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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Women of Wyoming

Women of Wyoming

Amalia Post, Defender of Women's Rights

In 1871, Amalia Post of Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, became one of the first women to serve on a jury in the United States. Soon, she began advocating for women’s rights on a national level. She was an independent businesswoman from the time her first husband abandoned her in Denver in the early 1860s, through her marriage to her second husband, Cheyenne banker and politician Morton Post and up to the time of her death in 1897.

Peace, War, Land and a Funeral: The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

In March 1866, when whites and Indians together at Fort Laramie mourned the death of Mni Akuwin, daughter of Spotted Tail, chief of the Brulé Lakota, a colonel at the post hoped it was a sign of peace between the peoples. Peace hopes were shattered later that spring however, by the arrival of hundreds of troops to build forts on the Bozeman Trail, and two more years of bitter warfare followed. Finally in 1868, the tribes of the northern plains gathered at the fort and signed a treaty, ending the war—for a while.

The Old West's Female Champion: Caroline Lockhart and Wyoming's Cowboy Heritage

Caroline Lockhart wrote a handful of novels about Wyoming in the early 20th century. They made her famous and rich, and they hold up well today. At the same time, she was a new kind of activist, a central figure in bringing to the town of Cody and the state of Wyoming a new kind of nostalgia-based culture that both have embraced ever since.

Lillian Heath: Wyoming's First Female Physician Packed a Pistol

Lillian Heath, Wyoming’s first woman physician, practiced medicine in and around Rawlins, Wyo., beginning in 1893. As a teenager, she trained with Union Pacific Railroad surgeon Dr. Thomas Maghee, and assisted Maghee and Dr. John Osborne in their post-mortem investigations into the brain of outlaw Big Nose George Parrot. Later she won a medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Keokuk, Iowa, where she specialized in obstetrics. She retired after 15 years of practice, but remained keenly interested in medicine until her death in 1962.

Verda James, First Full-term Woman Speaker of Wyoming's House of Representatives

Verda James, a schoolteacher, deputy director of public instruction for the state of Wyoming, assistant superintendent of the Natrona County schools, and later a faculty member at Casper College, was first elected to the Wyoming House in 1954. She served eight terms. During the last term, 1969-1970, she was elected House speaker, the first woman to serve in that position for a full term.

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Encyclopedia | 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.
Oral Histories | 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.
Oral Histories | 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.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | 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. 
Oral Histories | Edith Thaxton, born in 1898, much later in life recalled the dances of her youth.
Oral Histories | 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.
Encyclopedia | In 1871, Amalia Post of Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, became one of the first women to serve on a jury in the United States. Soon, she began advocating for women’s rights on a national level. She was an independent businesswoman from the time her first husband abandoned her in Denver in the early 1860s, through her marriage to her second husband, Cheyenne banker and politician Morton Post and up to the time of her death in 1897.

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