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First Jury of Sycamore Women

Case Brought by F. B. Townsend Against Telephone Company Was Heard This
Tuesday Before Six Good Women



Constable "Rube" Holcomb was worried this Tuesday for he was compelled to summon a jury in haste, and was calling at various homes while the husbands were away and he had some misgivings as to suspicions he might arouse. And Justice of the Peace Mitchell got shaved and had his boots blacked.

It was all because--for the first time in the history of Sycamore, or DeKalb county, for that matter--a suit was to be tried before a jury of six good women and true.

Supervisor, ex-Mayor, ex-Banker Frederick B. Townsend, the complainant, had a little matter of between $60 and $70 which he claimed was due him from the telephone company in connection with the recent moving of a building owned by him and the consequent removal of poles and wires along the street. He insisted on a jury of women.

There was nothing for the officers to do but get the women. Some of those of the gentler sex in Sycamore who had long been the most emphatic and energetic in their advocacy of woman's suffrage, were found to be quite coy and diffident in assuming the obligation resulting from their advocacy, but others were equal to the exigencies, and responded without serious objections to the summons of the officer.

While the jury were out one of the officers of the court who had many years of experience remarked that he never knew six women to agree.

This is said to be the first civil case tried in Illinois before a jury composed of women. The jury consisted of-- Mrs. Bert Thompson, Mrs. Jay Gould, Mrs. Judson Brush, Mrs. Frank Hollembeak, Miss Edna Davis and Miss Gertrude West.

Complainant Townsend acted as his own counsel, and opened and closed the statements and arguments for his side of the case. Attorney C. D. Rogers acted for the company and Secretary Joslin testified for the company.

The trial was short, and the jury was expected to be out only a few minutes, but at last reports, when this paper went "to press" at 3:15 o'clock, they were still "deliberating," according to a telephone message from the court room.

Notwithstanding predictions the jury returned a verdict at 3:15 of no cause for action, and the company will retain the $66.30, for the time being at least.

Source

Sycamore True Republican newspaper, June 3, 1914.