The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Lee Poleske
For The LOG 

Seward's first elected woman remembered

 

Lee Poleske | For The LOG

A new stone in Seward Cemetery marks the grave of Jennie Paulson, who was the first woman elected to Seward City Council

Jennie Paulson, who in 1921 was the first woman elected to the Seward City Council, is buried in Seward Cemetery and, after 80 years, a headstone is finally erected. Thanks to donations of Seward residents and the help of the City of Seward Parks and Recreation Department the marker was placed early this month, in remembrance of one of Seward’s pioneering women.

During research for the 2012 Summer Solstice Cemetery Tour, which covered early Seward mayors and council members buried in the Seward Cemetery, it was discovered that although Jennie Paulson was buried in the cemetery, no headstone was ever put up. The tour was part of the centennial celebration of the incorporation of Seward,

Donations to buy a marker for her were taken up at the event and, with that money plus other generous contributions, a headstone was purchased and SPRD volunteered to set it up.

In her obituary, the Seward Daily Gateway of Sept. 5, 1933 said, “Mrs. Paulson came to Alaska about the year of 1910. She was employed as storekeeper for a southeastern Alaska cannery for many years and later came to Seward where she lived for many years. Mrs. Paulson married soon after her arrival in Alaska and a daughter was born to them. The daughter is now happily married and lives in Michigan. Mr. Paulson passed away several years ago.”

Jennie Paulson served on the city council from 1921 to 1923. She planned to run for reelection in 1923, but her daughter became ill and she decided to drop out of the election and go Outside to take care of her. After her return to Seward, she frequently served as election judge for local and territorial elections and also served as the territorial school tax collector for Seward.

After a cerebral hemorrhage Jennie was taken to the Seward General Hospital on Sept. 1, 1933 in an unconscious condition. She died two days later. Funeral services were held at the I.O.O.F. Lodge on Sunday, Sept. 10 under the rites of the Rebekah Lodge. Reverend E. E. Reisner gave the funeral oration.

The Sept. 11, 1933 Seward Gateway account of her burial reported, “After the services were over the funeral procession of more than 12 automobiles formed and proceeded directly to the Seward Cemetery. Committal services were held at the Seward Cemetery and the beautiful flowers that the friends had sent formed a loving blanket above the eternal resting place. The remains were interred in the I.O.O.F. section of the city cemetery.”

It was not until 1946 that another woman, Fannie R. Kirck, was elected to the Seward City Council.

 

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