The village of Waverly, N. Y., across the state line from Sayre, Pa., was apparently a hot-bed of suffragist activity in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In a previous post on this site, I wrote about O. H. P. Kinney, a Sheshequin Universalist Society member who had moved to Waverly and who advocated for woman’s suffrage in the 1860s. O. H. P.’s cousin Henry Clay Kinney and his wife Amazilla Horton were also supporters of that cause.
Henry Clay Kinney and Amazilla Horton were both born in Sheshequin, in 1839 and 1840, respectively. Henry’s parents, Guy Kinney and Matilda Gore, were members of the Sheshequin Universalist Society. Henry is not listed as a member, but he donated toward the purchase of additional grounds for the cemetery in 1868. Amazilla Horton Kinney was a member of the Society in 1872.
Henry Clay Kinney died in 1871 at the age of 31. Five years later Amazilla and her daughter and son, ages 6 and 8, moved from Sheshequin to Waverly. Both children studied piano and became talented musicians. Amazilla’s son Horace Kinney spent the years between 1895 and 1907 performing and studying music in New York City and in Europe. Amazilla lived with Horace in New York City from about 1905 to 1907. After mother and son returned to Waverly, Horace was active in the local music scene, both as a teacher and a performer. He was hired as the organist and choir director at the Church of the Redeemer in Sayre about 1910.
In 1915, five years before the passage of the 19th amendment to the U. S. constitution, Pauline Angell interviewed several prominent suffragists in Waverly for the Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette. (Angell, a Waverly resident, was the president of the Tioga county (NY) Suffrage Association in 1914.) Among her subjects was Amazilla Kinney, who said:
“Ever since I have thought at all, I have been a suffragist. I was married in my early twenties. My husband was a suffragist, and I soon began thinking about these things. I never could see any reason why women shouldn’t vote. It seemed all wrong that they couldn’t. Of course, you understand, there wasn’t any such thing as suffrage organization then. We didn’t join anything. We just felt that way about it.
“Twenty-eight years ago, when the W. C. T. U. [Women’s Christian Temperance Union] was formed here, I used to talk about women’s voting. I remember one day I brought it up, and someone said, ‘Oh, that sounds like woman’s rights and woman’s voting. Don’t speak of that here.’ And Mrs. Lang, who was sitting next me, pulled my dress and told me to keep quiet. Twelve years ago, when I went to New York, the first thing I did was to join the Political Equality Club, which met at the Hotel Astor once a month.”
Amazilla Kinney, who was 74 years old at the time of the interview, lived to see the goal of suffrage achieved. She died at the age of 88 on Apr. 29, 1929. She and her son Horace are buried in Sheshequin with her husband Henry Clay Kinney.