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West Virginia Women's Suffrage Trail

Zone 1 of 10: Wheeling

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This Georgian-style brick home was constructed between 1905 and 1907 for Jesse A. and Jessie M. Bloch. Jesse A. Bloch was elected as a Republican to the WV House of Delegates in 1913 and 1915 and then the WV Senate in 1918. In 1920, Jesse A. Bloch cast the deciding positive vote to ratify the 19th Amendment in West Virginia.


Jesse A. Bloch

Forehead, Chin, Eyebrow, Photograph

"Hon. Jesse A. Bloch: Republican Candidate for State Senator" from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, October-November 1918

Forehead, Head, Chin, Hairstyle

Jesse A. Bloch rushed to Charleston in 1920 to cast the decisive vote in favor of the 19th Amendment.

Cartoon, Organism, Font, Line

Senator Edgar B. Stewart (Monongalia), NWP organizer Mary Dubrow, Senator Jesse Bloch, and NWP worker Betty Gram, The Suffragist, April 1920

Face, Hat, Smile, Sun hat

Son Jesse A. Bloch was born on November 2, 1879 and was educated at the Linsly Institute of Wheeling. After further education at the Phillips-Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and the Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Jesse A. Bloch started worked for Bloch Brother’s Tobacco Company in 1900. Bloch married Jessie Thornton Moffat in 1905 and they had two children. Bloch was elected as a Republican to the WV House of Delegates in 1913 and 1915 and then the WV Senate in 1918. Among his achievements while in office was a worker’s compensation bill that was signed into law in 1913. After 1923 Bloch returned to managing the Bloch Brother’s Tobacco Company and took over the presidency at his father’s death in 1937. His son, Thomas, took over the business in 1947.

Jesse A. Bloch cast the deciding positive vote to ratify the 19th Amendment in West Virginia. Once Congress passed the 19th Amendment in 1919, West Virginia had possibly the most dramatic ratification process. Suffragists led by Lenna Lowe Yost put heavy pressure on the state legislature to ratify the amendment and Governor John Cornwall ordered a special session in February 1920 to consider the amendment. The tension was already high because women needed three more states to ratify the 19th Amendment and it was not clear which way West Virginia would vote. The West Virginia state legislature met in special session for 12 days with heavy lobbying from both pro- and anti-suffrage delegations. On March 1, the state senate vote ended in a tie 14-14. Two days later, the House approved ratification 47-40, but the Senate deadlocked at 14-14 again. It appeared that West Virginia was not going to ratify the 19th Amendment, but pro-suffragists contacted state Senator Jesse Bloch who was vacationing in California and was for suffrage. While Republican colleagues kept the special session from adjourning, the national Republican party and private donors arranged for Bloch to travel by train from California to Charleston to cast his vote and break the tie. While Bloch was on his way, more drama unfolded when former senator A.W. Montgomery, who had resigned and moved out of state prior to the session, tried to reclaim his seat in order to break the tie against ratifying the amendment. His attempt failed however due to his official resignation months before. Senator Bloch arrived in Charleston in the early morning of March 10 and later that day cast his vote in favor of ratification, making West Virginia the 34th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

The Bloch's home on National Road was designed by Wheeling architect E. B. Franzheim and constructed between 1905 and 1907. Jesse A. Bloch died in his home on January 17, 1951 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. His wife, Jessie Bloch, lived here until her death in 1960. In December 1960 the Church of Christ acquired the Bloch property and home from the family and constructed the adjoining church in 1963.

1940; Census Place: Wheeling, Ohio, West Virginia; Roll: m-t0627-04436; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 35-36. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Accessed February 18, 2022.

“Elmhurst.” Ohio County Public Library. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/wheeling-history/5509.

“History. “Elmhurst: The House of Friendship. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.elmhurstpch.com/history/.

“Jesse A. Bloch, Wheeling.” WVGenWeb. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.wvgenweb.org/ohio/bloch.htm.

“Jesse Aaron Bloch. West Virginia State Department of Health—Division of Vital Statistics. Certificate of Death.” Accessed February 18, 2022. http://archive.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=5694111&Type=Death.

“Jesse Bloch.” Ohio County Public Library. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/wheeling-history/5860.

"Life in Pleasant Valley: The Story of the Jesse Block House." Provided to Kathleen Thompson by Wanda Adamson of the National Road Church of Christ, email, June 8, 2022.

“Obituary: Samuel S. Bloch.” Ohio Country Public Library. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/research/wheeling-history/4208.

Steelhammer, Rick. "Epic rail journey helped WV play key role in suffrage amendment's passage 100 years ago." The Herald-Dispatch. August 26, 2020. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/epic-rail-journey-helped-wv-play-key-role-in-suffrage-amendment-s-passage-100-years/article_99026788-afb0-5586-97ed-e8a7f82da81b.html.

Strutmann, Kelly. "Radical Ratification: Wheeling's Role in the 19th Amendment." Weelunk. March 10, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://weelunk.com/radical-ratification-wheelings-role-in-the-19th-amendment.

"West Virginia and the 19th Amendment." National Park Service. August 22, 2019. Accessed July 15, 2021. https://www.nps.gov/articles/west-virginia-women-s-history.htm.

"West Virginia's Suffrage Movement." West Virginia Archives & History. Accessed July 15, 2021. http://www.wvculture.org/history/archives/women/suffrage.html.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Weiner, Debroah R. "Jesse A. Bloch." e-WV. The West Virginia Encyclopedia. September 26, 2012. Accessed July 4, 2022. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/551.

"Hon. Jesse A. Bloch: Republican Candidate for State Senator" from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, October-November 1918. Ohio County Public Library. Accessed July 4, 2022. https://www.ohiocountylibrary.org/research/wheeling-history/5861.

Strutmann, Kelly. "Radical Ratification: Wheeling's Role in the 19th Amendment." Weelunk. March 10, 2020. Accessed July 4, 2022. https://weelunk.com/radical-ratification-wheelings-role-in-the-19th-amendment.

"Senator Edgar B. Stewart (Monongalia), NWP organizer Mary Dubrow, Senator Jesse Bloch, and NWP worker Betty Gram, The Suffragist, April 1920." Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote. A West Virginia Archives and History Online Exhibit. Accessed July 4, 2022. http://archive.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage55.html.