On February 28, 1920, Oklahoma became one of 35 states that ratified the 19th Amendment, and by August of that year, women had the the right to vote.

In honor of the 100th Anniversary, The Shawnee News-Star would like to recognize local suffragette Catherine Ann "Kate" Barnard.

According to Tom Terry, former president of the Pottawatomie County Historical Society and Museum, Kate Barnard was the first woman to be elected as a state official in Oklahoma and the second to be elected to state office in America.

"She was an amazing person because she had to undergo so many hardships," Terry said.

Barnard, Terry said, was the first Oklahoma Commissioner of Charities and Corrections and she served in the position for eight years.

"She got more votes than the governor and he didn't like that very much," Terry said. "When they took office in the old State Capital building in Guthrie...They put her on the third floor next to the mens' restroom...(and) the main thing you saw...was the mens' restroom and then her."

During her time as the Commissioner of Charities and Corrections, Terry said Barnard was very involved in creating fair conditions for prisoners.

"She went to Kansas and saw the poor conditions the prisoners were living in and she was able to move them to Oklahoma and helped build (a) prison," Terry said.

Terry said Barnard influenced the first Governor Charles N. Haskell to return the prisoners to Oklahoma and it resulted in building the Kate Barnard Correctional Center in Oklahoma City.

In addition to her corrections work, Terry said Barnard was also involved in charity work and often help people who were wronged.

"Toward the end of her first term she got money back for Native American orphans who were swindled," Terry said. "The governor cut her budget (as a result)."

Barnard suffered many hardships, Terry said, from unfair treatment in the government to living in harsh conditions.

"She did amazing work in spite of terrible circumstances," Terry said.

In addition to everything else she did, Terry said, Barnard also participated in the "Shawnee Demands" program, which were meetings between the people and the government and resulted in the basis of the state constitution.

Terry said Barnard was born in Nebraska on May 23, 1875. He lived in Kansas with relatives before moving to Newalla, Oklahoma and eventually Oklahoma City where she went to school, became a teacher and taught until 1902.

Terry said after her political career, Barnard lived in Oklahoma until she died at the age of 55 on February 23, 1930 in Oklahoma City.

"She was actually buried in an unmarked grave," Terry said. "Until some women found out (in the 1980s) and got her grave marked."

Locally, Barnard has an elementary school named after her in Tecumseh. The building is on the National Register of Historical Places. There is also a bronze statue of her on display at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Barnard was also inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 1982 for her work in the government and for the state.