The first woman settler in Montgomery County is reputed to have
been Aunt Nellie Stafford. In the years that followed thousands of others moved
into the county or were born here. These women established homes, nurtured
families and made countless contributions to the development of the community.
Women were at the forefront of establishing schools, churches, hospitals and the
library. They worked to make the community better, prettier, safer and
healthier. Women's activities included working for their own vote, crusading for
temperance, improving the education and welfare of children, caring for the sick
and needy, and bringing culture to the town and countryside. Many women worked
as professionals, many in business, but most were homemakers volunteering their
time and effort. To honor the contribution of all of these women, this small
collection of biographical sketches has been published.
The Red Oak branch of the American Association of University Women began this project in observance of the first WOMEN'S HISTORY
WEEK established by an act of Congress and President Ronald Reagan for the week of March 7-12, 1982.
An initial resource committee was established to develop a collection of names and brief biographies of women who have contributed to the
community in the past. Members of the original resource committee were Ruth Anne Draper, Bettie McKenzie, AAUW Women s Chair,
Alice Mellott, Helen Murphy, Elizabeth Richards, Grace Wallin, Jeannette E. Winters, all Red Oak, Violet Anderson (later Alta Shogren) of
Stanton and Shirley Honeyman, rural Emerson. The committee hoped to have its
lists of women for the National Women's History Week and to present them at a
breakfast gathering to celebrate the occasion of the First Women's History Week.
The committee provided information blanks to leader's of clubs, organizations, and churches. The appeal for names went out through
newspaper articles and a local radio program. The only requirement, other than the person making the nomination should consider the
nominee worthy of recognition was that the women suggested for the list should no longer be living.
A start was made on gathering a beginning list of women from Montgomery County by the March 8, 1982 breakfast and an original skit was
written and produced telling of some of the women in Montgomery County's past. This skit has been included in the appendix of this volume.
Nine months later, with the help of many individuals, this initial collection is being printed. Many of the names presented the committee were
accompanied with biographical information. However, other names suggested had to be researched and sometimes very little information was
available in the short time allowed the researchers. The biographical information presented the committee has sometimes been edited, and in
some cases represents information relayed from more than one source. We are including in the appendix a list of the names and some of the
principal contributors of the information provided about the women. There are many other contributors not named who have given ideas,
sources, or other information.
Resources used by the researchers included History of Montgomery County by W. W. Merritt Sr. (The Express Publishing Company, Red
Oak Iowa 1906); History of Montgomery County, Des Moines: (Iowa Historical and Biographical Co. 1881); microfilm files of the Red Oak
Express and Red Oak Sun, Directory of Montgomery County, Iowa 1898. Two booklets: Red Oak at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century
1901 and Just A Glance at Red Oak, published by the Red Oak Commercial Club. Vital data was provided by Sellergren-Lindell Funeral
Home and Nelson Boylan Funeral Chapel of Red Oak, by the Montgomery County Recorder and the records of the City of Red Oak for
Evergreen Cemetery. The committee wishes to thank all of those who have so generously provided information about these women and who
have helped with the collection, typing, editing and final publishing of this volume.