Wyoming Elected Nellie Tayloe Ross Governor 95 Years Ago Today
Today marks the 95th anniversary of Wyoming's most historic election. November 4, 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross won a run-off to become the first female Governor in the United States, succeeding her husband who died unexpectedly a month earlier after two years in office.
Nellie Davis Tayloe was a kindergarten teacher in Missouri when she met her future husband William Ross in 1902. Following their marriage, Ross moved to Cheyenne, set up a law practice, and the couple had four children. After several unsuccessful attempts for public office, Ross was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1922. After less than two years in office, he suffered an appendectomy and died unexpectedly on October 2, 1924.
Tayloe Ross was nominated to replace her husband in a special election and won handily despite her refusal to publicly campaign. She refused to campaign again in 1926 and was narrowly defeated. In 1928, Tayloe Ross was mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic Presidential nominee Al Smith and received 31 write-in votes for Vice President at the Democratic National Convention.
In 1933, Tayloe Ross made history again, becoming the first female director of the United States Mint. After serving five terms at the Mint, she retired in 1953. She made her last trip back to Wyoming at the age of 96. Five years later, in 1977, Ross passed away in Washington, D.C. at the age of 101. She was laid to rest alongside her late husband at the Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne.
The election of Tayloe Ross was one of many historic achievements for women in the Equality State. The Wyoming Territorial Assembly was the first to let women vote in 1869. Wyoming also appointed the first female Justice of the Peace, the first female jurors, and the first female bailiff, along with a host of other milestones. 95 years later, Tayloe Ross remains the only woman to ever serve as Governor of Wyoming.