Augusta Howard and the Women's Suffrage Marker Dedication
Excerpt from the Biography of Helen Augusta Howard, 1865-1934. By Sheree Keith, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Middle Georgia State University.
Helen Augusta Howard was born in Columbus on May 11, 1865, to Anne Jane Lindsay Howard and John Howard. Howard had fifteen siblings and came from a well-to-do family. Her father built the first dam across the Chattahoochee River. When Howard was a child, her father died and left her mother no way to pay the taxes on family property. Howard's early claims for women's right to vote were influenced by this domestic situation and on the Revolutionary War mantra “no taxation without representation.”
Howard organized the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association in 1890 out of Sherwood Hall, the property for which her mother paid taxes without representation. The first association members were women in the Howard family. On the whole, the community in Columbus, though, was unsupportive of woman suffrage efforts. Howard was not dissuaded; she worked to widen the support for woman suffrage in Georgia.
Continuing her suffrage work, in 1901, she served as a vice president for the Georgia association. In her hometown, however, Howard was ostracized, largely for her unpopular views on women's rights. She also experimented with controversial trends in women's dress, like trousers and shorter skirts; she dabbled in spiritualism and continued to be an atheist and a vegetarian.
By 1920, Howard was living alone at Sherwood Hall, where she ran into trouble with the law. While trying to scare off a young boy, who was picking flowers out of her magnolia tree, she shot him in the stomach and was charged with attempted murder. She hired one of the first female lawyers in Georgia, Viola Ross Napier. Howard was found guilty of murder by an all-male jury. Ultimately, the family secured a pardon from the governor, and Howard spent the rest of her life in New York. She died on June 10, 1934. When she died in 1934, her family had her body interred in the family plot in Columbus. Reflective of her controversial status in Columbus, her gravestone reads “Martyred.”
VIRTUAL MARKER DEDICATION - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26TH at 4:00 PM
Please join Historic Columbus and The Columbus Museum for a virtual marker dedication and discussion on the Women's Suffrage movement in Columbus! It will be held on Wednesday, August 26th at 4:00PM on Zoom - you can register on The Columbus Museum's website (www.columbusmuseum.com). August 26th is the 100th anniversary of the official certification of the ratification of the 19th Amendment!
To join the Zoom program, click here: https://columbusmuseum.com/programs-events/event/2020/08/26/historic-marker-dedication-with-historic-columbus/302353
On behalf of Historic Columbus and The Columbus Museum, thank you to the Columbus Consolidated Government and the supporters of the Woman Suffrage Historic Marker!
Ken and Chris Henson
Roderick and Stephanie Hunter
National Society for the Colonial Dames in America
Women's Reading Club