Owensboro in Daviess County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Born With a Purpose
Every African-American family holds in high esteem women whose strength in the face of overwhelming odds provided hope and encouragement. Women have worked to strengthen their communities of family, neighborhood, school and church.
Teaching was one career open to women, providing discipline, hope and liberation to young people. Teachers were a strong and positive role model in the community. Between Emma Edwards, the first black female principal, appointed to Dunbar School in 1938, to Antoinette (Toni) Talbott, who in 1992 became the first since integration, were many teachers whose names have become legend, such as Jessie Howard, who started the first black Girl Scout troop and took the first girls to Girl Scout camp.
Nanny Locke, a missionary who served in Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia, provided an example of church leadership, and was an inspiration for many. The Nanny Locke Housing Project on the city's east side was named in her honor.
The late 20th century saw the beginnings of African-American political acceptance. Daisy James ran for city commissioner in 1981. Although unsuccessful, she opened the door
Jean Higgs became the first African-American member of the Owensboro Board of Education in 1979. Olive Burroughs became the first black woman, and only the third female ever, to serve on the Owensboro City Commission, elected in 1995.
Ruby Taylor McFarland earned her place in history as the city's first African-American woman licensed embalmer and funeral director.
Fannie Dorsey, known throughout the state as an outspoken champion of the elderly, served as a member of the Federal Council on Aging in the 1970's. She served as state director of the Division for Aging Services and was honored in 1982 as one of only six women in the nation chosen as role models by the Older Women's League.
Former schoolteacher Hattie Neblett was the driving force behind the indoor recreation center in 1936. The H. L. Neblett Center continues to be a focal point of the community.
In 1960 Estelle Moss, a retired University of Kentucky home extension agent and seamstress, founded the West End Day Care Center, continuing the tradition of caring and nurturing.
Many other African-American women deserve to be recognized. They have made great contributions in traditional roles such as education and church work, and in newer areas such as politics and human relations. These women take to heart Fannie Dorsey's affirmation, “...we are born with a purpose.”
Left: The 1870 Census lists only one female teacher, but there would be many more such as Mary Fisher Morris who taught English and French at Western High School. Her students were so inspired and motivated that they dedicated the 1960 Western Echoes to her for “unequalled devotion and interest.”
Right: Hattie (H.L.) Neblett moved to Owensboro with her husband in 1930. Six years later they founded the Community Recreation Center where she served as President until 1973. It was renamed the H.L. Neblett Center in her honor.
Erected by City of Owensboro, Owensboro Settlement Bicentennial Committee and Daviess County Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Charity & Public Work • Education • Women. A significant historical year for this entry is 1938.
Location. 37° 46.266′ N, 87° 7.414′ W. Marker is in Owensboro, Kentucky, in Daviess County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of West 5th Street and Cs-1186-30, on the right when traveling west. Marker is in Kendall-Perkins Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1201 W 5th St, Owensboro KY 42301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Two Early Civil Rights Cases in Owensboro (here, next to this marker); Kendall-Perkins Park (here, next to this marker); The African American Community in Owensboro (a few steps from this marker); Dr. and Mrs. Clay E. Simpson, Sr. (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fourth Street Baptist Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Moneta J. Sleet, Jr. / Pulitzer Prize Winner (approx. 0.3 miles away); Old Trinity Centre Parking Area (approx. 0.4 miles away); "Stirman's Folly" (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Owensboro.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 5, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 274 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 5, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.