The Marguerita Garrity House

FM Suffrage Tour

The Marguerita Garrity House

Moorhead, Minnesota 56560, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


Marguerita Garrity was one of the Chairmen of our branch of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association. She was born Marguerita Evans and grew up on a farm outside Ottumwa, Iowa. After graduating from her rural school, she studied Domestic Sciences first at Iowa State University in Ames and then Columbia University in New York City. While there, according to family memory, Marguerita marched for Woman’s Suffrage in Washington, D.C.

After graduating, “Rita” took a job teaching in Moorhead Public Schools. While dining at the Curran Boarding House she came to know a young attorney named James A. Garrity. On May 31, 1917, Marguerita and James were married back home in Iowa. The Garritys were young and ambitious but they had to try harder than most to rise through the ranks of Moorhead’s finest families - the reason for this is they were Catholic in a town where the majority of the population were Scandinavian Lutherans and the social elite had roots in Protestant New England. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come in the last 100 years that today, we find the idea of discrimination against Catholics to be absurd, but it was real back then. And the Garritys were successful. The family would eventually move to a big beautiful white house across the street from the Comstocks and two doors down from the Petersons on 8th Street, Marguerita’s husband would become Judge James Garrity, her son would also become Judge James Garrity.

Marguerita was chosen to be the head of Clay County’s Hospital Supplies Committee of the Red Cross, an extremely important post. And her husband James was very busy with home front activities, leading the Knights of Columbus’ Liberty Loan drive and giving patriotic speeches at theaters, picnics, or wherever people might need a jolt of war fever.

Marguerita Evans Garrity served as Suffrage chairman at the same time as Anna Gates, Esther Russell and Ann Kossick. She likely struck up a friendship with fellow Catholic Ann Kossick, and soon they were family. In 1919, Anne Kossick married Marguerita’s brother and moved to the farm in Iowa. The 1920 census shows that two of Anne’s sisters, Helen and Clara Kossick, were living here in the Garrity home as boarders.

Anne Kossick Evans proves that Suffragists as individuals defy stereotypes. The Kossicks were a large German Catholic immigrant railroad family, and they were NOT Temperance advocates. Her brother Leo Kossick gained local fame as an amateur boxer and later ran pool halls, taverns, and bowling alleys. Her brother Alex was a bartender at the Blackhawk Café until he opened Kossick’s Liquors, and Anna’s Iowa farmer husband, Marguerita Garrity’s brother, was no Dry either. While we're not sure if Marguerita was alcohol-friendly herself, but we know her husband liked liquor. As County Attorney, James Garrity was the most important figure in legally ending Clay County’s 22 year long experiment with Prohibition.

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


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