It’s been 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote.
Now, a funeral home director decided it was time to recognize a Rugby woman for her hand in the suffrage movement.
Funeral Home Director and Owner Dale Niewoehner said, “She had a vision to start a business on her own.”
Niewoehner is explaining the life of Millie Holbrook.
“When she got to Rugby, they were taking it back that this woman was going to start a business which was a little bit unusual apparently at that time,” he said.
In the early 1900’s she moved to North Dakota.
Back then, women couldn’t do much of anything — but Holbrook took this chance to stand up for a change.
“She held meetings and events to get people to think and to lend their support for this important thing,” Niewoehner said.
Holbrook was dedicated to the suffrage movement and a key leader for women at the time.
She didn’t just set her mark as a business owner — she was the first woman to drive a car in Rugby.
“She was very explicit that she needed to be an upright and proper woman,” Niewoehner said.
Holbrook later died in 1980, but her activism toward gaining women’s rights has long been felt by many generations right here in the community, like Kate Halvorson.
Halvorson is the owner of two businesses and says through the activism of the women before her, she’s able to pave a better future for herself.
“I can’t imagine not being able to have any rights and not being able to vote,” Halvorson said. “I’m really grateful that they helped us with that because we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Niewoehner has since made a footstone by Holbrook’s grave with “suffragette” on it so her legacy is never forgotten.
“I often thought that this lady being a woman, being a businesswoman, and her work in the suffrage movement needs to be remembered,” he said.
The true meaning of keeping history alive.