Seraph Young, first female voter, finally gets misspelled headstone corrected

Sep 29, 2020, 10:30 AM | Updated: 12:13 pm
Seraph Young Headstone...
An enhanced version of a photograph of Seraph Young Ford taken near the time she would have voted. Enhancement and coloration by Josh Christensen.

WASHINGTON — 150 years ago on Valentine’s Day 1870, just two days after the Utah Territory granted women’s suffrage, 23-year-old Salt Lake City schoolteacher Seraph Young stopped at the polls on her way to work to cast her vote in a local municipal election and become the first woman in the nation to vote. 

Now, 82 years after her death, her misspelled headstone at her final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery has been fixed. Instead of Seraph Young, for years, the stone memorialized her as “Serath” Young. 

Seraph Young: the first woman voter

Young, born in Nebraska in 1846, came to Utah a year later with her family, making her an early pioneer.  

She grew up in Salt Lake City, the grand-niece of Brigham Young. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recalled her historic vote in a 1920 issue of Relief Society Magazine, which noted encouragements to women of the time to exercise their newly established right. 

“The women of Utah were encouraged not only to attend their primaries religiously, but were enjoined to form civil government classes, to institute mock trials, and to study parliamentary law,” the article stated. 

Young’s marriage to a Civil War veteran and printer, Seth L. Ford, came two years later, in 1872. The couple had three children in Utah before moving to New York and later Maryland.

The couple’s move came after Ford’s health challenges related to his service during the Civil War became worse. The couple moved to New York after he began to lose his eyesight, and later, Ford would also become paralyzed.

Young took care of him until his death in 1910 where he was buried, with full rights as a veteran of the Union Army, in Arlington National Cemetery, setting the stage for Young’s eventual interment next to him after her death in 1938 at age 91. 

Fixing the error

A White House senior administration official said the error on Young’s headstone was brought to their attention last winter through efforts made by Better Days Utah and others who flagged the error.

(Deidre Henderson) Seraph Young's headstone in Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Ron Fox. An enhanced version of a photograph of Seraph Young Ford taken near the time she would have voted. Enhancement and coloration by Josh Christensen. Sen. Deidre Henderson speaks at the gathering honoring Seraph Young

(Deidre Henderson) Governor Gary Herbert gives remarks at the memorial for Seraph Young. 

(Deidre Henderson) The Rice Family with the Governor, Mrs. Herbert and Senator Henderson.
(Deidre Henderson)
Russel Rice and granddaughter Hope, descendants of Seraph Young. Pded by the White House. Russell Rice and Granddaughter Hope walk near Seraph Young Ford's new headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.  Rice is the Great-great-grandson of Seraph Young Ford. 
(Deidre Henderson) Hope Rice, the youngest living descendent of Seraph Young (Trent Toone) The headstone of Seth L. Ford, Civil War Veteran and husband to Seraph Young. (Trent Toone) A clipping from the Deseret News in 1902 (Ronald Fox) Painting from the Utah House of Representatives Chamber by David Koch The program of events. Provided by the White House. The program of events. Provided by the White House.

Young’s name accompanies that of her husband on the headstone they share at Arlington. As is the custom, the military engraves the names of spouses on the backside of a veteran’s headstone. 

Officials said once they became aware of the mistake, they contacted Arlington’s superintendent. The superintendent then ordered a new headstone for the couple to rectify the misspelling. 

Memorial delayed by coronavirus

The new stone arrived in March. However, coronavirus delayed the original plans for a March memorial service until this Tuesday. 

“This has been the work of many people bringing us together. We’re inspired on many levels and hopefully, that will inspire us to do better things as we go forward. We look at our past to help us improve our future, and that’s what’s happening here today,” Herbert said on Tuesday.

Quoting Martha Hughes Cannon, the governor said, “The story of the struggle for women’s suffrage in Utah is the story of all efforts for the advancement and betterment of humanity.”

Seraph Young honored with 2020 “I Voted” stickers

Utah celebrates the 150th anniversary of women getting the vote

Statue of the first female lawmaker stands tall at Utah’s State Capitol

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Holiday Police Pay-it-Forward event....
Waverly Golden

Salt Lake City Police Department hosts holiday Pay-it-Forward event

Salt Lake City Police Department along with SLC School District paired 50 children with a police officer for a holiday shopping experience.
19 hours ago
This morning the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport o...
Waverly Golden

Snowball Express arrives at Salt Lake City Airport

On Dec. 3 the Gary Sinise Foundation's Snowball Express made a pit stop at the new SLC Airport on its way to Orlando Walt Disney World. 
19 hours ago
Four Dead University of Idaho...
Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Authorities swat down rumors surrounding unsolved killings of 4 University of Idaho students

Authorities in a small Idaho city that had not recorded a murder in years are urging the public to be vigilant against rumors and conjectures surrounding the unsolved killings of four college students last month.
19 hours ago
A burrow is among the items an adopted desert tortoise needs. Photo by Utah Division of Wildlife Re...
Mia Alberti, Lianne Kolirin and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Jonathan the tortoise, world’s oldest land animal, celebrates his 190th birthday

The South Atlantic island of St. Helena is celebrating the birthday of the world's oldest living land animal -- a Seychelles giant tortoise called Jonathan, who is turning 190.
19 hours ago
Cam Rising losing his helmet (Photo Credit, Wally Skalij, LA Times)...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: The long and winding road to the championship

Never give up, not on each other, the children, or life. We may be down, but never out. Keep fighting for the things we hold dear. We believe in each other.
19 hours ago
In this image taken from NASA video, a solar panel is unfolded at the International Space Station, ...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Astronauts will give the space station a power boost during Saturday spacewalk

The International Space Station will receive a power boost during a spacewalk on Saturday, as NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio install a solar array outside the floating laboratory.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Seraph Young, first female voter, finally gets misspelled headstone corrected