Woman of the Century/Emma Beckwith
BECKWITH, Mrs. Emma, woman suffragist, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 4th December, 1S49. Her maiden name was Knight. Her father was born and reared near Baltimore, Md. Her mother is a direct descendant of the Sherman family, and to that fact Mrs. Beckwith probably owes her political tendencies and, we might say, her lighting propensities as well, for it is said that from her earliest childhood she was always befriending the weak and helpless, if they proved worthy of her support. She received a thorough common-school education, graduating at the age of seventeen years from the high school in Toledo, Ohio, whither her parents went when she was four years old. Her ambition was to earn money enough to cultivate her exceptionally fine musical talent. The only avenue open was a store clerkship, but the opposition of schoolmates and friends dissuaded her from making the attempt. At that time it was not considered respectable for a young lady to stand behind a counter and measure off dry-goods and ribbons for women, and possibly men customers. It was the remembrance of that keen disappointment in her early life which led her to sympathize with the educational features of nationalism. At the age of nineteen years she was married to Edwin Beckwith, of Mentor, Ohio After residing in Pleusantville, Iowa, a number of years, during which time she had ample opportunity to observe the necessity of more freedom for women, they removed to Brooklyn, N. Y. Her sympathies with women have always been on the alert. In her early life she found it inadvisable to read the journals devoted to their cause, on account of the extended knowledge of their grievances they gave her, and, not being in a position to help, she preferred not to feed her aforesaid fighting pro-Densities. Upon locating in the East she began to put to practical use her knowledge of bookkeeping, after obtaining the permission of the owner of a building in Nassau street, New York, by promising to be good and not demoralize the men employed in the several offices in the building. EMMA BECKWITH. She began work in April, 1879. Keeling assured that other women would soon follow in her footsteps, she fully realized that by her acts they would be judged. She was the pioneer woman bookkeeper in that part of the city and established a reputation for modesty and uprightness that has helped many another to a like position. Her business education of five years' duration gave her an insight into many matters not general among women. After leaving business life she turned her attention towards acquainting others with the knowledge thus gained and urging voting women to become self-supporting. She believed that by working in that direction the vexed question of marriage would eventually be settled. About that time she became acquainted with Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood and, having become disgusted with the vast amount of talk and so little practical work among the advocates of woman suffrage, felt that Mrs. Lockwood had struck the key-note of the situation when she became a candidate for the presidency of the United States. When she realized Mrs. Lockwood's earnestness of purpose, her ambition was roused to the point of emulation; hence her candidacy for the mayoralty of Brooklyn, as the representative of the equal rights party for that office, for she believes that a local treatment is best for any disease. The result testified to the correctness of her belief. The campaign of ten days' duration with but two public meetings, resulted in her receiving fifty votes regularly counted, and many more thrown out among the scattering, before the New York "Tribune" made a demand for her vote. Mrs. Beckwith has compiled many incidents relating to that novel campaign in a lecture on the subject. She believes thoroughly that women should take an active part in the political as well as the religious and social field, thus becoming broader and more charitable, and none the less loving, kind and womanly. Free from jealousy of any sort, believing in individualism, she is naturally an earnest advocate of the cause of the oppressed of all classes. She has entered the regular lecture field and is an able and entertaining speaker, enlivening her earnestness with bright, witty sayings.