Honoring Missouri Hanna and the Suffrage Movement on Sunset Avenue, Edmonds

(Posted by member Rita Ireland)  “It is so nice to have a sunny, warm day here on the Edmonds bluff. If Missouri Hanna were alive right now, she’d probably invite us over for a cup of tea!” ” I told the 50 attendees on November 8th.

We stood a few feet away from Hanna’s home on the bluff of Edmonds’ Sunset Ave. and Caspers. Wonder what she would be thinking — watching the dedication of a new historical interpretive sign. It is a beautiful interpretive panel that finally honors Edmonds publisher and women’s suffrage champion, Missouri Hanna. Some of us from the League were decked out in our period suffragist costumes to help cut the ribbon.

“This plaque is here as part of the centennial observance of the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, that gave women the right to vote,” I shared. “Missouri Hanna not only made history; she single-handedly changed the course of history in this state.”

I felt it important to describe how Hanna overcame adversity: she arrived in Edmonds in 1904 from Spokane Falls, widowed with a brain-injured daughter. Intent on starting a new life in this young village, she soon purchased five acres just north of the business district, built her home there, and named it Hanna Park. A few feet from the panel the street still bears her name.

She soon purchased the Edmonds Review. Hanna diligently and objectively reported local, national and international news for five years, before selling the paper to devote her energies to the women’s suffrage movement. Hanna then started the monthly journal Votes for Women that became a force in the push to grant Washington women the vote.

“In large part due to her efforts with Emma Smith DeVoe, Washington became the fifth state in the Union to grant women the vote in 1910, a full decade before the 19th Amendment granted it nationwide.”

Vicki Roberts-Gassler, president and chairman of the Centennial Committee presented next.

“Rita oversaw every aspect of this project to inform others about this incredible movement that we unfortunately don’t hear much about,” Roberts-Gassler explained. “Missouri Hanna is one of the foremost figures in Washington statess women’s suffrage movement, and it’s only fitting that we honor her as part of the centennial celebration.”

The next speaker was Teresa Wippel, who as founder, editor and publisher of My Edmonds News carries on Hanna’s legacy today.

“I’m so honored to be part of this,” she said. “When Hanna purchased the Edmonds Review, she was mocked by the mill owners and others for stepping out of the traditional women’s role.” Wippel added, “I’m so grateful to Missouri Hanna for her courage, her legacy, and for being such a role model to people like me.”

Last to speak was Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, who is an avid supporter of history.

It was then time to cut the ribbon, as Vicki and I were joined by fellow League member Phyllis Busch.

If you’re in Edmonds, drive down to the ferry terminal, turn north on Sunset – the street on the bluff. Check out the plaque, placed right at the corner. Check out the scannable QR code for more in-depth information on Hanna and other League grant activities happening now

Two sets of thanks go to our generous grantors — Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission and “Votes for Women” Centennial Grant from Washington State Women’s Commission and Washington State Historical Society.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who came to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and now — for all of you who are volunteering to read to 3rd graders in libraries throughout our county. It’s really happening!