Central Utah has a rich heritage of strong women who were not only mothers, teachers and supporters of their families; these women were actively seeking equal rights for themselves and their communities. Today many of these historic leaders have been forgotten.
One such woman was Louisiana Heppler, or Lucy to her family and friends. Lucy lived in Glenwood, where she raised 18 children, seven of whom were adopted. She served in many church organizations and worked to help children and families in need. However, there is another dimension in which Lucy has been forgotten. Lucy was a 19th century suffragist. She worked hard throughout her adult life to further the cause of women’s rights in her small town of Glenwood.
Lucy began her work with the woman’s suffrage movement in the spring of 1890, when she became the vice president of the Sevier County Women Suffrage Association. This group was under the leadership of Alice Hoyt. As part of her duties, Lucy helped create city and town suffrage associations across Sevier County. Lucy’s goal was to teach more women and young girls what equal rights would mean to them personally.
At this time in history, many women across the United States could not own property, were not allowed to claim their own wages, which were turned over to their husbands or fathers, and were also not allowed to participate in politics.
On April 12, 1890, Lucy was chosen as the first president of the Glenwood Woman’s Suffrage Association. Over the next five years, the organization was reorganized several times, and each time Lucy was chosen as president.
In the spring of 1895, a petition signed by 345 residents of Sevier County, asked that women’s suffrage be included in the state constitution. That same year, Lucy was selected as 2nd vice-president of the Sevier County Democratic Society. Part of the platform read, “We regard woman suffrage as an elementary democratic principle.”
Lucy traveled to Salt Lake City many times speaking at Relief Society meetings and suffrage conventions. She also met Susan B. Anthony when Anthony traveled to Utah as part of the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Convention.
In her late 70s, Lucy was there to see the 19th amendment passed and ratified in Utah. Her son, Representative John Heppler, was selected as chairman of the State House of Representatives for the special fall session of 1919. Utah women were the first women in the country to cast votes in the national election in 1920.
This article came from Tiffany Greene, a historical research consultant in Salt Lake City, and leader in the Better Days 2020 celebration.
Better Days 2020 is a celebration of women’s contributions to the state. This is in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the adoption of 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote in 1920.