Betsey Cowles arrived in 1848 to teach at Massillon’s new Union School. As a respected educator and Abolitionist, she advocated the right of African Americans and women to attend schools equally with young men.
In 1850, Cowles presided at the Salem Women’s Rights Convention—Ohio’s first. Their mission was to influence legislators to allow suffrage for women. Their effort failed, but twenty years later as Wyoming was organized, Governor John W. Campbell was expected to veto a woman suffrage bill, but he signed it—a milestone in women’s rights.
He and several friends had attended the Salem Convention out of curiosity, but were touched by the message they heard from its leader, Betsey Mix Cowles.