Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret Henry Gulling, 1860-1940
By Abby Kvart and Emma Kvart, Seattle WA
On May 20, 1860, Margaret Jane Henry was born in Canada, most likely in Ontario. Her mother's maiden name was McKinley, and her parents were Irish immigrants. She had an older sister, Mary, who was five years older and a brother, William, who was ten years older. There is not much known about Margaret's parents.
Margaret finished school in about 1874. She never went to high school, and the highest education she received was 8th grade.
In 1877, Margaret and her family moved to Indiana, where Mary started training to become a nun. After graduation, Mary then became a teacher and moved with Margaret to Verdi, Nevada, where she taught for a long time.
In 1883, Margaret Henry met Charles Gulling in Verdi, and they married. Charles Gulling was born in North San Juan, California, in October 1855 to Rosan and Marten Gulling, both French immigrants. The couple moved to Reno in 1886. Charles taught school for five years before he met Margaret. By the time they married, Charles was working in the lumber business, where he eventually became a manager and then the firm's president. He also was buying and selling land before and while he was married to Margaret.
According to all the censuses that Margaret appeared in, they lived on Forth Street, Reno Ward 5, Washoe, Nevada, and had a second home in Quincy, California. It was roughly two hours away by automobile from both their home in Reno and Charles' birthplace in North San Juan.
In 1887, they had their first child: Ailene R. Gulling. Ailene became a teacher by 1930 and lived with her mother until Margaret died. In 1888, Martin Harry Gulling was born. He was a clerk at a lumber company, most likely his father's lumber company, and later became a salesman. Martin lived with his mother for most of his life, but he was gone by 1930. It is unclear whether he moved out or died. In December 1890, Margaret gave birth to her third and final child, Charles Alvin Gulling. He lived with his mother until she died. He worked in real estate and attended college when he was 50.
We've not found Margaret working in any of our census sources, but she was active in volunteer groups. In 1891, she joined a new group that was forming, The Young Ladies Institute, and Margaret became an officer. The YLI was a social group for Catholic young women.
Sometime in her married life, before 1910, Margaret Gulling joined the St. Agnes Society along with her sister. The St. Agnes Society was a Catholic women's society that was part of St. Mary's Catholic Church. You could join without being part of that church, which is what Margaret did. The St. Agnes Society sponsored local events such as the West Coast Amusement Company's appearance in 1931 for a carnival. Margaret was an active member of the society, often hosting meetings and social gatherings at her home.
In 1911, Margaret was one of the women who worked to raise awareness and funds for the Florence Crittenton Home in Reno. The Florence Crittenton Home was a place that took in single mothers and prostitutes and taught them skills to lead a better life. However, there was criticism both in the time and now, that the home was simply trying to mold these women into the form they thought best, not listening to the women themselves. For example, the women there were forced to give up their children for adoption. That raises the question of whether the women and girls stayed there out of choice. It is entirely possible that these women had nowhere else to go, so they decided that this was better than nothing.
In 1912, Margaret Gulling joined the Nevada Equal Franchise Society as one of the vice presidents, with Anne Martin as the president. Not much is known about the work she did at this time. Around the same time, Charles Gulling joined the Men's Suffrage League. He was supportive of women's suffrage, which was not common for men at the time. On Friday, January 8, 1915, Margaret Gulling attended a large meeting of the society, and they celebrated their recent suffrage victory. This victory happened in November 1914. In February 1915, the Equal Franchise Society held their last meeting, and the society disbanded because their goals had been achieved.
Charles's father, Martin Gulling, died in 1904. Now a widow, Rosan Gulling was living with her daughter (Charles' sister) in 1910. In 1920, Rosan was living with Charles and Margaret. She died a year later, in 1921.
On August 11, 1928, Charles Gulling passed away due to uremia, and Margaret became the head of the household. She also inherited considerable land from Charles's real estate dealings. Margaret sold much of this land over the years until her death. In 1931, Margaret petitioned for a street in Quincy to be abandoned. If Portola Street were abandoned, it would belong to her. A street in the Portola area showed up 40 years after Margaret's death called Gulling Street, so it's possible that Margaret won and changed the name to Gulling Street. There is no evidence of this, so we'll never really know whether she won or not.
On May 30, 1940, Margaret Gulling was on her way to decorate family graves for Memorial Day, along with Margaret Copren, a San Francisco nurse, when a tragedy occurred. Half a mile east of Yuba Pass, the automobile they were in slid off the road and rolled more than 150 feet down an embankment. Ms. Copren survived, but Margaret was killed. She was 80 years old. On June 3, 1940, the funeral for Margaret Gulling was held at St. Thomas Cathedral in Reno.
United States Federal Manuscript Censuses, 1900-1940, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
"A New Organization," The Weekly Gazette and Stockman: Thursday, May 7, 1891, Page 3
"Wedding Anniversary," Reno Gazette-Journal: Saturday, December 26, 1908, Page 8
"Society's Doings in Reno," Reno Gazette-Journal: Saturday, May 7th, 1910, Page 8
"Crittenton Home in Need of Funds," Reno Gazette-Journal: Tuesday, January 10, 1911, Page 2
"Meagre Reports find Suffrage Successful," Nevada State Journal: Wednesday, November 4, 1914 Page 1
"Washoe Suffrage Society Meets," Nevada State Journal: Friday, January 8, 1915, Page 8
"Women Voters will Convene Tomorrow," Reno Gazette-Journal: Wednesday, February 17, 1915, Page 1
"Died," Reno Gazette-Journal: Monday, May 23, 1921, Page 8
"Charles Gulling Dies After Long Illness At His Home in Reno," Reno Gazette-Journal: Saturday, August 11, 1928, Page 8
"Portola Street Abandonment Set for Hearing," Feather River Bulletin, Thursday, March 12, 1931, Page 1
"St. Agnes Society Asks Carnival O.K." Nevada State Journal: Thursday, May 5, 1932, Page 5
"Gulling Funeral Rites Conducted," Reno Gazette-Journal: Monday, June 3, 1940, Page 2
"Mrs. Gulling Dies in Wreck" Feather River Bulletin: Thursday, June 6th, 1940, Page 3
"Mary Ann Henry Taken By Death" Reno Gazette-Journal: Friday, November 20, 1942, Page 2
"St. Agnes Society Organized in February, 1901" Reno Gazette-Journal: Tuesday, February 29, 1944, Page 30
Death Certificate for Charles Gulling, August 11, 1928, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
Death Certificate for Rosan Gulling, abt. May 1921, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
Death Certificate for Margaret Gulling, abt. May 1940, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
Death Certificate for Margaret Jane Gulling, May 30, 1940, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
Death Certificate for Charles Gulling, abt. 1928, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com
Marriage Record for Charles Gulling and Marjorie Harvey, December 21, 1883, accessed through ancestrylibrary.com