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
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.
California, Death Index, 1940-1997, for Ambrose L. Halcomb, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 7, 2020. California, Occupational Licenses, Registers, and Directories, 1876-1969, for Edith Halcomb, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 7, 2020. Canon City Record (Canon City, CO), November 28, 1918. Cheyenne Record (Cheyenne, CO), October 10, 1918. Coalgate Record (Coalgate, OK), July 21, 1910. Colorado, County Marriage Records and State Index, 1862-2006, Edith Halcomb and Francis M. Tompkins, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 7, 2020. Colorado Statewide Divorce Index, 1900-1939, FamilySearch.org, accessed on May 11, 2020. Edmond Enterprise (Edmond, OK), September 30, 1909. Edmond Enterprise and Oklahoma County News (Edmond, OK), March 21, April 12, May 17, and August 30, 1906. Edmond Sun (Edmond, OK), March 21, 1906, and November 19, 1908. Edmond Twice-A-Week Enterprise (Edmond, O.T.), September 17, 1907. Ida Husted Harper, ed., The History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, Vol 6 (National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 527 [LINK]. Indian Citizen-Democrat, (Atoka, OK), June 30 and November 10, 1910. Industrial Democrat (Oklahoma City, OK), September 10, 1910. Lamar Register (Lamar, CO), October 30, 1918. Ohio, Births and Christening Index, 1774-1973, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 7, 2020. Oklahoma, County Marriage Records, 1890-1995, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 9, 2020. Oklahoma City Daily Pointer (Oklahoma City, OK), May 25 and June 10, 1910. People's Press (Perkins, OK), February 18, 1909. Perkins Journal (Perkins, OK), March 5 and 12, 1909. Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), May 29, 1921. Renfrow's Record (Alva, OK), October 29, 1909. J. A. Ross, D.O., "An Early History of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association," www.okosteo.org, accessed on May 8, 2020. San Pedro News-Pilot (San Pedro, CA), September 7, 1931. Shawnee Daily Herald (Shawnee, OK), January 25, 1910. Shawnee News (Shawnee, OK), August 18, 1909. Times-Record (Blackwell, O.T.), August 17, 1899. U.S. Census, 1900, Blackwell, Kay County, Oklahoma. U.S. Census, 1910, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. U.S. Censuses, 1920 and 1930, Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado. U.S. Census, 1940, Fountain Town, El Paso County, Colorado. U.S. City Directory, 1913, Los Angeles, California. U.S. City Directories, 1919 and 1935, Pueblo, Colorado, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 11, 2020. U.S. Find A Grave, for Dr. Edith Theresa Barber Tompkins and Francis M. Tompkins, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 7, 2020.