First Female Mayor in Missouri —
MAYME OUSLEY WAS BORN in Edgar Springs, Mo., and as an adult she and her husband moved to St. James, Mo., in 1906. The Ousleys become prominent figures in the community and were active in many of the community organizations as well as fraternal, social and business clubs. They also were very active in local Missouri Republican politics.
After encouragement from others, Ousley announced her candidacy for mayor of St. James in February 1921, less than two years after Missouri women received the right to vote in the 19th Amendment. She promised to draw a salary of only $1 a month. The citizens of St. James elected her as the first female mayor in Missouri on April 5, 1921. She would be reelected to the position again in 1939, 1941 and 1955.
After being elected, Ousley vowed to literally clean up the city and the city hall, which included everything from cleaning and painting to building new offices for several city officials. She cleaned up the streets and sidewalks and ordered landlords to install indoor plumbing. Signs at the edge of town warned: ”Drive slow and see our beautiful city, drive fast and see our jail.“ The mayor, however, proved compassionate to the underprivileged and those needing advice and a helping hand.
Being mayor was not the end of her striving for political office. She also ran unsuccessfully for several state offices including state representative and state senator.