Josephine K. Henry

On this date in 1846, Josephine Kirby Henry, née Williamson, was born into a wealthy family in Newport, Kentucky. She was 15 when her family moved to Versailles. She gave piano lessons and taught at the Versailles Academy for Ladies. In 1868 she married William Henry, who had served as a captain in the Confederate Army.

Henry was the first woman in the South to run for state office as a candidate of the Prohibition Party for clerk of the Court of Appeals in 1890, receiving nearly 5,000 votes in the notoriously anti-suffrage state. Kentucky was the last state in the union to grant women such basic rights as property ownership, guardianship of their children and the right to make a will. Henry was credited as the main force behind the adoption of the 1894 Woman’s Property Act, garnering 10,000 signatures.

Serving on the revising committee of Elizabeth Cady Stanton‘s The Woman’s Bible, Henry submitted two letters which were published in the appendix. For this heresy, she was declared an “undesirable member” of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. Henry wrote a 30-page booklet, “Woman and the Bible” (1905), followed by a critique of the treatment of women in the institution of marriage: “Marriage and Divorce” (c. 1907).

She died in Versailles after suffering a stroke at age 84. (D. 1928)

Freedom From Religion Foundation