Ozarks History Journal

Tag: temperance

Forgotten Women of Missouri – Dr. Fannie Williams

Galena, Kansas, Weekly Republican, October 10, 1885.

Dr. Fannie Williams is elusive. Though she was well known in the Joplin area during the 1870s and 1880s, little is known about her.

Fannie may have been born and raised in Kansas. (In 1885, her father and brother both lived in Kansas.)

She attended medical school at the University of Iowa and graduated in 1876.

By 1877, she was living in Joplin and treating patients. Although it was uncommon for female doctors to treat male patients, Fannie treated men, women, and children.

She was known occasionally as Mrs. Dr. Fannie E. Williams.  In the 1880 Joplin census record, she was listed as a widow. Unfortunately, I have yet to determine her husbands name or find her marriage record.

In 1885, she was living and working in Carthage. “Her fame as a skillful surgeon and successful practitioner [enabled] her to establish herself in the new home in a short time.” She apparently had recently moved from Joplin to Carthage. Despite being a female in this era, she seemed to have little or no problem in being accepted as a qualified, competent doctor and was thus able to have a successful practice.

By 1886, Fannie was the superintendent of the Department of Health for the Carthage WCTU and regularly gave scientific lectures. At this time, the WCTU had a scientific education department, mainly focused on health, particularly the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol.

She still had ties to Kansas and even spoke in Garland as a state lecturer for the WCTU. She was invited to give a lecture there on July 3rd, 1886.

In 1886, the Missouri WCTU convention was held in Carthage and of course, Fannie was one of the speakers. She lectured the ladies on wearing too tight clothing, apparently a pet peeve of hers.

Throughout the month of June, 1887, Fannie spent her time in an Ozark court room with Cora Lee. She was with her throughout her trial for the murder of Sarah Graham. (For more about the murder, click here.) Fannie and Cora likely met through the WCTU.

In December 1887, Fannie left the Ozarks and moved to Riverside, California, apparently for her health. She continued to practice medicine and work with the WCTU, lecturing about health.

Riverside (California) Daily Press, January 18, 1888

Fannie was sick for much of the year in 1889. In October, the Riverside Daily Press reported that her health was much improved and she hoped to return to work soon. Unfortunately, her condition worsened and she died in early November.

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!

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