NELLIE TAYLOE ROSS (1876 – 1977) was inaugurated as the first woman governor in U.S. history on January 25, 1925.  She was the 14th Governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927 (to date, she is the only woman ever to have served as governor of Wyoming).  Ross also served as the Director of the U.S. Mint from 1933 to 1953.  Ross’ husband, William Bradford Ross, was also active in politics, and ran as a Democrat numerous times for public office but always lost to Republican candidates.  William Ross eventually was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1922 but died after only a little over a year in office.  The Democratic Party nominated Nellie Ross to replace her husband in a special election; she refused to campaign but won easily.  Nellie Ross ran for re-election in 1926 and was narrowly defeated (she blamed her loss on her refusal to actively campaign and on the fact that she was an ardent prohibitionist).  Nellie Ross died in 1977 at the age of 101; at the time of her death she was the oldest living ex-Governor.


Elizabeth (Libba) Cotton (1893 – 1987).  Cotton was a singer/songwriter (Blues and Folk) and wrote “Freight Train” when she was only 11, though it was decades later that it became famous.  She was a self-taught left handed guitarist; her style of play became known as “Cotton Picking”.  It was not until she was in her 60’s that Cotton began performing professionally.  She was discovered by the famed folk singing  Seeger family when she was working for them as a housekeeper.  In addition to the Seeger family, Cotton played along side Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and others.  In 1984 Cotton won a Grammy Award for “Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording” for her album Elizabeth Cotton Live.   She was named one of  the 75 most influential African Americans in the photo documentary “I Dream A World” in 1989.

Rebecca Lancefield (1895 – 1981).  Lancefield was a prominent microbiologist.  She joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in 1918 and was associated with that institution throughout her career.  She was a professor of microbiology at Columbia University from 1958 – 1965.  She is best known for her work with group A streptococci and their connection with rheumatic fever.

Jeannette Piccard  (1895 – 1981).  On July 29, 1974, Piccard, together with 6 other women, became one of  the first female Episcopal priests.  She was actually best known for her accomplishments as the first licensed women balloon pilot and the first woman to fly to the stratosphere.  Posthumously, she was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1998.

–Nancy Campbell Mead