Julia (Fay) Hyland1835 - 1930
Suffragist and Temperance Woman
During the mid-to-late 19th century, women in Keene worked together to rid the city of social evils and elevate the role of women in the community. Julia Fay Highland of Keene was one of those empowered women. Born on June 13th, 1835 in Rochester, New York, Julia Jane Fay was the daughter of Sarah Carpenter and Joseph Fay. The Fay family moved to Walpole, NH, when Julia was young. While her childhood was spent in Walpole, the family later moved to Keene when Julia was 18 years old.
At the age of 20 years, on May 9th, 1855, Julia married Joseph Miller Hyland, a local barber. A year later, they welcomed their daughter Clarissa “Clara” Sarah Hyland. The young family moved to 47 Spring Street, a home Julia would have throughout her entire adult life—first with her husband and daughter and later with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.
During the mid-19th century, Julia became very active in local politics and philanthropy. She was an advocate of the temperance movement, which came to the region as early as 1841. As a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), Julia would have helped the organization establish youth programming aimed at encouraging children to “improve in conduct and character.” The WCTU also added a water station to Central Square, providing the region’s men with a non-alcoholic beverage option while they were in town conducting business.
Julia was also an advocate for women’s suffrage. She is listed as a member of the 1912 Keene Equal Suffrage League which sought to continue the efforts of earlier leagues. The League worked closely with other women’s organizations in the community, such as the women’s club, to spread the word about the women’s suffrage cause, contemporary political issues, educating women how to register and vote.
In addition to her political work, Julia was also involved in philanthropic clubs. She was a member of the Ladies Charitable Society and was also very active in the First Congregational Church. Through these organizations and others, Julia helped those in need and worked to make Keene a better place. For example, in 1904, she donated the funds to provide public benches to Wheelock Park.
On April 17th, 1930, at the age of 94, Julia Jane Fay Hyland died at her home in Keene. The day after her death, a lengthy obituary was published in the local paper noting her accomplishments and “her keen mentality.” She is remembered for her pioneering role in both the suffrage and temperance movement in Keene.