14 Things Wyoming Did Before Any Other State
Anyone that lives here knows that Wyoming leads the way in a lot of areas. Wide open spaces, friendly people, beautiful views, and the list goes on and on. However, Wyoming's been responsible for a ton of "firsts" over the years - check out this list of 14 times the good old Cowboy State led the pack and beat all those other states to the punch. Take that, you...other 49 states.
William Sublette and Robert Campbell set up shop in 1834, where the Laramie and North Platte Rivers joined - and Fort William was born. (Currently known as Fort Laramie, also known for a bit as Fort John.) These veteran fur traders were responsible for not only the first trading post west of the Missouri River, but also served as the namesake for Sublette County, and Campbell County - the latter depending on who you believe. (Some are adamant that it was named after Robert, some believe the honor belongs to John Allen Campbell, first Governor of the Wyoming Territory, and some say both inspired the name.)
The aforementioned John A. Campbell signed a bill into law back in December of 1869 making Wyoming the very first state that granted women the right to vote. Congress didn't get on board until 1919, when they passed the 19th Amendment (ratified in 1920).
Esther Hobart Morris was born in New York in 1814, and was orphaned at an early age. Eventually, she followed her husband to South Pass City, Wyoming Territory to open a saloon during a gold rush. After the rush went bust, she reluctantly accepted an appointment in 1870 to the bench, where she served for over 8 months before seeking re-election, but failed to get a nomination from the Republican or Democratic Parties.
The Gem City of Laramie holds the honor of having the first all female jury sworn into duty on March 7, 1870 - although a few historians dispute that factoid, suggesting that the 1656 trial of accused witch Judith Catchpole in colonial Maryland actually came first. However, that's Wyoming's story, and we're sticking to it.
Noticing a trend here? The ladies were part of much of Wyoming's "firsts", including appointing the first woman bailiff in the world, Martha Symons-Boise-Atkinson of Albany County - back in 1870, at the same time as the previously mentioned Laramie all-woman jury was seated.
Yellowstone National Park is known globally as one of the most beautiful areas on the planet - but it was also named by Congress as the first National Park in the world.
1886 was a good year for literacy in the Wyoming Territory, when Cheyenne citizens successfully rallied to fund the first library building - opening on a third floor business building on Carey Avenue in August, and later moving to a variety of locations, settling in its current home on Pioneer Avenue.
Wapiti Ranger Station in the Shoshone National Forest is the oldest U.S. Forest Service Ranger Station in the country, and has been in continuous use since 1903.
One of Wyoming's premier natural wonders, Devils Tower, was designated the first national monument by President Roosevelt in 1906. From serving as a sacred worship site for many Native Americans, to a large role in the Spielberg sci-fi classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", this landmark has been making history for years. (And if you're wondering where the apostrophe went, there was apparently a clerical error back when the proclamation went out that accidentally dropped it from "Devil's" - it was never corrected, and to this day, it's apostrophe-free.)
The tourist mecca of Jackson once had a female mayor, town council, and town marshal - with one of the councilwomen even beating her own husband for her seat. It was short-lived, from 1920-1921 - but yet another great example of Wyoming Girl Power.
Every time you stream an old episode of "Friday Night Lights", say a little thank you to the town of Midwest. The first interscholastic football game played in the evening, under artificial light, happened there in 1925 - as Midwest's Yellow Dogs took on Casper High School. It happened out of neccesity, as Midwest was a company town for the Midwest Refining Company - who wanted to make sure the town's roughnecks could enjoy prep football with their busy schedules, and footed the tab for the lights.
Chalk up another page of history for the ladies - Estelle Reel Meyer, arrived in Cheyenne in the late 1800's after getting her education in Boston, St. Louis, and Chicago. Later, she was elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1894 - and went on to make further history as the first woman to be confirmed to federal office by the Senate, after leaving to become the national Superintendent of Indian Schools.
Fitting that this list ends on another milestone for women that happened right here in Wyoming - when Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected the first woman Governor in the US, serving from 1925 to 1927. Following a special election, she finished her husband William Ross's term, after his sudden death following complications from an appendectomy, only a year and a half into his term. She ran for re-election in 1926, but was defeated - then went on to another historical first as President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as the first female director of the U.S. Mint in 1933.