Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Mrs. Maud Gassoway, 1877-1930
Nevada Suffragist, Washoe County Equal Suffrage League
Written by, Pat Roberts and Serene Williams, faculty at Sacred Heart Preparatory High School, Atherton, California
Maud E. Gassoway, also known as Maude E. Gassaway or Maud Gassaway, was born in California in 1877. Her father was born in Kentucky and her mother was born in Maine. She was married to Dick L. Gassaway and in the 1910 census they were reported as living in Washoe County, Nevada.
Maud Gassoway worked with Miss Mary Henry and many others to form a suffrage society in Sparks, Verdi and Wadsworth in Nevada. Although votes for women was first proposed in Nevada in 1869, there was very little political organizing for the cause until the 1910s and during this decade the suffrage campaign in Nevada organized quickly, as Sara Bard Field reported,
"The history of the suffrage movement in Nevada is as amazing as it is young. In February, 1912, the Equal Franchise organization was only a local Reno committee of five, with but fourteen paid-up members and no county organizations."
In 1913 she was chosen to be treasurer of the Washoe County Equal Suffrage League. Gassoway worked with other notable suffragists in the Nevada campaign such as Mrs. J.E. Church, Miss Mary Henry, Mrs. Sadie Hurst and Mrs. S.W. Belford. In 1914 the Sacramento Union reported she was directing the suffrage program for the Nevada Equal Franchise Society. At this event she worked with a wide variety of suffragists including New Yorker James Lees Laidlaw who served as national president of the men's league for women's suffrage and his wife Harriet Burton Laidlaw who was a member of the national board for the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA). This event was hosted at the University of Nevada in Reno.
Women's suffrage in Nevada was passed on Election Day on November 3, 1914. Despite significant organizing by local suffragists such as Gassoway, the measure failed to pass in Washoe County. Anne Martin and other Nevada suffragists correctly predicted the larger counties would defeat suffrage over fears temperance would come with votes for women. These Nevada suffragists ran an effective campaign in the more rural parts of the state which led to the passage of the suffrage resolution.
In 1915 Maud signed on to an editorial in the Reno Gazette-Journal of suffragists affiliated with the Woman's Citizen's Club who distanced themselves from the militancy they felt was being promoted by Anne Martin. Their editorial stated,
"The Woman's Citizens' Club is a democratic organization. Its purpose is the study of civic conditions and the participation in movements for public welfare. We consider the Nevada Civic League, of which Miss Martin is president, an autocratic organization...."
That year she was active with the Washoe County Equal Suffrage Society as well as the Women's Citizen Club. The Reno-Gazette Journal reported in 1915 that Maud supported a resolution keeping the Women's Citizen Club separate from the Reno Women's Civic League.
In January 1920 Maud served on a ratification committee of Nevada suffragists that had been coordinated nationally by Carrie Chapman Catt. She was also elected to be a delegate to the State Federation of Womens' Clubs. When the 19th amendment was ratified in August of 1920, Maud served as chairman of a committee of women in Reno who were tasked with organizing a citywide celebration. She was quoted as saying, "The women of this city will make every effort to have Reno's celebration on Saturday one befitting this national event." That year she also served as chairman of the Woman's Citizens Club.
Maud died in 1930 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno, Nevada.
1) Citizens' Club Won't Affiliate Reno Gazette-Journal, March 20, 1915
2) Field, Sara Bard, "The Clash in Nevada--A History of Women's Fight for Enfranchisement" Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, Volume 8; Volume 40, Land of Sunshine Publishing Company, 1914. Accessible online at https://books.google.com/books?id=6uhbV82OUIcC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=Maud+Gasaway+nevada+suffrage&source=bl&ots=Xt7PKmO-rw&sig=ACfU3U2_66zLxqKjH1i390uM258tyLOfkg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiu0e2BjMrnAhUHITQIHcZqC8cQ6AEwAXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Maud%20Gasaway%20nevada%20suffrage&f=false
3) "Maud Gill Hall Gassaway Waite" https://suffrage100nv.org/suffragist-biographies/maud-gill-hall-gassaway-waite/
4) Mueller, Megg, "A Century of Suffrage" Nevada Magazine, January-February 2020 https://www.nevadamagazine.com/issue/january-february-2020/12180/
5) "Nevada Suffrage Leaders Meet" Sacramento Union, February 24, 1914
6) "New Officers Are in Charge" Nevada State Journal, April 12, 1913
7) "Reno Women Ready to Celebrate Victory" Reno Gazette-Journal, August 26, 1920
8) Sacramento Union, Volume 174, Number 55, 24 February 1914 retrieved February 20, 2020 from cdnc.ucr.edu
9) "Washoe Suffrage Society Meets" Nevada State Journal, 1915
10) "Whistles Herald Suffrage Victory" Reno Gazette-Journal, August 28, 1920
11) "Women Agree to Consolidate Clubs" Reno Evening Gazette, March 25, 1915
12) "Women Citizens Elect Delegates" Reno Gazette-Journal, September 28, 1920
13) Year: 1910: Census Place: Sparks Ward 3, Washoe, Nevada; Roll: T624-859; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0077; FHL microfilm: 1374872