Eads Election of 1934: Women organized to take over local government

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Published Tuesday, November 5, 2019

In 1934, women in Eads wanted a better community and decided to do something about it. In a bold move at the time that would draw national attention, and unbeknownst to their husbands, they set out to change government and the town. The Kiowa County Press recorded what started as an uninteresting election season through the surprise election results.

 

From the April 6, 1934, edition of the Kiowa County Press:

NEW DEAL PROMISED IN TOWN AFFAIR

Mayor Rittgers And His Harem Give City Dads Surprise. 

MADAMS GLADLY QUALIFY. 

One of the most interesting and widely published city elections in the State of Colorado was held in the little town of Eads last Tuesday. Newspapers everywhere carried headlined articles about it, and National radio hook-ups heralded the news of 6 women who defeated their husbands at the polls. In a secret way women of the city who were disgusted with the manner in which affairs have been conducted in the past, much to the surprise of friend husband candidates, ran in 37 voters at the polls who wrote their names on the ballots placing each and every woman in the lead. Highest number of votes secured by any one male candidate was that of W. S. McCracken. He polled 28 and his wife 33. The vote was cast about 30 minutes before the polls closed.

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PICT Election of 1934 Eads, Colorado, Ballot.jpg
Election of 1934: Eads, Colorado, Ballot

The affair has caused much laughter in Eads, and many are wondering how the burley old mayor rules the roost in such a manner as to defeat his wife and one other candidate. It has been suggested that he has donated heavily to the sewing and frequently attends Ladies Aid. We presume,            however, that had the job of mayor carried any particular authority he too would have been defeated. 

Anyway, Eads will have a board of trustees who mean business when they speak, and judging from a few statements made by the incoming council they expect to watch slot machines, gambling, beer licenses, bootlegging, all town licenses, sanitation, amusement tax and others sources of revenue with a view to collecting all back taxes and cleaning out undesirable situations that have been overlooked by their husbands. They even contemplate putting in women on every town job, including city marshal. And when a group of women, especially wives, set out to accomplish a task like this they will either get it done or hell will be popping. The writer knows enough about the group to predict that none of them will care if it pops!

The idea has made such a hit in Eads that many have suggested a similar practice at the polls this fall filling county offices with ladies. Results of the new board will be noted with interest by voters, and their success will doubtlessly determine whether or not it is advisable to continue their practice. (This might be used as a challenge to the new board.) Won't it be funny next fall to see Hall, Coughenour, Clay and Mayne at home every evening rocking the babies, like former members of the town board will necessarily be doing? 

If anyone is in doubt as to whether or not the new board means business, just take a squint at some of the following statements: 

''This will be no Ma Ferguson affair. I intend to serve in the official capacity to which I am elected in my own right. - Mrs. Lee Whitelaw Pyles. 

''My ambition in taking this office is to further civic improvement. Let's make Eads a clean place in which to live." - Mrs. Flossie Hopper Infield

''We are in need of an ordinance to require the cleaning up of residents and business properties, vacant lots and alleys, also an ordinance to prohibit the keeping of livestock within the city limits." - Mrs. Ethel Johnson

"A curfew law, which will regulate the hours of not only children; but husbands as well, is an immediate need. Of course the mayor is to be excluded from any such ruling." - Mrs. Bess Davidson.

''All men holding city positions are to be removed and replaced by women. This includes the position of town Marshall, town clerk, town treasurer, town attorney, fire chief and dog catcher, also numerous other offices. See that we have your applications early." - Mrs. Edith Pyle La Velle.

"I will not qualify for my position as Trustee." - Mrs. W. S. McCracken.

The vote was as follows:

Mayor:

A.R. Rittgers    34

Mrs. A.R. Rittgers        11

Trustees:

Howard Davidson       24

Mrs. Howard Davidson           34

J.M. Infield      26

Mrs. J.M. Infield          37

Loyd Johnson  26

Mrs. Loyd Johnson      35

J.C. LaVelle      26

Mrs. J.C. LaVelle          37

W.S. McCracken         28

Mrs. W.S. McCracken 33

F.L. Pyles         26

Mrs. F.L. Pyles 37

John Drown     1

Powell Higginbottom  2

M.C. Weisdorfer         1

Please note the count for the last three candidates on the list. Now, draw your own conclusion whether or not they voted for themselves!

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The Kiowa County Press is an independent newspaper published in Eads, Kiowa County, Colorado, and to the world at KiowaCountyPress.net.