Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Rose E. Rust, 1885-1971

By Brianna Lee, student, University of California, San Diego

Rose E. Rust was born Elizabeth Ann Morrow in Comet, Montana, on June 4, 1885, the eldest of seven children. Her parents, William Morrow (1851-1895) and Elizabeth Miller Morrow (1852-1935), were both born in Canada and immigrated to the United States in 1880. Following her father's death, her mother moved to Butte, Montana.

Rose completed her education through her fourth year of high school and around this time began to use the name "Rose" rather than her birth name. In 1908, she married Harry F. Rust, a mail carrier from Minnesota. They had many children together, including Richmond, Alice, William, and Robert. Around 1917, she ran a general store and grocery and, according to the 1920 United States Federal Census, worked as a landlady. Her husband died on June 6, 1939, leaving her a widow at the age of 54.

In Butte, Montana, there was an organization known as the Democratic Women Incorporate Club that worked to advance the Democratic Party and its ideals throughout Montana. Rose's first evidence of political activity was in 1915, when she took on the role of acting president of this organization, which had been renamed the Democratic Women's Club. In August of 1916, she competed in the Democratic primary for a seat in the Montana legislature, but she came in twenty-third place and did not continue on to the general election.

As for her continued involvement with the Democratic Women's Club, she was elected president on April 26, 1916. She also acted as a representative for the woman's suffrage platform at the Democratic Party Convention in St. Louis in 1916, where she favored the amendments proposed by the National American Woman Suffrage Association. For the first time that year, both the Democratic and Republican Party included support for women's suffrage as a plank in their party platforms. On May 11, 1916, members of the Democratic Women's Club refused to accept Rose's resignation and instead appointed two more vice presidents to assist with the workload so that she could continue serving as president. In 1929, she left the state of Montana to live in Los Angeles, California, with her family. Still living in Los Angeles in 1964, at the age 79, she attended the Rose Parade in Pasadena and spoke with the Billings Gazette after the Montana float won third place.

Rose E. Rust died on February 18, 1971, in Los Angeles, California. She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Sources:

Associated Press. "Democratic Women Conclude Sessions," Helena Independent Record. (Helena, MT), April 27, 1916, pp 6.

"Democratic Women Incorporate Club," Anaconda Standard. (Anaconda, MT), March 17, 1915, pp 9.

Downing, Lyle. "Spectators Praise State Band, Float," The Billings Gazette. (Billings, MT), Jan. 2, 1964, pp 23.

Family Trees (Rose E. Rust, William Morrow, and Elizabeth Morrow). Accessed via Ancestry.com.

Find a Grave Index (Rose Elizabeth Rust). Accessed online via Ancestry.com

Gibson, Dick. "Butte, America's Story Episode 1 -- The Election of 1916". The Verdigris Project. Dec. 14, 2020.

Hemming, Ruth. "Justice Warren, Other State, National Officials Join in Viewing Rose Parade," Pasadena Star-News. (Pasadena, CA), Jan.1, 1964, pp 2.

"Montanans Figured Prominently in 1916 Meeting in St. Louis Women at Convention," Butte Montana Standard. (Butte, MT), June 21, 1936, pp 26.

"Raised in Butte," Anaconda Standard. (Anaconda, MT), Aug. 27, 1916, pp 6.

"Ten, Twenty, Thirty," Butte Montana Standard. (Butte, MT), May 11, 1946, pp 4.

U.S. Federal Census, Butte, Montana, 1910-1940 (households of Rose E. Rust) Accessed online via Ancestry.com.

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