Spokane History Timeline

May Arkwright Hutton - 1884

May Hutton was born July 21, 1860, in Ohio. When she was young she cared for her grandfather, Aza, who was blind. May always believed in helping others, and always wanted to build an orphanage. In 1883, when May was thirty-three, she moved to the Silver Valley in Idaho with dreams of riches and good wealth.

May Hutton in Dress


She traveled by train with a group of coal miners from Ohio. When she got to Wardner, a man asked her if she knew how to cook? She told him, "yes," and immediately went to work at a restaurant. Soon May fired up her cook stove and opened up her own restaurant. May was a large and rough woman who loved feeding the miners and the poor, and a certain Northern Pacific locomotive engineer who came to eat every day. His name was Levi Hutton, but he was called “Al”. They had a lot in common – each was an orphan, and they were both hard workers. They got married in 1887 and moved to Wallace, where May ran the Dining Room of the Wallace Hotel.

In the 1890’s miners didn’t get paid very much. The mine owners got most of the money. There were unions trying to help get the miners more money, and May was part of the discussion and believed that conditions should improve for the miners. One day in 1899, when Levi was driving the train, 150 angry miners got on the train and forced him at gunpoint to drive the train to Burke, Idaho, to the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mine where they blew up the mines. Although he did not participate in the destruction, he was carried off and put in the “Bull Pen” stockade for 12 days with the miners from the train. May wrote letters and a book telling about the bad situation in the mines.

Hutton Mine

The Huttons had invested in a mine called the Hercules. They worked side by side in the mine until 1901; the mine “hit big” and they found a lot of lead and zinc. The mine yielded $150,000,000. May and Levi became millionaires along with August Paulsen, Harry Day, F. M. Rothrock and C. H. Reeves. They moved to Spokane in 1907 and lived in a luxurious apartment at the top of the Hutton Building they had built. In Spokane, May continued her interest in politics and became a member of the Spokane Equal Suffrage Club. She had helped gain voting rights for women in Idaho in 1896, and now she helped women in Washington, so they also had the right to vote. May Hutton was a candidate for the Senate in Washington, but was defeated, although she did get to attend the Democratic National Convention in 1912.

Here are her words about women’s suffrage:

“ In the first place, there are absolutely no logical arguments against woman suffrage. It is only a matter of justice that women be given the ballot.

Taxation without representation is tyrannical, and maintains throughout the United States today, as far as taxpaying women are concerned, with the exception of four states in the Union, as it did prior to the Boston Tea Party.

Women should vote because they have the intelligence to vote. They should vote because it gives them responsibilities, and responsibilities better fit women for all conditions of life. Equality before the law gives women a fair chance with men in a question of wages for the same work. In other words, the enfranchisement of women means a square deal for all.”

The Spokesman-Review Sunday Magazine, March 28, 1976.

May Hutton in Tux

May and Levi Hutton built big white mansion in 1914. It was on 17th Avenue near Lincoln Park, (2206 E. 17th) far away from Spokane’s elite Browne’s Addition and South Hill. The last year of her life she was quite ill with Bright’s disease. She gave one party at her new house before her death. On October 6, 1915, at age 55 years, May died, her big heart quit.

In her memory, Levi Hutton, started the Hutton Settlement Home, a place for needy children to go. The Hutton Settlement home was made up of 4 cottages; each could house 20 children. The orphanage owned farmland with fruits and vegetables so that the children could learn to work and play like they would if they had parents.

May Hutton was important to Spokane because she wasn’t afraid to step up and help people. She was large (225 lbs.), loud and spoke her mind, angering many people. She didn’t dress in the fashion of the times; in fact, she wore pants instead of fancy dresses.She worked for Women’s Suffrage, and helped unwed mothers and homeless children and was active in Democratic politics, and was the inspiration for the first orphanage in Spokane.

Kizer, Benjamin. "May Arkwright Hutton." Pacific Northwest Quarterly, April, 1966.

Powers, Dorothy R. "May Arkwright Hutton: from mine cook to millionairess." Sunday Magazine, Spokesman-Review, March 28, 1976.

Images from Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture Archives:
May Hutton in dress: L94-9-1
May Hutton in Tuxedo: L93-66-211
Huttons outside Hercules Mine: L86-291

Report: May, 2003
Page created: March 5, 2004
Revised: 10/4/2009
Last Modified on July 27, 2011