A Conversation with Carol Hoadley Schmaltz

It’s a small world. And it’s a small church. 

Pamela Hovland: During my Pelican Rapids-focused research related to the centennial of the 19th amendment, I learned about 12 local women who came together out of a shared interest in women’s suffrage, bible study and quilt-making. These women had been meeting at each other’s homes and decided they needed a church that was unencumbered by the politics and power dynamics of men. The women raised money for the building by selling home-made items and donating a portion of their family’s crop income. In 1916 the Scambler Union Church (non-denominational) was dedicated and the doors opened. 

The name ‘Mrs. H.E. Hoadley’ was on the list of founding women, so I wondered if by chance, my PRHS classmate and friend Carol Hoadley was any relation. It turns out that Carol is the descendent of two of the original 12 women — her paternal great-grandmothers — Nellie Hoadley and Dollie Randall. Carol has fond childhood memories of attending summertime services at Scambler Union. Both her parents were actively involved in maintaining the church and their family legacy in the Scambler community. 

Clearly Carol inherited the dna of her great-grandmothers. For 25 years, she was a Patrol, Detective and then Detective Sergeant with the Fergus Falls Police Department, professions that remain predominantly male. The FFPD had 23 officers; Carol was the first licensed female officer and the only one for over two decades. She is now the Otter Tail County Recorder, an elected position. My friend, like her great-grandmothers, is a trail-blazer. I knew she would have thoughts to share on the subject of women’s suffrage.

PH: Do you remember the first time you voted?

 CHS: I cast my first vote in 1980. Although I don’t remember the political issues being debated at the time, I remember feeling privileged to be able to vote and believing that each vote made a difference. 

PH: Who or what do you most admire about the suffrage movement in the late 1800s/early 1900s?

 CHS: The woman who stands out the most to me is Susan B. Anthony. She was instrumental in the early crusade for women’s rights and women’s votes. The suffrage movement helped establish a political platform for women to enter the civic arena. If not for all the hard-work of those women, I would not have the privilege today to be an elected official.  

PH: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing women today (locally, nationally or globally)? 

                                                                                                                              CHS: Unfortunately, there are still challenges for women in the workforce, whether in the form of pay, promotions or discrimination. I am encouraged to see the ‘MeToo’ movement shed light on what has been happening for decades and to start holding people accountable for their actions. The movement has helped victims realize that they are not alone and connected them to valuable resources. I hope this awareness dramatically reduces sexual assault and harassment. 

PH: What is an example of activism taking place in 2020 around an issue that matters to you? 

CHS: There are so many critical issues at this moment and strong views on both sides. I believe the media sometimes enhances the current division with biased and embellished information. We no longer have the ‘Walter Cronkite’ reporting that just offered the facts. I believe in the importance of Law Enforcement and their role in protecting the citizens. I believe in the rights to fair and unprejudiced treatment. I believe in freedom of speech and peaceful demonstrations. What I do not believe in or understand is the rioting and destroying of businesses and monuments. We should be fostering positive change within police agencies and within communities. I believe there are three crucial things our government, our law enforcement and society in general needs to re-establish: respect, responsibility and honesty.