Everglades Biographies

Mary McDougal Axelson

Mary McDougal was born in 1891 in Oklahoma. Mary McDougal attended a finishing school in Missouri, known as North Texas Female College, and she later studied social welfare at the University of Oklahoma. Mary focused on political reform, establishing a home for delinquent girls, before concentrating on a literary career. Mary McDougal then left Oklahoma and moved to New York City where she wrote poetry and essays on suffrage until 1916 when she joined the Woodrow Wilson presidential campaign.

In 1920, Mary McDougal's father, Daniel A. McDougal requested that Mary assist with land sales in his Florida real estate business, which he operated as part-owner of the Chevelier Company. Mary successfully negotiated land sales and oil contracts, and managed to continue her suffrage work. While in South Florida, she joined and spoke before the Miami Suffrage League.

In 1923, Mary met her future husband Ivar Axelson, an economist. When the couple first married, Miami served as their temporary home. Together with Daniel A. McDougal, they became major shareholders in the Chevelier Corporation. Profits from land sales allowed them to leave the area and pursue other careers. The Axelsons retained a large portion of their lands, however, and were later involved in a prolonged battle to protect their property rights in condemnation proceedings related to Everglades National Park.

Biography prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of Miami.

Excerpts from Mary's Scrapbook, 1920.

"Dad watching Road Work on Tamiami Trail...Dade dreams of the Future of the Everglades...A Little Fairy-tale House! Studio of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Coconut Grove, Florida"



Mary McDougal at Dade County line, 1920.

Photo courtesy of University of Miami Libraries,
Archives and Special Collections Department,
Mary McDougal Axelson Papers

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