Women of Wyoming
Women of Wyoming
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Was she a hard-drinking, swashbuckling mule skinner and Indian fighter? Or an alcoholic prostitute, stuck in menial jobs in a life both dreary and mundane? Calamity Jane's life is two stories: the facts of her biography, and the romantic tales that came to comprise the Calamity Jane legend.