Picture a torchlight meeting, an automobile parade, and open-air meeting. Huntington, New York piled on the welcome when my grandmother Edna Kearns and the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon hit town. Long Island activist Rosalie Jones drove her yellow suffrage campaign wagon in the parade as well.
Horse-drawn wagons may seem quaint to us today, but at the time it was quite a stunt for women to be out in the streets. They took advantage of the novelty by decorating their campaign wagons with Votes for Women banners. Come to think of it, a horse-drawn wagon put in the service of any cause today will attract some attention. Marketing plans were relatively new back then, and the suffrage movement activists took advantage of every opportunity to spread the word.
An article of July 27, 1913 notes that Edna Kearns’ suffrage wagon was also known as a “one hoss shay.” Geoffrey Stein, who’s now retired from the New York State Museum as its transportation curator, told me in the past that Edna’s horse-drawn campaign wagon (used on Long Island and in New York City) is representative of other such wagons used by the suffrage movement for parades, as speaking platforms, and more. Most of these wood vehicles, like the yellow wagon used by Rosalie Jones, weren’t preserved and they were put to other uses after 1920.
I’m curious. Google may be great about some things, but my search came up short when I typed in the word “votersvilles” which is mentioned in the last line of the linked article. Anyone know what this means?