Gordon Hall

8341 Island Lake Rd Dexter

Washtenaw County Historic District Commission
Written By Washtenaw County Historic District Commission

Washtenaw County's historic preservation program is dedicated to supporting local historic districts, spurring heritage tourism, and attracting investment in our historic resources.

After the first Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, the effort for women’s suffrage gained momentum across the nation. “Suffrage” refers to the right to vote. In 1866, a bill for women’s suffrage was defeated by one vote in the Michigan Legislature. In 1869, the Michigan State Woman Suffrage Association was formed. In 1870, the governor vetoed a suffrage amendment passed by the Michigan Legislature. A ballot for women’s suffrage was defeated several more times before World War I. After the war ended in 1918, a state constitutional amendment granted Michigan women the vote. A year later, the 19th Amendment, proposing national suffrage for women, was passed by Congress and Michigan became the second state to ratify the amendment.

Katherine Dexter McCormick, part of the influential Washtenaw County Dexter family, played a big part in the women’s suffrage movement. She was born in 1875 at Gordon Hall, just outside of Dexter, Michigan. One of the first women to graduate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she later became the Vice President and Treasurer of the American Woman’s Suffrage Association. She was involved in the passage of the 19th Amendment, and co-founded of the League of Women Voters.

Women’s suffrage groups petitioned and campaigned for the right to vote for decades before ratification of the 19th Amendment. Groups would form local chapters and fund raise to support their efforts. The Equal Suffrage league of Wayne County published the Suffrage Cook Book in 1916, claiming:

“The recipes…may help to show again what has been so often demonstrated before, that an interest in politics is not incompatible with an interest in cookery.”

Other suffrage groups across the country also published cookbooks. The Woman Suffrage Cook Book, published in 1886 in Boston, includes a recipe for Huckleberry Breakfast Cake. The Washington Women’s Cookbook, published in 1909, includes recipes for Smothered Chicken. Measurements have been suggested, and directions expanded.

Huckleberry Breakfast Cake

2 Eggs ½ cup sugar 1 tablespoon butter 1 pint (2 cups) flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 pint freshly washed berries (to add moisture), use berries of your choice 1 teaspoon water Mix together eggs, sugar, and butter. Mix together flour and baking powder, and add to mixture. Add water and berries of your choice. The dough will be a similar consistency to scones. Press dough into a pie tin, and bake for about 30 minutes at 400°F. Check the cake after 20 minutes.

Smothered Chicken

Chicken [4 lbs, legs and thighs] Salt [to taste] Pepper [to taste] Butter [1 stick] Flour [1 cup] Water [enough to cover chicken] Cut up chicken into pieces and put in deep pan [line the pan with aluminum foil to stop sticking]; season with salt, pepper, and lumps of butter. Over this sift flour thickly; cover with water. Bake [at 425°F for 35-45 minutes].

Sources: Burr, Hattie A. The Woman Suffrage Cook Book. Boston: Hattie A. Burr (1886). Jennings, Linda Deziah. Washington Women’s Cookbook. Seattle: Trade Register Print (1909). Historic District Study Committee. Gordon Hall Final Report. 10 September 2001.http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/clementsmss/umich-wcl-M-1234cha?view=text. “Katharine Dexter McCormick.” The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame. Accessed 1 September 2015. http://hall.michiganwomen.org/. Suffrage Cook Book: A Collection of Recipes. Detroit: The Equal Suffrage League of Wayne County (1916). The Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame. Accessed 1 September 2015. http://www.michiganwomenshalloffame.org/pages/timeline.htm\. (Gordon Hall in Washtenaw County photo provided by County Staff)

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