The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Woman mayor fights crime; federal irrigation comes to Wyoming

Woman mayor fights crime; federal irrigation comes to Wyoming

November 2019

This month, we profile Wyoming’s first woman mayor, take a look at the federal role in bringing water to parched Wyoming land and offer a new craft-based lesson plan for educators. 

Serving “without fear or favor:” Dayton’s female mayor

Susan Wissler, elected mayor of Dayton, Wyo., in 1912, was Wyoming’s first woman mayor and possibly the second in the nation. Promising to act “without fear or favor,” she served three terms, with some success cleaning up local saloon and gambling elements, all while running her own millinery and dry-goods business. Read more in Tom Rea's article “Wyoming’s First Woman Mayor.”

From hand-dug ditches to BuRec dams

The federal government finally entered the irrigation business in 1902, after it became clear that large infusions of public funds were needed to build projects big enough to be effective in the arid West. The eventual result was a dozen dams across Wyoming, but crop agriculture here remains scarce. Learn more from Phil Roberts’s article “Watering a Dry Land: Wyoming and Federal Irrigation.

How to make an Arapaho hand drum

The hand drum has been a part of the indigenous plains peoples’ traditions since the beginning of our existence on this continent. The drum connects native people to the earth and to life's creation. For many years the drum has signified our mother’s heartbeat, heard while in the womb.  In this lesson, part of our ongoing offerings to help Wyoming schools comply with new social studies standards on Native American content, students will learn how to make their own Native American Hand Drum. See more at St. Stephens Indian School teacher Mike Redman’s lesson here.