Rebecca Mitchell was born on January 23, 1834 in Illinois. Little is known about her early life or her parents, but we do know that she became incredibly influential in building communities and fighting for women’s suffrage across the state after she moved to Idaho in 1880.
Rebecca was a deeply religious woman. After receiving her training at the Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago, Rebecca moved to the small town of Eagle Rock, Idaho which is now known as Idaho Falls. With a lack of schoolhouses or church, Mitchell set up a Baptist church in an abandoned saloon. She offered education to some of the town’s children during the week including reading, writing, and arithmetic, and held church meetings on Sunday which soon became the head of a strong Baptist following in the area.
Rebecca was also heavily involved in women’s rights. In 1894, Rebecca began the "Idaho Falls chapter" of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement (WCTU). Rebecca traveled around the West and encouraged others to establish their own local chapters. Rebecca eventually became the president of the Idaho Chapter and was described as a woman “working in a difficult field with unflinching self-sacrifice.”
In 1894, Rebecca submitted a quote that was published in the National WCTU annual meeting publication. She stated that, “The work is an important one and may do much good. Any moral or Christian temperance work is very difficult in a new state. We need help and sympathy.”
Rebecca was awarded a lifetime member award while attending the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota. Not only was she deeply involved in WCTU, but she was also involved in the Idaho State Legislature in Boise, Idaho. She was elected chaplain of the Idaho state legislature in 1897 and was the first woman who ever elected to this position in the Nation. When she died in 1908, the national WCTU mourned her death.
“The work is an important one and may do much good. Any moral or Christian temperance work is very difficult in a new state. We need help and sympathy.
Biographical Sketch of Rebecca Mitchell, written by Molly Draben. Included in Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920. From https://documents-alexanderstreet-com.byui.idm.oclc.org/d/1009656441
Chapin, Clara C. Thumb Nail Sketches of White Ribbon Women, p. 33. Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publishing Association, 1895. From https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007655658.
"First of Her Sex for the Post: Mrs. Rebecca Brown Mitchell Chaplain of The Idaho State legislature," Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1897, p. 16. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1897/07/04/page/16/article/first-of-her-sex-for-the-post.