I find my great grandmother, Mary Ahern Bradley, my grandmother, Agnes Bradley Kircher, and my great aunt, Elizabeth Bradley, on a very special list in 1912.[i] My other grandmother, Mary Jane Hardy, wasn’t on the 1912 list, but by 1914 she’d met the age requirement and she, too, got her name on that powerful roster.[ii]
Before 1911, none of these women, regardless of age, were entitled to have their names on that significant roll. But in a special election, California Proposition 4 narrowly passed with 50.7% support, granting women the right to vote. In Marin County, home to the Bradleys and Kirchers, only 41.6% of the male voters approved allowing their mothers and daughters and sisters this right.[iii] Did my great grandfather, Patrick Bradley, and my grandfather, Charlie Kircher, ignore the majority of their neighbors and support their wives? I hope so.
I believe my Grandma Kircher took her privilege and responsibility seriously. In 1914, not only did she cast a ballot, but she was an election judge for her local Tiburon precinct.[iv] That civic-mindedness continued for the rest of her life. In 1961 she and her sister, Miriam served as precinct inspectors. [v]
What would she think of this historic election of 2016? How would she vote? I can only guess. But one thing I do know for certain - she would vote, and she would expect me to exercise my right to vote as well. I’m glad I can. Be like Agnes. Vote.
[i] Index to Great Register of Marin County, October 1912, Tiburon Precinct, Tiburon, Marin, California. From California State Library, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008, Original data: State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library. (accessed 6 November 2016), images 418 and 419 of 697
[ii] Index to Registration Affidavits Amador County, State of California, 1914, North Amador Precinct, Amador, California. From California State Library, Ancestry.com. California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008, Original data: State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library. (accessed 6 November 2016), image 258 of 542
[iii] “California Proposition 4” from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_4_(1911) (accessed 6 November 2016)
[iv] “Primary Election Notice” Marin Journal, 13 August 1914, page 4, col 1, from California Digital Newspaper Collection, http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=MJ19140813.2.39&srpos=1&e=-------en--20--1-byDA-txt-txIN-%22agnes+b+kircher%22-------1 (accessed 6 November 2016)
[v] “Proclamation and Notice of Special County Election,” Daily Independent Journal, San Rafael, California, 9 Jun 1961, page 21, col 6 from Newspapers.com (accessed 6 November 2016)
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.