Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Ola May Adams McPherren, 1877-1950

By Linda D. Wilson, Independent Historian

Oklahoma suffragist Ola May (Adams) McPherren, a daughter of Samuel Plumer Adams and Fannie Kate (Powers) Adams, was born on November 12, 1877, in Louisville, Kentucky. On October 11, 1899, Ola May Adams married Charles Elmo McPherren in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Charles McPherren attended the University of Mississippi, where he attained a law degree. He served as the mayor of Caddo, Indian Territory, in the 1890s. In September 1898, Charles McPherren served with Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. McPherron eventually had a law practice in Durant, Oklahoma. He was among the few Oklahoma men who favored women's suffrage. As a Democrat, he served as a state senator from District 20 in the eighth and ninth state legislatures from 1921 to 1924.

Ola May McPherren entered the Oklahoma suffrage movement in 1919 as a member of the Ratification Committee, headed by Kathryn Pierce of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma women organized the Ratification Committee in order to put pressure on the state's legislature to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Oklahoma suffragist Aloysius Larch-Miller was instrumental in getting Governor James B. A. Robertson to call the legislature into a special session in February 1920. Oklahoma, as the thirty-third state, ratified the Nineteenth Amendment on February 28, 1920.

Ola May and Charles McPherren divorced circa 1921. She remarried; marrying Birney A. Lendrum of Oakland, California. In 1926 she was listed as a Republican and as a housewife in the California voter registration list. She died on March 21, 1950, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California. Apparently, she had no children by either marriage. Her first husband Charles Elmo McPherren died on November 26, 1949, in Oklahoma City. Birney A. Lendrum, her second husband, died on October 6, 1955, in California.

SOURCES: Andrew N. Adams, comp. and ed., A Genealogical History of Robert Adams of Newbury, Mass., and His Descendants, 1635-1900 (Rutland, VT: Privately printed, 1900), 265 and 435. California, U.S. Death Index, 1940-1997, for Ola and Birney A. Lendrum, accessed on on December 11, 2020. California, U.S., Voter Registrations, 1900-1968, accessed on on December 11, 2020. Cherokee County Democrat (Tahlequah, OK), September 10, 1919. Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, OK), September 21, 1919. Find A Grave, Charles Elmo McPherren, accessed on on December 11, 2020. Find A Grave, Ola Lendrum, accessed on December 11, 2020. Ida Husted Harper, ed., The History of Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920, Vol. 6 (NY: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 533 and 536 [LINK]. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., Marriages, 1838-1911, accessed on on December 11, 2020. U.S. Census, 1880, Calhoun, McMinn County, Tennessee. U.S. Census, 1900, Township 5, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. U.S. Census, 1910 and 1920, Durant, Bryan County, Oklahoma. U.S. Census, 1930, Oakland, Alameda, California. U.S., College Student Lists, 1763-1924, for Charles Almo [Elmo] McPherren, Historical Catalogue of the University of Mississippi, 1849-1909, accessed on on December 11, 2020. U.S., Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940, accessed on on December 11, 2020.

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