[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

OLIVER, Virginia - First Woman Elected to County Office


Posted By: Joey Stark
Date: 9/13/2011 at 17:03:45

"The Fairfield Ledger"
Thursday, March 7, 1985

National Women's History Week

First woman elected to county post
By Dorothy Kistler

Jefferson County has been privileged to have many dedicated public servants.

Virginia OLIVER, the first woman elected to a local county office -- she served as county recorder for 32 years -- justly deserves recognition as outstanding in this field.

In 1934, being a working mother was far from customary; but this extraordinary woman faced the difficult situations of her life with courage and determination.

Virginia ROTH, a Burlington native, came to Fairfield to teach at Logan School. Here, she met and married Henry A. OLIVER, quit teaching and settled into the typical role of wife and mother to the couple's two daughters.

Jobs were hard to find when OLIVER became seriously ill, so Virginia decided to prepare herself to run for the office of county recorder. She taught herself to type and learned to drive a car, once using her new-found skill to back into a hay rack.

Mrs. OLIVER's only previous political experience was as a member of the school election counting board. Her first election, in 1934, was very close: in fact, the initial count indicated that she had lost, but a recount reflected her first victory and she took office Jan. 2, 1935.

In the next 13 elections, she was seldom opposed for office and usually got more votes than any other candidate for a county office. Mrs. OLIVER, who became known as "Mrs. Republican" and "Mom" to most courthouse employees, retired at the end of her term in 1966.

Co-workers at the courthouse found Mrs. OLIVER to be unfailingly kind, helpful and always willing to go beyond the call of duty. She always had a smile for everyone who came into the office. Her happy-go-lucky attitude and efficiency kept the recorder's office running smoothly for all her years in office.

During her years in office, Mrs. OLIVER saw many new programs put into operation, including the Old Age Assistance program, the corn sealing program and the filing of separation and discharge papers for military personnel. She saw a much more efficient system of registering personal property items installed and also saw a phenomenal growth in the work load of the office.

On her retirement, an article in the Fairfield Ledger stated "The office calls for a keen sense of order, perfection as a typist for records which must be correct to the last comma, legible handwriting, dependable propriety, and above all, a sense of humor and the ability to handle the public. In all these qualities, her co-workers report, 'Mom' excels."

Because of Mrs. OLIVER's independent spirit, she never wanted or expected anything; instead, she did whatever had to be done.

Her husband died in October of 1935 (sic - 1936), but she continued to work full time and be active in her church and community. She didn't have time to feel sorry for herself. In addition to her job, she stoked the furnace, carried out the ashes, put up storm windows and made clothes for her daughters.

She bought a house and provided music lessons for the girls when they showed musical ability. Both daughters, Jean KNIGHT, a property manager in Davenport, and Kathleen POOLE of Amarillo, Texas, were able to finish college.

Mrs. OLIVER was a charter member of the Lionels and the Wesleyan Service Guild of the First United Methodist Church, and a long-time member of Business and Professional Women, Soroptimists, Rebekahs and the state Association of Recorders. One of her favorite hobbies was reading.

Virginia OLIVER -- a truly remarkable woman for her time.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I am not related to the person(s) mentioned.

Note: Henry OLIVER is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Fairfield, with his first wife; Virginia was taken back to Burlington when she passed away in 1976 and is buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery there.


Jefferson Biographies maintained by Joey Stark.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]