Archer County has a rich heritage and background. Women have contributed to the success, history, and notoriety of our community. Here are a few stories of these inspiring women.
Maude Ikard Thuman
Maude Ikard Thuman was the first female sheriff of the county. Her husband, Elijah Harrison Ikard, was Archer County Sheriff and was killed in a shootout in 1925. Maude was asked to serve the remainder of his term until 1927. She then became the County Treasurer from 1928-1934.
The first woman in the United States to become a sheriff was Emma Banister in 1918. Her husband was the Coleman County Sheriff, who passed due to a stroke, and she was asked to serve the remainder of his term. This is quite historic, as women didn't have a right to vote until 1920.
Undoubtedly, Archer County had heard of this special case as Coleman County is only a few hours away and presumably influenced their decision to name Mrs. Ikard as Sheriff.
The next female sheriff wasn't until 2008 when Staci Beesinger was sworn in. She served as Sheriff for twelve years until she retired in 2020. Beesinger worked in law enforcement for 42 years.
Archer County has an incredible legacy as having one of the first female sheriffs in the United States and then she continued in local government serving the community.
Maggie Holt Simpson
Maggie Holt Simpson was an early contributor to education and later the hospitality industry in Holliday. Simpson came to Holliday in 1889 from Tennessee at age 31 to visit her aunt and uncle. In 1890, she married Wade Hampton Simpson, who was the mail stagecoach owner.
Simpson was one of the first teachers in Holliday. She taught at the Lone Oak School and the Pleasant Valley School. She gave birth to the first white child born in Holliday, Herod “Pap” Simpson in 1892. Simpson’s husband left on a cattle drive to Dodge City, Kansas in 1894. He never returned to Holliday or heard from again.
The Holliday Hotel was built in 1889 and in 1907, Mrs. Simpson purchased it. The hotel had a kitchen, dining room, parlor, and seven bedrooms. Her first boarders were cowboys moving to Archer County. As more oil was successfully discovered, the boarders consisted of mostly oil field workers. In 1916, five more rooms were added. For $1 a day you would get a room and three meals at the Simpson Hotel.
Simpson ran the hotel until she died in 1946, almost 40 years dedicated to hospitality. She was affectionately called "Auntie" by friends and family. She was said to frequently sit on the porch in her rocking chair, chatting with passersby.
Angela Kinsey is an award-winning actress from Archer City. Kinsey is probably best known for her role in The Office as Angela Martin. The Office had 9 seasons between 2005 and 2013.
Kinsey's grandparents moved to Archer County in 1955 and started one of the first backhoe services in the county. Between the age of 2 and 14, Kinsey lived in Jakarta, Indonesia as her dad was an oil drilling engineer. She learned Indonesian, which she can still speak. The family moved back to Archer and most still live here today.
Kinsey was involved in one-act play during high school and continued to take acting classes during college. After graduating from Baylor, she had an internship with the Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Kinsey worked as an operator for 1-800-DENTIST as she looked for acting gigs. Kinsey also honed her improv skills and participated in improv troupes.
Kinsey and Jenna Fischer, who played Pam in The Office, started the Office Ladies podcast in 2019. Each episode deep dives into an episode of The Office and gives behind the scenes from their perspectives.
Kinsey's current projects relate to her love of food. She and her husband, Joshua Snyder, host a baking channel, Baking with Josh and Ange, on Youtube. Kinsey also hosts Disney's Be Our Chef and cohosts MTV's Deliciousness.
Susan James Parmer
Susan James Parmer is best known for being the sister of Frank and Jesse James, the infamous outlaws. She is said to have been included in folk songs and cited as "little sister Susie."
Parmer married her husband, Allen, in 1870. He was in the Quantrill's Raiders, a confederate guerrilla group during the Civil War, alongside Jesse James. The Parmers moved to Texas from Missouri and arrived in Archer County in the late 1870s.
The Parmer home was built in 1879 near the Onion Creek and the railroad. It was an occasional safe haven for her brothers.
Locals have tales of men roaming the countryside on horses unlike the working horses of the area. Other ranchers had stories of being asked by Frank and Jesse James for a meal. The brothers insisted to pay for the food and the parents having refused, left the children playing out front some money.
Parmer passed at age 39 in 1889 a day after the birth of her seventh child. Unfortunately, four of her children had passed before her. Her first child, Robert, tragically drowned in the Wichita River at age 10.
Ruth Jones O'Keefe
Ruth Jones O'Keefe wrote the first published history of Archer County in her book, Archer County Pioneers: A History of Archer County, Texas. O'Keefe was the daughter of Newt Jones, who came to Archer in 1879 and was a Texas Ranger.
Ruth married Jerry O'Keefe in 1910. They were married for 45 years before he passed in 1955. They had a son, Newt, and two granddaughters, Kimbra and Kerry.
O'Keefe compiled newspaper articles, conducted interviews, and collected stories to give an overview of Archer County from 1865 to 1968. Her book was published in 1969 and has been a valued resource for many generations since then. She was 81 when the book was published and died a few years later in 1971.
O'Keefe's love for history translated to running an antique store for over 25 years. She also created many scrapbooks of local history, which were later showcased in the Archer County Museum.