Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Walton-Hanley, Assistant Professor of History, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Sallie McConnell Hubbard was born on July 25, 1842, and died on December 9, 1922, in Fulton County, Kentucky at the age of eighty. A descendent of early Kentucky settler, James Nourse, she married Dr. Charles Henry Hubbard in 1862 in Hickman County, Kentucky. The couple had two children, only one of whom survived to adulthood.
In her obituary, Hubbard is described as “one of Hickman’s and Fulton County’s most beloved women ....” Her memorial further praises her and paints a picture of a passionate, determined, and dedicated woman who worked tirelessly towards temperance and women’s rights. “From girlhood she was a worker and a thinker,” her death notice claims. She gave freely of her time and money, living to see “her two most cherished dreams”—the vote and prohibition—realized.
Hubbard was an indefatigable advocate for women’s rights. In 1890, KERA representatives presented a petition to the Kentucky legislature pushing for property rights for women and the appointment of a female physician in all state insane asylums. Of the 9000 names on the petition, Mrs. Hubbard had collected 2,240, a truly “splendid list,” as reported in the KERA annual meeting minutes.
In 1899, Hubbard served as president of the Fulton County chapter of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA). In her report at KERA’s Eleventh Annual Convention (1899), she stated that the Fulton Chapter had seven paying members, five honorary members, and had distributed approximately 1200 pages of pro-suffrage literature throughout their county. Additionally, Hubbard herself had given at least one public lecture ostensibly highlighting the need for and benefits of female suffrage.
Hubbard’s commitment to suffrage extended beyond her involvement in the local chapter of KERA. In 1891, Hubbard was one of four delegates elected by acclaim to represent KERA at the National American Women’s Suffrage Association Convention (NAWSA) in Washington, D.C. Thus, her work and dedication took her far beyond the boundaries of her home state and thrust her into the national spotlight. At KERA’s eleventh convention, Hubbard was recognized as the superintendent for the department of National Enrollment and Petition Work a position she had held since 1891. In 1903 Hubbard was once again elected (along with two other women) to attend the national convention, this time hosted in New Orleans.
Hubbard’s dedication to suffrage also manifested itself in the form of financial contributions to the national office. Hubbard was unfailingly generous with not only her time but her money as well. In 1899, she donated fifteen dollars towards the state’s pledge to the national organization and in 1900 she donated five dollars towards NAWSA’s state work in Kentucky. As the debates about women’s capability to vote raged in the background, Hubbard continued to offer financial assistance to the cause. To raise awareness among Kentucky legislators for suffrage, Hubbard paid for each to receive a four-month subscription to the Woman’s Journal. The purpose of this particular campaign was to use propaganda—a tool with which government officials were all too familiar—to encourage people to become educated on the large-scale social benefits of votes for women.
Hubbard’s most generous gift to suffrage was a donation she made around 1914 totaling about $1,000. KERA’s Board of Directors recognized the importance of this generous gift and were quick to inquire if they could use it as seed money for a planned state campaign. Laura Clay, then Recording Secretary quickly wrote to Hubbard expressing their desire to save the donation for the following year. “[T]he Board believed that it could make the most helpful use of her generous gift of a thousand dollars for campaign purposes, if she would let it be used for preparatory work.” Hubbard replied in the affirmative stating: “You speak of using my donation for 1915. I am perfectly willing for you to use it as you think best. I am so anxious to see our State free that I am more than willing for it to be used for preparatory work.”
Hubbard was an active member of the First Methodist Church, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the local Woman’s Club. She energetically fought the “liquor problem” and pushed for women’s enfranchisement until she became physically unable to do so at the end of her life. She died in 1922 and is buried at the Hubbard Private Cemetery.
Maria Catharine Nourse Lyle, comp. James Nourse and His Descendants (Lexington, KY: Transylvania Printing Co, 1897).
“Sallie McConnell Hubbard,” FindAGrave.com.
“Mrs. S. M. Hubbard Goes to Reward,” The Hickman Courier (December 14, 1922), 1.
“Report of the Corresponding Secretary,” Minutes of the Third Annual Convention Held at the Court House, Richmond, Kentucky, 1890 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1890), 10.
S. M. Hubbard, “Hickman” Minutes of the Eleventh Annual Convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Merrick Lodge, Lexington, Kentucky, December 11 and 12, 1899 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1899), 10.
"Thursday Morning," Minutes of the Fourth Annual Convention Liederkranz Hall, Louisville, KY, 1891 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1891), 9.
“Minutes of the Executive Committee,” Minutes of the Thirteenth Annual Convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Trinity Church, Covington, KY., October 17-18, 1901. (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1901), 20.
“Propaganda Through Literature,” Report of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Owensboro, Kentucky, November 6, 7, and 8, 1914 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1914), 12.
“Report of Treasurer Kentucky by Receipts, 1899-1900,” Minutes of the Thirteenth Annual Convention of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Trinity Church, Covington, KY., October 17-18, 1901 (Kentucky Equal Rights Association, 1901), 10.