Monday, March 18, 2013

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society

March 25th Meeting
Contact: Sherry Kline – 620-326-3401

On Monday, March 25th, at 6:30 p.m., Dolores Carr, Wellington, will present the Women’s History month program “Who Was Mary Elizabeth Lease: Kansas Homesteader, Mission Teacher, or Political Activist?”  to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Best of Orient meeting room, 114 E. Lincoln, Wellington.

The meal begins at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting at 6:30 p.m.. There is no charge for the program and everyone is welcome. For possible bad weather cancellation, contact Best of the Orient at 620-399-8575 or President Jane Moore at 620-447-3266.

Dolores Carr said that Mary Elizabeth Lease, author, speaker, and editor, was born in Pennsylvania to upper-class Irish immigrants Joseph P. and Mary Elizabeth Clyens, was raised in New York, and was well educated before coming to Kansas to teach in an Osage Mission after her father and older brothers died fighting for the union in the civil war. 

According to Carr, Mary Elizabeth Lease “read for the law” while earning money washing clothes for the neighbors, and after marrying, she and her husband homesteaded in Kingman County, Kansas but were not able to make a go of it, and she and her family moved to Wichita where she founded a club for woman who wanted to improve their education.

 “She became a speaker for the Populist Party,” Carr said, “and was often called “The Lady Orator of the West” and “the Kansas Cyclone” by some because of her speaking abilities.”

 “She could just mesmerize the audience,” Carr said.

Carr stated that Lease believed that if she had been a man she would have been appointed to the U. S. Senate, but Carr added that because Lease promoted women’s suffrage as well as temperance and was politically active in the Populist Party some comments about her were not complimentary.

“She was probably a woman ahead of her time,” Carr said.

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