Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!
March is Women’s History Month, so we’re kicking things off with an interesting story about Dr. Lida Leasure, one of the women featured in Sharon Zonker’s Twelve Remarkable Women of DeKalb County.
Dr. Lida Leasure was a wife, mother, doctor, educator, and devoted citizen of DeKalb County. She was born in Decatur County, but became a teacher at an Auburn school in 1878. While living in Auburn, she met her husband John “Groundhog John” Leasure, whom she married in 1880.
She was the second woman to practice as a doctor in DeKalb County, and held multiple positions in the county’s education system over the years, both as a teacher and a principal. Though she didn’t seek the position, when Dr. Leasure was nominated for DeKalb County Superintendent of Schools in 1911, she accepted it.
On June 5, 1911, she was elected.
This was a historic milestone for the state. Not only was she the first woman to be elected to that particular position, but Dr. Leasure was also likely the very first woman to be elected to any public office in Indiana.
(Note: She was not, however, the first woman to hold office in Indiana. That title goes to Mary Stubbs, who was appointed in 1906 to replace her father as state statistician when he died early on in his second term.)
However, though she had a solid background in education, not everyone thought she should take the office. A month after the election, four trustees in DeKalb County filed an “ouster and terminer suit” against Dr. Leasure while she was away on a trip. They argued that she was not qualified for the position, as she did not hold “a thirty-six month’s state license, a sixty month license, or a professional license” for teaching.
While it seems unlikely this claim was true—she had been teaching school since 1878—the case was thrown out of court when Judge Frank Powers ruled that the trustees “had no standing in equity before the bar of the court,” and were not the proper entity for filing such a suit.
With no further objections, Dr. Lida Leasure went on to serve five terms as DeKalb County Superintendent of Schools, and continued to contribute to her community and local education system.