Photo courtesy of
The Washington State Archives
Nena Jolidon Croake
First State Representative
“Consideration for women is
a measure of the nation’s progress.”
- Nena Jolidon Croake
Among the great mysteries surrounding the life of pioneer Nena Jolidon Croake are
her true date of birth, her education, and her life outside Washington State.
Born in Illinois in 1865, Croake married Pierce County Deputy Sheriff John Croake
on February 4, 1893, in British Columbia. She spent at least 25 years in Pierce
County. The suffragist fought for women’s issues alongside iconic figures like Emma
Smith DeVoe. Croake served as an Auditor and a Vice President of the Washington
Equal Suffrage Association.
Croake was a Progressive and an active campaigner. She made a habit of talking to
women about the suffrage movement to stir interest. She even targeted a group she
labeled the “stay-at-homes and the sometimes disinterested.” For her, there was
no greater cause. In fact, Croake’s mantra became: “Consideration for Women is the
Measure of a nation’s progress.”
She’d travel house-to-house and talk to women about child labor, the death penalty,
and technical training. After women won the vote in Washington in 1910, Croake pushed
for women to hold public office.
“It is only just and fair that (they) should be given a trial,” she declared bluntly.
Croake ran for the State House and won in 1912. The lawmaker advocated for pensions
for abandoned mothers on the campaign trail, and the creation of women’s minimum
Croake, a force in the field of medicine as a Doctor of Osteopathy, is believed
to be one of Tacoma’s first female physicians.
Nena Jolidon Croake left Tacoma and at some point settled in Los Angeles, where
she died in 1934.