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Gone, but not forgotten: Ava Brasel, first female nominated for county office in Arkansas


Ava Brasel was born in Jasper Feb. 2, 1897, the daughter of James and Lula Lee (Douglas) Brasel. Her father had been postmaster in Jasper, a merchant, and a farmer. She graduated high school and became a bookkeeper for the Newton County Bank by 1920. That was the year women were given the right to vote, and she entered politics with gusto. She joined the Democratic Party, despite the fact that her father, her employer, and most of her co-workers at the bank were all Republicans. In October 1920, the Democratic Committee of Newton County nominated her for the position of county treasurer. She accepted the nomination and became the first woman nominated for county office in the state of Arkansas. Newspaper accounts at the time said she had support of many of her Republican friends as well as Democrats. Despite this, she lost to Guy Moore.
She remained living at home and working as a bookkeeper at the bank until 1930, when she married Skeavington H. Brandon on Christmas Eve. The couple moved to Harrison where she took on the role as housewife while her husband worked as a traveling salesman for a textile company. He passed away in 1973. The couple had a child, a son named Henry Brasel Brandon. He graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1954 and founded the Northwest Arkansas Urology Clinic. Ava passed away in Harrison April 12, 1991, and was laid to rest in Jasper Cemetery.

Barbara LeRoy is the author of “Which Side Were They On?,” a new 302 page book listing biographical sketches of the Newton Countians who were involved in the Civil War, available for sale either in the Bradley House Museum or by purchasing online at www.newtoncountyar.com. The book sells for $33.