The first female elected to public office in Missouri in 1890 will be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians Wednesday morning in Jefferson City.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, notes Annie White Baxter, who grew up in southwest Missouri’s Carthage, was the nation’s first female county clerk, in Jasper County.
“It’s our 100th General Assembly and it’s the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. Annie White Baxter got elected years before women could vote. She couldn’t even vote for herself,” Haahr says.
Haahr praises Baxter as a trailblazer in Missouri history, noting his three daughters have the right to vote because of people like Baxter.
The Speaker notes the Secretary of State certified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote on August 26, 1920. Wednesday’s ceremony is 100 years later.
“Annie White Baxter is still sort of a legend down in Jasper County. There’s an award for her every year that they give out. The goal here (at the Missouri Capitol) is to sort of bring her to state and national prominence,” says Haahr.
The State Historical Society of Missouri says Annie White Baxter was nominated for Jasper County clerk in 1890, by the Democrats. Some questioned whether she could legally run for office, since women weren’t permitted to vote at that time. She defeated Republican Julius Fischer in that race, and he challenged it in court. A judge in Greene County upheld the election results.
The Historical Society website says that during her time in office, “Baxter earned a reputation as one of the best county clerks in the state, overseeing taxes, elections and licenses.” She later worked for the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City.
She died in 1944 in Jefferson City, at the age of 80.
Speaker Haahr is encouraging you to attend Wednesday morning’s 11 o’clock ceremony, which will take place at in the Missouri House chamber. Haahr will unveil a bronze bust of Baxter, at the ceremony. A reception is also planned.
“We’ve got Wendy Doyle from the Women’s Foundation will be speaking,” Haahr says. “My three daughters are going to do the pledge of allegiance. Peggy McGaugh, (State) Representative and former county clerk is going to do the prayer. And then Wendy and Charlie Davis and myself will speak.”
Former State Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, is now the Jasper County Clerk, a position that Baxter once held. State Rep. Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton, is a former county clerk in northwest Missouri’s Carroll County.
Speaker Haahr says Baxter played a prominent role in Missouri’s history. Annie Baxter Street in Joplin is named for her as well.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Brian Hauswirth and House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, which was recorded in the Speaker’s Missouri Capitol office in Jefferson City on August 25, 2020:
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