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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Rep. Bessie S. McColgin

by Mike Wimmer

Oil
Dimensions:
Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
Dedicated on March 30, 2005
Fourth Floor

Rep. Bessie S. McColgin by Mike Wimmer

The Artwork

Oklahoma's first woman to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives was Amelia Elizabeth "Bessie" McColgin, a Republican from Rankin in western Oklahoma. She was elected in 1920 and served in the Eighth Legislature from 1920-21.

Born on January 7, 1875, she married Grant McColgin on August 21, 1895 in Earlville, Illinois. She attended Teachers Normal College and Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. Her education also included the School of Oratory and Georgian Academy in Georgia, Vermont. McColgin came to Grant County in Oklahoma Territory in 1901 with her husband, and in 1903 she helped drive a wagon to their "claim" near Rankin in Roger Mills County. She taught school in her home and was appointed postmistress for Ridgeton in 1904. Her family moved to Rankin in 1909 where she and her husband alternated teaching school, delivering mail, and in 1913, began operating the Rankin Telephone Company in their home.

The McColgins had nine children and Bessie had given birth to the youngest son, Franklin, just one month before leaving Rankin, near the Texas border, for the Legislature in Oklahoma City. Many considered McColgin to be a superior orator and believed her election win was due to her popularity in western Oklahoma. McColgin took an active interest in the soldiers' relief program and helped establish the Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Clinton. She filed legislation calling for the creation of a child hygiene bureau and a public nursing board.

Although not re-elected to a second term, McColgin led the way for the election of three female members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1923. On March 31, 2005, Representative Bessie S. McColgin was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame.

The Artist

Mike Wimmer
Mike Wimmer
Born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Mike Wimmer began his career as an artist during the seventh grade. He earned his B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma, where he met Don Ivan Punchatz. Wimmer later moved to Arlington, Texas to be Punchatz's apprentice at Punchatz's famous Sketch Pad Studio. Wimmer learned valuable knowledge regarding the business aspect of illustrating as well as various painting techniques and the working methods of the local Dallas illustrators. After his two and a half year apprenticeship, he moved back to Norman, Oklahoma and set up his own studio using all that he had learned in Texas. Since then Wimmer has become very successful illustrating children's books such as "Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh" by Robert Burliegh which was the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children in 1990. He also illustrated "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan which was published in 1994 and won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Illustrated Children's Book 1995. Wimmer's latest book, "Will Rogers" by Former Governor Frank Keating, was published in 2002 and has won the 2003 Spur Award from the Western Writers Association of America. Even though Wimmer has worked for some of the largest corporations in the world including Disney and Procter and Gamble, Wimmer finds the greatest artistic pleasure within his creation of fine art.