Bessie S. McColgin
Bessie S. McColgin
Amelia Elizabeth Simison
January 7, 1875
Minneapolis, Kansas, U.S.
|Died||July 9, 1972 (aged 97)|
Sayre, Oklahoma, U.S.
Amelia Elizabeth Simison McColgin (January 7, 1875 – July 9, 1972) was an American businesswoman and politician. A native of Kansas, she moved to western Oklahoma Territory in 1901. In 1920, she was the first woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Early life and family
Amelia Elizabeth Simison was born in Minneapolis, Kansas, on January 7, 1875, to Edward Harding Simison and his wife, Jane Eliza Moody. Both her parents died when she was three years old, and she was raised by relatives in Earlville, Illinois and educated at the Teachers Normal College and Wesleyan University. She married Grant McColgin (1870-1955) in 1895, and they moved to Oklahoma Territory in 1901. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture states that her husband bought a relinquishment in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, in 1903.[a] Bessie McColgin became a school teacher and the postmistress of the Ridgeton Post Office. A few years later, the family moved to Rankin, where she and her husband established the Rankin Telephone Company in their home. She also organized a Women's Christian Temperance Union chapter, and was a school teacher in Rankin's first public school.
While pregnant with her 10th child, McColgin became the first woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. According to legend, men in her family entered her name in the election as a Republican without her knowledge. She was seen as a "superior orator."
While in office, McColgin was heavily involved in health and safety legislation, and introduced a bill to create a Bureau of Child Hygiene. She attempted to pass legislation from Senator Lamar Looney, but few bills succeeded. She was also involved in a soldiers' relief program and helped establish a Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Oklahoma. Although she was not re-elected for a second term, three new woman members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives were elected in 1923. On the last day of her term, McColgin was presented with a wristwatch from her male colleagues to commemorate her service, which they jokingly stated was because "women legislators need to be watched". Nearly 40 years after her term ended, McColgin's son Sterling was elected to the same seat she had filled.
- Presumably this meant that he acquired land that had been claimed, then abandoned by a previous settler. Roger Mills County, Oklahoma was created from the short-lived Day County, Oklahoma Territory, after Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
- "McCOLGIN, AMELIA ELIZABETH SIMISON (1875–1972)". okhistory.org. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "2005 Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame". ok.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- McKee, Roseanne (August 11, 2019). "Famous women of Oklahoma are remembered". Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- Wimmer, Mike. "Rep. Bessie S. McColgin". arts.ok.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- Weatherford, Doris (January 20, 2012). Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. SAGE. p. 87. ISBN 9781608710072. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "Ridgeton Post Office (historical)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Defrange, Ann (March 30, 2005). "State's first female legislator opened political frontier to others". The Oklahoman. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "Many Woman Elected to Political Jobs". Greenville Evening Banner. Texas. December 27, 1920. p. 4.
- Schrems, Suzzane H. (2004). Who's Rocking the Cradle?: Women Pioneers of Oklahoma Politics from Socialism to the KKK, 1900-1930. Horse Creek Publications. p. 55. ISBN 9780972221726. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- "Amelia Elizabeth McColgin". herhatwasinthering.org. Retrieved December 7, 2019.