AVOC.info
Quick-Search:    

Advanced Search


9-24-03 Jeannette Rankin of Montana & Georgia

A Person of History from Montana with Georgia connections.

AVOC Article

.

September 24, 2003

.

JEANNETTE RANKIN –First Woman Member of Congress

.

By Wendell Dawson, Editor

.

Visit to Helena, Montana; Jeannette Rankin Sites 7-23-2003

.

For our 2003 Vacation, Betty, Jennifer and I all flew to Salt Lake City, Utah.We intended to visit Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, Badlands and parts of five states: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.We saw and did many things.One of our most interesting days was a stop in Helena, Montana, and the State Capitol.We wanted to see if we could find any Jeannette Rankin Memorabilia.(I had personally known Miss Rankin during her times spent in Georgia).

.

Montana State Capitol, Helena, MT July 2003

.

In the State Capitol, we found a beautiful building with much art, paintings, murals, etc.In the rotunda, we saw the full-size statue of Jeanette Rankin and her quote, “I want to stand up for my country, but I cannot vote for war.”

.

Jeanette Rankin Statue in Montana Capitol – Jennifer and Wendell Dawson –July 2003

.

We spent a couple hours in Montana Historical Society Library & Museum.There were many interesting folders on her career and life in Montana.   We spent time looking through and copying Jeannette Rankin vertical files—clippings, pictures etc.We found pictures of a young Jeannette Rankin.

.

A Young Jeannette Rankin

.

I also found a copy of the January 1958 Edition of McCall’s Magazine in which John Kennedy had written about “Three Women of Courage in American History “ and Miss Rankin was one of those.   I remember seeing the article at the time.  I think Miss Rankin had left a copy with my Aunt Becky Barnette in Watkinsville when it was published.

.

JFK McCall's Magazine Article

.

After leaving Helena, we drove east toward South Dakota.At Townsend, MT, traveling on State Route 287, we took MT 12 then MT 284 to Avalanche Gulch-site of Historic Landmark—Rankin Ranch.The ranch was owned by her brother, Wellington Rankin and served as Jeanette’s Montana home from 1923 to 1956.This ranch was really tucked away several miles from anywhere!You have to be looking for it.Betty pulled some of the vegetation in the field outside the fence.The ranch is privately owned and has no tours or welcome center.

.

Jennifer Dawson Rankin Ranch Avalanche Gulch, MT July 03

.

Jennifer bought two new Rankin books at Historical Society—“Jeannette Rankin, America’s Conscience” by Norma Smith, Montana Historical Society Press, 2002; and “Jeannette Rankin, 1880-1973-Bright Star in the Big Sky”, by Mary Barmeyer O’BRIEN-FALCON PRESS PUBLISHING CO, INC, 1995:MONTANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY PRESS; P.O. BOX 1201, HELENA, MT 59620-1201.

.

We read the Smith book while traveling and could vividly picture Jeannette Rankin on her knees scrubbing the floors of the ranch house- in her senior years.   She would just be a part of the community while staying at the ranch.We also learned that she spoke at the Capitol to the Montana Constitutional Convention around 1971, a year or so before her death.

.

One anecdote from the Norma Smith book really caught our attention.She described numerous visits to Miss Rankin’s residence at Shady Grove in Oconee County, Georgia.On one visit in the mid-sixties, she described how a lady visitor from Montana was getting a gas fill-up at a station just out of Watkinsville.When the “attendant” noticed the Montana tag, he commented that “.we have a lady from Montana who lives just up the road-Jeannette Rankin..”.The visitor responded “…yes, she is a nice lady and you folks need to take good care of her”..!   The “attendant” then responded: “..Huh, Miss Rankin doesn’t need anybody to take care of her; she can take care of herself!..”

.

We are convinced that the visitor was filling her tank at Dawson’s Grocery at Butlers Crossing and the ‘attendant’ was the proprietor himself: Rayford “Pop” Dawson.I could just picture my father in such a conversation.

.

Dawson Grocery - Butlers Crossing Circa 1960-1982

.

Miss Rankin has always been a fascinating subject to me because of her place in history as the first Woman in Congress and the only vote recorded against World War II when President Roosevelt made his “day of infamy” speech after December 7, 1941.

.

On this trip I learned that after Jeannette did not seek reelection in 1942, Mike Mansfield went on to succeed her and was later U S Senator, Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan.He met with Miss Rankin when she was in Washington heading up the ‘Jeannette Rankin Brigade” in the late 1960’s lobbying against the Vietnam War.A life-size statue of Mike Mansfield and his wife stands in another prominent part of the Montana Capitol Rotunda.

.

My daughter, Jennifer Dawson, developed an interest in Miss Rankin in her youth writing a High School paper (an A) about her and later a College Paper.She has continued to maintain an avid interest.She has seen the statue of Jeannette Rankin in Statuary Hall in the U S Capitol.

.

In November 2001, I wrote an article about Miss Rankin for the Athens, Georgia, based Jeannette Rankin Foundation newsletter.   It is reprinted below for more local “Georgia Color” and my fascination with history.

--------------------------------------------

 http://avoc.info/ 

.

 11-30-01

 

The Rankin File (www.rankinfoundation.org)
Winter 2001 Volume 22, No. 3

.

Memories of Jeannette Rankin
.

By: Wendell Dawson

.

“As a youngster growing up in Oconee County, I knew ‘Miss Rankin’ as a neighbor. I visited her home and heard stories about her experiences in the U.S. House of Representatives. I was a member of several public school classes that she spoke to from time to time. Other neighborhood children and I now often trade Jeannette Rankin stories.

.

Once as a college student, I accompanied her to Clemson University to speak to the Cosmopolitan Club. She spoke of peace and pacifism at every opportunity. I remember and was probably influenced by some of her thoughts. In many ways, some of us thought she was ‘ahead of her time’ in her efforts, but she was truly a pioneer in equality of women and peace issues.

.

I initiated the effort to place the historical marker at her home site on Mars Hill Road in Oconee County. I also, as a ‘country lawyer,’ encouraged the developer of her property to remember her. The entrance road is named Rankin Road and the Rankin Springs Apartments on Mars Hill Road were named after her.

.

While Miss Rankin’s bequest was a limited amount in today’s dollars, her life was one of courage and energy and distinction. I have always been proud of my association with the first congresswoman.

.

Just wanted to share some local color and memory of this outstanding woman.”


Quick-Search: