Biographical Sketch of Grace E. Bridges

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Grace E. Bridges, 1883-1975

By Tamara Waters-Wheeler, School Psychologist/Interim Director, Minot State University, Minot, ND. And Thomas Dublin

Grace E. Bridges was born in Nevada on August 18, 1883 to Amanda F. Cox. and F.A. Cox. According to the 1880 federal manuscript census of Genoa, NV there were three Cox children (not including Grace, not born yet) and F.A. was a butcher. F.A. was born in Nevada but Amanda had been born in Missouri. F.A. and Amanda had been married and living in Nevada for at least twelve years as Grace's oldest brother, William, had been born there in 1867 or 1868.

By 1900, Amanda Cox was a 52-year-old widow, living in Reno with three of her unmarried children, William, Jay, and Grace, then 17. William and Jay were working, while Grace was still at school. She attended one year of college before marrying Charles H. Bridges in 1909. Charles was a bank clerk in Reno in 1910 and the couple resided with Grace's widowed mother, Amanda, at this date.

A woman suffrage amendment failed to pass in in Nevada in 1869-1871, needing to be approved in two successive sessions of the state legislature. The issue remained dormant for almost four decades. But Interest renewed again, and In 1909 Mrs. Clarence Mackay wrote to Miss Jeanne Wier asking if a new suffrage branch could not be formed. In January 1911, Professor Wier Issued a call for a meeting and the Nevada Equal Franchise Society was formed. On February 4, 1911, at the founding meeting Grace E. Bridges was elected Corresponding Secretary. The Society had 177 members in 1911, a number that increased to almost 1,000 by 1913. The Society established a press bureau in Reno--the work "principally of Miss [Anne] Martin and Mrs. Bridges"-- and supplied suffrage news to Nevada's 45 newspapers to publicize the cause. Through the work of this organization, a joint resolution for an amendment to the state constitution to give full suffrage to women was written. More branches were established in other parts of the state and Grace Bridges was re-elected corresponding secretary in 1913. In March 1913 the Nevada Equal Franchise Society passed a resolution expressing "great indignation" about the treatment of suffrage paraders in Washington, D.C. on the eve of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. Bridges co-signed a telegram sent to Nevada's congressmen and senators on behalf of the Society calling for passage of a federal woman suffrage amendment. Finally, in November 1914, voters in Nevada passed a state constitutional amendment that granted woman suffrage.

There is no further evidence that Grace Bridges continued to work for woman suffrage after the Nevada vote, possibly because she and Charles moved to Honey Lake in northern California sometime between 1914 and 1920. The 1920 census there recorded Charles as a bank cashier and noted that the couple had a 2-year-old daughter, Donna. By 1930, the family had relocated back to Susanville, Nevada, where Charles worked as the vice-president of a local bank and the couple owned a house worth $9,000, a substantial figure for this date. Grace's mother Amanda, now 83, once again lived with the family.

By 1935 Charles and Grace had moved back to Honey Lake in California, where Charles worked as a bank manager. Grace lived there until she passed away in October 1975. Charles H. lived another ten years and died in Sacramento in December 1985.

Sources:

Federal Manuscript Censuses: Nevada, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1930; California, 1920 and 1940. Accessed via HeritageQuest.com.

California death records for Grace and Charles H. Bridges, 1975 and 1985, Ancestry Library Edition.

Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK]

"Official Explanation . . . ," Reno Gazette-Journal, 11 March 1913, p. 10.

"Women of State Join in Protest," Reno Gazette-Journal, 29 March 1913, p. 1.

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