By Tally D. Fugate
Known as an Oklahoma “eighty-niner,” an oil investor, an educator, and a suffragist, Ida Frances Hasley was born in Missouri in December 1882 to Henry and Anna Ella Hasley. Her mother died during childbirth; Ida and her three siblings were raised by their step-mother Theodosia.
During the Land Run of 1889, the Hasley family staked a claim in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory. By age seventeen Ida worked as a school teacher in Oklahoma City while studying shorthand. From 1905 through 1906, she taught women shorthand and typewriting while working in a local auditor’s office.
In 1908 Ida returned to Guthrie as a stenographer. In 1911, she sought a position as an official reporter of the legislative debates, “but owing to the fact that the position has always been filled by men, her application will be barred, although she stands a good show of becoming one of the stenographers to one of the important committees. Miss Hasley . . . has the backing of Governor Lee Cruce . . . and others.” Ida was hired as a stenographer in the Oklahoma Senate for the Committee on Senate and Legislative Affairs.
From 1909 through 1916 Ida also worked as an insurance agent for several companies including the Oklahoma National Life Insurance Company in Oklahoma City. She was considered one of the best insurance agents until her license was revoked. Claiming that her license was cancelled due to a misunderstanding over a note against her by a bank in which State Insurance Commissioner A. L. Welch was interested, in 1916 Ida filed a lawsuit for $10,000 in damages in Oklahoma District Court against Welch. She lost the suit. However, it should be noted that Ida testified before the Senate Committee against the Commissioner the year before when he faced impeachment for insurance fraud.
Again, Ida found employment as a stenographer for Cottingham and Hays, attorneys for the Santa Fe Railroad. However, she supplemented her income through investing in oil, land, and bonds. After witnessing the shooting of an oil well, her fascination with petroleum became intense. Her first investment in oil was in the Garber pool. Ida “is said to be the most successful woman oil operator in Oklahoma. She has the courage to take a chance and has production.” She even organized the short-lived Hasley Petroleum Syndicate of Oklahoma City. From 1916 through 1947 she worked as an oil operator and real estate broker from an office in downtown in Oklahoma City.
Ida’s participation in women’s clubs and organizations began as early as 1901 as a member of the County Teachers’ Association of Oklahoma County. She was a Charter member of the Women of ’89 (a branch of the Eighty Niners’ Organization) in 1909. But it was her stubborn independence and push for women’s and girls’ education that led to her involvement in women’s suffrage. In 1910, she began serving as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Women’s Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter.
When the National Woman’s Party established an Oklahoma City branch in 1916, Ida switched allegiances and became NWP State Chairman, a post she held until 1922. The Oklahoma City chapter was small, having few dedicated members. She attended several local, state, regional, and national conventions. Yet, commentators viewed her as an “’active suffragist’ who placed her financial interest before her political.” When Alice Paul wrote her that her assistance was needed to convince state legislatures to ratify the federal women’s suffrage amendment, “Ida indicated that she needed to tend to the business of her oil leases and would only help if ‘unexpected conditions arise.’” However, when the Oklahoma legislature refused to vote on the amendment for passage, it was Ida, as State Chairman, who submitted the request for the extra session on June 18, 1919 to Governor James B. A. Robertson.
After the Nineteenth Amendment passed Ida maintained membership in the Oklahoma Woman’s Party. As State Chairman, she led the party to push for vocational training for girls as a means to educate them “to plan seriously for vocations and professions.” In later years, she returned to teaching in Oklahoma City until she retired.
In 1950, The Village, a newly incorporated small town abutting Oklahoma City, began annexing land. Ida owned forty acres of land inherited from her father, which she refused to sell. A Trustee at a County Planning Commission meeting described her as “a character . . . with her hose rolled down to her ankles . . . her house was raunchy. She sat on crate boxes and used small pieces of two by fours for ashtrays.” In need of income, eventually Ida agreed to sell the property, but only if the Trustees named a street after her in the new addition. Hasley Drive still exists, unfortunately not in remembrance of her work for women’s suffrage and women’s and girls’ education. Ida died on August 9, 1959 in Oklahoma City, single with no children.
1900, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.
Lester B. Colby, ed., “She Plays Oil on Hunches,” Petroleum Age 8:3 (March 1921), 75; New-State Tribune (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) 6 April 1911; U.S. City Directory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1905-1947.
Journal of the Senate of the Regular Session Sixth Legislature of the State of Oklahoma. 1911, 443; The Oklahoma Red Book, (Tulsa, OK: Press of Tulsa Daily Democrat, 1912), 2:75-76. Tulsa Daily World, 24 February 1915, 9 April 1915; The Daily Times–Journal (Oklahoma City), 8 January 1901.
“Welch Wins,” The Western Underwriter (Chicago, Illinois) 1 June 1916, 19; “Suit Against Welch Aired.” The Insurance Field, 33:21 (26 May 1916), 10; “Court Vindicates Welch,” The Insurance Field, 33:22 (2 June 1916), 11; The Altus (OK) Weekly News, 29 June 1916; “Insurance Commissioner to be Impeached,” The Spectator: An American Review of Insurance, 44:10 (11 March 1915), 129.
“History of the Women of 1889,” The Century Chest Collection (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society), online at http://www.okhistory.org/centurychest/listing.php?grouping=89ers&sort=title, accessed 4 April 2016).
The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), 25 November 1916.
The Suffragist 4(51): (23 Dec 1916), 9.
Suzanne H. Schrems, Who’s Rocking the Cradle? Women Pioneers of Oklahoma Politics from Socialism to the KKK 1900-1930 (Norman, Oklahoma: Horse Creek, 2004), 78.
Washington (D.C.) Herald, 9 December 1918; Oklahoma City Times, 18 June 1919.
Drumright (OK) Evening Derrick, 31 January 1921.
Bunte v. Halsey No. 15954 Supreme Court of Oklahoma 122 Okla. 81 (Okla. 1926); “The Village Spreads Its Wings,” A History of the Village online at http://www.thevillageok.org/history.html, accessed 5 May 2016; “Ida Frances Hasley (1882-1959),” Find A Grave Memorial at http://www.findagrave.com, accessed 4 March 2016.