Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Lucia Caroline Loomis Ferguson, 1887-1962
By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian
Oklahoma suffragist and journalist Lucia Caroline Loomis Ferguson, the daughter of Dr. Enos O. and Magdalena (Arbogast) Loomis, was born on March 29, 1887, in Boggy Depot, Indian Territory (current Oklahoma). Lucia Loomis received an advantageous education at St. Francis Xavier Academy (an all-girls educational institution until 1924) in Denison, Texas. Additionally, she received two years of education at Hardin College and Conservatory of Music (once known as the "Queen of the Western Female Schools") in Mexico, Missouri. She returned to Oklahoma, where she received a degree in fine arts in 1907 from the University of Oklahoma. Lucia Loomis met her spouse Walter Ferguson while attending the university. They married on November 7, 1908, and had three children.
Before entering politics, Walter Ferguson bought the Cherokee Republican newspaper in Cherokee, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, in September 1908. Initially, Lucia Ferguson helped her husband by handling the bookkeeping and newspaper subscriptions. However, she soon found her niche in journalism by writing a regular feature entitled "Woman's Column." Through the editorials she espoused her liberal and progressive attitudes for women's equality and for women's suffrage. Her columns were so popular that they were syndicated by Scripps-Howard.
From 1912 through 1913, Lucia Ferguson utilized her "Woman's Column" to express her belief that women were happiest when "serving the few that she loves. Because the strongest instinct possessed by a woman is a maternal one." She claimed that the women who cared for their husbands and children were more blessed than women who sat in the legislature. Her sentiments were probably based on the fact that she was a newlywed, had young children to rear, and was busy helping her husband establish the Cherokee Republican.
However, by November 1915, her column entitled "Several Reasons Why Women Should Not Vote" offered a sarcastic take on why women in the East should not waste their time working for suffrage. Generally, men do not want them to vote so that "should be enough to make them refrain from asking for such liberties." If women were allowed to change the laws, the women working in factories might receive higher wages. She quipped, "[w]omen do not know enough to vote; [however] it is all right for them to raise the children and it is generally conceded that the mothers are competent to instill decent morals in their sons regarding every other issue under the sun, but where politics are concerned they must keep away, for they might upset the scheme of things already outlined by the men." Additionally, she mentioned that women did not qualify as voters, because unlike men women did not get drunk, chew tobacco, and stand in the street indulging "in obscene conversation several days before the polls" opened.
By 1916 and 1917 Ferguson expressed her concern that women living in the strongly Democratic South would never gain suffrage. As she continually wrote about legal inequities, Ferguson saw the need for women's suffrage. Only then could they change the laws. With the responsibility of running a household, writing newspaper columns for several newspapers, and helping her husband in the newspaper business, she did not actively become involved in the suffrage movement until 1918.
In May 1918, L. Lola Walker, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and representing the National American Woman Suffrage Association, came to Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, to establish a permanent suffrage chapter. Lucia Ferguson was elected chairperson. Although she strongly supported women's suffrage, she believed the Red Cross work and women's support in the World War I home front efforts came first. She also adamantly opposed the tactics of the militant suffragists who protested in front the White House. She published her sentiment regarding militant suffragists in a column entitled "Time to Keep Still" in November 1917. In September 1919 Ferguson served on Oklahoma's ratification committee for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. After the passage of the constitutional amendment in1920, she was active in the Oklahoma League of Women Voters.
In addition to her support for women's suffrage, Ferguson actively participated in the Cherokee Study Club and the Watonga Study Club. She held the offices of president and critic as well as presented papers and played piano solos. With needlework as a popular pastime, she hosted members of the Entre Nous Embroidery Club. She also opened her home for the Ladies' Aid Society of the local church. When the Farmer's Institute was organized in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, in 1914, Ferguson served as secretary of the women's auxiliary of that organization.
During World War I, Lucia Ferguson was a member of the Alfalfa County Chapter of the American Red Cross and served on the Auxiliary Committee. Herbert Hoover, national food administrator, appointed her as county chairperson of the Food Pledge Card Campaign Committee. During the war effort, she was a member of the Alfalfa County Council of Defense.
In connection with her journalism work, Ferguson served as second vice president of the Oklahoma State Press Association in 1914 and 1915. She wrote articles for other Oklahoma newspapers such as Renfrew's Record, Frederick Leader, and Oklahoma News and for Harlow's Weekly published in Oklahoma City. She was an honorary member of the Blue Pencil Club, an organization affiliated with the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism. In 1937 Ferguson was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
After Lucia Ferguson and her husband retired, they lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was active in many civic organizations. While returning to Oklahoma City from Tampa, Florida, Ferguson was killed in an automobile accident on February 27, 1962. She was buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where her husband was buried in 1936.
Butler Herald (Butler, OK), May 22, 1913. Cherokee County Democrat (Cherokee, OK), September 10, 1919. Cherokee Messenger (Cherokee, OK), September 24, 1908. Cherokee Republican (Cherokee, OK), October 20, 1911; May 3, 1912; May 8 and November 20, 1914; July 9 and 16, 1915; May 3, 1918. Cherokee Weekly Messenger (Cherokee, OK), June 9, 1910; January 5, March 16 and November 16, 1911; March 7 and April 18, 1912; June 14 and October 11, 1917. Claremore Progress and Rogers County Democrat (Claremore, OK), May 22, 1914. Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), February 1 and May 9, 1918. Frederick Leader (Frederick, OK), September 24 and November 12, 1915. Hope Holway, "Lucia Loomis Ferguson," The Chronicles of Oklahoma, 41(Winter 1963-64), 365-369. "Mrs. Walter Ferguson," interview, Indian-Pioneer Papers, accessed on Gateway to Oklahoma History, Oklahoma Historical Society website on May 20, 2020. Mrs. Walter Ferguson, "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Can Also Rock the Boat," Harlow's Weekly 16:11 (March 12, 1919). Mary Hays Marable and Elaine Boylan, A Handbook of Oklahoma Writers (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1939), 157-159. Oklahoma News (Oklahoma City, OK), July 19, 1915. Oklahoma State Register (Guthrie, OK), June 3, 1915; September 6, and November 29, 1917; May 23, 1918. Linda W. Reese, "Dear Oklahoma Lady: Women Journalists Speak Out," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 67 (Fall 1989): 264-295. Linda W. Reese, "Ferguson, Lucia Loomis," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications. Linda W. Reese, Women of Oklahoma, 1890-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997). Renfrew's Record (Alva, OK), November 26, 1915. Sapulpa Daily Herald (Sapulpa, OK), February 28, 1962. Star-Gazette (Sallisaw, OK), April 2, 1915. University Oklahoma (Norman, OK), April 13, 1915. University of Oklahoma News Journal (Norman, OK), March 29, 1915. U.S. Census, 1910, Cherokee, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. U.S. Census, 1930 and 1940, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current, accessed on Ancestry.com on May 20, 2020. Wapanucka Press (Wapanucka, OK), November 12, 1908. Watonga Herald (Watonga, OK), February 28, 1962. Watonga Republican (Watonga, OK), February 15, 1912 and March 25 and July 22, 1915.