- [S106] The Mountain Press, 10 Oct 2006.
Waters led fight for change in Sevier
By: JEFF FARRELL, Staff Writer
October 10, 2006
SEVIERVILLE - John Waters wasn't around for the debate over women's suffrage, but he has a good idea how personal it could be.
His mother, Myrtle Paine Waters, was one of the leaders of the women's suffrage movement in Sevier County.
Myrtle came from a "split" household. Her father, A.M. Paine, was a prominent Democrat and her husband, J.B. Waters, was a diehard Republican. She'd been raised to believe that it was the "right thing to do" to participate in politics, and she talked about it with her husband.
But her father and her husband were still surprised to see her marching through the streets.
"She talked about it a little," her son recalled recently. "It had interested her. She was for it, and my father and her husband were against it."
It was important to her, he said, partly because Tennessee was set to be the last state needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.
Myrtle had a respected place in the community, and she used that during those times to help in encouraging and organizing women to seek their right to vote.
Myrtle believed in the same ideas that drew many women to the suffrage movement - that women could offer a perspective on many issues that men lacked.
"She thought government would be a lot better if women could vote," John Waters said.
So it was that she marched through the streets with other women in Sevierville, standing up as a group for the first time.
It worked, with Tennessee ratifying the amendment.
And it didn't take long for women here to show they were truly interested in getting to vote. In 1918, the total vote in Sevier County was 1,819. In 1920, the first year women could vote, it was 6,448.
By the time John Waters was old enough to really pay attention, there wasn't a lot of discussion about the issue. It was old news.
His father and grandfather had gotten over their resistance to change.
"I think everybody did eventually," he said.
But he'd learned enough to be proud of what his mother did that day, along with the others who marched with her.
"I was really proud of her," he said. "I thought it took a lot of nerve.
"It's interesting to me, even though it was a long time ago, that women ever couldn't vote."
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 10 Sep 2017.
Upland Chronicles: Glen Alpine was a popular resort on English Mountain
- [S73] Rawlings Funeral Home, Book 2, 12 Sep 1974.
Waters, Myrtle Dec 25, 1891 Tn Sept 12, 1974
Spouse: Waters, John B.
Father: Paine, A.M.
Mother: Watson, Susie
Sons: David, John B. Jr.
Daughters: Mrs. R.B. Haley [Mary Louise]
Brothers: E.W. [Cap
Sisters: In-Law Mrs. Tom C. Paine
- [S82] Supplement: In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (2000), 29.