Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Who Was the First President Your Ancestors Could Vote For?

Katherine R. Willson of Social Media for Genealogy wrote a post yesterday, My Grandparents' First U.S. Presidental Election. It made me want to take a look and see who my parents, grandparents and great grandparents could have voted for in their very first election. Thank you, Katherine for such a great idea! 

Now, I have chosen to include my great grandparents, because my great grandmothers' would have been the first women in my family able to vote in a presidential election. 

My Great Grandparent's

My paternal great grandfather's are William Points Williams who was born in 1877 and Robert Lincoln Rich who was born in 1885. They would have been able to vote in their first elections in 1900 at the age of 25 and at age 23 in 1908 respectively. The candidates for the 1900 elections were William McKinley (Rep.), William J. Ryan (Dem. People's Party) and Eugene V. Debs (Socialist). The candidates for the 1908 elections were William H. Taft (Rep.), William J. Bryan (Dem.) and Eugene V. Debs (Socialist).

My maternal great grandfather's are William Joseph Rueff, Jr who born in 1874 and Dr Raymond Alexander Behrle who was born in 1880. They would have been able to vote in their first elections in 1896 and 1904 respectively. The candidates for the 1896 were William McKinley (Rep.), William J. Bryan (Dem. People's Party), John M. Palmer (National Democrats) and Joshua Levering (Prohibitionist). The candidates for the 1904 elections were Theodore Roosevelt (Rep.), Alton B. Parker (Dem.) and Eugene V. Debs (Socialist). 

My paternal great grandmother's are, Sarah Elizabeth (Lucas) Williams was born in 1879 and Lillian Bergamot (Lanahan) Rich was born in 1886. My maternal great grandmother's are Ann Marie (Kirn) Rueff was born in 1874 and Pauline (Orth) Behrle was born in 1888. All of these women would be able to vote in the 1920 elections Sarah would have been 41, Lillian would have been 34, Ann would have been 46 and Pauline would have been 32. The candidates for the 1920 elections were Warren G. Harding (Rep.), James M. Cox (Dem.), and Eugene V. Debs (Socialist).

My Grandparents

My paternal grandparents are William Elmer Williams and Peggy Scott (Rich) Williams. William was born in 1910 and Peggy in 1911. Both William and Peggy would have been able to vote in the 1932 election. The candidates for the 1932 election were Franklin D. Roosevelt (Dem.), Herbert Hoover (Rep.) and Norman Thomas (Socialist).

My maternal grandparents are George Kenneth Rueff and Mary Myrtle (Behrle) Rueff. George was born in 1905 and Myrtle was born in 1913. George would have been able to vote in the 1932 elections as well. Myrtle's first election would not be until 1936 and the candidates for that election were Franklin D. Roosevelt (Dem.), Alfred M. Landon (Rep.) and Norman Thomas (Socialist). 

Peggy was 8 years old and Myrtle was 6 years old when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1919 giving women the right to vote. I can't help but wonder if they were even aware of such an important amendment to our Constitution at those ages. Knowing what I know of my great grandmothers I don't believe any of them participated in the women's suffrage movement, at least no evidence I have been able to find anyway to support that they did.

My Parents

My Mom and Dad would be married for a little over 5 years before they would be able to vote in their first election in 1960. They were living in Florida at this time. The candidates for the 1960 election were John F. Kennedy (Dem.) and Richard M. Nixon (Rep.).


I registered to vote on my 18th birthday in Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama for the 1980 election. The candidates for the 1980 election were Ronald Regan (Rep.), Jimmy Carter (Dem.) and John B. Anderson (Independent). Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to vote in 1980 because I was in the hospital recovering from anaphylactic shock from penicillin. I would have to wait another 4 years to be able to vote in my first presidential election.


Infoplease (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781450.html : accessed 15 November 2016), "Presidential Elections, 1789-2012".

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org), "Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution," rev. 19:00 UTC, 15 October 2016.        


  1. Dawn,

    I want to let you know that your wonderful blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/11/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-november-18_18.html

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I love the idea of mapping out key historical figures that our ancestors could have played a role in electing. Great read. Thank you for sharing, Dawn.