The best protection any woman can have … is courage
-- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Daisy's mother, Endemial Josephine Drane Polk was no wilting southern belle, and although she was a daughter of the south she held no allegiance to any of the rules or tenets of that society. Known to family and friends as Endie or EJ, she was born in St. Louis on April 13, 1835, the daughter of Reverend TJ Drane and Susan Keith.
In 1854, at 19 she married her first husband Ferdinand Leonard Burch. On the heels of this marriage, at 25 the war of the states began. And by her 30th birthday she was a war widow with 3 children (only one surviving to adulthood). By the end of the civil war at age 32, she remarried Willis Webb Polk a fellow widower and father to 2 children, only William survived to adulthood.
She and Willis had 5 children (Trusten born after Daisy did not survive to adulthood).
Following the Civil War, the Polk's moved from Kentucky in search of work and greater stability. The war had ended a lucrative architecture and building practice for Willis Webb and a builder needs to go where Cities are being built.. The family moved frequently and followed opportunities. From Illinois to St Louis, Kansas City, Hot Springs Arkansas back to St Louis until moving west for a brief time in Los Angeles and finally San Francisco is 1892. EJ managed European style Hotels in many of these locales. Most notably the Hotel Hunt and The Williard Hotel at 1 Chesnut Street St. Louis, and the Hotel Josephine in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The hotels also served as offices for Polk & Sons Architecture Offices. EJ was listed as the Proprietor and managed day to day operations.
Among other things, EJ wrote for the St Louis Post Star Gazette. She was a published author. Gems and Husks were books of her writings and poetry that sat proudly in the family drawing room. And despite, or because of, her southern roots, she was a staunch abolitionist. She was a devoted follower of the leading suffragists at the time - Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. While she never lived long enough to see women get the vote, she did see an end to slavery in her life. No sooner had Willis Webb married her and resettled the family in St Louis, then EJ joined and quickly become the secretary and board member of the St Louis Chapter of The National Women’s Suffrage Association serving as delegate at 2 national conventions. When Daisy was 6 years old, EJ helped organize and bring the National Convention to St Louis where she served as a delegate. (Of note, St Louis is also where the League of Women Voters was formed as a continuation of their strength when suffrage was achieved.)
St Louis was a major transportation hub and a prosperous city when Daisy lived there. Missouri saw a huge influx from the South despite it being a slave state during the Civil War. St. Louis became connected to the rest of the country by railroads soon after the end of the war. Thanks in great part to Ethel Crocker's grandfather Charles Crocker ( one of the Big Four). Rail traffic rapidly replaced river traffic. The Eads Bridge, which Willis recalls being built with great fondness, first carried rail traffic across the Mississippi in 1874. St. Louis Union Station was, when it opened in 1894, the largest single-level passenger train terminal in the world. But the Polk's had left St. Louis by 1890 to undertake the grand tour of Europe seeking greater arts education for the children.