Women of Wyoming
Women of Wyoming
Lora Nichols of Encampment, Wyo., got a camera for her 16th birthday in 1899 and kept snapping photos until her death at age 78. Her work leaves a vivid record of her time and place, and of her clear-eyed vision of the lives of her neighbors and kin.
Joye Kading served as secretary for the successive commanding colonels in charge of purchasing, building and operating the Casper Army Air Base during World War II. In this 2011 interview from the Casper College Western History Center, Kading recalls her experiences and describes many of the wartime photographs she collected in a scrapbook.
The popular Republican Thyra Thomson served as Wyoming’s secretary of state from 1963 to 1987, when she retired. While in office, Thomson witnessed the continuing presence of gender discrimination in the Equality State, and became a fierce advocate for equal rights. She died in Cheyenne June 11, 2013. She was 96.
News stories published about the July 20, 1889, hanging of Ella Watson and Jim Averell contained inaccuracies that historians and others accepted as fact for more than 100 years, leading to a variety of misunderstandings and resulting in questions about truth and history that haunt researchers today.
In 1909, Elinore Pruitt answered Burntfork, Wyo. rancher Clyde Stewart’s Denver Post ad for a housekeeper. She soon married Stewart and achieved her dream of becoming a homesteader. Her vivid letters about her experiences were published in the book Letters of a Woman Homesteader, bringing her nationwide fame.
Frances Hecht, born in 1904, recalls her work curing meat, keeping milk cool without a refrigerator or icebox, hauling river water to wash clothes in a Maytag powered by a car motor and lighting a flame to heat the iron.
Nellie Tayloe Ross, a Democrat, was elected governor of Wyoming a month after her governor husband, William Ross, died of appendicitis in the fall of 1924. She ran because of respect for her husband’s Progressive ideas and also as a result of her own ambition. She lost her bid for re-election in 1926, but went on to figure prominently in the leadership of the national Democratic Party. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to direct the U.S. Mint after he took office in 1933, a job she held for 20 years. She died in Washington in 1977, at the age of 101.
In the fall of 1869, lawmakers in Wyoming’s first territorial legislature passed a bill allowing women the right to vote. The governor signed the bill into law Dec. 10, 1869, making the territory the first government in the world to grant full voting rights to women. The lawmakers mixed partisan politics, racial fears and an eye for national publicity in with a desire among some, at least, to do the right thing.