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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Few women in the state are more widely known that Mrs. A. J. Barkley.  The creed and policy of her life are embodied in this motto which is over the fireplace in the library of her home:  "I shall pass this way but once.  Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again."

Flora E. Spencer was born in Rice county, Minn., Feb. 28, 1860.  She is the daughter of Wilson Spencer and Caroline Beaver Goodykoontz.  On her father's side her lineage is traced to a soldier of the war of 1812.  Her mother is descended from the Beaver family of Pennsylvania, whose ancestors came from Alcase in 1740.  The family were leaders in public affairs in the great commonwealth and have furnished "food for powder" in every war which America has waged since they became citizens of this country.  In 1865 the Spencer family moved to Waukon, Ia., where the daughter was educated in the public schools, later taking a course in the Normal School of Valparaiso Ind.  She was a high school teacher for eight years, after having taught four years in the country graded schools.

On July 28, 1891, she was married to Alonzo J. Barkley, one of the organizers of the Boone county bank, and its president until he retired from business in 1911.  Many distinguished guests have been graciously entertained in their home, whose doors swing wide, welcoming the rich and poor, who meet together to enjoy the hospitality.  A nephew, Earl Barkley Spencer, makes his home with them and is being carefully educated by them.

Mrs. Barkley is an active member of the M. E. church.  She has taken a deep interest in the library work of the state, and was president of the State Library Association in 1907-08.  It was largely through her influence that the 28th General Assembly passed a law providing for the establishment of a State Library Commission.  She is now a member of that commission, having been appointed by the Governor.  She has been a member of the Library Board of the Ericson Public Library of Boone since 1898, and upon the death of its founder, Senator Ericson, she became president of the Board.  She is chairman of the Literature and Library Extension Committee of the I. F. W. C.  She has served the I. F. W. C. as vice-president and has represented the state at four general federations.  She is a member of the board of the Eleanor Moore hospital.  She was the first president of the city federation of Women's Clubs and has served De Shon chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution as its regent, and represented the chapter in the National Congress in 1913.  She was a charter member of the Lowell club which was one of the first clubs to join the I. F. W. C.  She has had a great interest in and influence upon the public schools and has taken a personal interest in many pupils who needed aid and encouragement.  The tremendous energy and systematic efforts of this unselfish woman have enabled her to accomplish something worth while without neglecting her home duties.


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