Susanna M. Salter
Susanna Madora "Dora" Salter (March 2, 1860 – March 17, 1961) was a U.S. politician and activist. She served as mayor of Argonia, Kansas
Argonia, Kansas
Argonia is a city in Sumner County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 501.-Geography:Argonia is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land.-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 534...

, becoming the first woman elected as mayor and the first woman elected to any political office in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


Early life

Susanna Madora Kinsey was born near the unincorporated community of Lamira in Smith Township, Belmont County, Ohio
Smith Township, Belmont County, Ohio
Smith Township is one of the sixteen townships of Belmont County, Ohio, United States. The 2000 census found 1,445 people in the township.-Geography:Located in the central part of the county, it borders the following townships:*Richland Township - north...

, was the daughter of Oliver Kinsey and Terissa Ann White Kinsey, the descendants of Quaker colonists from England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. At age 12, she moved to Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 with her parents. Eight years later, she entered Kansas State Agricultural College (present-day Kansas State University
Kansas State University
Kansas State University, commonly shortened to K-State, is an institution of higher learning located in Manhattan, Kansas, in the United States...

) in Manhattan
Manhattan, Kansas
Manhattan is a city located in the northeastern part of the state of Kansas in the United States, at the junction of the Kansas River and Big Blue River. It is the county seat of Riley County and the city extends into Pottawatomie County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 52,281...

, and was able to skip her freshman year, having taken college-level courses in high school, but was forced to drop out six weeks short of graduation due to illness. While a student, she met Lewis Allison Salter, an aspiring attorney and the son of former Kansas Lt. Governor Melville J. Salter
Melville J. Salter
Melville Judson Salter was a politician and civic leader who was twice elected Lieutenant Governor of Kansas....

. They married soon thereafter and moved to Argonia, where she was active in the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was the first mass organization among women devoted to social reform with a program that "linked the religious and the secular through concerted and far-reaching reform strategies based on applied Christianity." Originally organized on December 23, 1873, in...

 organization, and became acquainted with nationally-known temperance activist Carrie A. Nation. In 1883, she gave birth to the first baby born in Argonia, Francis Argonia Salter. Lewis and Susanna Salter had a total of nine children, one of whom was born during her tenure as mayor and died in infancy. Following the city's incorporation in 1885, her father and husband were elected as the city's first mayor and city clerk, respectively.

First female mayor

Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia on April 4, 1887. Although her term was uneventful, her election generated worldwide interest from the press, sparking a debate regarding the feasibility of other towns following Argonia lead, which ranged from objections to a "petticoat rule" to a "wait-and-see" attitude. After only a year in office, she declined to seek reelection. As compensation for her service, she was paid one dollar. The house she lived in during her tenure as mayor was added to the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

 in September 1971.

Later years

Following her term as mayor, Salter and her family continued to live in Argonia, until 1893 when her husband acquired land on the Cherokee Strip
Cherokee Outlet
The Cherokee Outlet, often mistakenly referred to as the Cherokee Strip, was located in what is now the state of Oklahoma, in the United States. It was a sixty-mile wide strip of land south of the Oklahoma-Kansas border between the 96th and 100th meridians. It was about 225 miles long and in 1891...

 in Alva, Oklahoma
Alva, Oklahoma
Alva is a city in Woods County, Oklahoma, along the Salt Fork Arkansas River. The population was 4,945 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Woods County....

. Ten years later, they moved to Augusta, Oklahoma, where her husband practiced law and established the Headlight newspaper. They eventually joined the town's settlers in moving to Carmen, Oklahoma
Carmen, Oklahoma
Carmen is a town in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 411 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Carmen is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , all of it land....

. Following her husband's death in 1916, she moved to Norman, Oklahoma
Norman, Oklahoma
Norman is a city in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, United States, and is located south of downtown Oklahoma City. It is part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, Norman was to have 110,925 full-time residents, making it the third-largest city in Oklahoma and the...

, accompanying her youngest child at the University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. the university had 29,931 students enrolled, most located at its...

. She lived in Norman for the remainder of her life and maintained an interest in religious and political matters, although she never again sought elected office. She died two weeks after her 101st birthday, and was buried in Argonia.
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