52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 44:
Voting

Voting

Since regular voting is typical among members of my immediate family, I have imagined most my ancestors being regular voters, too. However, there are rarely historical records of a person voting or being registered to vote that could provide proof. I have previously written about discovering news reports of my great-grandfather going to the polls to vote. [1] But, recently my mother provided a story about my great-grandmother voting for her first time in 1920. I found the story amusing, but I doubt if her experience was unique.

Ella Anne Rumple King

My great-grandmother, Ella Anne Rumple King (1869-1962), lived in northeastern Allen County, Indiana in the fall of 1920. [2] The U.S. Presidential election of 1920 was the first general election in which women had the right to vote. My great-grandmother turned 51 on October 8th in 1920 and voted for the first time less than 3 weeks later.

Voting

The story my great-grandmother told my mother about voting in 1920, and then told to me by my mother, is as follows:

Ella Rumple 1940

“As I left to go to the poll to vote, your grandfather gave me a slip of paper with the names of the men for whom I should vote. I placed the paper in my left pocket. But, in my right pocket was a slip of paper with the names of those I intended to vote for.”

I imagine many husbands tried to influence how their wives voted in 1920, and probably other years. It’s possible my great-grandmother voted for all, some or none of the men her husband, my great- grandfather, endorsed, but my great-grandmother kept her own council.

1920

Some years are more memorable than others. Voting was not the only major event that marked 1920 for my great-grandmother. Her husband, Homer King (1864-1932) had left home without a word for more than eight months. Ella was left to sow and harvest a crop on their rented farm with just the help of one adult son. Another son was ill, another just 12 years old and a teenage daughter completed the family responsibilities my great-grandmother faced on her own in 1920. I previously wrote about my great-grandmother for the post “Strong Woman” in June 2020. [3]

King Family 08 Oct 1920

The King family gathered for Ella Rumple King’s 51st birthday on 8 October 1920. Homer King had recently returned after being absent for 8 months. Sons: Ray had married in July, Charles worked in Detroit, Oscar had married in March and Warren is 12 years old, Lee was sick with TB and is not in this photo. Daughters: Elsie is married with 2 children and Edith is just shy of 17 years old.

David Louis Osborne

It’s worth repeating here the two newspaper items I found about my great-grandfather going to the polls to vote. [4, 5] My great-grandfather, David Louis Osborne, 1847-1942, was a Civil War veteran and very active in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). One of the newspaper items is from 1932, I am fairly certain he cast his presidential vote for Herbert Hoover that year. In addition to these news items about voting, I have one about my great-grandfather meeting Herbert Hoover at a veteran’s event in 1931.

David Louis Osborne 1930
David Osborne Faints 1932
David Osborne oldest at poll
David Osborne and Herbert Hoover

Conclusion

We rarely get a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of our ancestors, those who lived before we were born. Vital records, newspaper articles and photographs only go so far. It’s the family stories that are shared across generations that give life to those who came before us. Collect those stories while you can, and go vote!

Voted Sticker

SOURCES:

  1. Blog post, Family Finds: In The Paper; https://barblafara.com/in-the-paper/
  2. Entry for Ella King, U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1920; Census Place: Saint Joseph, Allen, Indiana; Roll: T625_422; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 23
  3. Blog post, Family Finds: Strong Woman; https://barblafara.com/strong-woman/
  4. Newspaper article: “Man, 86, Faints…”, The Indianapolis Star, Indiana; 9 November 1932, page 17, column 6, on the fold.
  5. Newspaper article: “One Of Oldest”, The Indianapolis Star, Indiana; 9 May 1934, page 15, column 4, top of page..

3 Comments

  1. Cheryl Schulte

    I had to smile at the story of your great-grandmother voting and her husband telling her who to vote for. My father continually told my mother who she should vote for each time they went to the polls. His reasoning was that if she voted the opposite of him they would just wipe out each other’s votes. She would agree with him but then would vote as she pleased.

    Reply
    • Barb LaFara

      Love it! I think we’ve had that conversation around here once or twice… Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Susan Blakley

    Thanks for sharing. I couldn’t think on the theme vote.

    Reply

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