Clara Munson; OHS photo 012974

This isn’t a centennial celebration, but almost. On December 18, 1913, the residents of Warrenton, Oregon, a small town near the northwest tip of the state, chose Clara Cynthia Munson to be their next mayor. Someone had nominated her earlier that year, and a Mr. Dietrich decided to run as well, to protect the good citizens of Warrenton from a woman calling the shots. The finally tally: Munson, 38; Dietrich, 22.
Clara Munson (1861-1938) grew up in the lighthouses her father managed. Born in Oysterville, Washington, she studied teaching in Portland and moved to Warrenton in 1900. Munson served as a school clerk and in the post office. According to the on-line Oregon History Project,

Interestingly, she stated soon after her election that she was ‘not very much in favor of woman suffrage,’ but since women had gained the vote the previous year, it was their responsibility to ‘take an active interest in political affairs and show they are able to make good use of a ballot.’”

The Oregonian had this to report in an article on December 20, 1913:

Once mayor, Munson abolished the positions of police chief and city attorney, and used their salaries to improve Warrenton’s infrastructure, including sidewalks. After finishing her term in office, she served in the school district for the next 35 years.
Not sure where Warrenton is? Here’s a map, showing the border between Oregon and Washington (that dotted line in the Columbia River), and the entrance to the Pacific Ocean. There’s a lot more to learn about Munson and the stories of Oregon’s northwest tip, at the Clatsop County Historical Society. Pay a visit in person or on-line.


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