On this date in 1915, Clara Darrow of Fargo, lay on her death bed in Jacksonville, Florida. She had taken ill while travelling. It was not completely unexpected, as she had not been in the best of health, but it still was a surprise. Her death occurred at 3am the following day, and only one of her five children arrived in time to see her before she breathed her last—a speedy demise for a dynamo in the suffrage movement in North Dakota.
Clara and her husband Edward were well-known in Fargo and throughout the state. Edward was a longtime doctor; he started the first hospital in Cass County, served as the first superintendent of health in Dakota Territory, and was Surgeon General under Governor Burke. Clara was involved in many different clubs, including women’s clubs, and she was proud of her pioneer days. She was, of course, a suffragist.
The Votes for Women League of North Dakota was organized in 1912. Clara was elected president, a position she held until her death. Multiple newspapers noted that she “gave her life for the cause, for while her health was seriously impaired she did not spare herself.”
Clara organized Equal Suffrage Leagues in every county in the state, and she led the campaign when the 1913 legislature passed a suffrage bill, though it ultimately failed in the general election of 1914. One newspaper reported: “Mrs. Clara Darrow…. From an auto in front of the Hotel Dacotah at Grand Forks asked that the men but stop and consider that the women are their equals, that they are the bearers of their children, that they are the managers of the household and in many instances they are taxpayers in the city and state. …She said that it has been her ambition since she was a mere girl to be able to vote. Two of her sons are now citizens of this state and it really seemed a pity that she who brought them into this world has not even the right to vote….”
At her death, she was mourned throughout the state: “Above all else, Clara L. Darrow was an incalculable liberalizing influence in the community where she had spent the best part of her life. ….Few women can or dare express their true beliefs as she always did, and ground them as well.”
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
The Weekly Times-Record, April 29, 1915, p11
The Bismarck Daily Tribune, April 22, 1915, p1; April 23, 1915, p5; May 14, 1915, p6
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, April 22, 1915, p1 and 6
Jamestown Weekly Alert, April 29, 1915, p7
The Ward County Independent, May 13, 1915, p11
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, July 2, 1914, p7