SAHF Inductees

Agnes Geelan
Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame

1987 Inductee

 

North Dakota native Agnes Geelan is a noted author whose first book, written after she retired, was a best seller.  Dakota Maverick is the biography of William Langer, who Mrs. Geelan was closely associated with during her involvement in the Nonpartisan League.

 

A political trend setter, Mrs. Geelan was the first female mayor of an incorporated city in North Dakota and the first woman to be a North Dakota senator.  Since her retirement, she has written three books.

 

Born at Hatton, May 28, 1896, Agnes Kjorlie was the daughter of pioneer parents who came to the Dakota Territory in 1879.  She graduated from Hatton High School and attended Mayville State College, the University of North Dakota, Concordia College and North Dakota State University.

 

She taught for 18 years, teaching in Lankin, Oberon, Mayville, Enderlin and Carrington.  She married Elric Geelan, a railroad employee, May 28, 1926, and they returned to Enderlin where she continued teaching.

 

Her political activities began within the Democratic Party.  She joined the insurgent movement in North Dakota’s Nonpartisan League.  When the League merged with the Democratic Party, she was elected state vice-chairman and was a delegate to Democratic national conventions in 1956 and 1960.

 

She had been elected mayor of Enderlin in 1946, the first female mayor of an incorporated city in North Dakota.  From 1952 to 1956, she served as a senator in the North Dakota State Legislature.

 

She also chaired the women’s division of North Dakota’s World War II bond program and the Status of Women Commission.  She was appointed a commissioner of North Dakota Workmen’s Compensation Bureau in 1961 and served for four years.  She resigned when her husband become ill, and after his death in 1966, she was asked to come back as chairman of Workmen’s Compensation which she did for another five years.

 

Her last assignment was as chairman of the Rules Committee of the North Dakota Constitution Revision Convention1971-1972.

 

She retired from politics on her 75th birthday and began writing Dakota Maverick.  In 1983 her book, The Minister’s Daughters, was published, and in 1986, her book, Pine Cove Revisited, was released.  The latter two are novels, but quite a bit of her political activity is contained in Pine Cove Revisited.

 

Recently she wrote a series of articles on war and peace for the Fargo Forum, and she is currently planning an article or series of articles on the Peace Academy.