Vote! And Thank You Judith Winsor Smith.

Judith Winsor Smtih

For two long hours on election day, not

                long ago

She stood where the voters

                streamed past in a row.

And gave suffrage leaflets to all who

                would take them

Now isn’t she plucky, and good as

                they make them?

Poem to Judith Winsor Smith on her 90th birthday  by Alice Stone Blackwell.

[I am updating this post today, November 6, 2018, as Americans all across the country are exercising their vote in what appears to be record numbers. Judith Winsor Smith would be proud.]

As I sit at the Wright Building today I can see the traffic congestion caused by voters navigating their way into a parking spot at Duxbury Middle School [in 2018 the voting location has moved across the street, and is very active].  I am happy to see so many of my fellow townsfolk coming out to exercise their right to cast a ballot.  Universal suffrage was not always the case in this country and there were many who came before us who had to struggle for what we are sometimes so blasé about today.  One such person was Judith Winsor Smith.  Smith was a Duxbury woman who fought along side Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton but, unlike them, lived to see the day when all women could vote – and did so herself at age 99.

Judith Winsor (McLauthlin) Smith was born in Marshfield, MA in 1821.  Her father, Lewis McLauthlin, was the groundskeeper for the shipbuilder Ezra “King Caesar” Weston and her mother, Polly, was the daughter of the Duxbury portrait painter/doctor, Rufus Hathaway.  Judith moved to Duxbury as a young teacher, boarding in the home of Maj. Judah Alden.  She married Sylvanus Smith in 1841 and spent her early married life here.  The couple later moved to East Boston where there were more opportunities for shipbuilders such as Sylvanus.  Much later, as an elderly widow, Judith moved to Jamaica Plain to live with her daughter, Zilpha Drew Smith.

Smith was a true 19th century reformer.  She was an abolitionist as well as a member of the Standing Committee of Theodore Parker’s society.  But it was in the fight for votes for women that she labored the longest.  She was the president for many years of the East Boston Woman Suffrage League and a member of the executive committee of the Massachusetts, New England and American Suffrage Associations.  At the age of 92 she addressed a crowd gathered together in Post Office Square by the Boston Equal Suffrage Association.  The following year she marched in Boston with Alice Stone Blackwell and Ellen Wright Garrison.  Finally, in 1920 she was able to cast her first ballot.  She died the next year at age 100.


Grave of Judith Winsor McLauthlin Smith, Mayflower Cemetery, Duxbury, MA

So, today as you are getting out there and rocking the vote, take a moment to thank all those that made it possible, including Judith Winsor Smith.

Four Generations of Duxbury Women

Four Generations of Duxbury Women

Four Generations of Duxbury Women, c. 1850

It is not often you come across a daguerrotype depicting four generations.  This one is especially fine considering the importance of the women photographed.

Starting on the right, we have Judith Winsor Hathaway (1778-1881).  The story goes that Judith was such a lovely young woman that the painter/doctor, Rufus Hathaway, fell in love with her at first sight.  Next to Judith is her daughter, Polly Hathaway McLauthlin (1796-1879).  Polly was married to Lewis McLauthlin, the groundskeeper of Ezra “King Caesar” Weston’s estate.  Next is Judith Winsor McLauthlin Smith (1821-1921). She was married to shipbuilder, Sylvanus Smith.  Judith was active in political and social causes throughout her life.  She was an abolitionist and a suffragette.  In 1920, at the age of 100, she was able to cast her first vote.  Finally, on the left we have Frances Smith (1849-1916).  Like her mother, Frances was a reformer and spent her life working in Boston as a social worker and for many charitable organizations.

The photograph is from the Smith McLauthlin Collection.

A Duxbury Family

Jonathan Smith, Jr.

Come to the Drew Archival Library this evening and hear history come alive. Letters will be read from the family of Captain Jonathan Smith, a master mariner from Duxbury, MA.  Jonathan and his wife Zilpha Drew lived in the stately home located at 18 St. George Street.  The home was later occupied by their daughter, Zilpha Smith, and her husband, Dr. James Wilde.

The letters read will include those of Capt. Smith to his wife while he was away at sea; the entertaining news of Jonathan Smith, Jr. to his brother; those of Zilpha Wilde to her sister-in-law, Judith Winsor Smith (1858) concerning the care of a sick child and Duxbury gossip; and the letters of Judith to her husband, Sylvanus Smith.

The Letter Reading will be at 7p.m. at the Wright Building, 147 St. George Street, Duxbury.  Admission is free.