Over a dozen states had official state flowers by 1916. Missouri was not one of them.
Miss Marie L. Goodman, Vice-President of the Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs, addressed the annual meeting of the Missouri State Horticultural Society in January 1916. She said some consideration should be made to select an official State Flower for Missouri.
It was decided that the flower should be beautiful in color and form, a Missouri native that was abundant and well distributed over the state, and have a fitting character and significance.
Mr. H. C. Irish, president of the Missouri State Horticultural Society and supervisor of School Gardens of St. Louis, Mr. H. S. Wayman, secretary of the society and Goodman were appointed as a committee to conduct a study and report back to the society.
Letters were sent to society members, women’s clubs, and any other organizations they could think of, including the press, requesting suggestions for a State Flower.
The committee reported back to the society in December of that year. Twenty-seven different flowers were suggested and the Wild Crab Apple Blossom and the Wild Rose received the most votes.
"The Wild Crab Apple Blossom is native, widely spread over the State, well known and loved. It is beautiful when on the tree, when gathered to decorate, and its fruit, flower and leaf are characteristic and artistic for reproduction in picture, in design and even in artificial branch forms like the Japanese Cherry for winter decorations. …"
The vote was unanimous and the committee was assigned the task of drafting a bill and presenting it to the state legislature for legal and permanent adoption.
Buchanan County Representative Ben F. Stuart presented the bill, but it failed to pass.
A few years later, on March 16, 1923, Sarah Turner was the youngest member of the general assembly and the first woman to preside as acting speaker of the House. Among other bills she brought before the House that day was a request to make the White Hawthorn Blossom the State Flower. This time the bill passed.
NOTE: Information from the committee report came from "A State Flower for Missouri," by Goodman in Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 001, Issue 3 and 4, April-July, 1917, pages 324-326.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org