Helen Gerrells Stoddard

Both an alcohol and tobacco temperance advocate, educator, politician - She earned her teaching credential in New York at the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, graduating as valedictorian of her class in 1873. Helen married a classmate, Sheppard D. Stoddard. They had two sons, one whom died in infancy. The family moved to Florida in deference to her husband's failing health. He died in 1878 and she and her young son relocated to Texas to live near her parents while securing a teaching position at Fort Worth University, resigning to become president of the Texas Christian Temperance Union. She soon founded the Texas Woman's University in 1901 in Denton. 1909 found her in the San Diego area. In 1912, she ran for Congress as a representative for the Prohibition Party which also marked the first year women could vote in California. Helen was the first woman candidate in the state to run for Congress. Soundly defeated, she secured a High School teaching position in nearby Ramona. She started the WCTU here and was elected president of the California Women's Christian Temperance Union. People with a drinking problem met at her house once a month. Old timers in the area still remember her lesson: She had a picture of either a woman or a man she had cut out of butcher paper then proceed to torch the image at the feet and let it burn all the way up with the exclaimation: "that's what cigarettes and alcohol do to the human body." Her son died at their Romona home in 1935 prompting a return to Dallas with her daughter-in-law. She died there at the age of 90. Her remains were returned to San Diego and interred beside her son. Born 27 July 1850 at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, died 31 December 1940 at Dallas, Texas.

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