Biographical Sketch of Kate Rose Wiggins

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Kate Rose Wiggins, 1854-1927

By Dr. Rebecca Bates, Professor, Department of History, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky

Kate Rose was born in 1854 to Abram (or Abraham) Price Rose and Mary Bennet of Kenton County, Kentucky. Her father was a cabinetmaker and a recognized craftsman in the community.

She married Eugene W. Wiggins, a salesman, on January 8, 1879 in Kenton County. They had a son, Don C. Wiggins, in 1886. Birth dates of at least two other children, a son E. T. and a daughter "Nell," (who apparently died as a young child), are unknown. Eugene W. Wiggins died in 1924 and appears by that time to have been divorced or estranged from Katie Rose Wiggins. It is unclear how K. R. Wiggins supported her children until her son E.T. Wiggins developed a print shop in Richmond, KY. By 1910, K. R. Wiggins supported the Kentucky ERA in kind through the printing of annual reports and programs.

By 1897, Wiggins was the Secretary of the Madison County Equal Rights Association. At this time, the Madison Country ERA had approximately 50 members. Efforts in Madison County by the ERA, while Wiggins was a member, included improving local sanitation systems. In 1899, while still residing in Richmond, Kentucky, Wiggins was elected at the eleventh annual convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights association to the position of secretary (presumably based in part on her association with Mrs. Mary B. Clay of Richmond, KY and first vice president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association). She was active with the Kentucky Equal Rights Association for over a decade and by 1914 reported that the Madison County ERA had grown to a membership of four hundred and supported a prize at Eastern Normal School for the best speech in support of suffrage.

Wiggins published at least two literary works. In 1910, she published locally a set of religious and sentimental poetry, entitled Rose Leaves. The poetry suggests that she struggled to raise her children as a single mother. This anthology also includes a poem, "After the Primary," that decried the selling of votes to local bootleggers and a poem "In Memorium," lamenting the death of President William McKinley. In 1920, she published "America's Motto—In God We Trust," a work that was advertised as circulating among Republicans and those in favor of the League of Nations.

Wiggins died in 1927. She is buried in Richmond, Kentucky.

Sources:

Cincinnati Enquirer: September 4 and 18, 1921

Harper, Ida Husted, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. History of Woman Suffrage ... vol. 2. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1889.

Kentucky County Marriage Records, 1873-1965, ancestry.com

Owensboro Messenger, December 13, 1899

Richmond Daily Register: December 22, 1909, June 10, 1920, and March 26, 1921

The Madisonian, October 14, 1913

U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995, ancestry.com

Wallis, Frederick A., and Hambleton Tapp. A Sesqui-Centennial History of Kentucky. Hopkinsville, Ky: Historical Record Assn, 1945,
accessed September 27, 2018, https://archive.org/details/sesquicentennial03wall

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