LIMA — The City of Lima revealed a new memorial plaque Wednesday honoring the late Bessie Crayton for her work fighting for women’s suffrage.
The small metal sign — painted purple and white in honor of the suffrage movement — now stands just outside of 50 Town Square and can be seen by sharp-eyed motorists driving down Market and Main streets.
In his prepared remarks delivered during the sign’s reveal on Wednesday, Mayor David Berger highlighted past events that occurred this year to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Past events included a suffrage exhibit at the Allen County Museum, a building-lighting ceremony at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center in August and a traveling exhibit which found space at ArtSpace/Lima in September.
As of Wednesday, the city’s newest plaque now serves as a commemoration of Lima’s role in the larger suffrage movement.
Representatives with the local League of Women Voters thanked the city for its efforts.
“In the last couple of years, we researched the efforts of Bessie Crayton and others, and it’s very humble to know that the rights that we have today as women and all citizens, that these are hard fought-for opportunities,” Beth Seibert said in her role as a member of the League of Women Voters.
During Crayton’s 30-year career in political advocacy fighting for both suffrage and prohibition, she served as president of the Political Equality Club in the county, which eventually became the League of Women Voters.
The legendary woman’s largest local historical claim to fame featured a 1,500-person march through Lima’s downtown on Oct. 20, 1914, that demonstrated the level of local support for women’s suffrage. Later that day, the crowds gathered at Memorial Hall to hear national suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt, who was related to Crayton, and her Ohio equivalent, Harriet Taylor Upton, speak in support of women’s right to vote.
For Crayton’s efforts in organizing the march, Lima’s plaque now serves as #1597 on the National Votes for Women Trail.
The trail — established by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites — features more than 1,699 (and counting) sites across the United States that highlight important events in the fight for women’s suffrage.
“We’re very pleased, Mayor Berger, (Chief of Staff) Sharetta (Smith), that you brought this commemoration to Lima,” Seibert said. “The League of Women Voters is very much engaged in voter education and voter empowerment, and any opportunity that we have to make people aware of how important these rights of voting are, we certainly want to embrace.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.