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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • St. James City Hall named after first female mayor

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  • TRIVIA QUESTION: In what city was the first female mayor elected in the state of Missouri?
     
    ANSWER: St. James.
     
    Her name was Mayme H. Ousley, or better known to most, "Granny" Ousley.
     
    The City Council on Monday night approved a resolution to name the City Hall building the Mayor Mayme H. Ousley Municipal Building.
     
    Ousley was first elected in St. James in 1921, less than two years after the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.
     
    Mayor Dennis Wilson said the decision to bring this resolution before the council came after discovering an interesting and somewhat embarrassing fact on the Internet.
     
    "I had just gone online to get some information about her, and when the state website came up, it asked, 'Does this person's community recognize her?' It said, no," Wilson said. "That's what got me to thinking about it. I never met her, but I believe my parents did. She did some really neat things in the community."
     
    Ousley served several terms as mayor, being re-elected in 1939,1941 and 1955.
     
    Born in Edgar Springs, Ousley moved to St. James with her husband, a dentist, in 1906.
     
    According to Wilson's records, compiled from historical documents, Ousley "vowed to literally clean up the city and city hall," and she did so by cleaning, painting and building new facilities for city officials.
     
    She also cleaned up the streets and "ordered landlords to install indoor plumbing."
     
    While serving as mayor, it wasn't unusual to see signs posted at the edge of town that read,
    "Drive slow and see our beautiful city, drive fast and see our jail."
     
    She got her nickname, Granny, while traveling with the local baseball team and "was always after the men" for neglecting their uniforms and sports equipment.
     
    Ousley's installation ceremony was conducted at the old opera house at 125 W. Springfield, the old location of The St. James Leader-Journal.
     
    A restored photograph of Ousley will be placed inside the municipal building in the coming weeks, along with a mayor's proclamation.

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