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Kempfer, Hannah Jensen "Johannah Josephine"

House 1923-30 (District 50); House 1933-42 (District 50)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Independent

Counties Served:  Otter Tail

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 12/22/1880
Birth Place: North Sea
Birth County:
Birth Country: England
Date of Death: 9/27/1943
Gender: Female
Religion:
Reported Minority: None Reported
Other Names: Johannah Josephine
Former Name: Johnson
City of Residence (when first elected): Erhard
Occupation (when first elected): Farmer/Former School Teacher, Friberg Township Country School, 10 Years

EDUCATION

Fergus Falls High School; Secondary;
Park Region Luther College, Fergus Falls; Attended College;
Teaching certificate;

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

County Board/Commissioner: Otter Tail County, Minnesota (County Fair Association, Director); 19?? to 19??

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Charles "Chas."/"Charlie" Taylor Kempfer (married in 1903)
Children: No children: (served as foster parents to eleven orphaned boys and girls)
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

She was one of the first four women to serve in the Minnesota Legislature. The others were: Sue Metzger Dickey Hough, Myrtle Cain, and Mabeth Hurd Paige. All four were elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

She was born at sea, to an unmarried stewardess and a sailor, under the English flag. She was left at an orphanage in Stavanger, Norway. She was adopted by Mr. And Mrs. Ole Jensen of Stavanger, Norway in March 1881. She came to Adams, Mower County, Minnesota in 1886 and moved to Otter Tail County, Minnesota in 1889.

She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)

On January 28, 1925 she was appointed honoray speaker for the day, making her the first female to serve in this role in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

She died in the hospital at Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Total Days Served: 6580

SESSIONS SERVED

52nd Legislative Session (1941-1942)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/5/1940
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/7/1941 to 1/4/1943
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farm Owner and Operator
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Civil Administration
  • Game and Fish
  • Public Domain
  • State Institutions (Chair)
  • Towns and Counties

51st Legislative Session (1939-1940)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/8/1938
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/3/1939 to 1/6/1941
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farm Owner and Operator
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Board of Control (Chair)
  • Civil Administration
  • Game and Fish
  • Public Highways
  • Reforestation

50th Legislative Session (1937-1938)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/3/1936
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/5/1937 to 1/2/1939
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farm Owner and Operator
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Board of Control and State Institutions
  • Drainage
  • Game and Fish
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation
  • Soldiers Home, State Bonus and Ex-Service Men
  • State Development and Immigration
  • State Parks

49th Legislative Session (1935-1936)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/6/1934
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/8/1935 to 1/4/1937
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farm Owner and Operator
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Appropriations
  • Emergency Relief
  • Game and Fish
  • Markets and Marketing
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Tax Laws
  • Public Health and Hospitals (Chair)
  • Public Welfare

48th Legislative Session (1933-1934)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/8/1932
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/3/1933 to 1/7/1935
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farm Owner and Operator
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Game and Fish
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Vehicle Tax Laws
  • Public Health and Hospitals
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation
  • Towns and Counties
  • University and State Schools

46th Legislative Session (1929-1930)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/6/1928
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/8/1929 to 1/5/1931
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farmer/Former School Teacher, 10 years
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Appropriations
  • Civil Administration
  • Game and Fish
  • Public Health and Hospitals
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation
  • University and State Schools

45th Legislative Session (1927-1928)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/2/1926
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/4/1927 to 1/7/1929
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farmer/Former School Teacher, 10 years
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Appropriations
  • Civil Administration
  • Game and Fish (Chair)
  • Public Buildings
  • Public Health and Hospitals
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation

44th Legislative Session (1925-1926)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/4/1924
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/6/1925 to 1/3/1927
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farmer/Former School Teacher, 10 years
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Commerce, Manufacture and Retail Trade
  • Game and Fish
  • Public Health and Hospitals
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation
  • Reapportionment
  • State and County Fairs

43rd Legislative Session (1923-1924)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 50
Elected: 11/7/1922
Residence: Erhard
Term of Office: 1/2/1923 to 1/5/1925
Counties Represented: Otter Tail
Occupation: Farmer/Former School Teacher, Friberg Township Country School, 10 Years
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Independent Party Notes: She was an Independent. (Minnesota Legislative Commission on the Economic Status of Women)
Committees:
  • Education
  • Game and Fish
  • Markets and Marketing
  • Public Health and Hospitals
  • Public Welfare and Social Legislation
  • State and County Fairs
Articles & Books About
"An Early Model of Independent Politics." Session Weekly, St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Information Office, April 9, 1999, p. 4, 23.

Stuhler, Barbara and Gretchen Kreuter. "Women Legislators: Hannah Kempfer." Women of Minnesota: Selected Biographical Essays, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1998, p. 257-262.

"The First Woman House Speaker (for a Day)." Session Weekly, St. Paul: Minnesota House of Representatives Information Office, January 10, 1992, p. 10.

Kohlmeyer, Marty. "1st Woman Speaker Came From Erhard." Fergus Falls Daily Journal, January 8, 1992.

Walkup, Pat. "County Had One of First Women Legislators." Fergus Falls Daily Journal, April 22, 1976, p. 5.

"Mrs. Hannah J. Kempfer, Veteran Minnesota Legislator, Dies at 63 (Obituary)." Minneapolis Star Journal, September 27, 1943, p. 1.

"Mrs. Hannah Kempfer Dies After Long Illness (Obituary)." Fergus Falls Daily Journal, September 27, 1943, p. 1, 3.

Paige, Mabeth. "Hannah Kempfer's Legislative Career."


Archive Collections
An Evening with the Lady from Otter Tail, 1978 August - Available in the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections.
Hannah J. Kempfer Papers, 1907-1966 - Available in the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections.