5 Awesome Sedalia Women From History You Might Not Know
It's National Women's Month! Time to celebrate! So I thought, what can I do to encourage and uplift women this month? Why not highlight just a few of the awesome, courageous ladies that came from here in Sedalia?
It was a pretty daunting task, because, well, there are a lot. And I'd hate for anybody to get mad at me for leaving someone out, but.. you can't list them all. Well, at least I can't. So I found some, and thought I'd share their stories. Maybe we'll do another one of these based on your suggestions. These aren't in any particular order, just how I found them.
1. Lucille McVey.
I can't include pictures here, 'cos, you know, you have to have permission and all that. BUT. I have video! Thanks, YouTube.
Lucille was born in Sedalia in 1890 and left at about 15 (a baby) to pursue a career in comedy. She joined a troupe that was founded by Sidney Drew. They fell in love and bam, it's time to make movies. Lucille was, from what I can find on the internet, the main actress and often writer/director of all the Mr and Mrs Sidney Drew comedy shorts. After Sidney died, Lucille went on to make more movies from her own studio. She did that for about five years until she died. She was only 35. She was a creative force, declaring that her films had to be about subtlety and based in reality. From what I can find, most of the ideas and real work of her movies came right from her. And man, comedy is hard to do. It's much easier to do a serious script than a funny one. She must have been super smart and wickedly funny to be able to spearhead all those movies and her own studio in her early twenties, before women could even VOTE.
2. L. Viola Kinney.
Viola was a teacher and a composer, writing songs. Again, no photo, but, I do have a video of someone performing her work.
Viola was born in Sedalia in 1890. She went to music college in Kansas and came back to Sedalia to become a composer and teacher at one of the segregated schools here in town. Her most famous work is the one above, "Mother's Sacrifice". Well, that's the only score they can find. She registered two others, but they've been lost. Another astounding woman, teaching and being creative and helping out her community back in the day. She died young, too, at the age of 55.
3. Winona Cargile Alexander.
Now she wasn't born here, she was actually born in Georgia. But she spent a significant amount of time here as a teacher after she graduated college. Like Viola, she taught in the segregated schools here. After a few years, she left to be the first black person admitted to the New York School of Philanthropy, which is now part of Columbia in New York. She was the first black social worker in New York City ever. She also founded the second sorority for black women in the nation, Delta Sigma Theta. Unlike the other two on the list so far, Winona got to live a long life full of charity, social work, and church duties. It wasn't all easy though, she had four daughters that died during childbirth. How sad. But she did have two boys who lived. And that lasting legacy must mean a lot to them.
4. Elizabeth Jane Dugan.
Some of the details of Elizabeth's life are a little scarce. Google says she was born in approximately 1848. She was a journalist and a writer, and worked on my favorite old time newspaper, the Sedalia Bazoo. She even had her own special work under the name of Rosa Pearl. She did advice columns and poetry, and even started her own weekly paper, published on Saturdays. The Rosa Pearl Paper. Right to the point, isn't it? It must have taken a lot to start your own dang newspaper, and she did it when she was in her sixties! There's another smart, go getting lady for ya. She had to have a big, dynamic personality to keep doing that week after week.
5. Hazel Palmer.
If you wanna talk about an ambitious, smart lady, here's another one right here. Hazel was born in Climax Springs in 1903, but her family moved here when she was seven. She graduated from Smith Cotton and had a real interest in law and politics. In 1958, she was the first woman to win a major party nomination for U.S. Senator in Missouri. She was the first female assistant prosecuting attorney, was county revenue collector for twelve years, and was an association circuit judge from 1972 to 1982. Then did she decide to retire? HECK NO. She went back to law practice at the age of 80!! Basically, Hazel kicked a lot of butt and took a lot of names in law and politics her whole life. Talk about someone who works hard... you'd think by your golden years you'd be ready to live that sweet life of retirement, but not Hazel. She had a knack for it and just wasn't done yet, I guess. She was basically on every "who's who" list and every committee and every council you could sign up for, I couldn't possibly list them all here. She saw a need and decided that she was going to help. She lived to be 98, and definitely made a difference.
Well, there you have it. Five out of thousands, but still. I hope that you enjoyed our little dive into some of the incredibly strong, awesome, smart, and hard working women that have been born in or worked in Sedalia over the years.
Who else would you add to the list? Is there someone else I should write about? Tell me all about it!