Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Ruby Rosamond Ames Jackson, 1873-1940
By Jordy Bachmann, student, and Molly P. Rozum, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota
Suffragist Ruby Jackson of Ipswich was a prominent member of the South Dakota Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) during the state's fourth (1914), fifth (1916), and sixth (1918) woman suffrage referendum campaigns. Jackson remained committed to prohibition and temperance, even though the South Dakota Universal Franchise League (SDUFL) attempted to distance itself from that cause to focus solely on women's voting rights.
Born Ruby Rosamond Ames in January 1873 in Iowa to Alfred and Mary Ames, Ruby attained three years of high school and married Edgar Glen Jackson, a native of Wisconsin, on 2 June 1896. She was a Congregationalist. They likely met in Sioux City, where they married, and he lived by 1895. The couple moved to South Dakota in 1898 and settled in Edmonds County, where they filed on an 160-acre homestead patented by the U.S. government on 28 September 1904. The two had four daughters: Hazeldean (1897-1991), Ruth Louise (1898-1993), Alice Elizabeth (1900-1956), and Dorothy Maude (1902-1987). The family raised cattle and hired farm laborers from Wales and Denmark. By 1910 they operated a general store in Ipswich.
Ruby Jackson emerged in the woman suffrage movement when, as president of the state's W.C.T.U. in 1912, Mamie Pyle, president of SDUFL, selected her to be part of the legislative committee that lobbied successfully for a woman suffrage referendum at the 1913 session of South Dakota's legislature. The committee worked out of a room in the capitol at Pierre and met with legislators individually to pressure them to pledge to vote for a 1914 suffrage ballot measure. In September, Jackson spoke in Mitchell at the 26th annual convention of the state's W.C.T.U. regarding "wind-up" plans for the suffrage campaign. The convention devoted the first day to "discussion of the suffrage question" and closed by singing "the new suffrage song" entitled "We're Out for Equal Suffrage" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The women expressed confidence for victory and planned for "a poster campaign." The convention "roundly applauded" Jackson for the suffrage work she had done in Edmunds County. She also organized a "Votes for Women" street parade to be held Saturday evening after the conference. Convention delegates considered themselves "the coming voters of South Dakota," though the state's women would wait until 1918 to secure voting rights. Edmunds County gave only 37% support to woman suffrage in 1914.
Jackson served as the corresponding secretary of the South Dakota W.C.T.U. from 1915 through 1919. She must have been simultaneously disappointed and pleased with the results of the 1916 election, when South Dakota's voters passed Prohibition, but rejected woman suffrage (for a fifth time) with Edmunds County's support dropping to only 32%. In 1918, when suffrage organizer Rene E. H. Stevens became frustrated with the apathy of some Ipswich women during what would become the state's victorious campaign, she asked Pyle if she should "ask the Ruby Jackson faction" - no doubt faithful temperance advocates - for help. Edmunds County narrowly approved woman suffrage with 51%.
Ruby Jackson also was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and an officer for the Congregational Woman's Missionary Society of South Dakota. Her husband died in 1929 and by 1930, Ruby's divorced sister lived in the household, along with Ruby's oldest daughter and son-in-law. Ruby Jackson died in 1940.
No photograph of Juby Rosamond Ames Jackson was located.
"A.G. Continues Narration Concerning Day's Doings." Rapid City Journal, South Dakota, 18 Sep 1918, p. 5.
"A.G. Visits Nursery, Reports Incidents W.C.T.U. Convention." Rapid City Journal, South Dakota, 24 Sep 1915, p. 5.
"'Bone Dry' Vote Mounts." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 29 Jan 1917, p. 1.
Braaten, Ann W. "Kate Selby Wilder: Clubwoman, Suffragist, Temperance Activist, and City Commissioner." In Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains, edited by Lori Ann Lahlum and Molly P. Rozum, 368-387. Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2019.
Easton, Patricia O'Keefe. "Opposition to Woman Suffrage in South Dakota." (MA thesis, University of South Dakota, 1982), pp. 133-135.
Easton, Patricia O'Keefe. "Woman Suffrage in South Dakota: The Final Decade, 1911-1920." South Dakota History 13, no. 3 (1983), pp. 206-226, p. 208.
Find a Grave, database and images, www.findagrave.com; see Ruby Jackson & Edgar Glen Jackson.
General Land Office Records, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, Homestead Certificate, Edgar G. Jackson, No. 5481, 28 Sept 1904.
Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1945, Ruby R. [Awes-sic] Ames, database on-line, Ancestry.com.
Iowa State Census Collection, 1895, Edgar G. Jackson, Jane E. Jackson, Ruby Ames, database on-line, Ancestry.com.
Lahlum, Lori Ann. "The South Dakota Scandinavian Temperance Society and Woman Suffrage." In Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains, edited by Lori Ann Lahlum and Molly P. Rozum, 174-179. Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2019.
"Mid-Continent W.C.T.U. Session a Sioux Falls." Citizen-Republican, Scotland, South Dakota, 16 March 1916, image 2.
"Mission Women Choose Officers." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 11 May 1923, p. 18.
Mamie Shields Pyle Papers, Richardson Collection, Archives and Special Collections, The University of South Dakota; https://archives.usd.edu/repositories/2/resources/19. See correspondence: Stevens to Pyle, 16 May 1918; https://explore.digitalsd.org/digital/collection/richardson/search/searchterm/Mamie%20Shields%20Pyle%20Papers/field/collec/mode/exact/conn/and
South Dakota State Census, 1905, 1915, database on-line, Ancestry.com; see Edgar G. Jackson and Ruby R. Ames Jackson.
Harper, Ida Husted, ed. History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, vol. 6. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1922, pp. 587-589. [LINK]
"State W.C.T.U. Meeting in Session at Madison." Pierre Weekly Free Press, South Dakota, 28 Sep 1916, p. 6.
"Suffrage Issue Vital to W.C.T. U." Mitchell Capital, South Dakota, 17 Sep 1914, Image 6.
U.S. Federal Census, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, database on-line, Ancestry.com; see Edgar G. Jackson and Ruby R. Ames Jackson.
"White Ribbon Flutters Here." Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 26 Sep 1919, p. 3.
"W.J. Bryan Speaks to State W.C.T.U." Citizen-Republican, Scotland, South Dakota, 25 Oct. 1917, p. 2.