Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Minnie Washburne, 1860-1920
By Isabella Dunn Dias Ferreira, student, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
League President, Family Woman, and Activist in the Suffrage Movement
Minnie Lockwood was born on August 17th, 1860 in Warren County, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Olvin A. Lockwood and Barbary M. Dalrymple who had a total of six children. Olvin was a successful merchant and political leader in Pittsfield, Pennsylvania, while Minnie's mother was heavily involved in town politics as a Dalrymple and court stenographer. The Dalrymples were among the first settlers of Warren County and played an important role in the development of the town of Pittsfield.
Minnie's mother died when she was only 11 in 1871. Following her death, Olvin moved Minnie and the rest of the family across the country. They lived in Michigan, Minnesota, and California before finally settling in Oregon. The 1880 census places them in Eugene for the remainder of Minnie's life. At age 21, Minnie Lockwood married George S. Washburne in San Francisco, California on December 20th, 1881. George had lived in Lane County, Oregon all his life and was a lawyer and county judge. In between the years 1881- 1890, Minnie was mostly involved in family life and raising her two young children, Carl and Chester. The Daily Oregonian referred to her as the “leading society matron of Eugene” and also “a club woman.” In 1889, George died of a heart attack, and Minnie became a widow at the age of 29 with two very young children.
The following year, 1890, seemed to be the year of change for Minnie considering George's death. On June 18th, she was nominated to be postmaster of Eugene by Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States. She became the first female postmaster in Oregon history. During this time, Minnie held monthly tea parties with guest speakers claiming she wanted to “motivate many women to join [the suffrage movement] without alienating or threatening men.” On April 20th, 1906, a touring suffrage convention was held in the Methodist churches of nearby towns. Minnie was elected the temporary president.
From this local beginning, Minnie slowly moved into more regional and national roles in the suffrage movement. In 1910, the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association began electing women as active vice presidents for their counties, and Minnie held this position for Lane County. In only two short years, the Equal Suffrage league announced “the election of permanent officers and the adoption of a brief form of a constitution” in which Minnie is referred to as “President, Mrs. Minnie Washburn.” It appears Minnie become more recognized in the state and was invited as a “guest of honor” by Oregon State University to the Osborn Hotel in May 1912. During her stay, President Campbell of the university, a very prominent and influential member of the community, gave her personal tour that sparked a lot of awareness on campus. The Portland Evening Telegram reported that Minnie and the other women with her inspired “a flourishing college league” and even “a men's equal suffrage league in support of women.” On October 3, 1912, Minnie hosted a meeting in the courthouse with what the Eugene Daily Guard called a “record crowd” and “the most effective plea ever made in any cause in Eugene.” The Mayor “spoke in favor of woman's suffrage, which he said was the most important issue before the people and the one which had been discussed more and for a longer time than any question now before the people.” This meeting was a huge success for Minnie's political career and the advancement of suffrage in Oregon because of the Mayor's public display of support. Seven weeks after Minnie's meeting, on November 30, 1912, Oregon women had won the vote.
Although Minnie was nearly 53 years old, following the triumph she traveled to speak on how women's suffrage had improved Oregon and why other states should follow suit. On August 18, 1920, the day after Minnie's 60th birthday, she and three hundred women gathered at the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon to celebrate the ratification of the 19th amendment. A month later, as Oregon's suffrage chapter officially closed, Minnie passed away from arteriosclerosis. Carl Washburne, Minnie's eldest son bought and commemorated a 5.19- acre park in Eugene, Oregon under her name which can still be visited today.
Anthony, Susan B. and Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. IV (1883-1900). Rochester, N.Y., 1902. [LINK]
Duniway, Abigail S. Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States. 2nd ed., James, Kerns & Abbott Company, 1914.
“Eugene For Suffrage Say Women Workers.” Portland Evening Telegram, 30 Mar. 1912, p. 7.
Fletcher, Randy, and Martin Burrell. “Minnie Lockwood Washburne
Gravesite.” Findagrave.com, Find a Grave Memorial , 11 July 2009, www.findagrave.com/memorial/39349221/minnie-washburne.
Kelly, Lisa. “The Politics of Tea and Theatre.” Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU Scholars Compass, 2009, p. 12.
Kimball Hines, Harvey. An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon. Lewis Publishing Company, 1893.
Thompson, Aline. “Society and Clubs.” The Daily Capital Journal, 1 July 1886, p. 2.
Thompson, Aline. “Clubs and Society.” The Eugene Daily Guard, 8 Oct. 1910, p. 9.
“Two Hundred Women Join in Effort to Promote Equal Suffrage.” The Morning Oregonian, 30 Mar. 1912, p. 5.
United States. Congress. Senate. Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America. Vol. 27, Order of the Senate of the United States, 1901.
Walling, Albert G. Illustrated History of Lane County, Oregon. Printing House of A. G. Walling, 1884.