Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890 - 1920
Biography of Ellen Gibbons McElroy, 1851-?
By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian
Oklahoma suffragist Ellen (Gibbons) McElroy was born in 1851 in Fulton County, Illinois. Her parents, Mack and Celia (McConnel) Gibbons, were born in Ireland. By 1880 Ellen Gibbons lived in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, where she operated a boarding house. On May 9, 1882, she married J. P. Hart in Polk County, Iowa. In November 1883 her husband filed a petition for the annulment of their marriage. The Des Moines Register reported that the cause of the annulment was not evident from the case file. The newspaper also stated that there was "no ill-feeling between the parties and that the divorce will receive a consent decree." After her divorce, her life becomes sketchy. Sometime between 1884 and 1906, she married a man named McElroy.
Ellen McElroy does not appear again in public records until August 1906, when she traveled from Hobart, Oklahoma Territory, to visit her sister Mary (Gibbons) Lally in Lincoln, Nebraska. In March 1911 she hosted a Woman's Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) meeting at her home in Hobart, Oklahoma. Three years later McElroy, noble grand of the Hobart Rebekahs, hosted a gathering of lodge members and invited guests. Apparently, she entered the Oklahoma suffrage movement in 1914. In October 1914 McElroy was elected treasurer of the Woman Suffrage Association of Oklahoma. In October 1918 she was listed as an inspector for Kiowa County signatures on the state-wide petition for a suffrage amendment to the state constitution. On November 5, 1918, the Oklahoma legislature passed the suffrage amendment. There is no indication that she joined Oklahoma's League of Women Voters, which organized in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in December 1920.
During World War I, Ellen McElroy sold home-made ice cream and gave the proceeds to the Red Cross. While living in Hobart, she was active in the Ladies Aid society of the First M. E. Church, serving as vice president in 1919. In July 1920, as district deputy she installed officers for the Hobart Rebekah Lodge.
By 1921 Ellen McElroy had moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In May that year she visited her sister Mrs. Dave Hess [Margaret "Maggie" Gibbons] in Cherokee, Oklahoma. No extant records exist that indicate when she died.
Des Moines Register (Des Moines, IA), November 8, 1883. "Elect Officers," Hobart (OK) Republican, October 30, 1919. "55, 349 Oklahoma Women Petition You to Vote Yes on the Suffrage Amendment," Cleveland (OK) Leader, October 24, 1918. Ida Husted Harper, ed., The History of Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920, Vol. 6 (NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922): 527. Iowa, U.S., Marriage Records, 1880-1951, accessed on Ancestry.com, on February 18, 2021. Lincoln Star (Lincoln, NE), August 21, 1906. "Rebecka Installation," Hobart (OK) Republican, July 22, 1920. "Rebekahs Entertained," Weekly Democrat Chief (Hobart, OK), September 10, 1914. "Twenty-five Years Ago," Hobart (OK) Democrat Chief, July 21, 1943. U.S. Census, 1860 and 1870, Lewiston, Fulton County, Illinois. U.S. Census, 1880, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa. "Votes for Women: Woman Suffrage Association of Oklahoma," Messenger (Shawnee, OK), October 15, 1914. "W.C.T.U." Hobart (OK) Republican, March 9, 1911.