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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Women of Wyoming

Women of Wyoming

The Ambition of Nellie Tayloe Ross

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.

Right Choice, Wrong Reasons: Wyoming Women Win the Right to Vote

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.

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Encyclopedia | In July 1864, several members of the Kelly-Larimer wagon train were killed by a large party of Oglala Sioux. The graves of five victims—7-year-old Mary Kelly and four men—are located near present Glenrock, Wyo. Fanny Kelly, held captive by the Sioux, later wrote a book about her trials.
Encyclopedia | Three-year-old Ada Magill of Kansas, died of dysentery in 1864 on the Oregon Trail west of present Glenrock, Wyo. The Magills were bound for Oregon. In 1912, road surveyor L. C. Bishop moved the grave to a site nearby, where it is now marked by the Oregon-California Trails Association.
Encyclopedia | When a party of Lakota Sioux raiders attacked a small wagon train of Shoshone, white and mixed-race people in 1868, eight-months-pregnant Woman Dress Lamoreaux stopped the skirmish when she climbed from a wagon and threatened the attackers with drastic consequences from her brother, Gall—their war chief—if they continued the fight.
Oral Histories | Oleta Thomas often visited the Heart Mountain relocation camp as a teenager during World War II, when her father had a job there. In this 2012 interview she remembers those times and later ones as a home ec teacher in 1950s Cody and a massage therapist in Casper since the 1980s.                    
Oral Histories | Edna Garrett was born in Salt Creek, Wyo., in 1926, and grew up with her eight siblings in a house with no running water in a boomtown going bust, where her parents ran a secondhand store. This interview was conducted two years before her death in 2013. 
Encyclopedia | Cheyenne schoolteacher Harriett Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd, Wyoming’s first black woman legislator, served in the Wyoming House and Senate from 1981-92. She concentrated on social justice issues, and nine times sponsored a bill to make Martin Luther King day a state holiday before it was finally adopted in 1990.
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s first poet laureate, award-winning poet and fiction writer Peggy Simson Curry, grew up on a ranch in North Park, Colo., a world that informed much of her work. As an adult she taught writing at Casper College for 25 years, nurturing the work and hopes of generations of writers that followed her. 
Encyclopedia | Civil engineer, librarian, athlete, professor and historian, Grace Hebard gained early power at the University of Wyoming, serving on its board of trustees and later its faculty over a 40-year career. Though many scholars now question her scholarship, she remains best known for her books on Wyoming’s past. 

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