Elizabeth McCollum Parkinson was born on 31 May 1878 in Greenfield, Dade, MO to John D. And Mary (Fulton) Parkinson. Her father practiced law in Dade county until 1872 , when he was elected Circuit Judge of the Twenty-fifth Judicial District. He served in that capacity until January of 1881.It was in June of that year that Judge Parkinson brought his family to Bates County and formed a law partnership with John W. Abernathy in Butler.
Elizabeth spent her formative years here in her father’s home that was located on the northeast corner of Pine and Delaware streets. She attended the public schools and began to showcase her singing talents in local productions such as “Ye Greate Olde Folkes Concerte” where she played Ione in 1892. Elizabeth wasn’t the only Parkinson child blessed with musical talent. Her sister, Mary, accompanied the production on piano. Recognizing that their daughter was a gifted vocalist, her family moved to Kansas City in 1895 where she began to study voice under Mrs. Layton. It was in Kansas City where Elizabeth auditioned for the famed Soprano Madame Nordica. Madame Nordica was sufficiently impressed with what she heard and wrote a letter of recommendation to Elizabeth’s wealthy relatives back East. The relatives agreed to sponsor Elizabeth and it was decided that Elizabeth would go to Paris.