Saturday, October 20, 2012

8. Rocky Road to Kansas: 1912

Rocky Road to Kansas
By Becky Brown

November 2012 marks the hundredth anniversary of suffrage in Kansas. On November 5th male voters approved an equal suffrage amendment to the state constitution, making Kansas the eighth state to enfranchise women in all elections.

Campaigning in a decorated car Lawrence, Kansas,
My home town.
It took a whirlwind marketing campaign to convince men to vote in favor of women's rights. The suffragists decided against a campaign of civil disobedience in favor of public relations saturation. Inspired by the women of California who'd won the vote the year before, Kansas focused on grassroots action with local parades, plays and pageants touting the amendment.
A vignette from a pageant or play.
"The suffrage play 'How the Vote Was Won'...
produced by the DouglasCounty Equal Franchise League...
 a novel way of campaigning which is proving to be quite popular."
Lawrence Daily Journal World, July 30, 1912
Women went door to door to influence voters, persuaded newspaper publishers to editorialize and politicians to endorse the cause. Big names in the national movement barnstormed the state.
Illinois women on the road in 1911.
They won the vote in 1913.
Why did woman's suffrage pass in Kansas in 1912 when it didn't in earlier 1867 and 1887 campaigns? One reason is better organization aided by the advent of the automobile. Motoring over the rocky roads in Kansas allowed campaigners to get out the vote. The "suffrage Automobile," a decorated, rolling propaganda machine, provided a platform and an advertisement in the days when a brand new auto was a sight in a small Kansas town.
 Martha Farnsworth
One of the women who worked the polls was Topeka's Martha VonOrsdol Farnsworth. On election day 1912 she had time to write in her diary:
 "Up early, got Breakfast, but only took time to eat a wee bit and hurried away to the Polls for its Election day."

The amendment passed by over 16,000 votes. Martha was thrilled.
 "Wed 6. 'This is the day after.' And so bright and sunny---a glorious day, and 'there is sunshine in my heart,' for while I went to bed last night a slave, I awake this morning a free woman."
Another photograph of the Illinois auto campaign, 1911.
Remember the suffrage automobiles with Rocky Road to Kansas. This string quilt pattern was popular in the early years of the automobile, given that name by the Ladies Art Company pattern catalog. It's a variation of Amethyst. See pattern #2:

You can use the same PDF and templates.
Rocky Road to Kansas
By Becky Brown
Here Becky's laid the "strings" down at different angles in this version. At top she used more orderly strips.

Rocky Road to Kansas
By Dustin Cecil

The easiest way to get the look of the traditional Rocky Road to Kansas is to use striped fabric for piece C like Dustin did. That stripe fits in perfectly with his dots and wovens look.

Red and white striped fabric?
Or make your own.

Rocky Road to Kansas
BlockBase #2979
or use Amethyst
(Don't forget the "a" when you do a number search)

Cutting an 8" Block

How to print:
Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". Note the inch square block for reference.
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
Add seams.

A & C - This block uses the same templates as Block 2 Amethyst. 

B - Cut 1 square 3-3/8" (3-5/16" if you use the 1/16th inch default in BlockBase.)

Cutting a 12" Block

For B cut a square 4-3/4"
If you want to string-piece those points the way it would have been done 100 years ago:

Cut 4 pieces of backing fabric or paper using template C. Do not add the seam allowance. Beginning at the larger end add random size "strings," narrow strips of fabric, until you've covered the triangle. Trim the edges to match the seam lines. Piece these triangles as you did on Block 2.

Kansas First Lady Stella Stubbs borrowed the Governor's car and driver to campaign in Topeka in 1912. The members of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association are squiring a visiting speaker from the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, Laura Clay. Photo from the Kansas State Historical Society.
Read Martha Farnsworth's diary in print:
Marlene Springer and Haskell Springer, eds., Plains Woman: The Diary of Martha Farnsworth, 1882-1922 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986) Page 73
Or online at Kansas Memory.

Mrs. George Trout in Chicago
From the Library of Congress

The Illinois photos are from a 1911 article in the American Magazine
"Getting Out the Vote: An Account Of a Week's Automobile Campaign by Women Suffragists,"
By Helen M. Todd. Click here to read it at Google Books.
The University of Delaware owns a catalog with this observation about fashion and philosophy:  "The automobile has been a great factor in advancing the independence of woman. It may be that when universal suffrage happens we can place a goodly part of the credit to the automobile."


  1. I read the Plains Women, really liked the book.

  2. This is the same pattern as for block #3. Is this correct?

  3. Oops! Upon further reading I see that this is the same basic pattern. Sorry!

  4. As a 20-year-old in 1916, my grandmother first learned how to drive on the rocky roads of Kansas. Her beau (and future husband) taught her. She records the hilarious account of her first driving attempt in her diary, which I include here:

  5. Barbara, I can't find a "contact me" link to click on your blogs. I know you'll be writing about the suffrage movement in other countries. A friend sent me this link and I thought you'd like to know about it.

  6. Barbara,
    Can't find a follow button for this blog. If you can add one, I (and others) can follow and your blog will show up on our blog sidebars.
    Sandra from AQSG