p.12. Newspapers.com.
“Suffragettes are Organizing.” Billings Gazette (Billings, MT). June 28, 1913, pp.1&3. Newspapers.com.
“Suffragists Band for Fall Campaign.” Billings Weekly Gazette(Billings, MT). February 17, 1914, p.6. Newspapers.com.
“Mrs. J.M. Darroch.” Suffrage Daily News(Helena, MT). September 26, 1914, Montana State Fair ed., p.3, col.4. Chronicling America: Historic American Papers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85053121/1914-09-26/ed-1/seq-3/.
US Federal Census 1870, 1880, s.v. “N.B. Graves, Miami, Saline, MO.” HeritageQuest.
US Federal Census 1900, s.v. “Nina B. Houston, Johnson, MO.” HeritageQuest.
US Federal Census 1910, s.v. “Nina G. Darroch, Park, MT.” HeritageQuest.
US Federal Census 1920, 1930, s.v. “Nina Darroch, Spokane, WA.” HeritageQuest.