By Dana R. Bennett, PhD, Reno, Nevada
Birth: March 18, 1875 New York
Death: June 4, 1960 San Francisco.
Role in Women’s Suffrage: Vice President, Battle Mountain Chapter of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, 1913-1914
Mary Theresa Miller was born March 18, 1875, in New York to George and Pauline Miller, both of whom had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. By 1877, the Miller family had relocated to the booming mining town of Bodie, California.
On October 3, 1906, Mary Miller and Samuel R. Clark were married in Marin County, California. Both were San Francisco residents at the time of their wedding, but the couple soon moved to Seven Troughs, Nevada, where Samuel was engaged as the new boomtown’s doctor. Their first child, Richard Myron, was born there. A daughter, Madeline, joined the family in 1912.
After arriving in Nevada, Samuel Clark worked as a medical doctor in several Nevada mining camps until finding a permanent position in Battle Mountain in 1912 and continued his medical practice in that town until his retirement in 1944. The Clarks moved to California for his health, and Dr. Clark died in Sonoma in 1946.
Mary Clark gave birth to Madeline in San Francisco then joined her husband and son at the new family home in Battle Mountain. She quickly became involved in community activities, most notably suffrage. Nevada women were nearing the end of the five-year process required to amend the state constitution to allow women to vote.
In the fall of 1913, the local chapter of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society reorganized for the final push to encourage male voters to support the necessary ballot question. Reflecting the great esteem that a local community had for its doctor, especially a rural town as isolated as Battle Mountain was, the group elected Mary Clark to the office of Vice President despite her relative newness in the community. In November 1914, the hard work of the Battle Mountain women certainly paid off as Battle Mountain men supported woman suffrage, two to one.
Mary and Samuel were active members of the Battle Mountain community until they moved to California after his 1944 retirement. Mary Clark died on June 4, 1960, in San Francisco.
- Dana R. Bennett, All Roads Lead to Battle Mountain: A Small Town in the Heart of Nevada, 1869-1969, 2014.
- U.S. Census and other public records, Ancestry.com.