Author: Mary Jane Warfield Clay
Citation: letter from Mary Jane Warfield Clay to "Dearest Children" [probably Mary Barr and Laura Clay living in Ann Arbor MI], March 15, 1880, Laura Clay Papers 46m4 Box 1, folder 10, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, Lexington, Kentucky
This letter is the only documentation found so far that describes the earliest suffrage work done in Kentucky as a result of the visit of Susan B. Anthony in 1879. It documents the way by which the Fayette County Equal Rights Association began - in the parlor of divorcee Mary Jane Warfield Clay at 78 North Broadway in Lexington on March 7, 1880. The letter is transcribed below:
March 15th 1880
I enclose you a letter received a few days ago from Green. I am glad he is soon tired of office holding & hope he will go to work in earnest & be content to make bread by the sweat of his brow. But I have no faith in his doing so. I really do not know whether or not I have written you of our Club meeting & organizing in our parlor the 7th of March. Mrs. Bright, Chenault, Hamilton, Miss Hoyt & Annie & myself were all that congregated. Mrs. Dr. Frazer [perhaps Dr. Warren Frazer's wife?] came in after the meeting adjourned, but she came ready to do anything that I wanted done. Mrs. Theodisia Cochran was confined to the house with rheumatism & could not come, Mrs. [Margaret Prewitt] Sweeny's child was sick [perhaps Mary who later became President of Americna Home Economics Association]; Mrs. Lisa(?) Lancaster is on her back for a month; Mrs. M.B. Lancaster's husband would not allow her to come, Mrs. W.W. [Laura] Bruce had company & could not come, Mrs. L.P. Milward had sickness & others sent no excuse. Mrs. Bruce, Frazer, Bright, Hamilton, Hoyt, Cockran, all subscribed for "the National Citizen & Ballot Box" [a monthly journal edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage] & tomorrow I send for them. I wrote to Mrs. Skillman for the money promised us, Mary, sent a number of the Ballot Box just rec'd & asked her if she would subscribe for it? She ret'd answer that she would attend to it, so perhpas I'll hear from her tomorrow. I believe that Dr. Sweeny will prevent Mrs. Sweeny joining the Club. It meets here next Tuesday week again & we'll see how matters stand. Dr. Chenault is considerably opposed to Mrs. [Henrietta Bronston] Chenault having anything to do with it & so I expect we will find a good many masters standing in the way of the enlightenment of their Slaves. Aren't you glad we have no Master? I rec'd a Card from Sallie, Friday, saying she & Mr. Bennett, Sue Bennett & perhaps Mrs. Sam. Bennett would be over Monday, to hear [Henry Ward] Beecher speak here Monday evening. Just see, everybody running to hear that old Whore lecture. [His adultery with Elizabeth Tilton resulted in a highly publicized trial in 1874.] I hope Sallie will not go yet. She had better spend her money trying to put down such villains. I mean to write to Anne Tilford tomorrow asking her to aid the Women's cause & ask Margaret Woolfolk if Annie Craig will contribute anything to the Cause. I verily believe that Laura Bruce is coming round. I sent some papers to Laura Rogers to read a few days ago. She sent them back, saying she could not read them until after Lent. At our next meeting, I will ask all that come to subscribe to "the National Citizen." I think it would be more effective than any tracts & a good deal cheaper too. I wish I had fifty dollars to send S.A. [Sarah Andrews] Spencer. She is a worker indeed [secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Assoc. and author of "Problems on the Woman Question" 1871]. The Women Suffragists have laid off an immense deal of work to be done this year. I do not think they can accomplish it. Annie is very much interested in the Cause. The more I think of it & see it, the bigger it appears to me. Women are persistent & I believe it will be accomplished after awhile. God's will be done! I will send to Mrs. Brodie's friend a Table(?) as soon as I receive a P.O. order for 4,50; what shall I do with the money? I wish she could sell all of them. I have written to the Milliner whom she mentions, asking them to subscribe for "the National Citizen & get Petitioners for the 16th Amendment. I will get some Papers fixed by our next meeting & give to the members for them to get signers & we will send them to Mrs. Spencer, who says she will present them every month till Congress adjourns. I see in the Feb. No. of National Citizens a letter from G.W. Armstrong, Shelby's Station, Kentucky, written to the Women Suffrage Association of Washington D.C. who says, he believes a good deal of interest might be around in behalf of the Cause in his section of country, if he could get some publications for distribution. He is a well wisher to the cause of Women's freedom. The Editors do not say whether or not they sent him any tracts. He says nothing about sending any money to them. I'll write you again in a few days after Sally leaves & tell you of all our doings & conversations, whilst she is here. Meg Woolfolk has my Petition paper & is trying to get subscribers to it. The Men sign; but will not allow their wives & daughters to sign. Mean creatures, brutes! Sister Anne [E. Warfield Ryland] still holds out against Annie. All are in usual health & spirits. Love to the children.
M J Warfield Clay