My name is Margaret Topliff. In 1912 I lived on Henry Street in Binghamton with my husband George Topliff, General Manager of the Ansco Company.
I was very involved with the local women’s suffrage movement, and that year was elected President of the Binghamton “Votes for Women Club." My good friend Ida Wales Gitchell was Vice President, and our headquarters were at the corner of Court and Washington Street.
That same year Ida Gitchell and I attended the New York State Woman Suffrage Association convention in Utica. When a discussion came up about where to hold the next state convention, Ida suggested Binghamton. It wasn’t easy, but through perseverance, we convinced them to hold it here, and in October, 1913, the convention came to Binghamton.
We had a huge parade downtown, and for the next three days held meetings right here in Centenary Church. It was at those meetings that I was elected Binghamton Director of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association.
The Women’s Suffrage amendment was coming up for a vote in 1915, and thanks to the efforts of many people in this room, Binghamton and Broome County would vote favorably for the amendment. Unfortunately, the amendment lost statewide.
The following year we geared up for the next election in 1917. Broome County was split into two districts – I was the director of the 1st district, and my good friend Catherine Bartoo was director of the 2nd district. We worked out of an office above Feinbloom’s Milinery, just a block up Court Street, and together we held meetings and fundraisers, and travelled around Broome County giving talks.
Although we had many supporters, our events were met with some resistance. Sometimes we were heckled and jeered, stones were even thrown at us, and during a big parade, a trolley car motorman tried to break up the procession by driving his trolley head-on into us marchers. As leader of the procession, I continued marching straight into the path of the oncoming street car. Thank goodness the driver finally backed down!
With the election in November, 1917, Women’s Suffrage in New York State was approved. The long, hard battle for Women’s Suffrage was finally won!
Roger Luther - 2017