There was a certain symmetry to Marjorie Bull’s election as Jasper County Clerk in 1990.
Almost 100 years to the day, Annie Baxter became the first woman to hold the elected position – any elected position, actually – in the state, and the first female county clerk in the United States. A century later, Bull became the second woman to hold the position in Missouri.
That same year, Missouri Southern honored Bull as the first recipient of the newly created Annie Baxter Award. Developed by the university’s Social Science Department, the award is presented annually to a prominent woman who makes notable contributions to her community in the spirit of Baxter.
As part of the recognition, Carthage artist Bill Snow created a bust of Baxter that was presented to Bull. The bust remained on display in the courthouse for many years, but had to be moved when renovation work began.
“At first, I brought it home with me,” says Bull. “But I didn’t really have a place to put it, and thought it would be nice to donate it back to the university.”
Bull was appointed by then Gov. John Ashcroft to fill the county clerk position following the sudden death of Ronald E. Davis. In 1990, voters elected her to continue on in the position.
“I had worked in the election office before I became clerk,” says Bull. “I loved meeting and talking with people. It was a fun job for me.”
Bull retired in 1998, after more than 30 years of working in the Jasper County Courthouse.
Thanks to her generosity, the piece of university and local history has found a new home – on display in Spiva Library.
“I’m thrilled it’s there,” says Bull. “I’m interested in local history and genealogy. When I worked in the courthouse, I had several young people come in to talk to me for stories about the courthouse, when it was built and about the mural, which includes Annie Baxter (among other figures and events from Carthage history).”
About Annie Baxter
While most women’s lives in the late Victorian era were centered around their families and the domestic duties at home, Annie White Baxter ran for political office at a time when women were not able to vote, says Brad Belk, Missouri Southern’s community historian.
“Interestingly, she was elected by the men of Jasper County by a plurality of 468 votes … amazingly, 30 years before women had access to the ballot box,” he says.
Her opponent in the election challenged the results, which were upheld by the Greene County Circuit Court judge. After an election defeat four years later, Baxter was appointed state registrar of lands, serving in that position until 1916.
A bronze bust of Baxter is among those on display in the Missouri Capitol Rotunda’s Hall of Famous Missourians.