Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Margaret Hitch Horsey, 1879-1967
By Kay Moore, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento
Delegate for Lincoln County to Equal Franchise Society state convention (1913); Clark County Equal Franchise League (1912-1914)
Margaret Woodruff Hitch was born in Seaford, Delaware, in 1879 to Daniel Curry and Mary Louisa (Knox) Hitch. An able student and known as “Maggie” to her friends and family, she was the valedictorian of her 1898 high school class, making a speech whose title, “Where Will We Anchor,” seems prophetic to the many moves in her future days. Margaret married fellow Seaford High School student Charles Lee Horsey on September 7, 1903, in Wilmington, Delaware. He was training to be an attorney at the University of Virginia, completing his degree in June, 1904.
The couple headed west to Pioche, Nevada, the county seat of Lincoln County, arriving in January, 1905, where Charles served as District Attorney of Lincoln County from 1906-1908. He was elected State Senator (1913-1915) and District Judge of the Tenth Judicial District (1915), staying in Pioche into the 1920s. During this period, Margaret was busy with four children: Charles Lee, Jr. (1904); William Andrew (1905); Virginia Louise (1909); and Daniel Francis (1917).
Although a local suffrage group formed in Pioche in 1896 according to the Nevada Suffrage Timeline (2014), voting rights for women were still a long way off. But by 1913, Margaret was involved with the Equal Franchise Society in Lincoln County. As noted in the Tonopah Daily Bonanza, she attended as a Lincoln County delegate to the state convention held in February of that year at Reno. With Clark County being formed in 1909 out of Lincoln County, in her memoirs, famed Nevada suffragette Anne Martin credited “Mrs. C.L. Horsey who cooperated with Mrs. C.P. Squires, Mrs. Orr, and Bird Wilson to carry Clark County” in mustering votes for suffrage between 1912-1914. This would have been through the Clark County Equal Franchise League. While the 1914 suffrage amendment did not pass in northern cities such as Virginia City and Reno, Las Vegas city dwellers passed the suffrage question in the state of Nevada by a margin of 296 to 153. In the rural areas of Clark County, the measure passed at an even higher rate. This led to its victory statewide by over three thousand votes.
How pleased Margaret must have been when the nineteenth amendment was finally ratified in 1920. In the August 25, 1922, edition of The Pioche Record, Margaret Horsey’s name precedes Chas. Lee Horsey as voters at the Pioche Post Office in the primary election to be held on September 5, 1922.
That same year, Charles opened a law office in Las Vegas. He was elected to the State Senate again in 1939 representing Clark County and became an Associate Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court (1945-1951). Margaret would hold meetings of the Hostess Club in their home. This group was active statewide and had been affiliated with the Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs since 1915 as reported in the Las Vegas Age.
In the mid-1950s, Charles and Margaret moved to Santa Barbara, California, to be closer to daughter Virginia’s family. Charles died there on March 30, 1958. Margaret died July 29, 1967. Both are buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, California. Son Daniel followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has several photos of her in their collection. She is identified in each among a group of women. Use with permission:
|Lake-Eglington Collection||Image ID: 0010 0090: Photograph of a group of women, Las Vegas. (Circa 1910-1926)|
|Beckley Family Collection||Image ID: 0148 0072 Women with a car; Taken at Goodsprings, Nevada. (1916)|
Bennett, Dana, & Mona Reno. Nevada Suffrage Timeline. Nevada Suffrage Centennial, 2014. As found at https://suffrage100nv.org/about/suffrage-timeline/.
Brown, Mrs. Hugh H. Communication. Tonopah Daily Bonanza, March 18, 1913, p. 4.
City Directory of Santa Barbara: 1954, 1955, 1957
Commencement at Seaford. The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware). June 2, 1898, p. 4.
Delaware, Birth Records, 1800-1932. Ancestry.com
Delaware, Marriage Records, 1744-1912. Ancestry.com
List of Registered Voters of Lincoln County. The Pioche Record, August 25, 1922, p. 4.
Men of Prominence in Lincoln County: Hon. Charles Lee Horsey. The Pioche Record, April 18, 1914, p. 12.
Nevada Federation of Women’s Clubs. Las Vegas Age, November 13, 1915, p. 4.
Supreme Court of Nevada Resolution in the Matter of the Death of Honorable Charles Lee Horsey, April 1, 1958.
The Story of the Nevada Equal Suffrage Campaign: Memoirs of Anne Martin. University of Nevada Bulletin, Vol. XLII: No. 7 (August 1948), p. 9.
U.S. Census: 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940
Women’s Suffrage in Nevada. National Public Radio. As found at https://knpr.org/knpr/2014-11/womens-suffrage-nevada.