Kanab's All Woman Town Council, 1912-1914 : Politics, Power Struggles, and Polygamy
Utah Historical Quarterly
On November 7, 1911, Kanab elected four women to the town council and one woman (Mary Chamberlain) as town council chair and mayor. This election of an all-woman town council began as a prank. Although they had not been seeking office, the five women decided to take the election seriously and fulfill their duties. These women were: Mary Woolley Howard Chamberlain, Tamar Stewart Hamblin, Luella Atkin McAllister, Sarah Blanche Robinson Hamblin, and Vinnie Farnsworth Jepson (later replaced by Ada Pratt Seegmiller). All the women knew each other fairly well; most were either family members or neighbors. They were close in age, and all had young children at home. Many have questioned why a prank election was held in the first place. Some believe the men of the town were too busy to devote any time to community issues, and others feel the women of the town were upset at the inefficiency of previous councils. These women served for two years. They passed eight ordinances, covering issues from stray animal regulations to temperance movements. While these women were active and determined civic leaders, they were often criticized, usually for allegedly not giving enough time to their families. The women claimed they were able to care for their families as well as the town, and most of the town was satisfied with their efforts. Their work was significant because they held leadership positions at a time when women were rarely involved in politics or government in the United States.