Jewelia Ann Galloway Higgins, b.1873 – d.1955

by Sherri Goudy

Portions of this biography are to be included in the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States. Once published, it can be accessed here.

Jewelia Ann Galloway Higgins was born December 29, 1873 to Mary Louisa Chittendon and William Galloway in Dayton, Ohio. Her grandfather, James Chittendon was a Civil War veteran. She was born into a family that represents generations of community activists and leaders, freedom fighters, and empowered women.

Her great-grandmother was Charity Broady, born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1802, the daughter of a freed slave and a Cherokee woman.  As an infant, she was brought to Dayton, Ohio by her father, among the first black settlers there. Her mother died of smallpox prior to the trip. Charity later married John Broady and together they became conductors on the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves would hide in the Broady home then slip into First Wesleyan Methodist Church which was next door, were given clothes provided by church members, and continued on their journey to freedom.

Jewelia lived with Charity growing up. She knew that Charity had been an attendee at the Woman Suffrage Convention in Akron, Ohio, where Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.  Perhaps this was one of the driving factors in Jewelia’s conviction to work with the Dayton Woman Suffrage Association (DWSA), a white woman’s suffrage organization.

The DWSA was unique in that they appear to have actively sought the cooperation of working alongside Black women, as well as immigrants and working-class women. Jewelia served as a member of the DWSA beginning in 1912. The organization’s records indicate Jewelia and other African American women worked the suffrage booth on Mondays during the Ohio push for suffrage in 1912. Under Jewelia’s leadership, the women also gave speeches and organized gatherings in the community.

Among Jewelia’s other leadership in the community, she was an advocate and fierce leading voice promoting Black educators and education as well as community service. She was a founding member of the Unique Study Club in 1900. After WWI, the club formed a black chapter of the American Red Cross. Jewelia became one of the first, if not the first, Black Red Cross nurse in the Dayton area.  She also served as matron of the Holloway Colored Orphans’ Home after the founder, Julia Holloway retired.

Her husband, Rev. Charles Higgins, served during WWI as secretary under the War Work Council of the YMCA. Jewelia served for many years alongside her husband with the YMCA. In 1951, she was honored by the YMCA as one of the 15 Pioneer Mothers. She was also a founding member of the Black YWCA in Dayton, otherwise called the WCA no. 2.

Jewelia was an elected officer of the Colored Citizens Protective League (CCPL) which formed in 1914 and was later called the Colored Citizens Protective Association (CCPA). This organization’s work mirrored that which the NAACP did, and when the Dayton Chapter of that organization formed in 1915, the CCPA appears to have dissolved, perhaps merging with the NAACP.

Jewelia and Charles raised their children, instilling the same community leadership and female empowerment that had been passed down since John Davis brought baby Charity to Dayton in 1802. Their daughter Rita became a leader within the First Wesleyan Methodist church and the community. Their daughter Charlest wrote the history of the first 100 years of the First Wesleyan church and she alongside her husband, Ernest Johnson, Dayton’s first Black master plumber, continued the legacy of success for their family.

Jewelia died December 14, 1955 and her funeral was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Her service was the first for an African American person in that church.  Like most of her family, she is buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio

Sources:

Austin, Charles M., Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University, Dayton, OH.

“Dayton Club to Observe 95th Year,” Dayton Daily News, November 15, 1995.

“Forgotten Stories – Milestones in the History of Women,” Dayton Daily News, March 22, 1994.

“Funds Lacking to Assist Negro Home,” Dayton Daily News, November 28, 1912.

History Drives Family Forward,” Dayton Daily News, October 31, 1990.

Interviews with Patricia Smith Griffin, great-granddaughter of Jewelia Higgins and family historian, June 4, 2019 and August 28, 2019

Interview with Andrea Walker-Cummings, Dayton historian, June 18, 2019

Minutes, July 22, 1912. Dayton Woman Suffrage Association. Records. Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, OH.

“Negro Citizens Hold a Suffrage Meeting,” Dayton Daily News, August 17, 1912.

Peters, Margaret E. Dayton’s African American Heritage. National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce. 1995, 2005

“What the Past Year Brought to Dayton,” Dayton Daily News, January 1, 1915.

 

Loss of a Hero: Toni Morrison

By Sherri Goudy

I remember where I was when I heard the news. “Toni Morrison, ‘Beloved’ author and Nobel laureate, dies at 88.” I was shell shocked… for so many reasons.

I was preparing for a job interview, an opportunity to be a peer trainer – a Justice Talking trainer – a program that allows AmeriCorps members serving their communities a chance to reflect on their service through a socially conscious reading. I was reflecting on my own service in this program, which ended just one year ago, and my time as a Justice Talking facilitator. 4 times a year, myself and my fellow AmeriCorps members would meet for an all-day training, during which a portion of that day was spent participating in Justice Talking. The last reading I had chosen before saying farewell to the program and my brilliant colleagues was Toni Morrison’s speech that she gave at Rutgers commencement in 2011.

That speech was fire.  In this speech where she outlines the social justice failings of America, she also gives us hope. And a mission.  She tells us that it is up to us to realize the miracle of our existence – not simply to exist to pursue life, liberty, and “happiness” but to pursue meaningfulness, integrity, and truth. To exist not just for our own gains, but the chance to leave this world better than we found it. That education and the entire college experience was a preparation to dare to imagine a world that we can create through example and inspiration.

I had just listened to her delivery of that speech on YouTube when my phone dinged. “Toni Morrison, ‘Beloved’ author and Nobel laureate, dies at 88.”

“This can’t be real,” I thought.

I was already dealing with the grief of the past weekend. Just the day before, I woke up to the news that 2 mass shootings, one in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio had happened. 31 people dead, dozens more injured.  Myself, along with all of America was in shock and uproar over how and why this could happen. Already the arguments and politically charged posts had begun over gun control, mental health, and liberty and what that means.

“This can’t be real,” I thought again.  But it was.  So many people had died. Some of them, my friends and co-workers knew. I had been to the Oregon District, walked on the street where they died. I knew the local news anchors who were covering their stories. I had just a few months ago been introduced to the Mayor who was now thrust into the public eye, and vowed to the Dayton community she would demand the President “do something.”

People were grieving, angry, confused, scared. I was too. And now, a woman who inspired through her words was gone. A woman who left this world better than she found it.  A genius and hero dead.

But she is not truly gone.

Her words will live on, and I will not stop sharing them.

I still do not know if I got the job that I interviewed for right after learning of Toni Morrison’s death. If I do, I will encourage the use of her speeches and literature in sessions to talk about social justice and reflection of service.

And if I don’t, I will share with you, and whoever will listen, the impact of Toni Morrison on our world. She was one of the greatest writers of the 20th and 21st century. She became an author at the age of 35 after a divorce and with two kids underfoot. 5 years later, she published that work, her first novel. She wrote about race and its role in history, and her truth telling inspired so many. For me, she inspired a way of thinking about my life as it relates to giving back. She taught me that achievements are not what you did for the world, they are what you give back to it. That thinking beyond ourselves is what brings us a meaningful life – we should be doing good, instead of just looking good.

I leave you with this from the conclusion of her commencement speech in 2011:

Although you don’t have complete control of the story of your life, you can still create that story. Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate all of the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones you can’t avoid by paying them close attention and doing them justice. The plot you choose may change or even elude you, but being your own story means you can control the theme. It also means you can invent the language to say who you are and how you mean in this world.

Well it’s true. I am myself a storyteller, and therefore, an optimist—a firm believer in the ethical bend of the human heart; a believer in the mind’s appetite for truth and its disgust with fraud and selfishness. From my point of view, your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny. From my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.

tonimorrison698x300In memory of Toni Morrison, February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019

 

Activists – Superheroes of the Modern World

by Sherri Goudy

Through what lens do we view activism?  Modern activists face harsh criticism for their typically peaceful demonstrations and demands for change. I think of those who participate in today’s modern Women’s Movement (“Women who wear pussy hats are vulgar!”) or of those who support the Black Lives Matter Movement (“How dare someone kneel for the National Anthem!”).  What about those who demand equal treatment for LGBTQ communities and human rights for immigrants at the border? Headline after headline tells us in bold-faced, all caps fonts that demanding something different than the status quo is something to be feared and that people who support these movements are unpatriotic and sometimes even criminal.

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Protesters wearing “Pussy Hats” 2017 AMANDA VOISARD / THE WASHINGTON POST

 

APTOPIX Million Man March Anniversary
Neal Blair, of Augusta, GA stands on the lawn of the Capitol building  during a rally to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, on Capitol Hill, October 10, 2015 in Washington. EVAN VUCCI/AP

While we demonize the modern activist, we celebrate those of the past who led for change in the same ways. Historically, activism is viewed as heroic and deserving of remembrance.  Abolition, Suffrage, Civil Rights, Disability Rights – all these movements included protests and people demanding change. These heroic human beings participated in actions to declare they weren’t being treated equally in a country that prides itself on providing liberty (and justice) for all. But at the time of their activism, they were demonized. They were mocked. They were beaten in the streets where they protested. They were arrested. They were lynched. In the face of brutality, however, they did not stop. And when those who lost their lives were forced to stop, others took up the mantle. Today, we celebrate their actions and the changes in our society that resulted from their persistence. We call them heroes; some might even say they are “superheroes.”

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Demonstrators, including many ministers, picket the F.W. Woolworth store in New York, April 14, 1960, in protest of the store’s lunch-counter segregation at southern branches of its chain. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

 

We Shall Overcome -- disability
Protesters demonstrating in favor of 504. ANTHONY TUSLER

Superheroes are often misunderstood, viewed as dangerous because they are different. The X-Men exemplify this idea – characters that the public fears and views as the “Others.” Today, the creator of these characters, Stan Lee, is hailed as a genius (I agree) who dealt with issues that he himself witnessed in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Through his comics, we uncover stories about characters who were frail yet powerful. They had powers that humans don’t possess, but they were still affected by loss and pain.  Perhaps that is what draws us to them and has made them increasingly popular. They model to us that despite our differences and our weaknesses, we can find power within ourselves, and that power can exponentially multiply if we use whatever unique thing we possess together.

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X-Men, X2: X-Men United, 2003

As misunderstood as superheroes are, so too are contemporary activists – threatening the status quo, the comfortable, and demanding change. In time, perhaps we will see the change they advocate for come to fruition.  But what is most certain is that we will see their work and perseverance for their cause as heroic. Because the success of these movements has never been measured by what has been gained, in fact in some cases much is still left to be accomplished.  We celebrate these movements, and the activists who led them, as heroic and successful because they are led by people just like you and me who believed they could make a difference, and despite overwhelming odds and sometimes even in the face of death, they persisted.

 

 

The Reckoning: Women of Color and Their Role in the Fight for Suffrage

Sherri Goudy

“It’s not ‘a century since women got the right to vote,’ it’s a century since WHITE women could vote.” I recently read this on social media, along with an outcry declaring that women of color absolutely should not celebrate the suffrage centennial because it’s a celebration of something for white women. Not for them. They don’t see themselves, so why should they celebrate? It got me thinking.

Recent research and examination of the suffrage movement has brought to light evidence that women of color had a huge part in influencing and advancing the fight for women’s equality. But is this recent truth too little, too late? The fact is that women of color feel like an afterthought in the celebration of something they played so critical a role. It is time to set the record straight.

As a historian, it is my job to make sure the past is represented as honestly as is possible based on the evidence that remains. Books, photographs, newspaper accounts, diaries, and maps make up my daily life when examining history. These valuable historical documents give us a glimpse into the past. However, some of these documents are biased and some tell half-truths. Some use language to describe events and people in ways that were socially acceptable at the time, but today are offensive and derogatory. I say again, as a historian, it is my job to weigh this evidence and interpret its meaning and significance based on a thorough evaluation of its contents.

For a long time, the accounts of the past have been dominated by the victors, the powerful, the elite – the white. Those who achieved greatness, won wars, and colonized lands… and people. These accounts must constantly be evaluated. One thing I have learned is that bias within history is inevitable. No one is capable of completely eliminating all bias when documenting history.  The person writing may believe they are being neutral, but their experiences can determine their leanings when examining the events.

In 1876, some of the leaders of the suffrage fight wrote their own history, The History of Woman Suffrage. Within this 1500-page book, they name only one woman of color: Sojourner Truth. What bias lay in this tome if their historical account of the fight for suffrage only included one black woman?

Women of color influenced suffrage and were leaders in their own right since before the 1840s, the historically accepted decade for the beginning of the fight for women’s suffrage.  In fact, the suffrage movement may never have come to be without the work of women of color. Indigenous women, from the Seneca Nation, had political voices, leadership positions, and autonomy in their tribes. They influenced Lucretia Mott and resulted in Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martha Coffin Wright to organize the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.  African American women were at the forefront of the abolition movement, and at the same time were fighting for suffrage in their own communities. Women such as Maria W. Stewart, Frances E.W. Harper, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Anna Julia Cooper, Harriet Tubman, and Ida B. Wells among so many others were speaking, writing, and educating about economic, gender, and racial equality. The intersectionality of the work they were doing precedes the start of the suffrage movement by decades!

Just last week, June 4th marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment through Congress. It would be over a year before the required number of states (36) would ratify the amendment making it law in 1920. As the nation celebrates and remembers the fight for women’s voices in the political system, I’d like to invite you to stay tuned for further posts from me, NerdGirl. Let’s journey together to discover the whole story.  Let’s try and set the record straight and explore the truth of our shared past.  Some of those truths will include harsh realities that we must face and acknowledge.

Though America declared the fight for women’s suffrage was “over” in 1920 (for white women), most minorities would wait decades before having the same rights. African American women and other minorities including Asian Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans were not enfranchised until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Act. American Indian women were not fully enfranchised until the 1980s and 90s. Some communities are still fighting for full enfranchisement today.

I will leave you by saying this, women of color were at the forefront of the fight for suffrage, and their contributions deserve to be celebrated. By all of us. In the face of racism and inhumane treatment they persisted and fought in their own communities and sometimes along with their white counterparts for a right some would never get to exercise. Knowing this truth, they did it anyway.

We have a lot of work to do to ensure that we achieve what is perhaps the central concept that defines the United States of America: that “all men (and women) are created equal.” One way is happening right now, with the reexamination of whitewashed histories, and rectifying the record of the past.

JewellaAnnGallowayAndreaWalkerCummings
Monday’s at the Booth (Jewelia Ann Galloway Higgins) by Andrea Walker-Cummings

 

 

 

Stop and Smell the History

Have you ever wanted to go on an adventure; to go someplace you’ve never been before and explore? You don’t have a plan, just a spur of the moment decision to check out some new place.

The Dalai Lama said, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” I have been lucky enough to have gone several places I had never been before in the last two years.  And it’s changed my life.  The way I live and look at the world has been forever altered for the better.

In October 2016, I had been at my new job for 2 months and I was doing everything by the book.  I sent letters and emails to historic sites and waited for them to answer my request to help them work on projects.  Seems like a simple thing, right? Opportunity of a lifetime for me to work with a variety of museums and historical societies and in return they get my professional expertise for free.  Not so much.

I hadn’t had a single response, and I was getting antsy.  I had a few local jobs lined up and projects to work on, but I wanted more.  So, one day I did something that changed it all.

The days grew ever closer to Halloween, and I had always been a huge horror fan.  I love scary movies, and ghost stories, and I really love local legends.  After some research online, I found out a town in northwest Ohio had its own chilling story:

“Legend says an old man who hated children set an orphanage on fire, killing many of the kids inside. He then went back down to the road and hanged himself from a tree, which is known today as “Hangman’s Tree.” Others say the orphanage was struck by lightning, which caused the fire. There is a plaque that marks the spot where the children’s home once stood. On certain nights, it is said you can catch a glimpse of a child or maybe even the old man hanging from the tree. Witnesses have also heard the laughter of children playing near the site and have found handprints and footprints on vehicles parked in the area.”

After I read a little about the county and the road and location, I set out on a “ghost hunting adventure.”

I found the location on Coffin Road where the Eaton Family Children’s Home had once stood.  I had to drive down a gravel, one lane road along the Maumee River.  Finally, I came to the area as it was described online, a wooded site on the east side of the road along the river, with a field on the NW side of the road.

It was a beautiful fall day, with leaves not yet fully changed, but a crispness in the air.  The drive had been beautiful, and I had no fear about this place that was supposed to be haunted.

I got out of my car and walked over to a small marker on the ground.

Orphanage memorial

 

Was the story true then? The marker said, “Eaton Family Cemetery” and listed the names of several people seemed to indicate some truth to the legend.

Then I walked down a small path to the river’s edge and took this beautiful shot.

Maumee River

I decided I wanted to know more about the marker and names listed on it, so I drove to the local history room at the library.  There, I met with a genealogist who let me look at some of the local records about the Eaton Family Orphanage.  Levi Eaton left his estate to the county to establish a children’s home in 1920. The Eaton Family Children’s Home opened in 1925 and closed prior to a new children home being constructed in the 1970s. The new children’s home is located off U.S. 127, outside of Paulding.

The memorial marker is to commemorate the original home and the family members who were part of the facility.  There was a fire that happened there and some children did lose their lives in that fire, but it was from a lightning strike, not from some sinister motive or an act of arson by some man who hated children.

Though what drew me to Paulding in the first place was a tale of the paranormal, learning the truth far outweighed the mystery. It also resulted in working with their organization on a project.  I had an amazing day of travelling to a part of the state I had never been before, and I have a remarkable story to tell, even though I didn’t see any ghosts.  Or did I?

ghost hunt

After my adventure in Paulding, I decided that sometimes a spur of the moment decision to go someplace new could result in my getting new projects to work on.  My job requires outreach, so why not travel to places I’ve never been but always wanted to go and see what comes of it? This worked totally to my advantage when I decided to travel to Kenton, Ohio to the Hardin County Historical Museum.

This museum is in northwest Ohio, and it is made up of two properties – the Sullivan-Johnson Home and the Hardin County Heritage Farm.  The historic home is what drew me to Kenton.  It was built in 1896, and it is a beautiful place restored to showcase Victorian elegance.

Hardin County

Today, it is a museum with exhibits about Hardin County history which includes the Kenton Toy Company specializing in cast iron toys and cap guns, the nation’s first medal of honor recipient Jacob Parrot, and exhibits to showcase what various rooms would have looked like in middle-upper class rural Ohio at the turn of the last century.

Hardin sitting room

I arrived in Kenton and most of the volunteers were busy preparing the house for the fall, decorating the porch with beautiful arrangements of mums, and ensuring the banister and interior woodwork was dust free and polished.  I introduced myself to the curator there and she gave me a most enthusiastic tour of the house.  After, I let her know I was a volunteer historian and would love to work with them on any projects they had coming up.  I ended up working with them on various projects such as exhibit creation and event planning. It’s one of my favorite Wednesday places to travel (their volunteers all work on Wednesdays), and I am so excited to be a part of the work they are doing to preserve local history.

Sometimes a planned trip can result in a spur of the moment adventure too.  I had a trip planned to northwest Ohio in early November 2016.  My tour included a trip to Youngstown for an evening lecture on historical editing (it was way more riveting than it sounds, believe me). I decided that beforehand, I would stop in Warren, Ohio to see the Sutliff Museum.  I attended a conference the month before and went to a session facilitated by the curator of the museum, where she talked about one of their collections – family letters from the Civil War, and how to preserve and make accessible these delicate documents. Also, I was obsessed with their museum interior, specifically the carpet, I mean who wouldn’t want to see this in person?

Sutliff

After I met with the archivist and had a tour of the museum (it was a short tour because they are located in one room on the second floor of the local library), she offered to take me on a brief walking tour of what they call “Millionaires Row,” where the “Who’s Who” of industry, commerce and politics lived in stately mansions that lined the street during the mid-to-late 1800s.  Many of those buildings have been restored and serve as city hall, businesses, museums, and private residences. It was a site to behold that’s for sure.

Millionaires row

The most amazing part of this tour though was on our way back to the Sutliff Museum, my guide showed me the Upton House.  The Harriet Taylor Upton House.  As in, the suffragette; the woman who led the fight in Ohio for women to get the right to vote.  I was a little ashamed to admit that I had no idea she lived and worked in Warren and that I was now standing in front of her house!

Upton House

More than that, I had the opportunity to walk to her backyard, in a beautifully landscaped area where her memorial lay.  And, I just so happened to be there two days after the election, so her headstone was covered with stickers that said, “I ♥ voting” placed there by the women honoring her.

Upton memorial

What an experience!   And all because of a side trip that I didn’t have to take, and agreeing to a walking tour of the town.

Just last week, I went back to Warren for another project I’m working on, and got to tour the inside of the Upton home.  I still can’t believe I’d never even know it was there 2 years ago. So close to me and so accessible.

I’ve been to some amazing places and had awe inspiring things happen to me because I was willing to alter the plan, or not have one at all.  I set my vision on something I wanted, some place I’d never been before and made it happen. I didn’t think twice, I just went there.

I’ve captured the haunting beauty of a collapsing one room school house.

One room collapse

I’ve toured historic buildings in towns throughout the state, including an old opera house and a bed-and-breakfast.  I’ve toured old prisons used as the setting for a movie.

OSR

I’ve even reserved a hotel room in another country without having a passport.  But that’s a story for another blog.

My point is “just do it.”  Listen to Nike, Shia LaBeouf, and Palpatine.  Don’t wait for the time to be right or the plan to be formed.  Sometimes, you just gotta go.

Until next time, have an awesome adventure. Life is your playground, so live it up!

 

 

 

 

The Journey Begins

by Sherri Goudy

Thanks for joining me!  I’ve been blogging for historical organizations for about 2 years now, and I think I’ve gained enough “blog cred” to do this on my own.  So here it goes!

Who am I? Well, I am an archivist by trade, and a historian by passion.  I have degrees in Music History and the Humanities.  I love travelling to places near and far; places that showcase the rich history that surrounds us.  I can’t take enough photographs to document these beautiful places.  Also, for all you gaming nerds out there, I’m a huge fan of World of Warcraft.  When I’m not in museums, archives, or travelling in our world, you can find me in Azeroth.

What am I going to write about? Honestly, I don’t have that completely figured out right now.  Let’s start with some posts about what I’ve seen and learned since becoming a history nerd and see where that takes us.  They joy is in the journey, or so I’ve been told.

Until next time, have an awesome adventure. Life is your playground, so live it up!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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