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Mrs. May (Mariette Stocking) Knaggs (1847-1917)
and her husband John W. Knaggs (1840-?)

Prominent advocate in the women's suffrage movement in Michigan.
By Joni Hubard-Golden (April, 2010)

  • Note - This article was originally published on the author's website [Michigan's Womens Forum].

    Equality ruled in the home of May Stocking Knaggs, a Bay City suffragist who spoke around the country and testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Suffrage in 1896.

    While she traveled in her work on behalf of women's suffrage, Stocking Knaggs' husband stayed home with their children. A native New Yorker, she spent most of her adult life in Bay City and often wrote articles about suffrage for the local newspapers.

    President of the Michigan Equal Suffrage Association from 1895 to 1899, she served as the chairperson of the press committee for the convention of the National Women’s Relief Corps held in Detroit and on the board of Lewis Hospital in Bay City.

    Testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, Stocking Knaggs gave a stirring speech on behalf of "nearly 600,000 women of the age of 21 years and upward in the great State of Michigan." At the time, about 100,000 were employed and 76,000 were property owners, paying over $2,000,000 in taxes on property with a combined value of $34,000,000.

    And still, they could not vote.

    "Our forefathers rebelled against British domination upon the principle that 'taxation without representation is tyranny' ; and if it is tyranny for men it is tyranny for women also," Stocking Knaggs said, also pointing out that while idiots, lunatics and criminals had their right to vote protected, women did not.

    "In the Kansas Building at the World's Fair, many of you saw a notable picture, a portrait of Frances E. Willard, her face the enthronement of intellectual and spiritual power. At one corner was a driveling idiot, at another a frantic maniac, at a third a low-browed criminal, and in the fourth a painted and befeathered Indian; and this picture was called 'Woman and her political peers'. But if that picture were brought into our State it would have to be rechristened, 'Woman and her political superiors'," she pointed out.

    "Gentlemen, it is humiliating; it is unjust. We therefore appeal to you in behalf of the wives, daughters, and sisters of the loyal men of Michigan to do what lies in your power to remove from us this stigma, Senator Peffer. And it ought to be done."


  • [Michigan Women's Hall of Fame] / [Library of Congress]

    Additional Comments:

    From the Stocking Ancestry [Electronic Library] :

    Mariette (May) Stocking was born in 1847, in New York, was the daughter of George B. Stocking and Cornelia Ellis. In 1869 she married John Wesley Knaggs, and their children were:

    • Walter Wesley - born Aug. 7, 1871; married Mabel A. Bernard on May 3, 1898 .
    • Roy Stocking - born Sept. 14, 1874; married Mary Allen Whitney.
    • Duneis Camilla - born Apr. 6, 1875; married Henry E. McLennan.
    • Mary Stocking - born Aug. 2, 1876.

    Mariette Stocking Knaggs resided in Bay City, Mich. Her ability as a writer, fluency as a speaker, and her organizing and administrative abilities have placed here in the forefront of intellectual, reform, and philantropic movements. She is the first woman to be honored with membership in the board of education in Bay City; was president of the Home of Industry for Discharged Prisoners at Detroit, by appointment of Governor Bliss, and member of the Board of Guardians of the State Industrial Home for Girls at Adrian, Mich.

    John W. Knaggs was born in Rainsinville, Mich., August 28, 1839. He is in the fire insurance business in Bay City, Mich.

    From article by Dee Dee Wacksman, of Bay City, written in a 2007:

    "May Stocking Knaggs and Mrs. G. B. Jennison were members of the Bay County Equal Suffrage Association. Bay City had a visit from seventy-eight year old suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony in 1893 when she spoke at the Universalist Church.

    "May Stocking Knaggs went on to become president of the Michigan State Equal Suffrage Association and was the first woman elected to the Bay City Board of Education. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2002.

    May's Parents: - Added Nov., 2014.

    Biographical Sketchs of Leading Citizens of Cayuga County, N.Y. - 1894

    DR. CHARLES GILES STOCKING is the formost man in his profession and neighborhood, and is one of the oldest practitioners, not only in Spring Lake, where he lives, and where he has so long been an active and useful citizen, but throughout the county. He is a Democrat, and attends the Methodist church, of which his honored progenitor were active adherents. He was born on June 23, 1822, in Truxton, Cortland County, N. Y., where his father, George A. Stocking, a native of Haddam, Conn., was then living.

    The boy remained at home, attended district school, and worked in a clock factory for his father till he was sixteen. One year he was in Penn Yan, Yates County, N. Y., reporting for a paper. The next two years he studied medicine with Dr. Griggs at Fosterville, and then attended Geneva College for two years more, after which he studied another couple of years with his brother Wesley, then located in Naticoke, Broome County; and, finally was graduated at Berkshire Medical College, Mass., in the class of 1846, when he was twenty-four years old. The next year he assisted his brother Wesley, but in 1851 opened an office for himself in Westbury. In 1862 he opened a branch office at Red Creek. Three years later he removed to an Illinois town two hundred miles south-west of Chicago. In 1868 he came to Spring Lake, where he has been ever since, except during six months when he tried a second Western experience.

    Dr. Stocking was married in 1844, two years before his graduation, to Mary Wood-hull with whom he formed an attachment during his reportorial experience at Penn Yan, she being a daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Woodhull, of that town. From this union have come two children. May is he wife of John W. Knaggs, an insurance agent in Bay City, MIch., and the mother of four children Walter, Camilla, Roy, Mary. The other daughter Dimies, is the wife of Charles H. Denison, a lawyer, formerly of Bay City, but now of New York. The beneficial influence in the community of such a man as Dr. Stocking is incalculable.

    From Alan Flood, 2014.

    Bay City Tribune, June 19, 1908

    Election of Mrs. May Stocking Knaggs to
    Heat of State W. R. C. Brings Honors Here.

    The election yesterday of Mrs. May Stocking Knaggs, of this city to the presidency of the Women's Relief corps of the state at the Detroit convention, brings with it to Bay City the departmental headquarters for the ensuing year. Mrs. Knaggs is one of the most widely known women of ths state and has held a number of high offices, including one by appointment of the late Gov. Bliss that of trustee of the state industrial school for girls in Adrian. She has also been honored by the Women's Suffrage association of the state, the state association of Women's clubs and other organizations. Her election is a tribute to her accomplishments in the world of women's work.

    May's Husband John W. Knaggs. - Added Nov., 2014.

    History of the Knaggs Family of Ohio and Michigan - 1902

    John W. Knaggs, born in 1839 is now (June, 1902) the oldest living son of Johnson Knaggs, and the oldest living grandson of James Knaggs, the Indian figher. He was a graduate of Albion College, Albion, Mich., and was among the first to enlist in the war of the rebellion. He refused commission in Co. A., Fourth Michigan Infantry; was wounded at Malvern hill, where he lost his left arm and was taken prisoner the same day. Confined in LIbby prison one month, and was then exchanged. He was one of a company of six capitalist who started the first beet factory at Bay City, of which place he has been a resident since 1866. He is now in the fire insurance business. He married in 1869, Miss May Stocking, of Spring Lake, N. Y. His wife is at present one of the guardians of the Michigan Industrial Home for girls at Adrian, and ex-president of the State Equal Suffrage Associaition. They have four children Walter Wesley Knaggs, Detroit, traveling agent of the National Cycle Manufacturing Co.; Roy Stocking Knaggs, stationer and printer, New York City; Dimles Camilla Knaggs, married to Dr. Henry Etherington McLennan, of Bay Mills, Mich.; Mary Stocking Knaggs, unmarried.

    History of Bay County, Michigan - Gansser 1905.

    J. W. Knaggs, senior member of the firm of Knaggs & Plum, general insurance agents at Bay City, Michigan, has resided here since 1865 and is the oldest insurnace man in the city. Mr. Knaggs was born in Monroe County, Michigan, August 28, 1840, and is a son of Johnson and Sarah Louisa (Woods) Knaggs.

    J. W. Knaggs, of Bay City, was educated in the common schools and in the State Normal School at Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he was graduated in 1860. During the ensuing winter he taught school, but on the first call to arms he enlisted as a private in the Smith Guards at Monroe. They were sent to Adrian, where they became Company A. Fourth Reg., Michigan Volunteer Inf., and were sent to the front. At about five o'clock in the afternoon on the day of the battle at Malvern Hill, in July, 1862, Mr. Knaggs was wounded in the arm, but, with others wounded, he had to bear his sufferings until the close of the battle without attention. He was then carried to the old brick Malvern House, where his arm was amputated after dark, and there he remained seven days. During this time the Union Troops withdrew and the Conferate pickets were advanced until the old house was within their line. Mr. Knaggs and other sick and wounded soldiers, thus made prisoners, were bundled off to Libby Prison. During his month there he experience every hardship and suffering, to which his terrible condition particularly exposed him. At last the time came when the prisoners were sent through the lines to Petersburg, coming out of Harrison' Landing, on the James River, where they were exchanged and taken aboard transports for New York, our subject at last coming under real medical attention at Bellevue Hospital, New York. From neglect, his arm was by that time in a terrible condition, gangrene having set in. He was placed in a tent and was given the personal care of the head phsician of the staff, who by unremitting labors saaved his life. After his discharge, he returned to Monroe, where he became a bookkeeper in the McLaren machine shops and continued there until 1865, when he establishe himself in Bay City

    At Bay City, Mr. Knaggs entered the employ of John Drake, the pioneer fire insurnace agent of Bay City, with whom he remained one year and then entered into partnership with C. H. Dennison, an attorney, who also handled the insurance business of Henry W. Sage, the well known lumberman of West Bay City. He has been in business under the firm styles of Knaggs & Dennison; Knaggs, Whittemore & Dennison, the Knaggs and Wittemore. Later the business was consolidated with the insurance business of Daniel Shannon, the firm name becoming Knaggs, Whittemore & Shannon, and continued thus until Mr. Whittemore's death, when the firm became Knaggs & Shannon. Later this partnership was dissolved and Mr. Knaggs engaged in business alone for about two years and then the firm of Knaggs & Clark was established, which continued two years more. A. G. Plum then purchase the interest and the firm became Knaggs, Clark & Plum. Two years later, Mr. Clark withdrew and since that time the business has been donducted by the firm of Knaggs & Plum. They represent the following companies: American Fire, of Philadelphia; Continental Fire, of New York; Fire Association, of Philadelphia; Michigan Fire & Marine, of Detroit; MIlwaukee Mechanics, of Wisconsin; North British & Mercantile, of England; St. Paul Fire & Marine, Williamsburg City of New York; Lloyd's Plate Glass, of New York; Hartford Steam Boiler; Standard Life & Accident, of Detroit; Preferred Accident, of New York; and National Surety Company, of New York.

    Mr. Knaggs was married June 9, 1869, to Mariette Stocking, who was born December 14, 1847, and is a daugher of Dr. Charles G. Stocking, of Spring Lake, New York. Their children are: Walter W., of Detroit; Roy S., of New York City; Camillia, wife of Dr. H. McLennan, of Petoskiy, Michigan; and Mary, wife of Allen H. Stone, of Chicago.

    Mr. Knaggs is a member of H. P. Merrill Post No. 419, G. A. R., of which he is at present commander. Since the days of Abraham Lincoln he has been identified with the Republican party. He has been active in advancing the interests of Bay City. He was one of company of six capitalists, who started the first beet sugar factory in Bay City.

    Addition Notes:

      1850 - Census: Raisnville, Monroe, Mich.
      Knaggs, John - age 33, b. Mich. (father)
      Sarah S. - age 29, b. NY (mother)
      John W. - age 11, b. Mich.
      Lucia - age 9, b. Mich.
      Daniel - age 7, b. Mich.
      Mira - age 5, b. Mich.
      Fredom - age 3. b. Mich.

      1871-72 Directory, Bay City, Mich.
      Knaggs, John W. - life and fire insurance agent, res 809 s Jackson. Knaggs & Shannon - Gen' ins Agts. Jennison blk, 429 n Water, cor Fifth.

      1880 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
      Knaggs, J. Wesley - b. 1840, Mich. (Insurance agent)
      May S. - b. 1848, NY
      Walter, son - b. 1872, Mich.
      Roy S., son - b. 1874, Mich.
      Camilla Urso, dau. - b. 1875, Mich.
      Mary A., dau. - b. 1877, Mich.
      McEwan, John - b. 1852, Mich. (Saw Mill Owner & Lumberman)
      McEwan, Laura - b. 1858, Ohio (Sings in Presbyterian Choir)

      1894 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
      Knaggs, John Wesley - b. 1840
      May S., wife - b. 1848
      Ray S., son - b. 1874
      Comilla D., dau. - b. 1875
      Mary S., dau. - b 1877
      Bauman, Lizzie (boarder) - b. 1813

      1900 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
      Knaggs, John - b. Aug. 1839, Mich.
      Mary S., wife - b. Dec. 1847, NY
      Camille, dau. - b. Apr. 1875, Mich.
      Mary S., dau. - b. Aug. 1876, Mich.
      Alvord, Harriet - b. 1813, NY

  • Related Notes & Pages

    813 N. Sheridan
    The home of John and May "Stocking" Knaggs in Bay City. It is believed that Susan B. Anthony may have slept at this homestead. -- Photo was taken by Dave Rogers during a Heritage Homes Tour in 2008.

    John W. Knaggs
    John was a Civil War veteran, and lost an arm during battle.
    Related Pages:
    Bay City Woman's Club
    MI Womens Suffrage Assoc.
    Bay Co. Civil War Vets.
    Armstrong, Sarah B. Dr.
    Doe (Thompson), Mary L.
    Root (Snyder), Martha E.
    People Referenced /td>
    Alvord, Harriet
    Anthony, Susan B.
    Bauman, Lizzie
    Bernard, Mabel A.
    Bliss, A.T. Gov., Mich.
    Clark, Mr.
    Dennison, C.H.
    Drake, John
    Ellis, Cornelia (mother)
    Griggs, Dr.
    Jennison, G.B. Mrs.
    Knaggs, Daniel (brother)
    Knaggs, Duneis Camillia (dauther)
    Knaggs, Fredom (brother)
    Knaggs, James (g-father)
    Knaggs, John W. (husband)
    Knaggs, Johnson (father)
    Knaggs, Lucia (sister)
    Knaggs, Mary S. (daughter)
    Knaggs May "Stocking" (subject)
    Knaggs, Mira (sister)
    Knaggs, Roy S. (son)
    Knaggs, Walter W. (son)
    Lincoln, Aberaham
    McEwan, John
    McEwan, Laura
    McLennan, Henry E. Dr.
    Peffer, Senator
    Plum, A.G.
    Sage. Henry W.
    Shannon, Daniel
    Stocking, Charles (g-father)
    Stocking, George B. (father)
    Stone, Allen H.
    Wacksman, Dee Dee
    Whitney, Mary Allen
    Whittemore, Mr.
    Williard, Frances E.
    Woodhull, Benjami
    Woodhull, Sarah Mrs.
    Woodhull, Mary (mother)
    Woods, Sharah L. (mother)
    Subjects Referenced
    4th MI Inf.
    Adrian, MI
    Albion, MI
    Albion College, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Bay Co. Equal Suffrage Assoc.
    Bay Mill, MI
    Berkshire Med. Col., MA
    Bellevue Hospital, NY
    Board of Education, Bay City
    Board of Guardians, State
    Broome Co., NY
    Chicago, IL
    Cortland Co., NY
    Detroit, MI
    Fosterville, NY
    Geneva College, NY
    Haddam, CN
    Harrison Land
    Industrial Girls Home, Adrian
    James River
    Kansas, World's Fair
    Lewis Hospital, Bay City
    Libby Prison
    Malver Hill
    McLaren Machine Shops
    Mich. Women's Equal Suffrage
    Mich. Women's Hall of Fame
    Monroe Co., MI
    Knaggs & Clark
    Knaggs, Clark & Plum
    Knaggs & Dennison
    Knaggs & Plum
    Knaggs & Whittemore
    Knaggs, Whittemore & Dennison
    Knaggs, Whittemore & Shannon
    National Cycle Mfg. Co.
    Natl. Women's Relief Corps
    Naticoke, NY
    New York
    Penn Yan, NY
    Petosky, MI
    Raisinville, MI
    Red Creek, NY
    Spring Lake, NY
    Truxton, NY
    Universalist Ch., Bay City
    West Bay City, MI
    Westbury, NY
    Yates Co., NY
    Ypsilanti, MI
    Related Internet Sources
    [History of Women's Suffrage]
    [Michigan Women's Hall of Fame]
    History of the Knaggs family of Ohio & Michigan]

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