Bessie S. McColgin

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Bessie S. McColgin
In office
1920–1923
Personal details
Born
Amelia Elizabeth Simison

(1875-01-07)January 7, 1875
Minneapolis, Kansas, U.S.
DiedJuly 9, 1972(1972-07-09) (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[edit]

Amelia Elizabeth Simison was born in Minneapolis, Kansas, on January 7, 1875, to Edward Harding Simison and his wife, Jane Eliza Moody.[1] Both her parents died when she was three years old, and she was raised by relatives in Earlville, Illinois[2][3] and educated at the Teachers Normal College and Wesleyan University.[4] She married Grant McColgin (1870-1955) in 1895, and they moved to Oklahoma Territory in 1901.[5] 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.[6] A few years later, the family moved to Rankin, where she and her husband established the Rankin Telephone Company in their home.[4] She also organized a Women's Christian Temperance Union chapter,[7] and was a school teacher in Rankin's first public school.[5]

Career[edit]

While pregnant with her 10th child, McColgin became the first woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.[2][8] According to legend, men in her family entered her name in the election as a Republican without her knowledge.[7] She was seen as a "superior orator."[9]

While in office, McColgin was heavily involved in health and safety legislation, and introduced a bill to create a Bureau of Child Hygiene.[10] She attempted to pass legislation from Senator Lamar Looney, but few bills succeeded.[3] She was also involved in a soldiers' relief program and helped establish a Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Oklahoma.[10] Although she was not re-elected for a second term, three new woman members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives were elected in 1923.[4] 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".[1] Nearly 40 years after her term ended, McColgin's son Sterling was elected to the same seat she had filled.[7]

McColgin died at the age of 97 in Sayre, Oklahoma, on July 9, 1972.[1] She was posthumously inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 2005.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "McCOLGIN, AMELIA ELIZABETH SIMISON (1875–1972)". okhistory.org. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "2005 Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame". ok.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b McKee, Roseanne (August 11, 2019). "Famous women of Oklahoma are remembered". Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Wimmer, Mike. "Rep. Bessie S. McColgin". arts.ok.gov. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Weatherford, Doris (January 20, 2012). Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. SAGE. p. 87. ISBN 9781608710072. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  6. ^ "Ridgeton Post Office (historical)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  7. ^ a b c Defrange, Ann (March 30, 2005). "State's first female legislator opened political frontier to others". The Oklahoman. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  8. ^ "Many Woman Elected to Political Jobs". Greenville Evening Banner. Texas. December 27, 1920. p. 4.Free to read
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ a b "Amelia Elizabeth McColgin". herhatwasinthering.org. Retrieved December 7, 2019.

External links[edit]