A Historic Vote in Orleans County Cast 100 Years Ago
This past summer we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Abigail Drake Chandler was one of many Orleans County suffragists who fought hard for the passage of this amendment.
Abigail was born Abigail Drake Baldwin in Strafford, Vermont on October 22, 1829 the daughter of Dr. Eleazer Baldwin and Polly Ladd. In 1847 she married Levinus Chandler of Berlin, Vermont. Around 1853, the Chandlers moved to Barton and in 1865 they came to Orleans—then known as Barton Landing. Mrs. Chandler lived their until the day of her death on January 26, 1927 at the age of 98.
Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Chandler. The eldest, Edward, joined his father in the lumber business and made the beginnings of what later became the E.L. Chandler Company. This business became the Ethan Allen furniture factory in Orleans. Two subsequent children died in childhood: Abbie Jane at age two in 1856 and George Baldwin in 1864 at age 6.
In spite of the tragic loss of two children, Mrs. Chandler took an active part in her community, state and country. She possessed a keen intellect and participated in movements for civic betterment that spanned the globe. She was an ardent Universalist, a life-long member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and a pioneer in the woman suffrage movement—at one time being president of the Woman Suffrage Association of Vermont. She was a lifelong member and honorary vice president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.
On September 14, 1920, after dedicating so many years to fighting for women’s rights, Abigail Chandler was finally able to vote. The following ran in the Orleans County Monitor, under the headline, “Casts First Vote at 90.”
“Mrs. Abigail D. Chandler of Orleans, an ardent worker for Woman’s Suffrage for many years, is one of the happiest women in Orleans County, for on Tuesday she cast her first vote, at the age of 90 years.”
One hundred years later, we remember Abigail Drake Chandler and all the women like her in Orleans, Vermont and throughout the country. We applaud their bravery and appreciate their dedication to creating a more just country.