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Remembering A Suffragist Ancestor With Anne Berghout Austin

Family Search

My name is Ann Berghout Austin. My story today is about my grandmother, Mary Hortense Keetch Rich. She lived in St Charles, Idaho, all her life except for a short period of time when she came over the hill, over the mountain, and went to school here at Utah State.

She majored in music.Her professors thought she was so competent that they urged her to go to Julliard.  Her area was keyboard, piano and organ. But she was not able to do that because of poverty and also because my great grandfather felt it was not fitting for a woman to think about career issues. So she went back to St Charles, married my grandfather and raised two girls.

She supplemented the family income by giving piano lessons. She would play for the silent movies. She had a big coop of chickens and sold eggs. I got to help her with her egg business and she also made butter and sold it mainly to the tourists.


She was also a suffragette. She came by it by way of the LDS Relief Society. She was the Relief Society president in St. Charles. This was before the 19th Amendment was passed. So similar to women in other Relief Societies, she worked very, very hard for the vote.  


As a young girl, I remember her talking with a missionary zeal (almost) about "The Sisterhood."  If you could hook in with the sisterhood, anything could be done: How The Sisterhood had worked together and gotten the vote, and how absolutely glorious that was!

Mary got hooked on oral histories while visiting Ellis Island and hearing the recorded voices of immigrants that had passed through. StoryCorps drew her to UPR. After she retired from teaching at Preston High, she walked into the station and said she wanted to help. Kerry put her to work taking the best 3 minutes out of the 30 minute interviews recorded in Vernal. Passion kicked in. Mary went on to collect more and more stories and return them to the community on UPR's radio waves. Major credits to date: Utah Works, One Small Step, and the award winning documentary Ride the Rails.