First Republican Woman to serve
in the Missouri House of Representatives —
EMMA R. KNELL, A BUSINESSWOMAN and politician, was born in Moline, Ill. on Oct. 21, 1877, and moved with her family to southwest Missouri in the early 1880s. She received her education from Carthage public schools. After graduation, she enrolled in the National School of Embalming, which was not a common field for women at the time. She graduated the following year and in 1899, she became one of the first Missouri women to be licensed as an embalmer.
Many years later, after having been active in the Republican Party, she became the first Republican woman elected to the Missouri General Assembly.
She served as chairman of the Children’s Code Committee and as a member of the Appropriations, Official Salaries and Fees, and Roads and Highways committees.
Among the bills she helped enact during her final term was one that created the Missouri State Highway Patrol. She retired from the legislature after completing her third term in 1932.