Suffragist Mrs. Antoinette Funk arrested in Minot
In 1914, suffragists increasingly campaigned for the right to vote as the election on the matter approached. Speakers of some renown came to North Dakota — including Mrs. Antoinette Funk, a suffrage leader from Illinois. It was a visit that led to her arrest. The reason? She was speaking in the street without a permit.
Minot had a strict ordinance about this, passed following an incident in 1913 when Industrial Workers of the World sent men to Minot, which led to agitation and riots. Many men were arrested or fined to get them off the street—including Arthur Leseur, former mayor and an attorney of the city, who ended up representing the men in court.
Fast forward to 1914. Mrs. Funk began speaking about suffrage from an automobile in front of the post office as a large crowd gathered. A police officer told her it was against the law to speak on the streets and obstruct traffic. She asked him to explain this rule, which he couldn’t do, so she tried to find a copy of the ordinance. She was told the ordinance had been published in the newspaper, which made it legal, but unable to look at a copy, she was determined to finish her speech. She said but few words before getting was arrested.
Other reports said she had applied for a permit, but failed to get one, which seems unlikely if she didn’t know about the city’s law. A newspaper in Washington D.C. attributed the arrest to “disorderly conduct.”
A hearing was scheduled immediately, and the police court “was packed with both men and women, suffragists and others.” Mrs. Funk was represented by LeSueur, who asserted she was not at fault, that she had tried to look up the law, and that she was a woman “of high social standing and character.”
Nonetheless, she was found guilty and fined $5. The judge stated: “There can be no question … you knew you were violating the city ordinance. I think you are earnest enough in your efforts, but justice must be done.”
However, with her fine later remitted, and the charge dropped, Mrs. Funk’s visit through the state was touted as a success.
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
(IWW): The Minot Daily Optic-Reporter, Saturday, August 16, 1913; August 18, 1913; August 19, 1913; August 20, 1913;
The Ward County Independent, August 14, 1913, p1
(Suffrage): Minot Daily Optic-Reporter, Monday, September 28, 1914, p1 and 2; Friday, October 9, 1914
City of Minot Commissioners Proceedings, 1913 and 1914 (41444)
Hillsboro Banner, September 25, 1914, p6