My name is Ida Wales Gitchell. I was born near Endicott and later moved to Owego, and then spent some time in New York City. It was there that I met my future husband, Hollis M. Gitchell, and soon after we were married, we moved to Binghamton.
In 1912 I was very active in the local women’s suffrage movement. That year the “Votes for Women” club was established with headquarters at the corner of Court and Washington streets. My good friend Margaret Topliff was installed as President, and I was Vice president.
In October, Margaret and I travelled to Utica to attend the annual state Women’s Suffrage Convention, and while there I came up with an idea. With several cities vying for the honor of hosting the next convention, why not Binghamton?
Throughout the convention we campaigned for Binghamton, and in the end, it was selected! As reported in the press at the time, it was “only through the energetic efforts of members of the Binghamton Votes for Women Club,” that Binghamton was selected.
The 1913 convention was held for three days, right here in this church and was kicked-off with a great parade through downtown Binghamton.I later served as the first president of the Binghamton Woman’s Suffrage Club and continued to participate as a leading figure at state and regional suffrage conferences in preparation for the Women’s Suffrage election in 1917.
During those years my husband was also active in politics, serving first as Binghamton City Treasurer, and later as Superintendent of the Binghamton Bureau of Water.
Following passage of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment in 1917, I continued to be politically active as a leading member of the Republican organization, although it was at that time that I became quite ill.
In 1929, after a long illness, I passed away at our home on Grand Boulevard. I am humbled by the kind words that appeared in my obituary: “Ida Wales Gitchell was probably one of the most widely known women of the community, largely due to her leadership fifteen years ago in behalf of woman suffrage.”
Roger Luther - 2017