Elizabeth A. Peiffer undoubtedly taught more Carthaginians the value of participating citizenship than any other person in the 20th Century. Miss Lizzie, as she was known to many, was born in Clarion County, PA on August 8, 1874. She was the daughter of William H. Peiffer and Amy Amsden. The family moved to Jasper County in 1882 and to Carthage in 1892 where she resided at 1404 Grand Avenue for many years.
Miss Peiffer graduated as part of the first 4-year class at Carthage High School in 1893 and attended Springfield Teacher’s College (now Missouri State University) where she received a bachelor’s degree in education. She later did graduate work at the University of Missouri, University of Chicago, and Harvard University. Her long and distinguished teaching career began at Prosperity school in 1894, where she was later principal. After examinations, she received her unlimited teaching certificate from the state of Missouri in 1906. She also taught in Joplin and Webb City, serving as elementary school principal in both communities before joining the faculty of Carthage High School in 1924. While at CHS she taught Citizenship, History, Social Studies, Oratory, and served as Debate Coach for many years. One of her debate students in 1940, Richard Webster (Hall of Carthage Heroes, 2013), later distinguished himself as an orator in the Missouri State Senate. She retired in 1947 after 40 years of service in Carthage schools, including elementary grades.
Known as Miss Republican of Carthage, Miss Peiffer never married, but took teaching citizenship as her partner in life. When she died, Carthage historian Marvin VanGilder said she “was many things to many people – a valued friend, a trusted confidant, a skillful advisor, a political power, a gracious communicator…a Christian servant to her neighbors – but above all else she was a teacher.” She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church.
Her life’s occupation was teaching citizenship, and for 22 years after her “retirement”, she continued to set the example of what it means to be a good citizen by actively participating as a leader and worker in many organizations. An intimate friend of many nationally known political leaders, she received personal greetings from former Presidents Hoover and Eisenhower on her 90th birthday. To again quote Mr. VanGilder, “Her purpose…was to instill in the minds and hearts of as many citizens as possible, the tremendous worth of the free ideals of America and the importance of their preservation. She succeeded so well that it truly could be said she was Carthage’s leading patriot.”
After a lifetime as a teacher and patriot, Miss Lizzie Peiffer passed away on February 11, 1969 at age 94 and is interred in Carthage’s Park Cemetery.