Mellcene (Thurman) Smith was born on 13 November 1871 in Buchanan County, Missouri, oldest daughter of John William and Cecilia (Woodward) Thurman. Her father was a stockman and by 1880 the family was living in Atchison, Kansas.

On 1 January 1893, Mellcene married Edward T. Smith, a compositor with the Atchison Daily Champion newspaper. By 1920, they were living at 7171 Kingsbury in University City, Missouri. This was their home for the rest of their lives in St. Louis.

Edward T. Smith was president of the St. Louis Law Printing Company, located at 21 South 9th Street according to the 1919 Gould’s St. Louis Red-Blue Book. Mellcene was listed as secretary-treasurer.

Mellcene was active in a number of social, patriotic, and lineage societies. In 1922, she was endorsed by the Clean Election League as a candidate for representative of the Second District in St. Louis County. She won her election and was one of two women to be the first to sit in the Missouri General Assembly. Mellcene had previously served as president of the League of Women Voters in St. Louis County. She was a delegate to the Missouri Democratic convention where she succeeded in introducing two planks into the platform, one focused on voter registration in St. Louis County and the other making women eligible to appointive offices and gaining full rights in caucuses and conventions.

Mellcene only served one term in office in the state legislature. During that time, she proposed several bills, half of which were enacted into laws. She was responsible for the passage of the law to require voters in St. Louis County to register in order to vote and the formation of the Board of Election Commissioners. She introduced a law that was passed giving cities, towns, and villages the right to enact ordinances to aid in the enforcement of prohibition laws within their territory.

Mellcene continued to stay active in politics, serving as president of the Missouri Auxiliary of the National Woman’s Democratic Law Enforcement League. She was also active in a number of lineage societies as a charter member of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, which was established in St. Louis in 1921, as well as a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, Mayflower Society, and many others. In 1955, she compiled and published a book, Kin of Mellcene T.

Edward T. Smith passed away on 16 December 1954. Mellcene continued to manage the printing operations until her death on 21 June 1957. She and her husband are buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Atchison, Kansas.

As part of her will, Mellcene directed that employees of the St. Louis Law Printing Company be allowed to purchase the operations at a cost of $50,000, even though she had been offered $100,000 for the business in 1956. The bulk of her estate went to siblings, friends, and employees, including $20,000 to Roosevelt Hardiman, her chauffeur of thirty-two years.

Written by Linda Mansur
April 2021

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Last Modified: 18-Nov-2021 14:16