Not many are aware that one of the trailblazers of the women’s suffrage movement, Sally Fanny Gleaton, was from Conyers, and the Rockdale Historical Society is ensuring the contributions of this remarkable daughter of Rockdale are not forgotten.
At the Rockdale Historical Society’s recent meeting, former principal and educator Carol Buhler gave a presentation on the women’s suffrage movement including the contributions of Gleaton. “She was passionate about women’s suffrage and worked diligently to bring the right to vote to all women,” said Buhler.
Buhler explored the history of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. beginning with First Lady Abigail Adams’ visions for equality continuing through the years with the landmark 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, alliances with the Abolitionists and the Progressive Party’s candidate Theodore Roosevelt making suffrage a platform plank. Though the 19th Amendment, also known as the Anthony Amendment in honor of leader Susan B. Anthony, was introduced in 1879, it would not be passed by Congress until 1920, finally granting women voting privileges.
In America’s early days through the early part of the 20th century, many believed women were genetically and intellectually unsuited to vote, Buhler said. Both the Civil War and World War I and their consequences forced women into the work force, aiding their voice.
Records revealed Gleaton as a trailblazer of the women’s rights movement. “She spoke at many lectures and stressed the importance of the registration of potential female voters,” Buhler said. Gleaton challenged her audiences with the line, “It is the duty of every woman here to see that every other woman registers.”
In 1915, Gleaton participated in the first suffragette parade in Atlanta. She marched behind a notable yellow car — an emblem of their movement because it was sold by a supporter, Dr. Shaw, for unpaid taxes in protest of taxation without representation. Afterwards, Gleaton purchased the car and was often seen driving it around Conyers. Gleaton was also the first female pilot registered in the state of Georgia.
Prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment, Gleaton worked with leading suffragettes in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oklahoma to secure women’s voting rights. During most of the 1920s, she served in Connecticut as field secretary for the League of Women Voters.
Gleaton never married and spent her time improving her hometown community until her death in 1968. She was active in the Union of Daughters of the Confederacy, Conyers Civic League and Conyers First United Methodist Church. Her former family home was on the site where the Nancy Guinn Library now resides. She willed the land to the City of Conyers.
“When we next go to the polls and cast our ballots, let’s pause and give thanks for the untiring efforts of so many women leaders and enlightened men who gave women the right to vote,” said Buhler in closing.
For more information on the Rockdale Historical Society, visit rockdalehistory.org. Upcoming events include an “Olde Conyers Cemetery Tour” on Saturday, May 18, 1 to 3 p.m., and an “1884 Conyers” tour on Sunday, May 19, 12:30 to 2 p.m., both led by local historian Susan Vaughn. To register, stop by the Conyers Welcome Center at 901 Railroad Street in Conyers.