Sunday, March 31, 2019

How an Unassuming Woman Accidentally Made History

Susanna Madora Kinsey Salter

Susanna Madora Kinsey was born March 2, 1860, in Belmont County, Ohio, to descendants of Quaker colonists from England. When Susanna was twelve, her family moved to an 80-acre Kansas farm near Silver Lake. Eight years later, while attending the Kansas State Agricultural College, she met Lewis Salter, an aspiring attorney. The couple married and moved to Argonia, Kansas. In 1883, Susanna gave birth to the first baby born in Argonia. She and Lewis eventually had a total of nine children, although one died in infancy. While caring for her young children, Susanna became active in the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibition Party organization. She even got the chance to meet temperance activist, Carrie Nation.

Susanna and Lewis
On April 4, 1887, Susanna was surprised to learn that she had been nominated as a candidate for mayor on the Prohibition Party ticket. Because candidates did not have to be made public before election day, she didn’t know she was a candidate until the polls opened. It turns out that several Argonia men decided to pull a prank and nominated her as a joke, hoping her loss in the election would humiliate the town’s women and discourage them from running in the future. On election day, when the Women’s Christian Temperance Union learned she was a candidate, every one of them abandoned their preferred candidate and voted for Susanna.

The prank backfired when Susanna Salter received two-thirds of the votes and was elected mayor, just weeks after Kansas women had gained the right to vote in city elections. The twenty-seven-year-old woman knew more about politics than her opponents realized. She was the daughter of the town's first mayor, and her father-in-law was Melville J. Salter, a former Kansas lieutenant governor.

Susanna’s year as mayor was uneventful, except for the precedence it set. Press from all over the country debated women in office, sparking objections to “petticoat rule” to a “wait-and-see” attitude. As compensation for her year of service, Susanna was paid one dollar. At the end of the year, she did not seek re-election.

Susanna Salter's home in Argonia, Kansas

The Salter family lived in Kansas until 1893, when Lewis raced in the Cherokee Strip land run and won a plot of land in Alva in Oklahoma Territory. Ten years later, they moved to Augusta, also in Oklahoma Territory, where Lewis practiced law and established the Headlight newspaper. After Lewis’s death in 1916, Susanna moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where her youngest child attended the University of Oklahoma. For the rest of her life, Susanna remained interested in religious and political matters, but she never sought an elected office. 

Susanna Medora Salter died in Norman, two weeks after her 101st birthday. She was buried next to her husband in Argonia. In 1933, a commemorative bronze plaque was placed in Argonia’s public square honoring her as the first woman mayor in the United States. The house she lived in during her tenure as mayor was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Although her term as mayor was uneventful, Susanna made history as the first woman mayor in the United States.

Coming in May--Julia. 

The War Between the States may have ended, but prejudice is still strong among the families journeying together on a wagon
train headed down the Santa Fe Trail.

Julia Scott is traveling to New Mexico with her father and younger brother. Her pa fought for the North in the war where her two older brothers lost their lives. Pa is looking for a fresh start in a new place, but Julia just wants him to be happy again.

Taylor Marshall, a Southerner who fought for the Confederates, is on his way to Colorado to raise horses. He’s attracted to Julia, but her father adamantly forbids them to talk to one another.

Circumstances continually throw Julia and Taylor together, and their attraction grows. Will a forbidden romance bloom? Or will they go their separate ways when the trail splits?

Pre-order now:

Vickie McDonough is the best-selling author of 50 books and novellas. Vickie grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead, she married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie’s books have won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best and the Inspirational Choice awards. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, doing stained-glass projects, gardening watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:


  1. Wow! What an amazing woman! Thank you for telling us about her!

  2. Vickie, this was an awesome post about Susanna Salter. Thank you for sharing--definitely not known history.

  3. I really enjoyed this snippet of women's history. Love how her nomination backfired on those pranksters! Great post, Vickie.