A New Face in the Capitol
If you look around the State Capitol, you’ll see the faces of some of the greats. People like Mark Twain, Stan Musial, Porter Wagoner and more, all impressively sculpted as busts in the Hall of Famous Missourians on the third floor of the Missouri State Capitol. From all walks of life, these individuals shared their talents with the world and added to the rich history of our state. Today, their busts help put a face with a name and help tell their stories. Some of these stories you’re probably familiar with, but maybe not all of them. Well, this week, I’d like to share the story of the Hall’s newest inductee who was added just this past week.
Annie White Baxter was born in 1864 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1876, her family moved to Carthage, Missouri, the county seat of Jasper County in southwest Missouri. A hard and determined worker, Annie graduated from Carthage High School and soon found work as an assistant clerk in the Jasper County clerk’s office. Excelling in her job, she was later appointed deputy clerk.
In 1890, Annie White Baxter was nominated to run for county clerk. Now, what was incredible about this was her nomination came a full 30 years before women had the right to vote. Many questioned whether Baxter was even legally allowed to run for office, as she herself could not vote. In the end, Baxter stayed in the race and defeated her opponent by over 400 votes, becoming the first women elected to public office in Missouri. Not only did she set a statewide first, Annie White Baxter also became the first female county clerk in the United States. Her opponent challenged the results of the election, but the Greene County Circuit Court upheld the results of the all-male electorate. Annie White Baxter would continue to build a reputation as one of the hardest working clerks in the state, overseeing the very elections she was prohibited from voting in.
In 1894, Annie White Baxter ran for reelection, but lost as national party trends shifted against her favor. After she left office, Baxter and her husband moved to St. Louis and then to Jefferson City, where she would spend the later part of her life. She continued her career in public service as a state registrar of lands after being appointed to the position by the Missouri secretary of state. In 1944, Annie White Baxter passed away while residing in Jefferson City.
As we mark the 100th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, I believe it is quite fitting that Annie White Baxter was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians. Stories like Annie White Baxter’s remind us just how far we have come as a country. Hopefully, by being added to the Hall of Famous Missourians, her story will continue to be told and serve as an inspiration for generations to come.
Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.