Biographical Sketch of Edith Theresa Barber

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Edith Theresa Barber, 1882-1951

By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian

Oklahoma suffragist Edith Theresa Barber was born on November 25, 1882, in Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. She was one of three daughters born to John and Hannah (Venable) Barber. By 1899 Edith and her older sister Mary had trekked to Blackwell, Oklahoma Territory, where they attended a normal school for teachers. In 1906 Edith Barber graduated from the Still Osteopathic College*Edith Barber possibly attended Dr. A. T. Still's Osteopathic College in Kirkville, Missouri. This author is not aware of an osteopathic college by that name in Oklahoma Territory in 1906. and established medical practices in Edmond, Perkins, and Stillwater, Oklahoma Territory. In November 1906 she was a charter member of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association and was elected as vice president.

In August 1909, as a member of the Oklahoma Woman's Suffrage Association, a NAWSA chapter, Edith Barber traveled from Oklahoma City to Shawnee, Oklahoma, to gain signatures on a petition for a suffrage amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution and to attend the Farmers' Union Convention. Because Oklahoma farmers supported women's suffrage, Barber solicited their continued support. In October 1909, Barber attended the annual state meeting of the Oklahoma Woman's Suffrage Association held in Oklahoma City. She was elected vice president of that organization.

After the suffragists submitted the petition to the Oklahoma legislature, Oklahoma Senator Reuben Roddie of Ada, Oklahoma, stated that the petition had fraudulent signatures. Prominent Oklahoma suffragists including Edith Barber, Adelia Stephens, Anna Laskey, and Dr. Ruth Gay signed the response to Roddie in January 1910. In May that year Barber spoke about her experiences as a petition worker before a local suffrage meeting in Oklahoma City, where Ida Porter-Boyer gave the main address. In June 1910 Edith and her sister Mary (the future Mrs. Mary I. Goddard) hosted a program at their Oklahoma City home, where Edith Barber presented a talk entitled "Do Women Want the Ballot."

At the end of June 1910, Edith Barber moved to Atoka, Oklahoma, where she established her medical practice. From Atoka, she traveled to neighboring towns such as Coalgate to care for patients. On August 30, 1910, Barber married Atoka resident and osteopathic doctor Ambrose L. Halcomb. They soon moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a medical examiner. Around September 1911, she joined the Los Angeles Woman's Rights Suffrage Clan and was elected vice president. She and other officers including Dr. Sarah J. Tedford spoke on suffrage before an "enthusiastic number of seamen" at the Sailors' Union Hall.

By 1918 Ambrose and Edith Halcomb had moved to Colorado. In the fall of that year Edith Halcomb made an unsuccessful bid on the Socialist ticket for representative of the Third Congressional District. In 1920 the Halcombs lived in Pueblo, Colorado, where they had a medical practice. They had three children: Mary T., John Ambrose, and La Vern. Edith and Ambrose Halcomb divorced on April 15, 1929. Edith married Francis M. Tompkins in Pueblo in April 1933. Francis Tompkins preceded her in death in 1935. Edith Tompkins died on April 19, 1951, and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Colorado. Her first husband Ambrose L. Halcomb died in November 1957 in San Diego, California.


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