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FERGUSON, LUCIA LOOMIS (1887-1962)

Journalist and civic leader Lucia Loomis Ferguson was born on March 29, 1887, in Boggy Depot, Indian Territory, to Dr. Enos O. and Lena Arbogast Loomis. Ferguson attended St. Xavier's Academy in Denison, Texas, through high school and Hardin College in Missouri for two years. Transferring to the University of Oklahoma, she graduated with a fine arts degree in 1908. At college she met Walter Scott Ferguson, son of former territorial governor Thompson B. Ferguson, and they married after her graduation. The couple purchased the Cherokee Republican, a newspaper in Alfalfa County, and worked together to establish the publication. Like her famous mother-in-law, Elva Shartel Ferguson, Lucia adapted her married life to the routine of a weekly, small-community newspaper. She first assumed the duties of subscription solicitation and bookkeeping and eventually wrote local items, interviews, editorials, and special features. Woman suffrage provided the couple with an issue that established an identity for themselves in public affairs and promoted interest in their newspaper. Although both privately supported women's political rights, they debated the suffrage question, with Lucia for and Walter against, on the pages of their newspaper. Walter Ferguson served in the Oklahoma Senate in 1916.

In 1919 the couple sold the Cherokee Republican and moved to Oklahoma City. In 1928 they moved to Tulsa, where Walter Ferguson pursued a career in banking. With the move and after giving birth to two sons and a daughter, Lucia believed that her journalistic career had ended. However, she contributed an occasional column devoted to women's interests in her mother-in-law's newspaper, the Watonga Republican, and in 1922 George B. Parker, editor of the Oklahoma News, asked her to develop a women's column to compete with Edith Johnson's column in the Daily Oklahoman. Ferguson's "A Woman's Viewpoint" became so popular that it was syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service and appeared in thirty-five newspapers across the United States. In addition, under her maiden name she wrote advice in the Tulsa Tribune's "lovelorn" column.

Following her husband's death in 1936, Ferguson supported a number of civic activities, including the Tulsa Symphony and Chamber Music organizations, allowing one group to practice in her living room. She served on the board of directors of the Thomas Gilcrease Institute, the Urban League, and the YWCA. Inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1937, Ferguson was a lifelong supporter of women's empowerment through the League of Women Voters. She helped organize the Planned Parenthood organization and worked with the Little Theater and Town Hall boards. Ferguson and prominent Tulsan Audrey Cole were killed in an automobile accident near Cross City, Florida, on February 27, 1962. Ferguson was interred at Rose Hill Mausoleum in Tulsa on March 2, 1962.

SEE ALSO: PRINTING AND PUBLISHING INDUSTRY, REPUBLICAN PARTY, WOMEN, WOMEN AND WORK.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Lucia L. Ferguson," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Hope Holway, "Lucia Loomis Ferguson," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 41 (Winter 1963-64). Durward Howes, ed., American Women, 1935-1940: A Composite Biographical Dictionary (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981). Mary Hays Marable and Elaine Boylan, A Handbook of Oklahoma Writers (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1939). Linda W. Reese, "'Dear Oklahoma Lady:' Women Journalists Speak Out," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 67 (Fall 1989). Linda W. Reese, Women of Oklahoma, 1890-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 1 March 1962.

Linda W. Reese

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