KyForward columnist

It’s been a hundred years since the Nineteenth Amendment passed, giving women across America the right to vote. One of the highly influential advocates for women’s suffrage in that era was an amazing Kentuckian. She particularly intrigues me personally because of the geographical connection we have.

Josephine Kirby Henry, like me, has northern Kentucky roots and later moved to my present town of residence, Versailles. She was born in Newport in 1843, daughter of Captain Euclid and Mary Kirby Williamson. According to The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, note also that Josephine was a niece of Captain John A. Williamson, a steamboat line-owner who developed the Central Bridge across the Ohio River at Newport.

Josephine K. Henry (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

She moved with her parents to Versailles at age 15, and she later married Captain William Henry, a former Confederate soldier who conducted a school for boys in Versailles located at what is today 246 Montgomery Avenue, an address I frequently drive past. Working together, they transformed the school to a co-ed model and the talented Josephine led the music department. But in time, Josephine expanded her influence and passion when she began to fight for property and voting rights for women.

In 1888, Josephine and Laura Clay (daughter of abolitionist firebrand Cassius Marcellus Clay, who ironically left his divorced wife in impoverishment) co-founded the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. Josephine later sought passage of the Kentucky Married Woman’s Property Act, and it passed in 1894. It is sometimes referred to as “The Husband and Wife Bill.” Author and publisher Michael N. Marcus blogged these illuminating words about the act and Josephine’s influence:

Henry regarded the Property Act as the first step toward women’s suffrage because she understood the importance of economic independence and security. She called for women to no longer be “treated as outlaws and all their property confiscated at marriage.” After years of speeches, articles and lobbying, the Property Act, though criticized as antifamily and unladylike, finally passed the General Assembly and was signed into law.

Josephine K. Henry Marker(照片来自威廉G. Pomeroy基金会)

我发现其他的约瑟芬的信息that I find intriguing. The Prohibition Party ran her twice as a candidate for the Kentucky Court of Appeals, reportedly the first woman in the South to run in a public campaign for a state office. There was also talk of her running for the U.S. presidency on the Prohibition ticket, though a November 15, 1897 article in The New York Times about that possibility was dismissive, calling her an agnostic and saying at the conclusion: “She thinks Thanksgiving Day should be abolished and that no reference to God should be made in the Constitution.”


约瑟芬是一位多产和有才华的作家。在伍德福德县历史社会寻找一首诗,她在1908年9月24日为伍德福德太阳写了一首诗,称“对'thro'的一个模仿的黑麦。“One of the stanzas goes like this:

If it be true that Equal Rights
Is true Democracy,
Then list ye now to Freedom’s notes,
Sure as this planet rolls,
American women with their votes
Are comin’ to the polls.

Steve Flairty是一名教师,公开演讲者和七本书的作者:肯塔基州的远方主持蒂姆农民和六个在肯塔基日常英雄系列中,包括儿童版本。史蒂夫的“肯塔基州的日常英雄#5”于2019年发布。史蒂夫是肯塔基州肯塔基州的高级记者,每周凯斯华和Nkytribune专栏作家以及肯塔基人文理事会议长局的前成员。联系他sflairty2001@yahoo.com.或访问他的Facebook页面,“Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute。“(Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

她的着作包括新南方的新女性(竞技场,1895年,Vol.Xi);生命晚上的沉思;随着婚姻和离婚,她与伊丽莎白卡迪斯坦顿合作在女性的圣经上,一个女权主义者看着基督教经文。One of her most noted and incisive quotes came from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others’ book, The History of Woman Suffrage: “There are two great unknown forces today, electricity and woman, but men can reckon much better on electricity than they can on woman.”

Woodford County Historical Society member John Orr wrote in the June, 1996, issue of The Little Stinger that she “was a lady of culture, educated in independent thinking, and with a passion for justice. She strove mightily to gain for women the right to vote and to free them from Kentucky’s stifling patriarchal slavery.”


According to Bill, the boys who attended the Henrys’ school down the street also lived with them at this address. “We’ve seen a photo of about 30 boys in the front of the house,” he said. “Here were two people who did amazing things (and) with their lives having massive tragedies. This house has been well-lived in for a long, long time.”

With that being said, the legacy of Josephine Henry’s work in helping women obtain the rights they should have always had will also abide for a long, long time.

Sources:国家历史遗址的国家合作(ncwhs.org.);肯塔基州北部的百科全书;whatisavoteworth.org;en.wikisource.org.;伍德福德县肯塔基州历史学会;与Rachel Njenga的对应;historynet.com;女性.ky.gov.;4thefirsttime.blogspot.com.;Kywcrh.org.;USGENWBSITE.ORG.

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