The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At a Glance:
Born: October 1876, California
Died: November. 7, 1930, San Francisco, Calif.; buried in Reno, Nev.
Maiden Name: Gill
Married: 1. Dr. Herbert E. Hall, 1905; 2. Dick L. Gassaway, 1909; 3. Fred E. Waite, 1928.
Primary city and county of residence and work: Reno, Washoe County
Major field of work: women’s suffrage, Women’s Christian Temperance Union and other civic organizations
Other role identity: Small businesswoman, millinery and dressmaking
Reno businesswoman pushed for Nevada to ratify 19th Amendment
It’s little wonder that Maud Gill Hall Gassaway Waite became a voice for women in Nevada and America in the early 20th century.
Abandoned by her first husband after mere months of marriage, Maud’s interests throughout her lifetime ranged from women’s suffrage to the temperance movement, to arts and culture.
Maud E. Gill was born in California in October 1876 to William. J.C. and Eva M. Gill. In the 1880 U.S. Census, the family was living at Mono Lake in California and included 6-year-old Irene and 1-year-old Frank along with Maud and her parents. Her father’s birthplace was listed variously in census reports as Ohio or Illinois. Her mother hailed from Maine.
By 1900, the Gills had moved to Nevada and were living in Wadsworth. Maud was 23 and additional family members included Irene and Frank along with teenagers Ray and Dora. By then, Maud was working as a dressmaker.
In 1905, Maud married a dentist, Dr. Herbert E. Hall, once a well-known practitioner in San Francisco. Hall had come to Reno about a year earlier. Six months after his arrival, Hall divorced his wife. The decree was granted in November 1905. Within 12 hours of the decree, Hall and Maud were married.
But by February 1906, Maud was alleging that Hall began abusing her just two weeks after their wedding, causing her health to fail, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The abuse continued until February when Hall closed his office, packed up his dental equipment and took off for Montana with his daughter from an earlier marriage.
In her divorce complaint, Maud alleged that Hall had two mistresses when he married her, a fact she discovered after the marriage that caused her “much grief.”
In September 1906, the Santa Cruz, Calif., Surf reported that Hall had eloped with another woman.
After her divorce, Maud took up dressmaking again, owning several dress and millinery shops in Reno. In 1909, she married Dick L. Gassaway.
In 1913 and 1914, Maud served as secretary of the Nevada Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1919 she was recording secretary, and president in 1921.
She was active in the Women’s Home Missionary Society and the Arts and Culture Club.
The U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote in 1919. It then was up to the states to ratify the amendment. Women had won the right to vote in Nevada in 1914 after a hard-fought struggle, according to KNPR Radio’s Nevada Yesterdays.
But national suffrage was yet to come.
She was a member of the 19th Amendment Ratification Committee, which represented the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. In early 1920, Maud, who was already active in the suffrage movement, was part of a group of club women from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Nevada Federated Women’s Club to urge Nevada Gov. Emmet D. Boyle to hold a special session of the state Legislature to ratify the amendment.
“It is admitted by the best politicians that suffrage in this state is a success,” Maud wrote in an opinion piece in the Reno Evening Gazette in January 1920. “Will Nevada withhold or delay public approval of that fact?”
Some states that ratified the amendment had yet to extend local suffrage, Maud wrote. Women in those states “beg us to ratify now,” she said. “This is a crucial time.” Nevada ratified the 19th Amendment in February 1920.
Over the years, Maud’s list of activities grew. She headed both the Women’s Citizen’s Group and the Conservation Department of the 20th Century Club, a women’s group still active today.
Maud also served as representative to the 1925 International Council of Woman, and chaired a 1930 Century Club committee to honor women pioneers of the suffrage movement.
In 1928, she married again to Fred Waite.
On Nov. 7, 1930, Maud died in San Francisco at age 54.
Her will, a Reno newspaper reported, was written on a small card on Sept. 18, 1930, “when Mrs. Waite was virtually on her death bed.” In the will, Maud left all her property to her mother and two of her sisters.
“Two former husbands, Dick Louis Gassaway and Fred E. Waite, were left one dollar each,” the newspaper said.
Maud is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Reno.
Researched by Patti Bernard and written by Susan Skorupa Mullen