Susie Smith Fountain

 

Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biographical Sketch of Susie Smith Fountain, 1869-1950

By Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

Susie Smith was born in Hampton, Virginia in 1869, daughter of Warren and Martha Smith. She resided in Phoebus, VA for six decades. She graduated from Hampton Institute and taught school until her marriage to John L. Fountain in 1889. He worked as a barber and waiter in Phoebus and served several terms on the Phoebus Town Council. The couple had four children. They were active in the Zion Baptist Church, where John was a deacon and Susie sat on the Executive Board of the Women's Baptist Missionary and Educational Association.

In October 1920 Susie Fountain presented herself at the Phoebus Registrar of Voters. The examination took an hour and the white Registrar turned down her application, noting that she "did not pass altho she did very well." We know about her experience because Addie Hunton included a description in her NAACP report on voter registration in Phoebus and Hampton noting that Susie was "too humiliated and angry to try again."

Susie Fountain remained active in Phoebus community affairs throughout her life. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and Ebenezer Tent No. 1. She served on worker committees for Red Cross funding drives and represented her church on a Christmas welfare fund in 1936. She was president of a 1945 clean-up campaign sponsored by the Needle Craft Art circle.

Her husband passed away in 1934 and Susie Fountain died in August 1950.

Sources:

Brent Tarter, Marianne E. Julienne and Barbara C. Batson, The Campaign for Woman Suffrage in Virginia (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2020), 48-49 and 147.

Liette Gidlow, "Resistance after Ratification: The Nineteenth Amendment, African American Women, and the Problem of Female Disfranchisement after 1920," online in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Alexander Street, 2017).

"'Really and Truly a Citizen': Virginia Women Register to Vote in 1920," online at https://uncommonwealth.virginiamemory.com/blog/2020/09/16/really-and-truly-a-citizen-virginia-women-register-to-vote-in-1920/

Federal Manuscript Censuses, Virginia: 1900-1940, entries for John L. and Susie Smith Fountain; death record for Susie Fountain, August 1950. Accessed online via Ancestry Library Edition.

Addie Hunton, "Phoebus and Hunton," NAACP Papers of United States. Library of Congress. Manuscript Division (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., in folder "Discrimination, Voting, Oct. 21-31, 1920, General," Box C284) (District of Columbia) (1920), reprinted in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000.

"Women's Baptist Missionary and Educational Asso. Still in Session," Newport News Daily Press, 22 June 1923, p. 7.

"John I. Fountain, Negro, Once Councilman, Dead," Newport News Daily Press, 12 April 1934, p. 8.

"Mrs. Susie Fountain," Newport News Daily Press, 29 August 1950, p. 12.

 

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