This is our third part in our Women’s History Month series. Join us as we step into the political scene of Northern Michigan, where women have been rocking the boat and steering the ship for ages. These trailblazing ladies have not only faced the challenges of the political frontier but have also shaped the political landscape in profound ways. From grassroots movements to navigating the intricacies of policymaking. The stories of these women offer a unique perspective on the political evolution of Northern Michigan. So, let’s delve into the untold tales of these remarkable women in politics who’ve been at the forefront of political change in this vibrant region.

Emelia Christine Schaub

Emelia Christine Schaub - Women in PoliticsEmelia Christine Schaub (1891–1995) made history as Michigan’s inaugural elected woman prosecutor. She was the first female attorney in the United States to successfully defend a murder trial. Emelia was born in a log cabin in Centerville Township, Leelanau County, in 1891. She was the daughter of Provemont pioneers Simon and Freida Schaub and attended St. Mary School.

Upon graduating from the Detroit College of Law in 1924, Schaub became the first Leelanau County woman to practice law. She later obtained a Master of Law degree from the University of Detroit. In 1926, she garnered national recognition as the first woman attorney to successfully defend a murder case.

Schaub’s remarkable career included six terms as Leelanau County prosecutor, spanning from 1936 to 1954. This made her Michigan’s inaugural woman elected and serving in the role. During her tenure, she orchestrated the return of Ottawa and Chippewa lands from the state to Leelanau County, effectively establishing a de facto reservation. Her efforts led to her honorary membership in the tribe in 1942. The possession of this land played a pivotal role in the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (Ojibwe) achieving federal recognition in 1980.

Beyond her prosecutorial duties, Schaub actively contributed to her profession and community. She served as the secretary and treasurer of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She played a key role in founding both the Leelanau Foundation and the Leelanau Historic Society.

In 1990 Emelia was elected to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and was named a Champion of Justice of the state bar of Michigan the following year. A six-ton granite boulder outside the county building in Leland also bears her name. Emelia Christine Schaub passed away in April 1995. She left a lasting legacy in the legal and historical realms.

Dora Hall Stockman

Dora Hall Stockman - Women in PoliticsDora Hall Stockman (August 4, 1872 – May 25, 1948) was a prominent American politician, serving four terms in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1939 to 1946. Notably, in 1919 she was elected to the State Board of Agriculture. This earned her the distinction of being the first woman in Michigan to hold statewide office.

Born as Eudora Hall on August 4, 1872, in Marilla Township, to Leander L. and Lucy J. Hall. She pursued education at Benzonia Academy (1895–1902) and Hillsdale College (1902–1903). At the age of 17, she married Francis Stockman. She became an active member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, fervently advocating for prohibition. In 1913, Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris appointed her as a delegate to the International Congress of Farm Women. The subsequent year, she assumed the role of State Grange Lecturer. She served until 1930, and was elected to the State Board of Agriculture in 1919. Dora promoted the liberal arts program of Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) until 1931.

Dora Hall Stockman entered electoral politics in the 1938 general election. She secured a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives for Ingham County by a substantial margin of 3,000 votes. During her inaugural term, she introduced seventeen bills. Dora was an active participant in various committees. Health complications arising from diabetes led to her retirement from the legislature in 1946.

In April 1947, Stockman married Gustaf Weinkauf.  A little over a year later she passed away on May 25, 1948, at the age of 75. Recognizing her significant contributions, Michigan State University bestowed upon her an honorary LL.D. degree in 1934. In 2006, she was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.  A commemorative plaque honoring her stands on the Michigan State University campus.

Cora Reynolds Anderson

Cora Reynolds Anderson - Women in PoliticsCora Reynolds Anderson (April 10, 1882 – March 11, 1950) was a trailblazing American politician affiliated with the Republican Party, notable for her historic service in the Michigan House of Representatives. Born in L’Anse, Michigan, on April 10, 1882, to Robert B. Reynolds and Madeline Bachand, Anderson was of diverse English, French, and Chippewa ancestry. She belonged to the inaugural graduating class of L’Anse High School and, in 1903, entered into marriage with Charles Harold Anderson.

In 1924, Anderson secured the Republican nomination in the Iron district and went on to win the general election uncontested, succeeding Patrick H. O’Brien. This victory marked her as both the first woman and Native American to hold a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives. Her inauguration took place on November 4, 1924.

During a meeting of the Michigan Federation of Republican Women’s clubs on April 28, 1926, Anderson declared her intent to seek reelection. She actively encouraged other women to pursue political offices. Despite filing for renomination as the Republican candidate on July 28, 1926, she was defeated in the primary by William C. Birk. Anderson concluded her term on January 7, 1925.

From Representative to Committee Chair

In 1925, Speaker Fred B. Wells appointed Anderson as chair of the committee on the industrial school for girls in Adrian, Michigan. Throughout the fifty-third session of the Michigan House of Representatives (1925-1926), she contributed to committees on Agriculture, Insurance, and the Northern State Normal School.

She was elected as vice president of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan on September 9, 1925. Anderson represented Michigan as a delegate at the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence tidewater congress from January 5 to 6, 1926, making history as one of the first women in this role.

Cora Reynolds Anderson passed away on March 11, 1950, in Pentland Township, Michigan. In recognition of her groundbreaking contributions, the Anderson House Office Building, serving Michigan state House members, was named in her honor on December 19, 2000. She posthumously joined the esteemed ranks of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001. Additionally, in 2022, a bill was signed into law to name the post office at 404 US-41 North in Baraga County, Michigan, the “Cora Reynolds Anderson Post Office.”

Women in Politics

The stories of women in politics in Northern Michigan show a rich mix of leadership, resilience, and dedication to their communities. Whether dealing with local issues or influencing broader politics, these women have made a lasting impact on the region’s political landscape. Looking back on their accomplishments, we see how vital these women have been in shaping Northern Michigan’s social and political life. Their legacies highlight the importance of diversity in governance. They remind us of the ongoing need for women’s voices to guide the region toward unity, fairness, and prosperity.

Come back for more history of Northern Michigan Women. In our fourth article we highlight 4 women whose creativity left its mark on Northern Michigan.

Interested in more about Northern Michigan Women in History? As we publish articles this month we will add links to published articles.


Image Attributions:
By Political Graveyard from Ann Arbor, MI – Dora Hall Stockman, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87877943