Wingo, Effiegene Locke (1883–1962)

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Wingo, Effiegene Locke (1883–1962)

American legislator and politician. Name variations: Effiegene Locke. Born on April 13, 1883, in Lockesburg, Arkansas; died on September 19, 1962, in Burlington, Ontario, Canada; descendant of Representative Matthew Locke of North Carolina; attended

public and private schools; studied music at the Union Female College in Mississippi; graduated from Maddox Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1901; married Otis Theodore Wingo (died 1930).

Completed her husband's term of office as a U.S. Representative following his death; aided her Arkansas district in the Depression years; served on the Committee on Foreign Affairs; created the Ouachita National Forest game refuge and Ouachita National Park; cofounded the National Institute of Public Affairs, offering Washington internships to students.

Effiegene Locke Wingo, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Representative Matthew Locke of North Carolina, rose to a seat in Congress upon the death of her husband Otis Wingo in 1930. Born in 1883, in Lockesburg, Arkansas, she received her early schooling at nearby public and private schools. She later studied music at the Union Female College in Oxford, Mississippi, and graduated from Little Rock's Maddox Seminary in 1901. She moved to Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1895 and two years later to De-Queen, Arkansas, where she made her home. She had met Otis Theodore Wingo at a Confederate veterans' reunion in DeQueen. Elected to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat representing Arkansas in 1912, Otis sustained serious injuries in an automobile accident in 1926, and Effiegene worked in his congressional office while he recuperated. When he died in 1930, Effiegene, who had support from both the Democratic and Republican central committees in the Fourth District, was nominated for election to finish her husband's unexpired term in the 71st Congress and to serve in the 72nd Congress to which Otis had been nominated prior to his death. On November 4, 1930, she won both the special election for the first term and the general election for the second.

Although Wingo had a broad base of support, her district faced formidable problems. The effects of the Great Depression had devastated the region, and agricultural woes beset the area as a result of the drought and other natural disasters that precipitated the Dust Bowl. After being sworn in on December 1, 1930, Wingo immediately sought a number of relief measures for the district. In the 71st Congress, she served on the committee on accounts and the committee on insular affairs. During the 72nd Congress, she held a seat on the committee on foreign affairs. Her sponsorships included a bill to complete the building of a railroad bridge near the Morris Ferry crossing of the Little River in Arkansas. She also developed legislation for a game refuge within the existing Ouachita National Forest and for the creation of the Ouachita National Park. These measures all aided the wounded economy of the area. In February 1932, Wingo declared that she would not stand for reelection. She ended her congressional career on March 3, 1933.

During her retirement years, Wingo cofounded the National Institute of Public Affairs to encourage interest in public service by sponsoring student internships in Washington, D.C. She also participated in research and educational work. Wingo lived the remainder of her life in DeQueen, Arkansas. She died on September 19, 1962, while visiting her son in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and was interred in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


Office of the Historian. Women in Congress, 1917–1990. Commission on the Bicentenary of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1991.

Gillian S. Holmes , freelance writer, Hayward, California

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