The Farmington Historical Society organized a group of marchers to ascend Main Street in Farmington on August 18 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the women’s vote. Vehicles honked with support and people pulled over to capture photos of the marchers on their cellphones. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Farmington Historical Society (FHS) members along with their friends and family marched down Main Street Tuesday afternoon, August 18, in period costumes to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote.

The group, adorned with hand sewn sashes and armed with banners, started their march on the lawn in front of the Old South Church and caught the attention of drivers and other pedestrians as they made their way to the Meetinghouse Park for a presentation.

FHS members and their friends and family gathered in period costumes on the lawn of Old South Church on Main Street in Farmington on August 18 before marching through town to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

In front of a small crowd that followed the march to the park, Society president Marion Scharoun introduced the history of the suffrage movement.

“The fight for a woman’s right to vote began in 1848 when women in New York state came together to protest their lack of rights. Over 70 years of protests, marches, cross country campaigns, jailings, hunger strikes, forced feedings, they persevered,” Scharoun said into a microphone while wearing a handmade, white linen mask.

The Society also recognized Franklin County historical figure, Isabel Greenwood who championed suffrage efforts in Farmington.

“In Maine, Isabel Greenwood joined the fight,” Scharoun said and paused to catch her breath. “Sarah Isabel Wittier was born in Chesterville in 1862 and moved to Farmington after her marriage to local inventor, Chester Greenwood whom we all know. She began speaking out for the cause at local grange meetings and in 1906 helped to organize the Franklin County’s rights organization of which she was president for many years.”

2019 University of Maine at Farmington graduate Michaela Carney who completed her senior internship with FHS, “channeled” the voice of Isabelle Greenwood by reading an excerpt from one of her rally speeches.

“All reform movements seem slow to those who are thoroughly alive to their necessity and who are greatly interested in their success,” Carney read from the speech while standing in front of the park’s gazebo.

FHS also wanted to address the opposing reasoning that anti-suffragists held who believed that life was limited to two separate spheres, public in which only men were allowed to engage and domestic in which women were expected to remain.

“I thought it would be interesting and enlightening to learn a little bit more about the anti-suffragists,” FHS member Claudia Bell said. “When you think that it took over 100 years to pass the 19th amendment, there was strong opposition and most people wonder why they were so opposed to women voting. Today we seem to take it for granted, but there were several important reasons that they believed women did not need the right to vote.”

Bell explained that their beliefs included a binary law of nature that limited both sexes to specific roles. Anti-suffragists also feared that women voting would disrupt the family institution which they believed would eventually destroy democracy. Heavy drinkers feared that women would change the temperance laws. There was also the basic belief that women simply did not have the biological intelligence to vote.

FHS president Marion Scharoun, left, marches with her great-niece Ella Trefethen, right, down Main Street in Farmington on August 18 with banners referencing historical Franklin County figure Isabel Greenwood’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

The youngest marcher, 16 year old Ella Trefethen from Mt. Vernon, was excited to dress up and participate in the suffrage event and was relieved for an opportunity to get out of the house. She said that she found the march to be particularly pertinent to the current political climate.

“I think right now it’s really relevant because I didn’t really make the connection, but it does show how much we need to be grateful for our voting rights,” Trefethen said while eating her lunch in the park with her great-aunt Scharoun. Especially right now, encouraging people to go out and vote because people worked hard for us to, well I can’t yet, for women to be able to, for our voices to be heard especially in the upcoming election. As many people need to vote as possible.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.