Home of the Comstock Family

FM Suffrage Tour

Home of the Comstock Family

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


This was the home of Solomon and Sarah Comstock, and their children Ada, Jesse, and George. For the first half-century of Moorhead's existence, the Comstock family was the most influential family in Moorhead, socially, economically, and politically. It is a common trend across our nation that Suffragists tended to be women of means whose families were community leaders at the top of the social and economic ladder in town. The Comstocks, as far we can tell, did not engage in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, at least not publicly. But we stop here because while the Comstocks may not have talked the talk of Suffrage, they certainly did walk the walk of women’s equality. Sarah Comstock was a teacher before she came to the two-year-old Wild West town of Moorhead in 1874 and married an ambitious young attorney named Solomon. Solomon rose from county attorney to state representative to US Congressman to the business associate of railroad magnate James J. Hill, the richest man in Minnesota. This gave the family a lot of political and economic influence, and perhaps the most important way they used this influence is they turned Moorhead into a college town. Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College are both here because of the Comstocks, and one of the common themes that you’ll see throughout this tour is Suffragists were overwhelmingly educated women at a time when educating women wasn’t common. Sarah and Solomon’s two daughters and one son received wonderful educations, and the oldest daughter Ada became a nationally famous pioneer in the field of women’s education. It would be hard to imagine that Ada Comstock, who as president of Radcliffe College helped turn all-male Harvard co-ed, wouldn’t want the right to vote. There are buildings named for this family at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Concordia College, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Smith College and Radcliffe College.

And there’s another reason we begin our tour here. In this house, in 1893, the leading women of town formed The Moorhead Woman’s Club. Two years later, the Moorhead Women’s Club would become one of the 15 charter members of the Minnesota Federation of Women’s Clubs - which would eventually grow to 500 chapters with 40,000 members. Woman’s Clubs were creative and intellectual outlets for women as well as centers of civic engagement. Each year, a club would choose a topic to study - Moorhead’s 1893 topic was Ancient Egypt, the 1906-7 season’s topic was Italian Sculpture and Painting in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries, and the group studied Panama and South America in 1913-14. The members wrote essays, recited poems, and performed music on that theme, hosting each other in their homes on a rotating basis. Membership in the Moorhead Women’s Club was limited to 25 women plus a list of inactive honorary members, so being a member was an indication that you are a woman of culture from a well-connected family in town. It should not surprise you that many Suffragists were members of these clubs of educated, civic minded, community leaders. That goes for Moorhead or any American town.

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


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