Bessie Lewis Home

FM Suffrage Tour

Bessie Lewis Home

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


Here we have the house of Minnesota Woman Suffrage Chairman Bessie Lewis. She served as chairman at the same time as her friend and neighbor Edith Darrow Godfrey. Bessie’s husband Thomas Lewis was one of the pallbearers at Joseph V. Godfrey’s funeral. Tom Lewis sold wholesale groceries. Bessie was a teacher. Census records indicate that she may have taken some time off of teaching to raise her three children, but by 1920 both she and her youngest daughter Flora, a recent graduate of Moorhead Normal School, were both working as teachers. Being a teacher was a common profession for Moorhead’s Suffragists, perhaps not surprising since the primary purpose of Moorhead Normal School was training teachers. That school is now called Minnesota State University Moorhead, and it still trains a lot of teachers. Bessie was also an accomplished embroiderer. She won two first prize ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair for her embroidery.

On September 8th, 1919, the Minnesota Legislature voted on a proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution that would make it illegal to restrict an American Citizen’s right to vote based on their sex. Bessie and Thomas Lewis had a big party at their house that day, but not because Minnesota ratified the amendment. That day also happened to be their 25th wedding anniversary, and about 20 of their friends and neighbors threw them a surprise party.

This point of interest is part of the tour: FM Suffrage Tour


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