Junita Breckenridge was the daughter of Hugh, a Methodist minister, and and Mary (Watson) Breckenridge. She was educated at Rock Island High School, Wheaton College (B.S.), and Oberlin College Theological Seminary (1891, B.D.). While at Oberlin, she was a member of Ladies' Literary Society.
In Spring, 1890, she applied to the Cleveland Congregational Conference for a license to preach. Her case was made the test case to determine the policy of the denomination and the license was granted at the fall conference, 1890, after six months of discussion. She was ordained at Brookton, New York, on June 28, 1892. The ordination sermon was preached by her brother, Rev. W. W. Breckenridge, and the charge was given by the venerable Rev. Thomas K. Beecher. Brookton was the first charge of Rev. Annis F. Eastman, and the congregation was so pleased with her ministry that they called Breckenridge to succeed her.
On September 27, 1893, she married Hon. Frederick E. Bates in New Windsor, Illinois. Simultaneously she resigned she resigned from her Congregatonal Church position. According to some accounts she resigned in order visit her mother in the midwest; however it is also possible that her resignation came in response to other pressures.
For the rest of her life she continued as a social activist. She chaired the Suffrage Party in Ithaca, New York,and was a leader of Tompkins County, New York in New York state's campaign for woman suffrage. She served as first vice-repsident of the Ithaca Political Study Club; was a member of Susquehanna Ministerial Association, New York State Congregational Conference; and was a director of New York State Federation of Women's Clubs.
Following is her obituary:
Mrs. Juanita Breckenridge Bates, t, widow of
Frederick E. Bates, former mayor of Ithaca,
New York, died June 11 at the age of 85. Mrs.
Bates was the first woman to receive a degree
from Oberlin’s Theological Department and
was the first woman to he ordained as a minis-
ter in the Congregational church. She served
as pastor of the Congregational Church of
Brookton, New York, from 1891-93.
In September, 1893, she was married and
lived from that time until her death in Ithaca,
where she was active in the New York state
movement for Woman Suffrage and in state club
work. She served as president of the New York
state A.A.U.W. in 1920-26, was vice-president
of the New York State League of Women Vot-
ers, and had been a director of the New York
State Federation of Women’s Clubs, as well as
president of the Ithaca Federation of Women’s
She is survived by a sister, Mrs. Arnold Petrie
of New Windsor, Illinois, a daughter-in-law,
Mrs. Abraham Bates, a granddaughter. Miss
Julia E. Bates, and a grandson, Frederick E.
Bates, of Brooktondale, New York. Her son,
Abraham Bates, died in 1936, and her daughter,
Juanita Bates, killed in an airplane crash
Frederick Elmer Bates
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