17 March 2014

“Etta Semple – Kansas Free Thinker” 

On Monday, March 24th, at 6:30 p.m., in honor of Women's History Month,  Vickie Stangl, Andover, will present the program “Etta Semple – Kansas Free Thinker” to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Wellington Senior Center, 308 S. Washington, Wellington.  In case of inclement weather, contact Jane Moore: 620-447-3266.

Stangl was required to do a “piece on a Kansas person” for her Master’s degree at Wichita State University, and after reading about Etta Semple, she became fascinated, and asked her instructor if she could “write about this heretic in Ottawa.”

Stangl said that Etta Semple, born near Quincy, Illinois in 1855, had views that were considered radical for the time.

Stangl said that Semple was a humanitarian, and had a state of the art sanitarium, but she was also an activist.

 “She and her second husband were active in the labor movement,” Stangl said.

“I began reading her newspapers and I was fascinated,” Stangl said, adding that she worked on her thesis for three years.

Stangl said that Semple died in Ottawa of influenza in 1914.

“It was pretty emotional when I realized that she was going to die of pneumonia,” Stangl said, “It became very personal to me.“

Stangl hopes to get her thesis published, and she is also working towards getting a documentary made on Semple’s life.

 “I think her story is important,” Stangl said, “everyone has their own beliefs and Etta was no different. She was a very courageous lady. Her story is just important.”

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