West Volusia Historical Society
To preserve and promote the history of West Volusia County
Women Pioneers of West Volusia County, Florida
One of the earliest settlers in Volusia County was ELIZA HIGGINBOTHAM STONE. She and her husband, William H. Stone Sr., settled in the Emporia area about 1853 and are listed, with their six children, in the first census of Volusia County in 1860. On March 10, 1911 in Emporia, at the home of her son Peter Stone, Mrs. Stone celebrated her 99th birthday with four generations of her family. Eliza Higginbotham was born in 1812 in what would become Nassau County; for the first 9 years of her life, she was a citizen of Spain before Florida was ceded to the United States in 1821. Eliza married William Stone, a native of Trader’s Hill, Ga., and a veteran of the First Seminole War, in Jacksonville in 1844. A report of the birthday party noted that Grandma, as Eliza was known, could get about the house without assistance and her mental abilities were not greatly impaired. She died April 2, less than a month after the party.
In DeLeon Springs on March 17, 1917 there was a women’s suffrage (voting rights) rally that many called a suffrage parody. Some men showed up wearing women’s clothing, other men and women wore clown costumes, and one lady was seen in a man’s suit. A large “Welcome” sign dominated, but other home-made signs gave the impression that this was not a serious suffrage rally. For example, some of the signs said, “Freddie, Good Old Scout, Best Out;”
In March 1877, the first schoolhouse opened to students and MISS ROWENA DEAN of New York state was employed as the teacher. The one-story school, which was used as a church on weekends, had a belfry with a bell donated by friends in New York. The new teacher was described by several young men as “an angel with rare intellect and beauty” (from Story of DeLand and Lake Helen by Helen Parce DeLand). Other students remembered her sitting with a class on a big log, teaching reading. During two years in DeLand she helped in many other ways, from serving as editor’s devil for the local newspaper to helping parents and friends of a deceased child prepare for the funeral then singing in the choir at the service. WVHS is honored to remember Miss Dean during National Women’s History Month.
On March 28, 1906 about 30 women from DeLand and surrounding communities met in ALMA R. (Mrs. Charles) FARRISS’ Domestic Sciences Room at Stetson University to discuss forming a Woman’s Club. The organization was chartered with 92 members May 15, 1906, as the Woman’s Club of DeLand. The Progressive Era fostered groups like this as women began to speak out on local (education and health) and national (voting rights and working conditions) issues. Early leaders included Mrs. G.P. Carson, Mrs. George B. Woodward (temporary chair), Mrs. O.A. Morse, Mrs. S.P. Hayes, Mrs. W.H Stewart (first president), Mrs. W.W. Frost, Mrs. D.L. Gaulden, Mrs. V.H. Voorhis, Mrs. E.G. Baldwin, Mrs. G.A. Dreka, Mrs. C.D. Landis, Mrs. A.M. Heath, Mrs. A.G. Hamlin, Mrs. Farriss and Mrs. M.S. Hart. Mrs. Farriss (who with her husband, Stetson vice president Charles Farriss,
The photo, from the WVHS Historical Photos Archive, shows Rowena Dean at the reins of an oxcart during an outing with some friends at Lake Beresford in 1880.
This family photo, taken during the event in 1911, shows Mrs. Eliza Stone seated far right with her grandson, Volusia County Sheriff Ed Stone, behind her. At far left are two of Eliza’s daughters, Annie Stone Bradshaw and Eliza Stone Trowell.
“We Want Our Rites, Vote for Wimmin;” and “I Want My Rites -No Mere Man Can Get My Angora” (get my goat).
The passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all women citizens the right to vote, required a lengthy and difficult struggle. Beginning in the mid-19th Century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, practiced civil disobedience and went to jail to achieve what was considered a radical change to civic life. The amendment was introduced in Congress in 1878 and finally ratified August 18, 1920. Florida was not among the ratifying states but did pass a law granting all residents suffrage in 1921. On May 13, 1969, the Florida Legislature symbolically ratified the 19th Amendment. -- Photo, taken about 1917 at DeLeon Springs, courtesy of Florida Memory.
remodeled and restyled what is now the DeLand House Museum) later was secretary of the State Federation. Early projects included funds to help the school board extend the school year to nine months and assistance in starting the first free kindergarten. WVHS gratefully recognizes these outstanding women-and those who succeeded them- during National Women’s History Month. -- This photo, courtesy of Stetson University, shows the classroom where the organizational meeting was held in 1906.