Connie Yen's

Ozarks History Journal

Page 2 of 3

Volumes of Good Wishes

Postmarked Koshkonong, January 7, 1911 and addressed to Miss May Barnett in West Plains, Missouri:

Will write you a few lines. I got home all o.k. The roads wasn’t very muddy, just dusty of course. I didn’t have anybody along to push me in the mud.  Hope all you young folks will have a nice time and all, not forget me. But all not forget to attend church. May, tell Maud be very careful and not run another fellow off. I wish this card was longer so I could write more. Hope to hear from you soon. May, be sure and use my initials only for safe delivery. From Joe

May Barnett was born in Peace Valley, Sisson Township, Howell County, Missouri. She was 18-years-old at the time of the 1900 census, and lived with her parents and siblings. She was still living in Howell County with her parents in 1940. 

The Lewis-Elliott House

This sad little house was auctioned recently and its fate is as yet undetermined. It has some interesting features, but is in need of considerable work, both inside and out.

The house is located in M.K. Smith’s 4th addition which was platted in Springfield in March 1884. Smith was a well-known local businessman and was the owner of Springfield Woolen Mill.

The house was built at least by 1890 at which time it was inhabited by Thomas B. Lewis and his wife, Sarah. Lewis was a self-employed carpenter, though he later worked for Queen City Wood Works.

Lewis lived here until 1918 when ownership passed to J.E. White, who also owned the lot next door. James E. White, along with his partner, Loran C. Sechler, operated a grocery store located at 312 W. Commercial. In 1920, White sold the house to John W. Welch and his wife, Flora.

John Welch was a chairman with the General Council of the Assemblies of God, which is headquartered in Springfield. By 1925, Welch was the manager of the Gospel Publishing House and by 1936 he was president of Central Bible Institute, now part of Evangel University.

The bedroom closet!

Welch owned the home only a short time before selling it to John C. Cramer and his wife, Ethel. Cramer, along with his partner, G. F. Smith, owned a lunch counter located at 444 E. Commercial. By 1927, Cramer had sold the house to grocer Fred Elliott and his wife, Bertha.

Fred Elliott owned a grocery store at 884 N. Campbell for several years, before taking a job as driver for the Springfield Special Road District in 1932. He was employed at several jobs over the next twenty years, including a position as a watchman at Oberman Manufacturing Company (Oberman’s was a local garment factory.) and later as a custodian at Campbell’s 66 Express. Ethel also worked at Oberman’s for a few years as a machine operator. The Elliott family lived in the house until at least 1959.

Back view

The five-room house has approximately 900-square-feet with two bedrooms and one bath. The house has pine flooring and has a 10 x 12 concrete basement. There was once a one-car garage in back but it is no longer extant.

Detail on the front corner of the house.

After the Elliott’s moved, the house had several other owners prior to its recent auction. It appears to have been vacant for some time.

Maybe a former door?

**Update: I wrote this post in late 2015. The house has since been demolished.

Missouri Books – A Review of Enemy Women

Paulette Jiles, Enemy Women (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.)

That Paulette Jiles began her literary career as a poet is readily apparent throughout her work of prose set in southeastern Missouri, Enemy Women.  Giles was born in Salem, Missouri, and spent a portion of her childhood exploring the hills of the southeastern Ozarks.  It was a return to the Ozarks as an adult, for the sake of family research, that led her to write the story of a young Ozark girl’s adventures during the closing days of the Civil War. 

Just six months before the end of the Civil War, a troop of Union militia burn the Colley home and kidnap the father, events that would send the Colley children into the woods and down the muddy winter roads searching for help.  While attempting to discover her father’s whereabouts, our heroine, Adair Colley, is arrested as a Confederate spy and sent to a Union prison in St. Louis.  

Adair’s experiences in St. Louis serve to illustrate to her the differences between Yankees and mountaineers.  Adair realizes that she is seen as being different.  Her interrogator, a Union major, believing her to be a remnant of “some prehistoric people of the British Isles,” (78) forces her to read just to prove to himself that she can.  And though Adair can read, her accent is thick and her grammar somewhat backward, especially compared to the precise language of the major.  What Adair reads, and what the major hears, is filtered through his superior education and his perception of hill people.

It is taken for granted that Ozarkers are a superstitious group, and Ozark superstitions are scattered throughout the book, especially in regards to marriage.  Adair spends a considerable amount of time worrying about having to get married and feared marriage to the wrong man.  To this end, she threw salt in the fire, hoping in vain to see a message about her future husband.  She then tried to find his face in the water by means of a mirror over her shoulder, catching only a glimpse of her future intended before she dropped the mirror. 

Though the first use of the term “hillbilly” is murky, Giles confidently inserts the term in her book. It is usually used in either a condescending or derogatory manner.  When the major warns Adair against marrying “some hillbilly” (140) there is, for him, a little affection found in the term.  But Adair knows how she is perceived by the Union soldiers.  She determines “never to be caught riding astride” (245) since it was “something only hillbilly women” would do.  She believed she had no hope of remaining safe if she appeared to be a hillbilly because hillbillies are perceived to be just ignorant white trash.  To appear to be a low-class hillbilly would mean she could not count on being treated with respect.

Jiles understands the ways of Ozarkers; she understands how we interpret ourselves and how we are perceived by others.  She does not romanticize the Ozarks, or hillbillies, but writes of them with both affection and respect.  She occasionally writes with incomplete sentences, but she will be forgiven for this because her words are beautiful to read.  She also writes without the usual dialogue punctuation and she will be forgiven this also; if it occasionally makes the dialogue difficult to follow then the passage must be re-read.  This would certainly be no hardship.

The Mysterious Death of Addie Dillard

Addie Dillard was born in Greene County in 1868, and was the youngest daughter of Robert D., a farmer, and Margaret E. Dillard, residents of Washington Township. She died on Wednesday, July 7, 1886, under “suspicious” circumstances at the home of the Nelsons, which was known as a “house of ill repute.”[1]

On July 9, the Springfield Leader and Press ran an editorial stating that due to the “very peculiar and suspicious circumstances” and the possibility of “foul play,” an autopsy should be ordered.[2] But it was too late. When Addie’s father asked county coroner, Zachariah Vanhoose, to conduct an autopsy, his request was denied. An inquest had already been held on the day of her death, at which time Vanhoose and the jurors “viewed the body, heard the statements of witnesses…and having done all that [they could] reasonably do to learn of the matter, therefore conclude[d]…that death was caused by some sudden failure of the action of the heart. As to the true nature of said heart disease…, we know not, neither do we know anything relating to complications that may have helped the matter on.”[3] As far as Vanhoose was concerned, that was the end of the matter.

[1] Springfield Leader and Press, July 9, 1886.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Coroner’s report, July 7, 1886.

Though a July 10 editorial in the Leader and Press stated that Addie was pregnant, there was no mention of this in the coroner’s report. The editorial accused a Springfield man of having “criminal knowledge of her death” and that should have been “sufficient to cause an investigation.” Local authorities apparently did not agree.[4]

The final public mention of the case was on July 11, when another editorial pointed out that nothing had yet been done about Addie’s death. The Leader and Press reported that a local physician had visited Addie two weeks prior to her death. After visiting with her briefly, the physician “refused to have anything to do with the case.” A certain young man was also said to have visited her, but was then “reported to have skipped”.

If newspaper reports are accurate, it appears that Addie became pregnant by a “young scoundrel” and subsequently felt she had to leave home because of it. But how did she end up at the home of the Nelson’s, and why did the doctor refuse to help her? We will likely never know the whole of Addie’s story. Her life, and death, remain a mystery.[5]

[4] Springfield Leader and Press, July 10, 1886.
[5] Springfield Leader and Press, July 11, 1886.

The Final Chapter – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part VI

Not surprisingly, Kate did live through the night and soon recovered sufficiently to  relocate to Kansas City. She stayed with her attorney and his family, and warned of plans to sue an unnamed Springfield physician and politician, both of whom she claimed had instigated a “plot” which “threatened to cause the political undoing” of Mayor Lee and which led to their divorce.

During an interview with a Kansas City reporter, Kate insisted the trouble began while Robert was in St. Louis and she was unconscious. She said her nurse was given “large sums of money for household expenses,” but failed to take care of her while she was ill. She claimed to have been unconscious most of the time and did not recovery until her friends took her to the hospital. While she was unconscious, huge charges were accrued in Springfield stores, particularly at Heer’s. In her words:

“On arousing from my partial stupor one day, I was amazed to find myself ablaze with diamonds. My fingers were covered with them and on the front of my gown was an immense sunburst. I could not think where they had come from and, calling my little daughter to my side, I asked her. ‘Why, you bought them, mamma,’ she told me. ‘The jeweler brought them to your room and left them here.’ I knew I had never seen them before and that it was a part of a plot against me and so told my daughter to take them back to the jeweler and get a receipt for them.”
Despite her self-proclaimed innocence, she decided to not fight the divorce because she wanted to protect her husband from his political enemies. Apparently, she had ceased to care about his political career, as she was planning a lawsuit. She was, however, undecided when she would proceed with the suit since she was leaving the following week for Niagara Falls and was unsure when she would return.[1]

[1] Springfield Republican, July 2, 1911.

Later that month, the WCTU begged Mayor Lee to appoint a new police matron. He refused, saying he had “had enough trouble over the police matron matter.” The group reminded him that they had previously recommended someone for the position and he had ignored their suggestion, instead appointing appointed Kate Cozzens. Lee ignored the jibe and simply stated that there was no money for another police matron.”[2]

[2] Springfield Republican, July 12, 1911.

There was no additional news from the former Mrs. Lee until December, when she gave birth to a daughter in Kansas City. Local attorneys discussed the new development and agreed that the divorce settlement should have no bearing on the inheritance rights of the child, though it would legally be possible for the father to disinherit his daughter with Kate.

​Robert E. Lee retired from politics when his term expired in 1912. He continued working with his brother in the railroad tie business and eventually remarried. He died in 1935. In his will, he left $5 to Bobbie Lee Carter, his daughter with Kate. Apparently, Kate remarried, but her life after Springfield is largely unknown.[3]

[3] Springfield Republican, December 14, 1911.​

The Scandal Escalates – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part V

In addition to his duties as mayor, Robert E. Lee had a business with his brother, Bert Lee. The Hobart-Lee Tie Company was well known in the Ozarks for its production of railroad ties. Just two days after his wedding to Kate Cozzens, Robert left Springfield for St. Louis, reportedly on company business. A week later, on April 6, the Springfield Republican reported that he was on his way home from St. Louis, though Kate said he was in Oklahoma on business. She later told another reporter that he wasn’t in St. Louis or Oklahoma, but was “within three hours train” trip from Springfield. Not surprisingly, these divergent stories led to some confusion. His absence in general was confusing since the mayor had previously stated there would be no honeymoon because he was too busy with “city affairs” to leave town.  

While her husband’s absence made news, so did Kate’s health. She was reportedly “quite seriously ill” and needed two nurses to care for her. She was experiencing “heart action” and was in a “highly nervous state.”[1]

[1] Springfield Republican, April 6, 1911.

On April 9, Mayor Lee decided to break “his strange silence” and reported that he would return to Springfield the following day and would immediately begin divorce proceedings against his new wife. He had spent a week in St. Louis with his sister, contemplating his future and what his next steps should be. He was not yet willing to reveal the details that led to his decision, other than to say that when the “realization of the awful calamity that had befallen him in his marriage dawned with full force on him, he considered it necessary to seclude himself for a sufficient length of time to be able to collect his thoughts” and figure out “for himself the solution of his problem.”

When his new wife heard of his plan to divorce her, her condition worsened. She was reported to be suffering from “severe nervous shock” due to her husband’s “desertion,” and the news of her impending divorce. An additional shock came when a reporter informed her of the rumor that Lee would accuse her of not being legally married to her recently deceases husband since she was never divorced from her first husband. She vehemently denied this accusation and said she had documents that would prove it.

Another rumor indicated that, right before their marriage, Kate had told Robert she was pregnant. She denied this rumor, as well—she said she was not pregnant when they married, but she believed she was now.[2]

[2] Springfield Republican, April 9, 1911.

Mayor Lee returned to work and seemed to ignore the scandal. Though some called for his resignation, he was determined to complete his term as mayor and then return to private life. Despite a few detractors, he had enough support in the community and in city hall to make this possible.[3]

The scandal couldn’t be ignored for long. In early May, Kate finally left the hospital amid accusations of “alleged extravagances.” The extravagances appear to have occurred while Lee was in St. Louis contemplating his future. F. X. Heer told the Republican that he Robert owed his store $700 for items charged by Kate. Heer claimed that she had called the store the day after Lee left town, stating that she was sending her nurse and niece to the store “to make some purchases.” The pair returned the next day and spent a few hundred dollars. Heer tried to locate Lee to verify his approval of the purchases, but could not reach him. So they sent the store attorney to see Kate, who told him the purchases were in advance of a “bridal trip abroad.” Believing her, he allowed the purchases. That evening, Lee found out that Heer was trying to reach him; he called him and learned of Kate’s spending spree. Lee told Heer he to cancel any orders that had not yet been delivered, which came to about $350.

Meanwhile, though Kate was home from the hospital, she was not well. She reportedly had been kept in the hospital so long out of fear that her ‘high state of nervousness and…grief” over news of the divorce would “result in a shocking tragedy” unless she was watched. She allegedly had “twice attempted self-destruction” while in the hospital.[4]

[3] Springfield Republican, April 20, 1911.
[4] Springfield Republican, May 7, 1911.

On May 8, Robert filed for divorce. It was one month since his return to Springfield. Lee and a doctor who treated Kate were the only witnesses in court that day. Kate did not show up, but did send her attorney, who made no comment, “thereby admitting the allegations” in the divorce petition. Lee accused Kate of “cruel and barbarous treatment,” including threatening to kill him, his two children, his mother, and his brother. Within ten minutes, the divorce was granted by Judge Guy D. Kirby. The Springfield Republican reported that Kate agreed to a quick divorce in exchange for $5000. Upon hearing the news of her sudden divorce, Kate began “suffering from nervous prostration” and was not expected to live “through the night.”[5]

[5] Springfield Republican, May 9, 1911; Divorce Record, Box 784, Case 48037, Greene County Archives and Records Center.

Scandal – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part IV

By May 1904, Susan McIntire was out of a job. At a meeting that month of the Southside WCTU, McIntire is referred to as “ex-police matron.” The ordinance creating the office of police matron had been repealed in April.[1]

It was spring 1906 before the position of police matron became news again. Mrs. McIntire asked city council to “reinstate her old position.” The WCTU supported her quest for the position, and this time she wanted a salary of $40 per month. She asked Mayor Blain for his support and went to all 16 members of the council asking for their support, as well. It was all for naught; the mayor said it was unlikely that the position of police matron would be created again, and it appears the majority of the council members agreed.[2]

Surprisingly, in May the city council passed a bill that would have given Springfield a police matron, salary included. Again backed by the WCTU, McIntire tirelessly advocated for the office and the position. But as usual, she was not the only one who wanted the job. Mrs. C. C. Blood returned from a trip to California around the time the bill was passed and immediately threw her hat in the ring. She even offered work without pay. This angered McIntire’s friends and the mayor was suddenly deluged with her supporters advocating on her behalf. With the possibility of the office being reinstated, competition between the two women renewed. The mayor, possibly in fear for his life, vetoed the bill. There would be no police matron in Springfield, McIntire or Blood, paid or unpaid.[3]

[1] Springfield Republican, May 15, 1904.
[2] Springfield Republican, April 29, 1906.
[3] Springfield Republican, May 17, 1906.

The subject appears to have been closed until 1910, at which point Mrs. Blood passed a petition around Springfield asking for the “establishment of the office of police matron.” She thought Springfield should follow the lead of larger cities in having a police matron to help women and children. Of course, she also believed she should have the job.[4]

This time around there was support from several police officers, particularly ones who had previously worked with McIntire and saw the value of the position. A bill went before the “police committee and the mayor.” Still, it took another six months before city council finally created the office of police matron, and at a salary of $50. Before the council acted, there was public discussion in which “the women participated equally as much as the councilmen.” Several women attended this meeting, but Mrs. Blood and Mrs. McIntire were not among them. After some debate, the bill was  passed  and Mayor Robert E. Lee “asked the women the name of their candidate for police matron.” To the shock of the councilmen and the mayor, the women’s delegation requested that an “experienced women” be brought from out of town; they did want a local woman, with little or no experience, to take the job. Blood and McIntire were not mentioned.[5]        

[4] Springfield Republican, April 29, 1910.
[5] Springfield Republican, May 5, 1910; June 8, 1910; December 14, 1910.

It was December of that year before the position was finally filled. It was Mrs. Kate Cozzens who was appointed by Mayor Lee to be the new police matron, now a paid position. Cozzens and her husband had moved to Springfield from Buffalo, New York, two years previously, where she had once worked as a probation officer in juvenile court. Because of lack of space in City Hall, Cozzens was given a desk in the mayor’s office. Within days of assuming the job, she became a widow when her husband, Charles D. Cozzens, died of an aneurysm.[6]

By January, Cozzens seemed to be making friends and making a good impression on the community. Her work was much the same as that of her predecessor, Mrs. McIntire, although she occasionally aided the police in apprehending female criminals.[7]

A “throat trouble” landed Cozzens in St. John’s Hospital in late February.[1] She was in the hospital for a few days before being released, but was expected to remain at home for a few days of recovery.[8]

Kate Cozzens was fully recovered by the end of March. Recovered enough, in fact, that on March 30 she married the man whose office she shared—Mayor Robert E. Lee.[10]

[6] Springfield Republican, December 24, 1910; January 7, 1911; March 31, 1911.
[7] Springfield Republican, January 27 and 28, 1911.
[8] Springfield Republican, March 1, 1911.
[9] Springfield Republican, January 27, 1911; January 28, 1911.
[10] ​Greene County Recorder of Deeds, Marriage Records.

The couple were secretly married that evening by Rev. Dr. Frank L. Moffett, pastor of the South Street Christian church. The news came as a “great surprise” the next day, both to the Springfield community and to their friends. A few close friends knew of the relationship but did not expect a wedding until “early fall,” and none were invited to the ceremony. Due to the mayor’s busy work schedule, no honeymoon was planned. Instead, they intended to begin repairing his home on N. Washington Avenue. It was announced that the new Mrs. Lee would soon resign as police matron and “begin at once her duties as mistress of the household of the chief executive of the city.”[11]

[11] Springfield Republican, March 31, 1911.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Scandal!

The Baby Wars – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part III

In early February 1903, the Springfield Republican reported that McIntire had been given leave of absence. She vacationed in St. Louis and visited various rescue homes and institutions where she had often sent people from Springfield.[1] While she was gone, her monthly report, this time addressed to Mayor Melette, was published. Her work had not diminished; the need in Springfield continued to be overwhelming. No doubt she was exhausted and in need of a vacation.[2]

[1] Springfield Republican, February 1, 1903.
[2] Springfield Republican, February 3, 1903.

McIntire’s absence from Springfield did not prevent Mrs. Blood from publicly bickering with her. The February 4th headline read “Mrs. Blood Now Has a Baby Boy to Give Away.” The child belonged to a girl named Jones who Blood specifically said that she, not McIntire, had cared for. Blood also wanted it made clear that she had been given money to help the girl and she used it only for her benefit and no personal gain. There is no record of any response from McIntire, who may not have heard of the incident until much later.

The same day, Mayor Mellette vetoed a bill giving the police matron a salary on grounds that the city couldn’t afford it. The veto was sustained. [3]

[3] Springfield Republican, February 4, 1903.

It was two months before McIntire returned from St. Louis and resumed her job as police matron.[4] She barely had time to unpack before a week-old baby boy was brought to Springfield from a Joplin Rescue Home and given to her to care for and find a home.[5]

[4] Springfield Republican, March 29, 1903.
[5] Springfield Republican, April 1, 1903.

The baby wars continued in August when a baby girl was left on Blood’s back porch. Since both women were known for their benevolence work, it’s not surprising that babies were left with them. Less than a year earlier, another baby girl had been left with Mrs. Blood; this one she kept and named Edwina. While Blood wanted to find the most recent baby a good home, McIntire, her police matron instincts kicking in, wanted to notify the police and have them find the mother. Blood, of course, objected to that plan, at which point McIntire accused her of enjoying having babies left on her doorstep. Blood denied the accusation, stating that she did not wish to start a “baby farm,” but would take care of any baby that God sent to her. Surprisingly, in spite of their public disagreements, while Mr. Blood was visiting family in Boston, McIntire was reportedly staying with her! [6]

[6] Springfield Republican, August 16, 1903.

Next up, Part IV – Scandal!  

And the Winner Is… – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part II

By August 1902, Springfield still did not have a police matron. The WCTU had not won the battle, but was not giving up the war. Whereas:

The WCTU has for twenty years through the efficient jail and prison superintendent, satisfied the jail and city prison and done everything in their power to [illegible] and lead to better lives the many boys and girls and women who are frequently found there: Resolved, that the city council be requested to consider carefully the question of securing a police matron, who can give all her time and interest to this work, thereby saving the city many of the boys and girls who otherwise would become hardened criminals.[1]

Susan McIntire and Alice Blood were still locked in a battle for the position. McIntire had advocated for the position to be created for a number of years, while both women were involved in philanthropic work in Springfield. Both women had worked together, along with others, to found the Springfield Rescue Home. Now they were at odds, former friends vying for the same position.[2]

Susan McIntire won. Sometime during September 1902, the office was officially created and McIntire became the first woman in Springfield to hold the position of police matron.[3] In a November issue of the Springfield Republican, the myriad duties required of a police matron were listed in the required monthly report to police chief Gideon.[4]

[1] Springfield Republican, November 9, 1902.
[2] Springfield Republican, August 30, 1902.
[3] Springfield Republican, August 10, 1902.
[4] Springfield Republican, November 20, 1902.

October 3 –      Called by the police to help a crippled man. Got him fed and obtained money from the county court to put him on a train. Called to see two sisters, 15 and 17, found at the fairgrounds. Raised money to have them sent home to Mansfield and money to get them on home to Ava.

October 4 – Sent by chief over to Mrs. Hayes on Chestnut and Robberson Avenue to see a sick girl who wanted to go home. Did not do anything in this case as I thought she would be well in a day or two and could go to work.   
October 5 – Visited the jail. Found considerable work to do there for the prisoners—to see judges, lawyers, etc., during the week.

October 6 – A woman named Mrs. Thomas called at my house. Has two very sick children suffering from a tumor and quick consumption. Wants to go back to Douglas county, beyond Ava as soon as the children are able to travel. Referred me to Dr. Reinhoff, Mrs. Ed Drake and Mrs. Hayes, who are neighbors to her near the Boulevard, and for whom she had been working. She wants to be sent in a wagon as she wishes to take what little she has with her. She wants two dollars.

October 7 – Investigated the case of Mrs. Thomas and found it alright. Went to the county court and stated the whole case. After having talked it over they agreed to give me five dollars to obtain a wagon to take her to Douglas county, eighteen miles south of Ava. Will send her as soon as the sick daughter is able to be moved.

October 8 – Called by Judge Burks to the case of an almost blind woman with two small children and an invalid mother—a very destitute case. No stove to cook on—no provisions for clothes. Set to work and clothed the family—mother, daughter and children. Daughter said if she could get to Kansas City, she could get work in one of the packing houses—packing soap that did not take very good eyes. Went to county court who agreed to give me transportation part of the way. Will give her a letter that will take her to Kansas City, as she does not belong in and does not belong in Kansas City.

October 9 – Called to assist an old lady on South Kimbrough street in moving to Kansas City, where she had relations. Helped her sell her few things to advantage—pack her boxes, get wagon and take boxes to depot—got crate for sewing machine and had them all shipped by freight. Went to train with her—got her half rate ticket and saw her on train.

October 10 – Officer [illegible] called me to a most pitiable case of a woman with three children and sick husband in tent on lot west of old broom factory. The family was entirely destitute of anything at all. Took woman and child to mayor who referred me to relief officer, Witten, and stated the case. Begged enough provisions for immediate wants. Mr. Witten furnished them a stove.[5]

And so it went, in excruciating detail, for the rest of the month. The Republican reported that “Mrs. McIntire is one of the busiest women in town and she is continually besieged by people looking for help.”[6]

McIntire got the appointment, but “Springfield’s untiring police matron” did not receive the pay.[7] Despite the daily grind of work that was the lot of police matron, she went unpaid by the city. She received a stipend from the WCTU, but continually had to beg for money to cover the costs associated with her job.

[5] Springfield Republican, December 6, 1902.
[6] Springfield Republican, December 24, 1902.
[7] Springfield Republican, November 20, 1902.

Stay tuned for Part 3 and the baby wars between Blood and McIntire!

McIntire vs. Blood – Police Matrons in Greene County, Part I




As part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) do-everything policy, it instituted a prison ministry in 1880.[1] This particular ministry does not appear to have arrived in Springfield until late 1900 when a local WCTU group advocated for the office of police matron. The role of police matron, as indicated by the WCTU, requited that the matron should visit the jail each morning to learn if there were any young boys, girls, or women who needed their assistance. She should attend police court with all female prisoners and be alert to any new young ladies arriving in Springfield and make sure they did not end up in houses of “ill fame.” Local law enforcement was expected to aid her in this task. The police matron should be the only person permitted to search female prisoners, and it was her job to prevent “little girls” from being raised “to lives of shame” like their mothers and to remove them from the home if necessary. She should be sworn in just like any other police officer, wear a badge and, of course, be paid the same salary as her male counterparts. Kansas City, Ft. Smith, and St. Louis already had police matrons. It was time for Springfield to follow suit.[2]

          During a meeting of the South Side WCTU, Mrs. McIntire, local jail and prison superintendent for the WCTU, spoke about the need for a police matron. She gave members a “glimpse of the important work to which she” felt called to do.[3]

      The WCTU continued to push for the hiring of a police matron for Springfield. In mid-May, 1901, a “delegation of ladies of the WCTU” attended a city council meeting at which a bill was introduced by a Mr. Tompkins. The bill stated that a police matron would be appointed by the mayor for a term of two years with a salary of $45. With 11 votes required, the bill failed at 9 to 4.[4]

        The bill met unexpected opposition from local women who believed the money paid to a police matron could be better spent elsewhere. The ladies of the World Faith Mission argued that the money would be more useful if spent on the “indigent and unfortunate” before they ended up in jail. Mrs. Alice M. Blood, well-known in Greene County for helping children and young women, arranged to have rooms in the Mission available to house rescued girls. She then offered “to donate her time and services to this work of love without pay,” only asking for donation to aid her service. Blood proposed that she continue her relief work and take on the role of police matron.[5]

      Mrs. Susan F. McIntire responded with surprise, suggesting that Mrs. Blood did not understand that the role of “rescue worker and police matron” where quite different. McIntire agreed that it was desirable to keep women and children out of jail, “but the fact remains…they are sent there” nonetheless. Therefore, it was the police matrons job to better the condition of prisoners by

“having fines remitted, bonds reduced, getting changes of clothing for prisoners, furnishing them with pens, ink and paper, slates and pencils, quilt pieces, crochet needles and thread, to while away the tedious hours of prison life; also to secure transportation for the discharged prisoners, or those who are given a few hours to leave the city, get homes for aged and infirm women and unfortunate girls, and send them to other cities that have homes…[such] as the White Cross home and Salvation Army home of St. Louis…”

      According to McIntire, both positions were supported financially by the WCTU and had worked well together for many years. The position of police matron was supported by judges and the prosecuting attorney. The primary issue was money. And both women wanted the job.[6]

Stay tuned…

[1] The WCTU was organized in 1874 and started as an anti-liquor organization run entirely by women. By 1880, the focus expanded to include prison reform, health care, and women’s suffrage, and many others.
[2] Springfield Republican, October 24, 1900.
[3 Springfield Republican, January 20, 1901; March 17, 1901.
[4] Springfield Republican, March 13, 1901.
[5] Springfield Republican, March 16, 1901.
[6] Springfield Republican, March 17,1901.

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