Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Helen Coburn Hurlbut, 1830–1900
By Mary Dodgion and Margarite Fernández Olmos, Western Sonoma County Historical Society, Sebastopol, CA
Helen Coburn was born in the winter of 1830 in Perry, Wyoming Co., New York to William and Caroline (Cook) Coburn. She was married in New York to Dr. Edwin Taft Monroe Hurlbut. He received his doctorate from the University of Buffalo, New York. The couple, along with their daughter Clara Adah, arrived in San Francisco, California in 1879 and in 1881 in Sebastopol, residing on Hurlbut Avenue. Dr. Hurlbut set up office on Main Street, practicing Homeopathic Medicine.
While residing in Sebastopol for only eight years, Helen right away became involved in the community. She was a member of the Congregational Church and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, attended WCTU conventions, and took an active part in the programs. She and her husband also belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).
Her commitment to the suffrage struggle is evident. During this period of time women relied on the political parties to perpetuate their enfranchisement.
On September 18, 1896 the Republican County Convention met in Sebastopol to nominate two Superior Judges, two Assemblymen and three Supervisors. Janssen's Hall was filled with interested town members as well as political delegates. When Chairman R.M. Swain called the afternoon session to order there were quite a number of women present, and Mrs. E.T. Hurlbut was led to the podium.
In a most convincing and eloquent manner she requested the convention to include in its platform a plank favoring the passage of the equal-suffrage amendment. Her remarks were greeted with cheers. The 1896 referendum for woman suffrage failed, but in 1911 voters did approve woman suffrage as California became the sixth state to grant women full suffrage.
Dr. & Mrs. Hurlbut are interred at the Sebastopol Memorial Lawn, Sebastopol, CA.
San Francisco Call, September 19, 1896 page 3, TICKET NAMED AT SEBASTOPOL
Sebastopol Times. September 23, 1896 page 3, REPUBLIC CONVENTION
Petaluma Daily Courier, May 6, 1899 page 1, W.C.T.U.
Sebastopol Times, February 24, 1897 page 3, G.A.R. ENTERTAINMENT