Local suffrage history — Women and heaven

Getting the vote was just one of the issues suffragettes encountered in the late 19th century.

They also faced the premise of some theologians who contended the afterlife was restricted to an exclusive old boy’s club.

“A benignant looking, white-bearded patriarch” who distributed candy to all the children of Glens Falls annually on Christmas Eve, evening designating money in his will to continue the practice for five years after his death, debunked the theory in a Sunday afternoon debate Nov. 18, 1894 at Psychical Hall on Warren Street.

No — not Santa Claus

It was Meredith B. Little, a long-time local insurance broker and former volunteer fire fighter for whom the M.B. Little Hose & Engine Company was named in his honor in 1873.

The debate opened with De More S. Fero, for the sake of philosophical dialogue, stating the case of the exclusionary theologians.

“He quoted numerous texts from the Bible, which, isolated from their contexts, proved that a woman had no place in heaven, and that her mission was wholly earthly.” The Morning Star reported on Nov. 19, 1894. “The ladies looked disheartened.”

Then Little stood up, and, “in a few sentences showed the preposterousness of the first speaker’s argument. He knocked the underpinning from beneath it. The faces of the ladies brightened.”

Little said the premise was “too silly” to even elaborate on.

“The theory that we are going to heaven and our mothers are going to Hades is simply monstrous. If one reads the Bible as it should be read he will find no discrimination against women.”

Fero clarified that he did not personally believe women are excluded from Heaven, but argued the premise so that it could be disproved.

“The exercise concluded with a song.”

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Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY