Women Farmers in 1871

The Revolution, a weekly women’s rights newspaper, was the official publication of the National Woman Suffrage Association formed by feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to secure women’s enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. Published between January 8, 1868 and February, 1872, it was edited by Stanton and Parker Pillsbury and initially funded by George Francis Train, a wealthy and eccentric Democrat, and David Melliss, financial editor of the New York World newspaper.

Women Farmers

The Revolution - December 23, 1871

The Revolution – December 23, 1871

According to the Rochester Union there are two remarkable woman living on the shore of Canandaigua Lake in this State. They appear to have demonstrated the truth that some women become successful agriculturists. The Misses Fuller are the owners of two beautiful farms which they have reclaimed from the primitive wilderness. At the death of their father, a settler of half a century ago in what was then the great West, his children were left with nothing but an inheritance of land; and the two girls, Laura and Electra, resolved to become practical farmers. Both are now past sixty, and since early womanhood they have cultivated their ground with their own hands. Each has a smiling farm and a sung cottage, the latter nestling among shade-trees, close to the edge of the lake. The lands bearing “fruit, vines, grass and other crops,” stretch far away up the rolling hills.

Miss Laura Fuller is described as wearing a “short and rather loosely-fitting dress, a hood, and a pair of men’s boots.” She has “a beard as heavy as is often seen upon a man, and a voice that would not be mistaken for that of a woman. She is well informed, and shows that her heart is in her work, which she carries on without masculine help, and with decided prosperity. Her sister Electra is regarded as the main business manager. She has much the appearance of her sister, but she is “more dignified and patriarchal, with a head considerably bald, and locks whitened by the frosts of many Winters.” She cut away the virgin forest that once covered her farm with her own hands. All the toil that was needed to bring the land into condition she performed, solitary and alone. She has reared stock of all kinds, including fine horses and colts, for which a great fancy had been taken.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

Remarkable stories are told of this modern Diana, who, it is said, made the wild beasts that formerly infested the woods the victims of her bow and spear. This seems rather mythical, but there is no reason to doubt the fact that two enterprising and courageous women have gone into the heart of a new country, and there, by the sweat of their brows, and by the calling assigned to our first ancestor, have carved out for themselves an honorable independence. They have got from the ground an honest living, and have enough laid up to sustain them in age when they cease to labor.

These of course are exceptional persons, and we are glad they are so. We have no partiality for women who grow beards, and cut down forests with their own hands, The rough work of agriculture is not suited to many women. But when one who is fitted for this work takes it up in earnest and prosecutes it with success she deserves praise. And it would be a thousand times better would more women who have the strength and muscle for such work heartily engage in it and make a place for themselves in the and build happy homes and lead useful lives, than to merely dawdle aimless and useless in society, or try to hang on to the skirts of a great city where they are not wanted and rail at Providence for His partiality.

Publication: The Revolution
Date: December 23, 1871

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