The Danville Equal Suffrage Club list included the officers Lillian Close, Elizabeth Wood, Nina Williams and Ada Cornwall (Sec. and Treas.). Lillian was part of the Close family which owned a large section of Danville’s downtown from Front Street, facing Diablo Street to Hartz Avenue; she was also President of the Danville Improvement Club. Elizabeth was the sister of teacher Charlotte Wood and a former Danville Grange Worthy Master, Nina had grown up in Tassajara Valley, was active in many organizations and became the Worthy Master in 1914-15. Ada was a high school teacher in the new San Ramon Valley Union High School organized in 1910.
Members were: Mrs. E. F. Henne, Mrs. Mary A. Young, A. J. Young (well-known teacher, many years at San Ramon and Danville Grammar School), H. R. Eddy, Miss Sarah H. Stone, Mrs. Mary H. Llewellyn, F. E. Stelling, Mrs. F. H. Stelling, E. R. Williams (Nina’s husband), C. F. Woodward, A. G. Podva, Mrs. A. G. Podva, B. W. Bennett, W. E. Stewart, Charles J. Wood (Libbie and Charlotte’s brother). Notice the men who debated the negative joined the club.
The San Ramon Hall was completed in 1911 and several San Ramon women had promoted and raised funds for the Hall. They included ranchers Mary Wiedemann, Anita Glass and Minne Lynch (Mrs. Leo). As with the Danville Improvement Club, women helped make things happen in the San Ramon community.
On October 10, 1911, suffragist precinct workers geared for fraud and mayhem at the ballot boxes in San Francisco and Alameda counties. An impressive corps of ballot box watchers, 1,066 men and women, scrutinized every voting poll in San Francisco. Watchers tallied at least 3,000 fraudulent ballots. The day after the election, City newspapers declared the California women's franchise vote dead.
As anticipated, S.F. county voted 35,471 No; 21,912 Yes. Alameda voted 7,818 No; 6,075 Yes. Work in San Francisco was evident, however, since the 1896 vote was 3 to 1 against and the 1911 vote was 2 to 1 against. San Francisco’s population as a percentage of California’s was less in 1911 than it had been in 1896 as well.
On the October 10, 1911 ballot, voters in Alamo, Danville and Tassajara opposed women’s suffrage, while San Ramon and Walnut Creek voters supported it. Clearly not all farmers supported woman suffrage. Here are the valley results:
Alamo 11 13
Danville 23 48
San Ramon 12 11
Tassajara 5 12
Walnut Creek 44 36
In Contra Costa County it won by 21 votes, 1569-1548.
Suffrage workers such as Selma Solomons initially thought their cause had lost. But, as the other votes were reported from the Central Valley and Southern California, the results improved. On Thursday it was confirmed -- they had won! California became the sixth star in the flag of woman suffrage by a majority of 2 % -- 3,587 votes out of 240,000 votes cast. The New York Times trumpeted: California Farmers Give Vote to Women. Just not in the San Ramon Valley.
By 1915, nine Western states had six and one-half million women voters, translating into 45 electoral votes. The campaign techniques and the Western example helped promote success in the eastern states. On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment giving women the franchise was certified and added to the U.S. Constitution, a day now celebrated as Equality Day.
Contra Costa Gazette, Aug. 26, 1911
Danville Grange #85, Minute Books, 1887, 1896, 1911
Mead, Rebecca, How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914, New York: NY University Press, 2004.
NY Times, October 13, 1911
Silver, Mae and Sue Cazaly, The Sixth Star, Images and Memorabilia of California Women’s Political History 1868-1915, 2000.
Smith, Ross, History of the Danville Grange
Solomons, Selina, How We Won the Vote in California, A True Story of the Campaign of 1911