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In Their Shoes
Item 4 of 7
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The Kirby House Hotel was built in 1871 and in the final years was known as The Huron. The building was demolished in 1962 and has been a parking lot ever since.

Building, Window, Rectangle, Font

Nose, Eyelash, Jaw, Font

Photograph, Building, Sky, Line

The hotel was built by Thomas Kirby who was not a native to Muncie, Indiana but became a successful business owner before the time of the famous Ball Brothers. Thomas’s son, Thomas (Hick) Kirby was a Lieutenant in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His daughter Edith attended Muncie High School and then went on to the Girls’ Classical school in Indianapolis under the respected educator May Wright Sewall. Edith was active in the Woman’s Franchise League of Muncie and campaigned for Women’s Suffrage. 

National suffrage leaders like Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony campaigned for suffrage in Indiana a number of times. In the fall of 1887, Susan B. Anthony organized meetings of the National Woman Suffrage Association in each of Indiana’s congressional districts. 

Anthony traveled around the state giving speeches with Helen Gougar, a feisty suffragist from Lafayette, Zerelda Wallace, former first lady of Indiana, and May Wright Sewall, a more conservative suffragist and educator from Indianapolis. 

The squad of suffragists arrived in Muncie just after Thanksgiving in November 1887. The distinguished visitors were escorted from the train station to the Kirby House Hotel for their stay in Muncie.

Anthony appeared at the High Street Methodist Episcopal Church on the northwest corner of High and Adams Streets in an afternoon and evening program.

The Muncie Daily Times encouraged attendance to its readers—both men and women. “Whether you are in favor of the cause in which they are interested or not, they are distinguished ladies with a national reputation and are worthy of a good hearing for the ability they represent,” adding that the lectures would be “brilliant, entertaining, and instructive.” Thomas Neely, Muncie city founder, wrote in his diary that his daughter Jennie attended a suffrage meeting at the High Street church.

The day after the program the paper wrote, “Reverend Mr. Kemp, presiding elder of the church, opened the exercises by leading the large congregation assembled in singing ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ and in prayer. Susan B. Anthony was introduced and spoke from the subject ‘Disenfranchisement: A Degradation.’ She declared beggars always compelled not to be choosers, whether for bread or ballot.”

“Miss Susan B. Anthony, in a most practical and pleasant manner, urged the women to organize an effort to secure this modicum of power, that is within the hands of the next legislature to grant.” Unfortunately, it would be 33 years before any of the women would vote in Indiana, and Anthony did not live long enough to see national women’s suffrage. After spending two days in Muncie, Anthony and her entourage headed for Anderson to present the same programs.