Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890 – 1920

Biography of Cora (Garrison) Davis, 1876 – 1923

By Linda D. Wilson
Independent Historian

Oklahoma suffragist Cora (Garrison) Davis was born in 1876 in Kansas, the daughter of Joseph W. and Mary Garrison. Before Cora Garrison married, she attained a broad education. In 1892 Garrison received a certificate to teach third grade from the Normal Institute in Garnett, Kansas. She attended Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas, and gained a diploma in bookkeeping. Garrison used her bookkeeping skills when she worked as deputy county treasurer for her father, who was elected Anderson County Treasurer in 1893. Cora Garrison also attended Kansas State University at Lawrence, where she studied law.

Cora Garrison married attorney Clarence Davis of Lawrence, Kansas, on June 25, 1899, at her parent's home in Garnett, Kansas. They had two children: Melbourne Ruth and Gordon, both born in Oklahoma. In 1907, Clarence Davis was elected state senator to the Oklahoma's first legislature. Cora assisted him with his clerical work while the legislature met in Guthrie. They also maintained their home in Sapulpa. While living in Sapulpa, the Davises organized a Christian Scientists society with Clarence serving as president and Cora as secretary.

Before becoming involved in the suffrage movement, Cora Davis promoted education in Oklahoma, shortly after its 1907 statehood. She recommended that co-education occur only through grade school. She had a special interest in Ardery's College in Guthrie, a private nonsectarian institution of higher education for women. Cora Davis gave the commencement address in May 1909. In January 1917 she was elected vice president of the Oklahoma Woman's Suffrage Association. At the association's annual meeting held in October that year, the organization opposed other suffragists who used militant tactics and harassed President Woodrow Wilson.

By 1920, Cora Davis was divorced and living with her two teen-aged children in St. Louis, Missouri. According to the federal census that year, she was self-employed as a producer in an oil company. In 1922, she and her children moved to Long Beach, California, where she died on March 24, 1923. Cora Davis was buried in a cemetery in Inglewood, California.

SOURCES: Baldwin (Kansas) Ledger, June 8, 1894; Creek County (Oklahoma), Republican, October 5, 1917; Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), January 14, 1917; Garnett (Kansas) Journal, August 12, 1892 and March 6, 1896; Garnett (Kansas) Journal-Plaindealer, July 8, 1892 and June 16, 1894; Garnett (Kansas) Plainsdealer and Anderson County Republican, June 30, 1899; Garnett (Kansas) Review, April 12, 1923; Kansas (Garnett, KS) Agitator, October 21, 1898 and June 30, 1899; Kansas State Census, 1895, Monroe, Anderson County, Kansas; Sapulpa (Oklahoma) Light, May 20, June 1, and December 20, 1909; U.S. Census, 1880, Rich, Anderson County, Kansas; U.S. Census, 1900, Garnett, Anderson County, Kansas; U.S. Census, 1910, Sapulpa, Creek County, Oklahoma; U.S. Census, 1920, St. Louis, (independent city), Missouri; Garnett (Kansas) Kansas, September 27, 1907.

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