Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Kate Marie Simpkin, 1867-1912

By Patricia Lyn Scott, independent historian, co-editor, Women in Utah History: Paradigm or Paradox? Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2005.

Member, Utah Council of Women, Legislative Committee.

Kate Marie Stryker was born on February 28, 1867 in Joliet, Illinois, the oldest of six children of Jacob and Anne Kimbell Stryker. She was educated in the schools of Joliet and Streator, Illinois. On July 9, 1890, she married Peter Atherton Simpkin (1866-1930) in Chicago. He was born in England, came to the U.S. in 1887, and settled in Chicago where he studied for the ministry. They became the parents of three children: Grace Alice Simpkin (1891-1951), Joseph William Simpkin (1892-1957), and John Mark Simpkin (1894-1962).

Reverend Simpkin accepted his first pastorate in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Wisconsin. When the weather proved unhealthy for her, they accepted a position at the new Congregational Church in Gallup, New Mexico. In February 1901, he took his final post as pastor of the Phillips Congregational Church in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Parson Simpkin became well-known as a "gentleman and scholar," a caring, compassionate counselor, and a forceful speaker. While Kate M. Simpkin was described as modest and retiring, she became very active in civic and philanthropic organizations. She was known as a brilliant conversationalist and a forceful public speaker. She served as a director of the local Young Women's Christian Association and a prominent member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Utah Federation of Women's Clubs. Her health, which had been compromised for years with a weak heart and later kidney disease, worsened in 1912 and her physician recommended her relocation to a lower elevation. Since her father had moved to Ridgefield, Washington, she visited him and died there unexpectedly on October 8, 1912.

While she arrived in Salt Lake City after Utah women had won their suffrage, she served on the Legislative Committee of the Utah Council of Women representing the Utah Federation of Women's Clubs. Between 1911 and 1917, this committee identified and secured copies of laws already operating successfully in other States. Their work was submitted to attorneys for review and recasting for submission to the State Legislature. Those measures were used to improve the lives of women and children in Utah.

SOURCES: Cook County, Illinois, Marriage Index, 1870-1920. [Database on-line]. 2011. Accessed: 1/31/2018. Manchester, England, Non-Conformist Births and Baptisms, 1758-1912. [Database on-line] Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2014. Accessed: 1/31/2018.

Gates, Susa Young. "The History of Woman Suffrage in Utah," Battle for the Ballot: Essays on Woman Suffrage in Utah, 1870-1896. Carol Cornwall Madsen, ed. Logan: Utah State University of Utah Press, 1997.

"Mrs. Kate Simpkin Dies," Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), October 11, 1012, 3.

"Mrs. Kate Simpkin Passes Away After Lingering Illness," Salt Lake Herald, October 9. 1912, 2.

"Mrs. P.A. Simpkin Dies in Northwest of Heart Trouble," Salt Lake Tribune, October 9, 1912, 1.

"Parson Simpkin Completes Eighth year of Pastorate," Salt Lake Herald, January 9, 1909, 10.

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