BATTLE MOUNTAIN — A permanent marker to commemorate the location of Nevada’s first woman suffrage convention will be installed in Battle Mountain, Nevada, on June 26, 2020.
Nevada’s first convention to promote voting rights for women was held in Battle Mountain, Nevada, on July 4, 1870. Spearheaded by State Senator McKaskia S. Bonnifield, the widely publicized convention brought dozens of people to the brand-new town of Battle Mountain (established in 1869) to rally for woman suffrage. San Francisco attorney Laura de Force Gordon gave a rousing keynote address and was later installed as the President of a statewide organization to promote woman suffrage. Nevada women representing all of the counties were appointed as Vice-Presidents.
The convention was held at the Capitol Hotel, which was one of the first buildings constructed in Battle Mountain. The popular railroad hotel burned in 1918, and its location has long been occupied by the Lion’s Club Park. The installation of the suffrage marker will actually be placed a couple hundred feet south of the park, next to the Welcome to Battle Mountain monument on Front Street. It will to be more visible to visitors and remind them of Battle Mountain’s importance to Nevada’s development.
“We are excited to be able to note the 150th anniversary of this important event,” said Lori Price, Director of the Battle Mountain Cookhouse Museum. “Battle Mountain was proud to host that convention 150 years ago, and we are proud to provide a home for this important marker. Many thanks are also due to the Lander County officials for efficiently installing it.”
Due to current restrictions on public gatherings, Price explained that a public celebration of the marker is scheduled for next year on July 4, 2021. She hopes that many Nevadans will make the trip to Battle Mountain to join in that celebration next year.
The historic marker is part of a national network of sites on the National Votes for Women Trail. The Trail, a project of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS.org), identifies the many locations across the country that were integral to the woman suffrage movement. The project also makes these historic markers accessible on a mobile friendly website to be easily searched by location, the names of suffragists, and a variety of other useful criteria.
Three such sites have already been installed in Nevada, according to Dr. Joanne Goodwin, NCWHS Board Member and Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “With the installation of the Battle Mountain marker, women’s suffrage sites are now officially marked in the State Capitol, Las Vegas, Tonopah and Battle Mountain,” explained Dr. Goodwin. “This project has benefited from the efforts of women and men across this State who have been enthusiastically commemorating the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment.”
Ratified by the necessary 36 states in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confirmed that American women had the right to vote in elections. Nevada women had already won that battle with an amendment to the state constitution in 1914, 44 years after the Battle Mountain suffrage convention. The Nevada Legislature met in special session in February 1920 and under the ceremonial leadership of the first woman elected to that body, Assemblywoman Sadie Hurst, voted to ratify the national amendment.
The centennial of this landmark achievement is being commemorated across the country by a partnership between National Collaboration for Women’s History Sites and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to install historic markers to recognize historically significant people, places, or events across the United States instrumental to women winning the right to vote. As a part of this project, the Battle Mountain marker is fully funded by the Pomeroy Foundation.
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