Martha Fuller Prather

Prather’s gravestone at Lake View Cemetery

Born: November 23, 1848

Birthplace: Poland Center, New York

Died: July 13, 1934

Place of Burial: Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, New York

Contribution: Suffrage leader and women’s rights advocate

Martha Fuller was born in Poland (Chautauqua County), New York on November 23, 1848.[1] She was the second oldest of three children (her siblings were Sophia and Frank). Her father, Arad Fuller, was born in Windsor County, Vermont, and her mother, Melvina (A. Bill) Fuller, was born in Perry (Wyoming County), New York.[2]

Martha’s parents were farmers and owned 600 acres of well-cultivated land. Between 1855 and 1870, they made dairying a specialty. Arad was said to be broad and liberal minded, very generous and sympathetic, and deeply interested in education. He was a Republican in politics, and believed in the enfranchisement of women and helped the cause of women’s suffrage. Melvina was equally regarded as kind-hearted and generous.[3] Martha grew up on her parents’ farm, which was known locally as the “Fullers Farm.”

On December 14, 1892, Martha married Abraham S. Prather at her home at 863 Prendergast Avenue, Jamestown, N.Y.[4] After Martha’s father died (June 28, 1894) she helped her mother manage the farm, and lived there for several years with Abraham.[5] Martha was the second wife of Abraham, and they didn’t have children together. However, they opened their door to Connie Phillips and treated her as their own daughter.[6]

Abraham was born in Venango County, Pennsylvania on Feb. 24, 1841. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1862, and was honorably discharged on account of disability the following year. He was also a businessman and came to Jamestown, where he is credited with building the first brick manufacturing plant in 1873. He was a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans’ organization, for which he was elected as the first commander in 1882. He also belonged to the Union Grange, Patrons of Husbandry. His first wife, Lucy Jane (Holmden) had died in 1885. They had six children, three of whom reached adulthood.[7]

After several years living on the “Fullers Farm,” the couple moved back to Jamestown. Mrs. Prather was an active member of the Political Equality Club in Chautauqua County, and attended every state suffrage convention from 1898 to 1910.[8] She was the county president for nine terms and was frequently in attendance at national conventions.[9]

On September 25, 1902, the fifteenth annual convention of the Chautauqua County Political Equality Club was held. Mrs. Prather (then Jamestown treasurer) and Mrs. Alice E. Bargar volunteered to make a list of the women taxpayers of Jamestown. After two full days of work, they found out that one-third of the city’s taxpayers were women and that one-third of the taxes were paid by women, exclusive of those paid by stock companies.[10]

On June 13, 1903, the Political Equality clubs of Chautauqua County held their annual convention at the Y.M.C.A building in Jamestown. The county organization had local clubs in different areas of the county, many of which were represented at this convention. Mrs. Prather, who was the treasurer at that time, represented Jamestown. During this convention, the noted advocate for women’s suffrage, Rev. Anna H. Shaw, gave a lecture titled “Woman Suffrage Essential to a True Republic.” At the end of the convention, Martha was elected as the president of the organization.[11]

On October 1903, she went to the twentieth annual convention of the New York State Woman’s Suffrage Association held at Hornellsville, New York. The meeting was attended by many distinguished women such as Ms. Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt (president of the national association), and Rev. Shaw (then vice-president at large of the national association), among others. Mrs. Prather was elected as the director in charge of an endowment fund of $2,000 passed by Mrs. Charlotte A. Cleveland of Perry, Wyoming County.[12] She was also appointed as delegate to the national convention with Ms. Anthony, among others.

On March 7, 1904, Mrs. Prather attended the Union Grange meeting held in Odd Fellow’s Hall, and offered a resolution favoring the passage of a Senate bill that gave taxpaying women in third class cities the right to vote on propositions to raise money for special purposes. The resolution passed. Also, in 1904, Mrs. Prather had attended the Washington suffrage convention as a New York State delegate.

Mrs. Prather was made honorary president as a compliment to her faithful and untiring work before stepping down from her position as president in 1911.[13] On July 13, 1934, at age 85, she died in her home at 863 Prendergast Avenue, Jamestown.[14] Many attended the funeral service including her friends from outside the city and state.[15]

Compiled by Jovelyn Binkiwitz, 2017

Prather’s gravestone at Lake View Cemetery, Jamestown, NY
Primary Sources to Explore

Prather is elected president of Chautauqua County suffrage organization, 1903

Lecture Prather presented to the Chautauqua County Historical Society in 1919 on the county’s contributions to the suffrage movement



[1] William Richard Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912), 1: 64.

[2] Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York, 1: 67.

[3] Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York, 1: 67.

[4] Jamestown [NY] Evening Journal, December 15, 1892.

[5] Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York, 1: 67.

[6] 1900 U.S. Census, Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York, population schedule, lines 43-45, sheet 19A, SD 16, ED 102,  accessed April 2017,

[7]  Cutter, Genealogical and Family History of Western New York, 1: 64.

[8] John P. Downs and Fenwick Y. Hedley, History of Chautauqua County and Its People (New York: American Historical Society, Inc., 1921), 1: 355.

[9] Downs, History of Chautauqua County and Its People, 1: 64.

[10] Downs, History of Chautauqua County and Its People, 1: 354.

[11] “Equality Clubs: Woman Suffragists in this City Today,” Jamestown [NY] Evening Journal, June 13, 1903.

[12] “Woman Suffrage,” Jamestown [NY] Evening Journal, October 26, 1903.

[13] Downs, History of Chautauqua County and Its People, 1: 355.

[14] Death certificate, Martha Fuller Prather, July 13, 1934.

[15] Martha Fuller Prather obituary, Jamestown [NY] Evening Journal, July 14, 1934.