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May 23—More than 30 people gathered in Mount Olivet Cemetery on Sunday for the unveiling of a tribute to two of Frederick County's most prominent suffragists.
Florence and Bertha Trail are buried at the cemetery with other Trail family members, including Charles Edward Trail, one of 16 people who incorporated the cemetery.
"I know that these ladies would be very pleased to share in this recognition of outstanding women throughout Maryland who helped bring about the vote for women," said Tee Michel, a Frederick resident whose mother is the Trail sisters' great niece.
The commemorative marker for the sisters is one of roughly 250 that will be dedicated to prominent suffragists in locations around the country as part of the National Votes for Women Trail. Ten of the markers will be in Maryland, said Diana Bailey, executive director of the Maryland Women's Heritage Center.
Florence and Bertha Trail led the county's chapter of the Just Government League from 1910 to 1920, and Florence was the chapter's first president, Michel said.
Both women continued to fight for women's suffrage even after Congress ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920, and Bertha would later be elected president of the Frederick County Republican Club, she said.
Despite being sisters and both legendary suffragists, Florence and Bertha were "of different sensibilities," Michel said.
"When asked in their later years whether they would like their descendants to visit their graves, Florence expressed her indifference to the suggestion. Bertha however, replied, 'yes, indeed, I want to be remembered and visited," Michel said. She was met with a chorus of laughter.
Florence lived from 1854 to 1944, and Bertha from 1864 to 1940.
Additional commemorative trail markers are set to be unveiled in Garrett County in July, said Maria Darby, president of the Maryland Women's Heritage Center.
The trail, a project of the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, highlights how the women's suffrage movement took hold in various cities, towns and rural areas, and it links places that tell the story of the long struggle for women's voting rights in the U.S.
The marker for Florence and Bertha Trail was also the result of collaboration between the Maryland Women's Heritage Center, Mount Olivet Cemetery and the Friends of Mount Olivet.
Frederick County Election Director Barbara Wagner and Frederick Mayor Michael O'Connor, D, were among those who spoke during Sunday's ceremony.
"I know a little something about voting and the efforts it takes to get voices heard," Wagner said. "No doubt the Trail sisters shared that knowledge and were a part of a movement bigger than themselves."
Twenty of Maryland's 24 county election directors are women, Wagner said. She is among them.
"I would be remiss as an election director if I do not remind you that we do have an upcoming election," Wagner said.
Early voting begins July 7 and runs through July 14. Voters have until July 12 to order a mail-in ballot application, and in-person voting will be available at 63 polling places in the county on July 19, Primary Election Day.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan