As a child in 1859, suffragist Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) moved with her family from Massachusetts to Mecosta County. Her father soon returned east with two of his sons, leaving behind his wife and four younger children to endure extreme hardship on their 360-acre claim. Forced to take on traditionally male roles to survive, Anna believed women were equal to men. A teacher at age fifteen, she later became a minister, a physician, and an orator.
In 1880 Anna Howard Shaw became the first woman ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church. She received a medical degree from Boston University in 1885 and tended to poor patients in that city. Shaw was a popular orator and leader in the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the National American Woman's Suffrage Association. Shaw died in 1919, but she lived to see Congress approve what became the nineteenth amendment, which granted women the right to vote.