Suffragist, Spokane Political Equality Club, Washington Political Equality League
May Arkwright Hutton
May Arkwright was born in Ohio in 1860 and was sent to live with a grandfather as a young girl to keep house. She told of meeting William McKinley as a child who prophesied that she would become a voting woman.
Hutton learned to be an expert cook and after a failed marriage, she went to Idaho in 1880s. She cooked in boarding houses in the Coeur d’Alene mining area where she met Levi Hutton, a railroad engineer, whom she married in 1887. Together they purchased a minor interest in the Hercules Mine in the Coeur d’Alenes. Hutton likely not only cooked for the miners but worked in the mine as well. In 1899, Levi Hutton became embroiled in labor troubles when his train was commandeered by Bunker Hill mine strikers. Levi, or Al, as he was known, was incarcerated in the “Bull Pen” by federal guards. May Hutton wrote about the incident and she was a labor advocate the rest of her life. The Huttons’ investment in the Hercules Mine paid off when they struck high grade silver ore in 1901. Hutton and her husband prospered and she turned her attentions to charitable and political work.
After women in Idaho gained the right to vote in 1896, May unsuccessfully ran for the Idaho legislature in 1904. The Huttons moved to Spokane in 1906 and Hutton began her campaign for women’s voting rights in Washington. At first aligned with Emma Smith DeVoe whom she had met in Idaho campaign, Hutton assisted the Washington Equal Suffrage Association (WESA) in the 1909 Washington legislative victory. Hutton later formed the Washington Political Equality League during the 1909-10 ratification campaign, after splitting from WESA and DeVoe. Hutton had a distinctive style and approach, believing in the power of the vote for working women and equality for women taxpayers. Her strategies and support appealed to important labor voters in Eastern Washington.
After the 1910 victory, Hutton was one of the first women to serve on a Spokane jury and worked for the eight hour day for women in the state. In 1912, she was one of the first women delegates to the Democratic National Convention. She continued her long-standing philanthropic work, especially with young women and died in 1915 at the age of 55. Levi Hutton continued the Hutton’s charitable legacy, establishing the Hutton Settlement for children in 1919, which endures today. Hutton was posthumously awarded the Washington State Medal of Merit on February 11, 2009.
James Montgomery, Liberated Woman, Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1985.
Laura Arksey, “In No Uncertain Terms: From the Writings of May Arkwright Hutton,” The Pacific Northwesterner, Westerners Spokane Corral, Volume 52, Issue 1, April 2008.
Emalee Gruss Gillis,, “May Arkwright Hutton and the Battle for Women’s Suffrage,”The Pacific Northwest Inlander, March 6-1, 2008, pg. 16-21.
Pieroth, Doris H. The Hutton Settlement: A Home for One Man's Family. (Spokane, WA: Washington State University Press), 2003.
Horner, Patricia Voeller “May Arkwright Hutton: Suffragist and Politician” in Karen J. Blair, ed. Women in Pacific Northwest History: An Anthology, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988