Former mayor shares family ties to newest Great American honoree

The Susan B. Anthony statue is now on display in downtown Liberty in front of the Clay County Administration Building.

I was very pleased to see the unveiling of the Susan B. Anthony sculpture at the Clay County Administration Building. It is fitting that she stands close to the seat of county government.

There is another connection between Liberty and the suffrage movement that is not as well known. My wife’s maternal great-great-aunt was a woman named Clara Bewick Colby. Clara was the editor/publisher of the nation’s leading suffrage newspaper, the Women’s Tribune, which she founded in 1883. The newspaper was published for 26 years and was the official newspaper of the National Women Suffrage Association. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Clara were fast friends, and Clara often spoke at suffrage rallies.

In 1881 she was elected vice president of the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association, and from 1883 through 1909 she was its president. She was also corresponding secretary for, and president of, the Federal Suffrage Association. During the Spanish American War in 1898, she was appointed the sole female war correspondent, the first woman to be so recognized.

She also supported and organized for women’s suffrage in England as Clara was born in England but grew up in Windsor, Wisconsin. She was one of the first six women students to enter the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She graduated valedictorian of her 1869 class. She married Leonard Colby and moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, where she founded Beatrice’s free public library. Clara often spoke on the suffrage issues before state legislatures and congressional committees.

She was a delegate to the 1913 International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance in Budapest and also the International Peace Congress at the Hague. She died in California in 1916, of pneumonia, four years before women won the right to vote in the United States. But her contribution was immense and should be remembered and not forgotten.

We and Cheryl’s family are proud of Clara’s, as well as Susan B. Anthony’s, contribution to the suffrage movement. I am proud of the statute that now stands on the Courthouse Square.

Bob Steinkamp,

former mayor of Liberty

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