Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ida May Kilburn Moore, 1852–1906

By Mary Lauderman Tavcar, Writing and English Professor, Austin Community College, Austin, Texas

Ida May Kilburn Moore was born in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, on June 23, 1852, and at the age of two moved with her father, Wells Kilburn, and her mother, Ann Guy Kilburn, and their family to Napa, California. There, as a young adult in 1871, she met and married Charles Henry Moore, who was employed by his uncles, in the lumber business. The Moores soon moved to Galveston, Texas, where Charles became a prominent business leader and one of the first manufacturers of lumber materials after the Civil War. Mrs. Moore became an active philanthropist in Galveston and then a resolute reformer and advocate of women's suffrage.

Before 1903, the woman's suffrage movement was promoted in Texas chiefly by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), an organization with which Ida Moore had ties. In February 1903, a meeting was called in Houston by Miss Annette Finnigan, a Texas native. An offshoot of the WCTU called the Equal Suffrage League was formed with Annette Benning, a prominent suffragist, as president and Ida Moore as vice president. The Equal Suffrage League, which Ida Moore was instrumental in founding in Galveston, pledged to organize such leagues in Beaumont, San Antonio, and Austin, and though these leagues never gained momentum, the leadership of Annette Finnigan, Ida Moore, and other in the organization furthered the woman's movement by reaching out to other communities in Texas, thus planting the seed for later foundation building. The League's intent was to maintain women's suffrage ever present in the public eye.

Later in December of 1903 the Galveston delegates, Ida Moore among them, met with the Houston delegates and organized the Texas Woman Suffrage Association (TWSA). One specific action taken at the Association's State Convention in 1904 by Ida Moore as well as delegates from Houston and La Porte was to put a woman on the Houston School Board, but the action was rejected by the Houston mayor. The TWSA focused most of its efforts to effect the passage of the federal amendment for women's right to vote. This association later became the Texas Equal Suffrage Association and consequently a chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Finally, in October 1919 it transitioned into the League of Women Voters of Texas.

Survived by her husband Charles (1841-1881) and her two sons, Kilburn (1876-1954) and Bartlett Doe (1881-1943), Ida May Kilburn Moore died on February 13, 1906, after an extended illness. She is buried at Trinity Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston. Her obituary praises her "zeal and loving service" as well as her "prolific spirit." Ida Moore, a woman of means and resources, parlayed her husband's prominence and her concomitant status as well as her involvement in community and women's clubs into action to foster women's right to vote.


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