Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Maud L. Porter Menardi, 1867-1918

By Margaret R. Curry, attorney (retired); Vice Regent, Captain John Oldham Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; member of Nevada County Historical Society, Nevada City, California.

Activist - Woman Suffrage in Reno, Nevada

Maud L. Porter was born in Illinois on November 11, 1867 to Byron Porter and Elizabeth Freeman Clay. Byron Porter had been a music teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts, but took up a military career during the Civil War. After the war, he worked in various government jobs, which caused the family to move around the country several times.

In 1884, while living in Wyoming with her parents, Maud married John Blair Menardi, a civil engineer and surveyor, who also speculated in real estate as well as mining operations. A few years after their marriage, Mr. Menardi discovered a gold deposit in Nevada; and thereafter, his mining operations and other business ventures, became highly lucrative.

Maud, her husband, and four children moved to San Pedro, California sometime after 1887, and became prominent members of that community. Maud was known for her musical abilities, and interestingly, despite having some wealth, ran a business teaching music.

Maud may have been an entrepreneur, like her husband, or perhaps was a business woman out of necessity, because her husband's wealth waxed and waned depending on the success of his various ventures. He certainly was a controversial figure, often accused of nefarious doings in his mining and real estate deals, and his business pursuits were widely reported by newspapers in, among other places, California, Nevada, and Wyoming.

Maud and family moved to Reno, Nevada around 1906; most likely to be closer to Mr. Menardi's various mining and other business interests. Maud continued teaching music, and was a well-known person in the Reno social set. She was a member of several women's organizations, including the Reno Chapter of the Twentieth Century Club, a national organization for women, involved with welfare and educational projects, social activities, and discussion groups focusing on current events.

Like other members of the Twentieth Century Club, Maud became involved in the woman suffrage movement. She was a prominent member of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, and was elected Recording Secretary in 1912, continuing in that position until about 1914. She was involved in various resolutions on behalf of the Society and attended the 1913 Nevada Equal Franchise Society Convention in Reno. Her work towards woman suffrage was acknowledged in "The Story of the Nevada Equal Suffrage Campaign: Memoirs of Anne Martin."

In 1915, Maud returned to Los Angeles, where she lived with one of her daughters. She died at Long Beach, California on December 16, 1918, and is buried at the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.


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"Annals of Wyoming," The Wyoming History Journal, Winter 2002, Vol. 74, No. 1; p. 18.

"Divorcee Styles Shock to Reno Woman's Club." San Francisco Call, Bulletin, Feb. 28, 1913; p. 1.

"Late Society Happenings," Editorial Page, Reno Evening Gazette, Aug. 31, 1912; p. 4.

"Equal Franchise Women Not Mixing in Presidential Fight." Yerington Times, Sept. 21, 1912; p. 4.; (]. California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800-1994, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Death Certificates 1915-1919; No. 221-403; Image 2121 of 2705; California State Archives, Sacramento.

"Former Resident of Reno is Dead, Mrs. J.B. Menardi Dies at Long Beach, California After a Year's Illness." Nevada State Journal, Dec. 24, 1918; p. 4.

"Former Renoite Dies on Coast." Reno Gazette-Journal, Dec. 24, 1918; p. 8.

"Notes, Explanatory." Yerington Times, March 8, 1913; p.3.

"Official Explanation of 'Steam Roller' Tactics Contained in Report of Executive Committee of Equal Franchise Society." Reno Gazette Journal, March 11, 1913; p 4.

Reminisces of Early Day Mining Booms." Mojave County Miner and Our Mineral Wealth, October 21, 1921; p. 4.

"Resolution and Petition, Addressed to the Members of the Legislature by the Equal Franchise Society of Nevada." Elko Independent, Mar 14, 1913; p. 5.

"Society, Bag Sale Big Success." Reno Gazette-Journal, Dec. 12, 1908; p. 8.

"Society's Doings in Reno." Reno Gazette-Journal, Mar. 26, 1910; p. 8.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper. History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, p. 388. [LINK]

"The Social World, Men and Women in Society, Personal Intelligence." The Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1901; p. 26.

"The Story of the Nevada Equal Suffrage Campaign, Memoirs of Anne Martin." University of Nevada, Bulletin, Vol. XLII: No. 7; (August 1948); p. 9.

"Will Look Up Claims Fraud, Secret Service Agent Coming to Investigate Actions of Mineral Surveyors." Nevada State Journal, Mar. 29, 1906; p. 2.

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