Ethel Pearl Buxton was born June 17, 1889, as the second daughter and third child of William Alexander Buxton and Alice Olivia Bates at their home in Mound Valley, Labette County, Kansas. William and Alice moved their family from Mound Valley to Chestnut Ridge in Christian County, Missouri, in the early 1890’s. Ethel’s mother died when Ethel was just 12, leaving her to help raise her younger siblings. William later moved his family to Ozark where he lived out his life working in his Clock – Watch Shop on the square.
Ethel had attended Chestnut Ridge Elementary School and later, after moving to Ozark, graduated from Ozark High School. She thenattended Springfield Normal Schooland became a teacher. She taught at Russell in 1908-09, Eastern Star in 1909-10 and Berea in1910-11. Her teaching career ended after three years when she married Alva Otis McLean on October 8,1911, in the home of her father and stepmother, William and Isabelle Buxton in Ozark, Missouri.
Ethel spent the rest of her life as a farm housewife,caring for her family first, in every way, then caring for her community. Ethel grew up before electricity and many of the amenities that the people of today consider necessary to exist. The first automobile that Ethel, and her husband, Otis, owned was a 1926 Model T Ford. Ethel would have been about 38 years old. This means that she traveled and moved all her young adult life by team and wagon or by horseback. She was a grandmother before electricity and indoor plumbing were available. She was a perfectionist in all that she did, from hand-quilted quilts with perfect stitching to the exquisite meals cooked on a wood-burning stove.
The lack of what is now considered essential tools did not distract from Ethel’s determination to teach her family proper etiquette and to get a good education. She also emphasized being first a Christian, and then a good citizen. She most likely was a Charter Member of the Nixa PTA founded on September 19, 1929, and served as their third President, serving three two year terms from 1933 through 1939. She also served as the second President of The Christian County Council PTA for the years 1933-35.
Ethel McLean’s public service continued in several organizations but when she saw the opportunity to create a library in Christian County, she was immediately involved. When the county voters narrowly approved the formation of The Christian County Library at the school election on April 5, 1949, Ethel’s involvement and support was widely known and she was appointed to the board by the County Court. She was elected as Secretary-Treasurer at the first Board meeting held on May 24, 1949. Fourteen years later, Ethel was still serving her community by serving on the Christian County Library Board at the time of her death on June 20, 1963. She truly lived as example of how important it is to support your community in continuous improvement projects.
–By grandson, Kenneth D. Richmond