Biographical Sketch of Elenore Agnes "Nellie" Abbott Hayward

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Elenore Agnes "Nellie" Abbott Hayward, 1873-1971

By Heidi J Osselaer, PhD

Suffragist and Politician

Little is known about the early life of Nellie Abbott beyond the fact that she was born in Elgin, Illinois, the oldest of nine children born to Abraham George Abbott and Lydia Cardner Abbott. Her father, a laborer, was a Civil War veteran who was wounded at Atlanta and spent part of his enlistment guarding Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas in Chicago. Nellie attended the local elementary and high schools in Elgin and took extension courses from a business college before marrying Jeriah Bonham, a journalist, in 1892.

The couple's daughter, Beatrice, was born the next year. The family moved to Oakland, California, where Jeriah found work as a streetcar conductor and Nellie worked with various theatrical groups as a singer and actress. In 1902 Nellie sued Jeriah for divorce in Coconino County, in northern Arizona.

In 1905, Nellie married railroad conductor Jason Washington Hayward in El Paso, Texas, and that year Jason's job with the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad brought the family to Douglas, a mining community in Cochise County, Arizona Territory. Jason was active in the local labor union movement and Nellie found work as a stenographer in a local law office. Nellie was a charter member of the Douglas Young Women's Christian Association, joined the Douglas Chamber of Commerce and Mines, and was active in the local Episcopal church. Young Beatrice was an excellent vocalist and performed routinely in church musical performances until she died of typhoid fever in 1906 at age 13.

Over the next decade Nellie Hayward continued to work as a stenographer, shifting into government work and finding employment with the local office of the United States Forest Service and the Cochise County attorney's office, which led to her employment at the state capitol when the legislature was in session. Fluency in Spanish allowed her to become a translator and she also served as a shorthand court reporter. By 1918 she became the assistant chief clerk of the Arizona House, the first woman in the United States to hold that position.

It is unclear when Nellie became interested in suffrage work. She was not an officer in the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association when it made its final push for a state amendment in 1910 to 1912, but in 1916 she was Arizona's representative at the National American Woman Suffrage Association meeting in San Francisco. She also became active in Democratic politics when women won the right to vote in 1912 in Arizona, often serving as a delegate to state conventions.

In 1918 she filed papers to run in the Democratic primary for Cochise County's representative in the Arizona House, placing a notice in the Bisbee Daily Review soliciting "the support of all the good men and women interested in the cause of suffrage." After her victories in the primary and general election, she served on the Enrolling and Engrossing Committee, eventually becoming its chair.

During the 1919 legislative session, Nellie passed a bill to have a song, "Arizona," adopted as the state anthem. In August of that year, she pressed Republican Governor Thomas Campbell to call a special session of the legislature to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the United States Constitution, telling a reporter at the Bisbee Daily Review, "I am very anxious Arizona joins other states in the ratification of the woman suffrage amendment without delay and I believe that practically all the women in the state would agree with me in this desire. It would only require a one day session of the legislature, as it is believed that every member of both house and senate would favor the measure. I dislike the idea of Arizona waiting to take action on this popular measure until practically all other states have acted. Arizona was a leader for suffrage and I desire to see the state act promptly now."

Her wish was granted and during that special session Nellie drafted, enrolled, engrossed and introduced with the other three female members of the legislature what became known as the "Hayward Resolution" supporting the Nineteenth Amendment to the constitution. The resolution was passed unanimously.

During the national push for the equal suffrage amendment in 1919, Hayward became state chair of both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman's Party, a surprising turn of events since the two organizations were often at odds with each other over the appropriate approach to passing the amendment.

In 1920, as the national amendment was finally ratified, Hayward ran for Secretary of State, hiring Emma McGinty as her campaign manager. Her campaign stressed her abilities as a "first class business woman," her position as a long-standing property holder, and her role in passing the suffrage resolution. She came in second of the four candidates in the Democratic primary.

After her defeat, she took an extended cross-country trip with her husband, but appears that the couple divorced shortly after. In 1923, Nellie was offered a position as assistant secretary of the state senate and as stenographer for the state corporation, so she moved to Phoenix with her widowed mother and continued to work at the state capitol for forty years in various government offices.

She was a member of the Phoenix Women's Club and an officer in the state central committee of the Arizona Federation of Women's Clubs and continued her work in the Democratic party, attending receptions for national candidates when they toured Arizona.

Nellie Hayward married for a third time, to chiropractor Ishmael Armand Ircadia in 1935, but the marriage only lasted two years before ending in divorce. Nellie died in 1971 at age 97. She had no known survivors.

Arizona Memory Project, Members of the Fourth Legislature.



J. Morris Richards, A History of the Arizona State Legislature, 1912-1966 (Phoenix: Arizona Legislative Council, 1966).

Arizona Republican, October 1, 1920; March 27, 1924 "Tentative Arrangements Perfect for Address by McAdoo," p. 3; February 6, 1927, "Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and Miss Mary Garrett Hay are Speakers at Luncheon," p. 1; April 6, 1927, "Delegates Named to Central Convention Federated Clubs," p. 12; October 31, 1937, "Divorces Asked" p. 27; October 22, 1971, "Nellie Hayward," obit.

Bisbee Daily Review, August 29, 1905, "The Baptist Concert," p. 3; May 24, 1906, "Church Entertainment," p. 3; February 29, 1908 "Douglas News Notes," p. 3; August 15, 1918, "Mrs. Haywood is Candidate for Legislature," p. 5; August 15, 1919, "Mrs. Hayward is Favoring Special Suffrage Session," p. 4; September 3, 1921, "Extended Trip," p. 5.

Coconino Sun, May 3, 1902, "The District Court," p. 1.

Copper Era, August 22, 1919, "State Siftings," p. 2; February 20, 1920, "Nellie Hayward is out for State Secretary," p. 1.

El Paso Herald, June 14, 1905, p. 6 no title.

Oakland Tribune, October 26, 1899, "Eden Lodge," p. 8.

San Francisco Examiner, May 27, 1890, "In the Auditorium," p. 3.

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