Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Keziah W. Fuller Sutherland, 1847-1925
By Nan Weber, author and independent historian
Keziah Fuller, was born December 11, 1847 in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Keziah was the third child of seven born to Stephen and Clarissa Day Fuller. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Keziah Webber, and great grandmother, Keziah Kinne.
Keziah's mother, Clarissa Day, was the daughter of a physician and her father, Stephen Fuller, was a lawyer, judge and elected official of both Fond Du Lac and St. Croix counties Wisconsin. The Fuller family moved from place to place as he obtained new positions.
Stephen was offered a commission as a U.S. Judge for Nebraska. After arriving in Nebraska, Stephen's opportunity changed, and he instead began farming in Washington County. In 1869 Keziah began her civic involvement by becoming one of the first teachers in the newly formed town of Blair. It was here that she met the up-and-coming contractor George Sutherland. Keziah and George were married February 27, 1872 by the Reverend M. Tingley.
The couple quickly began community service in Blair and Washington County. Keziah became a member of the Woman's Christrian Temperance Union (WCTU) serving as its secretary and was the president of the Blair Ladies Library Association. She housed the book collection in her home until a proper building could be found. In addition to his contracting work, George bought and expanded the local newspaper, The Pilot. Early on The Pilot began covering news of the Nebraska Women's Suffrage Association.
While raising her four children, Keziah's focus turned to suffrage. By 1899 the Blair Suffrage Club was formed with Keziah as its president. She held various other positions in the organization through the years. The Pilot noted in its local column the meetings were conducted at the Sutherland residence every other Friday. The meetings continued at Keziah's residence until 1902, when they began alternating at other club officer's homes.
In 1899 a Woman's Suffrage Convention was held at Blair on November 21 and 22 in the Washington county court room. Always devoted to the work, Keziah as was her norm, helped organize the event. In 1900 the 20th Annual Convention of the Nebraska Equal Suffrage Association held its meeting in Blair. Once again Keziah was the organizer of the event. Carrie Chapman Catt was the main speaker. State elections were also held and Keziah attained the position of state treasurer.
On November 13, 1901, as a representative from Washington County, Keziah attended the National Suffrage Conference in Lincoln, staying at the Lindell Hotel. The Blair conference was held on October 28, 1901 at Germania Hall with a reception in honor Carrie Chapman Catt, who again addressed the meeting.
During the next two decades, the Blair Suffrage Club continued its work in earnest for state and national suffrage legislation.
The July 4, 1913 parade in Blair shows the Suffrage Club's float.
The final suffrage reference for Keziah came in 1913. Nebraska suffragists saw their efforts come to fruition in 1917 when a limited suffrage act was passed by the State Legislature. While this allowed women to vote in local municipal elections they could not vote statewide. Finally, in August 1919 the Nebraska Legislature, by unanimous vote, ratified the nineteenth amendment. It was a bitter sweet year as husband George, her love and devoted companion, died on December 21, 1919.
Keziah Sutherland was able to vote in both local and national elections beginning in November 1920. Keziah died on May 27, 1925 and is buried beside her husband, George Sutherland, in the Blair cemetery.
Census Records (accessed through Ancestry.com and/or National Archives and Records Administration
Year: 1850; Census Place: Fond Du Lac, Fond Du Lac County, WI
Year: 1860; Census Place: Fond Du Lac, Fond Du Lac County, WI
Year: 1870; Census Place: Hudson, St. Croix County, WI; Blair, Washington County, NE; Grant, Washington County, NE
Year: 1880; Census Place: Kossuth County, Iowa, Blair, Washington County, NE; Blair, Washington County, NE Agricultural Census
Year: 1900; Census Place: Blair, Washington County, NE; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA
Year: 1910; Census Place: Tekamah, Burt County, NE
Year: 1920; Census Place: Tekamah, Burt County, NE
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington,
U.S. City Directories:
Nebraska Vital Records, marriages
Iowa Vital Records, marriages
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
Nebraska Digital Newspapers
U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1990; Ancestry.com
The hand book of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and proceedings of the 1893, 1903-1906,1908.... annual convention.
The History of Fond Du Lac County, Wisconsin
Alberta Canada Homestead Records