Biographical Sketch of Minnie Woodmansee Smith

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Minnie Woodmansee (Mrs. S.S.) Smith, 1865-1935

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Minnie Woodmansee was born in Salt Lake City about 1865, the oldest of ten children of Charles and Harriet Eleanor Woodmansee. Charles had migrated from Ohio to Utah sometime before 1860 with three siblings; in 1860 they all lived in the household of his married sister, Emily Sirrine, in Salt Lake City. Among them, Charles, his brother, and brother-in-law had personal and real estate valued at $15,000 in 1860. Her mother had migrated with her family from New York by oxteam in 1863, when she was fifteen. The couple married in 1864 and moved to Ogden, where Charles went into business. By 1870, the Woodmansees had three children. He was employed as a merchant with $45,000 of real and personal property. Minnie was five at this date.

Minnie's mother was a convert to the Church of the Latter Day Saints and a member of the church's Relief Society.

Minnie married a Mr. Farr in the early 1880s and gave birth to six children before 1900 when the federal manuscript census recorded her as widowed, living in Ogden with her children. A younger brother, Port Woodmansee, also lived with her. In 1901 she married Sherman S. Smith, a widower, and by 1910 the couple had three more children. Eleven children in all lived in the Smith household in 1910, three from Sherman's first marriage, five Farrs and three from Sherman and Minnie's marriage. Sherman was a real estate agent by this date and in 1920 he worked for a land company.

Mrs. Smith was noted in the History of Woman Suffrage, as a "leading woman" in the Democratic Party in Utah. Her other main public activity noted in local newspapers was the Child Culture Club. The Club met in her home in May 1909. She served as the Club's president in 1912 and as a delegate to the annual meeting of the Utah State Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1917 she was elected to the Club's Board of Directors. In September 1920 she spoke to the group on "Conservation of Child Life."

In 1930 Minnie was recorded as living in Los Angeles with her youngest child, Woodrow, now 16. She was recorded as married but Sherman was not a member of her household. Sherman Smith died in Ogden in 1931 and Minnie Smith died in Los Angeles in 1935 at the age of 69.

Like many Utah women, Minnie did not struggle to secure woman suffrage, but when woman suffrage was adopted by the Mormon majority in 1896 she entered partisan politics, though surviving sources do not permit us to examine her participation in any detail.

Sources:

Federal manuscript censuses:
Charles Woodmansee and family, Utah, 1860-1880
Sherman Smith and family, Ogden, UT, 1900
Minnie Farr and family, Ogden, UT, 1900
Sherman S. and Minnie Smith and family, Ogden, UT, 1910 & 1920
Minnie W. Smith household, Los Angeles, CA, 1930

Death record for Sherman S. Smith, Feb. 5, 1931, Ogden in Ancestry Library Edition.

Obituary for Minnie W. Smith, Wilmington (CA) Daily Press Journal, June 11, 1935, p. 1.

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