The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 11, 2013

Jo Ellis: Carthage women have left their mark on the world

CARTHAGE, Mo. — With March designated as Women’s History Month, it seems appropriate to remember notable women associated with Carthage.

In the order of their birth, I have chosen four whose contributions to Carthage — and to a larger sphere in most cases — have been significant. It’s interesting that all four were born in the last half of the 19th century.

• Annie Baxter (1864-1944) was the first woman elected to public office in Missouri — 30 years before women received the vote. After moving here as a teenager, she graduated in 1882 and immediately was hired by the county clerk’s office, becoming adept at the complicated task of tax levies and extensions. Although the county leaned heavily Republican, an all-male Democratic committee nominated her for election to the post.

Newspapers questioned whether she could be elected, but a plurality of 463 votes seemed to end the debate. Baxter was instrumental in planning the present day courthouse in Carthage. She later served in state government offices in Jefferson City.

• Emily Newel Blair (1877-1951) moved to Carthage when she was 6. In 1914, she was an active suffragette, publicity chairwoman for the Missouri Equal Suffrage Association and editor of its magazine, Missouri Women. Her interest in politics stemmed from her father, who served both as county clerk and recorder of deeds.

She married Harry Wallace Blair in 1900. During World War I, she served on the Women’s Committee of the Missouri Council of National Defense and later worked for the Council of National Defense.

She was national vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party from 1922 to 1928 and played a role in helping elect Franklin D. Roosevelt to his first term as president in 1932. From 1925-1934, she was editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, and she wrote several books, short stories and political articles. She helped organize more than 2,000 Democratic Women’s Clubs around the country.

• Emma Knell (1878-1963) lived in Carthage from a young age. At just 20 years old, she joined the family business and became the third woman in Missouri to be licensed as an embalmer. Five years later, she was elected the first female director of the Missouri Funeral Directors Association.

She assisted her father in establishing the Knell Fair in 1902. The countywide fair, held west of Carthage, was known for its horse and car races, often raising purses as large as $10,000. She served as general manager of the fair from 1911-26, and she helped organize other fairs in Oklahoma.

In 1924, Knell was the first Republican woman elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. She was a member of the appropriation and highway committees, and sponsored the bill establishing the Missouri Highway Patrol. She retired from the House in 1932 after her third term. In 1932, she became president of Knell Mortuary, a business that continues today.

• Marian Wright Powers (1880-1969) grew up as a popular young lady in Carthage. Her musical studies and talent as a coloratura soprano led her to further study in New York City and Paris, France. She performed with traveling symphonies from St. Louis, Kansas City and St. Paul, Minn., at concerts throughout the central Midwest. She sang at hundreds of funerals and weddings, often joking that she had “married and buried half of Jasper County.”

Her favorite repertoire consisted of Civil War songs her mother taught her. Her marriage to Dr. Everett Powers produced one daughter, Marian Louisa “Toots” Winchester, who bequeathed the family fortune to establish our current Powers Museum.

I think Carthage can be justly proud of its historic women. If you’re interested in learning more, a Women’s History Tour will be conducted at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Missouri State University, Springfield. And visit the women’s history exhibit on the second floor of Meyer Library there. It will be up all month.

Address correspondence to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email news@joplinglobe.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Eastern Shawnee Tribe cited for recycling efforts

    Leaders of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe will receive an award Friday from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for their participation in an areawide recycling event in May that secured more than 9,000 pounds of electronic equipment waste.

    July 9, 2014

  • Pittsburg Police Dept. gives Cherokee County Sheriff’s Dept. two patrol cars

    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, which is feeling a budget pinch related to personnel costs for manning the impact zone of the Baxter Springs tornado, is getting some help from a neighboring police department.

    July 9, 2014

  • Mike Pound: The teenage version of the Terrible Twos

    I’ve been called outside three times by our 16-year-old daughter since I sat down to write a column.

    July 9, 2014

  • Webb City lawmaker tabbed to lead committee examining impact of military on Missouri

    State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, has been selected to lead a committee that will gauge the U.S. military’s impact on Missouri. Davis said he wants to hear from veterans about their problems with the Veterans Health Administration as well as examine the impact of the military in the state as it steps back from a war footing and downsizes.

    July 9, 2014

  • r070914amendone2.jpg State farming amendment draws support, opposition

    Since the 1940s, the family of state Rep. Bill Reiboldt has owned and operated a farm on the outskirts of Neosho. Before he sold his milk cows, Reiboldt had eight people working on the farm. These days, it is just he and his son. Wednesday — with mild morning temperatures following the previous day’s rain — was the kind of day farmers like Reiboldt look forward to.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Damaged Football.jpg Public art piece in Pittsburg vandalized

    Leslie Harris spent countless hours painting a butterfly and sunset on a fiberglass football that is one of 24 displayed in Pittsburg and Crawford County as part of the SEK Art Fest.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • JRC extends sale date on Coca-Cola property

    The Joplin Redevelopment Corp. on Tuesday approved an Aug. 8 sale date for property in the 1300 block of Virginia Avenue and included with the extension an amended agreement aimed at adding protections for Joplin in the pact with Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the city’s tornado recovery master developer.

    July 8, 2014

  • Inmates bound over in jail sexual assault case

    A judge ordered two Newton County Jail inmates bound over for trial Tuesday on charges that they sexually assaulted a third inmate with a shampoo bottle and a tube of toothpaste.

    July 8, 2014

  • Defendant to be tried on charge of pulling knife on ER doctor

    A defendant accused of pulling a knife on a Freeman Hospital West emergency room doctor when she refused to prescribe him narcotics was ordered bound over for trial Tuesday in Newton County Circuit Court.

    July 8, 2014

  • Mike Pound: Crosslines at crossroads in current home

    The parking lot at Crosslines Churches of the Joplin Area, 131 S. High Ave., was almost full when I pulled in Tuesday morning. I found a spot in the back of the lot and met Harry Greninger near a side door. He led me through the kitchen, then into the main part of the building and finally into Kathy Lewis’ office.

    July 8, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed legislation that sought to increase the tax credits available for donations to organizations providing food to the poor and aid to pregnant women, saying it would have eroded government funds needed for education and other services. Do you agree with the veto?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter