May Arkwright Hutton


May Arkwright Hutton was born in Ohio in 1860. Her mother either passed away or left when May was still very young. Before the age of ten, her father sent her to take care of her blind paternal grandfather. She would make meals for him and take him to political meetings. Later in life, May said her grandfather encouraged her not to place any limits on her dreams. She later moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where she ran a boarding house and a café. She was known as the best cook in the city.

In 1887, May married one of the regular diners, Levi W. Hutton, a locomotive engineer. After their wedding, the two moved to Wallace and May managed a restaurant there. Levi and May brought together their income and invested in the Hercules Mine, which had yet to be productive. In 1901, they hit a vein of silver and lead, and the Huttons became millionaires. May Arkwright Hutton was a woman with a big heart, and when she finally had the means to help those around her, she never stopped. She sacrificed both time and money helping those in need, especially focusing on children and unwed mothers.

Mary Arkwright Hutton defying social norms wearing men’s clothes From Wikimedia Commons,
Levi and May Hutton’s Mansion built in 1914 in Washington. Image by Jon Roanhaus From Wikimedia Commons,,_WA.jpg
Portrait of May Arkwright Hutton From Wikimedia Commons,

May was more than just an active voter in Idaho, which had gained votes for women back in 1896, she also ran as a Democrat for the state legislature. She was defeated by her Republican opponent by only 80 votes. In 1906, the Huttons moved to Washington state, and the vote was suddenly taken away from her, so she got to work. May became vice-president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association and in 1908, when the Democratic Party Convention was coming up, she proposed a plank for fair treatment of all, not just women. She pressed for the argument of the enfranchisement of all regardless of sex or race. However, her proposal was turned down for fear of alienation of southern supporters of women's suffrage.

She struggled to understand the opposition of women’s suffrage of some privileged and educated women and pressed them to support it even if only for their poorer sisters. When Washington received the vote in 1910, she was said to be one of the first to register to vote. She was also one of the first two women (along with Mrs. F. A. Fassett) to serve on a Spokane County Jury.


Learn More

Read a book to learn more about May. Deb Lish wrote a biography of the Huttons, Echoes of the Past: The Hutton Legacy,2016

Or read May’s own words in Special Collections in The Coeur d'Alenes: Or, A Tale of the Modern Inquisition in Idaho,1900


Works Cited

Laura Arksey, “Hutton, May Arkwright (1860-1915),”, available here

Spokane History Timeline, “May Arkwright Hutton - 1884” Spokane History Timeline, available here