Bessie S. McColgin
to enlarge |Artist: Mike
Sponsor: Honorable Frank
Lucas and the Family of Bessie McColgin
Size: 24" x 30"
Type: Oil on Canvas
Location: 4th floor near
Oklahoma’s first woman
to serve in the House of Representatives was Amelia Elizabeth “Bessie” McColgin,
a Republican from Rankin in western Oklahoma. She was elected
in 1920 and served in the Eighth Legislature from 1920-21.
Born on January 7, 1875, she
married Grant McColgin on August 21, 1895 in Earlville,
Illinois. She attended Teachers Normal College and Wesleyan
University in Bloomington, Illinois. Her education also
included the School of Oratory and Georgian Academy in
McColgin came to Grant County
in Oklahoma Territory in 1901 with her husband, and in 1903
she helped drive a wagon to their
“claim” near Rankin in Roger Mills County. She
taught school in her home and was appointed postmistress for
Ridgeton in 1904. Her family moved to Rankin in 1909 where
she and her husband alternated teaching school, delivering
mail, and in 1913, began operating the Rankin Telephone Company
in their home.
The McColgins had nine children
and Bessie had given birth to the youngest son, Franklin,
just one month before leaving Rankin, near the Texas border,
for the Legislature in Oklahoma City.
Many considered McColgin to be
a superior orator and believed her election win was due to
her popularity in western Oklahoma. McColgin took an active
interest in the soldiers’ relief program and helped
establish the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Clinton. She filed
legislation calling for the creation of a child hygiene bureau
and a public nursing board.
Although not re-elected to a second
term, McColgin led the way for the election of three female
members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1923.
On March 31, 2005, Representative
Bessie S. McColgin will be inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s
Hall of Fame.
Images are copyright
of The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund,
Inc. and the artist. Please contact Sandra Shelton at 521-5663
or firstname.lastname@example.org for
further copyright information.