Janette Kenny: Wyoming Tea Party

one_real_man_janette_kenny.jpgThough I write historical fiction, I try to make my novels as factually accurate as I can.  There is always a ton of research that goes into any work, even if some things stayed pretty constant for a given time period, because there are exceptions that apply to certain places.

I’ve always loved Wyoming, because to me it holds the heart of the west in an era where minding your own business was shared by all.  That egalitarian independence is fertile ground for heroes wanting to hide from their pasts, and for strong-minded heroines who weren’t content to be a man’s ornament. 

Throughout the world, women by and large were regarded as their husband’s property.  They couldn’t vote, couldn’t hold a government office, and in most places, they couldn’t own or inherit property.  justice_esthermorris_130.jpgThe latter was a problem Esther Hobart Slack faced when she was widowed in 1845 and, under Illinois law, she was unable to inherit her husband’s property.  Though the successful milliner wasn’t depicted as a rabid woman’s suffragette, Esther went on to become a champion for woman worldwide. She married John Morris, and traveled with him to South Pass City, Wyoming where he attempted to make a fortune in the gold mines.  A greater treasure awaited Esther, for when a political office became vacant in the mining town in 1869, then Territorial Secretary Edward Lee appointed her as the Justice of the Peace of South Pass City.  Esther was the first woman in the world to hold such an office.  During her tenure, she never had a case repealed.  

morris.jpgMany credit Secretary Lee with opening the door to women’s rights for he was a prominent suffragist.  At a tea party hosted by Esther Morris and attended by legislators and forward-thinking citizens, the seed was sown to give women equality in the Wyoming Territory. 

Many viewed the proposed bill as a lure for women to settle in Wyoming, for men outnumbered women six to one.  Those winters get mighty long and lonely!  

Later that year, Senator William Bright drafted the final bill titled “An Act to Grant to the Women of Wyoming Territory the Right of Suffrage and to Hold Office.” 

Those some opposed it, nobody fought to stop it.  The equality bill passed and became law, which surprised some in the Wyoming Territory and shocked the world. 

While a national conference was taking place in Washington, DC regarding women’s rights, Wyoming women were already making history. 

Mary Symons became the first woman bailiff in the world in 1870. 

Louisa Swain became the world’s first woman voter under “laws guaranteeing absolute political equality.” 

Eliza Boyd was the first woman selected to serve on a grand jury in 1870. 

204px-nellie_tayloe_ross.jpgIn 1894, Estelle Reed Meyer was the first woman statewide elected official when she won the vote for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman governor. 

And the city of Jackson, Wyoming became the first city in the world entirely governed by women in 1920.  

southpasscity.jpgSettings are very important in our novels.  The heroine in my second novel was a woman who’d escaped one man’s oppression and now wanted to run her guest ranch and be afforded respect.  I hope you’ll read One Real Man and agree that Wyoming was the perfect setting for Josie’s and Gil’s road to romance. 

Thanks to the Petticoats and Pistols gals for having me back.  I’ll draw a name from the comments and give away an autographed copy of One Real Man.

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35 thoughts on “Janette Kenny: Wyoming Tea Party”

  1. thanks for all the interesting facts on women’s rights!

    I just read a book where the heroine was attending suffragist meetings and it got her into a lot of trouble/danger!

    ONE REAL MAN looks very good…I have not read it yet..but will add it to my “to be read” list!!

    BTW, is that Nathan Kamp on the cover?? HOT!!!

  2. I love reading about women in history. I have an awesome book called What Every American Should Know About Women in History, 200 events that shaped our destiny.

    Thanks for being our guest in Wildflower Junction today!

  3. Fabulous post, Janette! Welcome to Wildflower Junction. In my first book, my heroine relocated to Wyoming for just this reason! I too love accurate detail in the books I read. I learn so much from them. Best wishes for continued success!

  4. First off love the cover on your book!! “One Real Man” You had alot of information in your post I always learn interesting facts here i wouldn’t have known about otherwise. That Ester was quite a woman !! enjoyed the information you shared.

  5. Hi Janette, welcome to P&P! We’re so happy to have you. You blogged on a good subject today. Women were indeed ahead of the times there in Wyoming. The state set lots of records for women and provided a blueprint for the rest of the U.S. But it took some awfully strong, determined gals to pave the way. How awful for Esther Slack when her husband died and she couldn’t inherit his property. I can only imagine how she felt.

    Love the cover of your new release! Hot! That Nathan Kamp does take a good picture. I’d love to snuggle up to him. lol I’ve got to add “One Real Man” to my book list. Good luck with sales!

  6. Great post, Janette! I would love to read One Real Man, it sounds like a fantastic read. I love reading historical, my favorite read add western to it and it is the perfect read. You ladies keep us intertain, by writing books. To me a book is better then a movie any day. Keep up the good work.

  7. Too bad the rest of the nation hasn’t followed Wyoming. Thank goodness for the strong women there–and elsewhere who stood up for what they believed and got something done!

    Hmm, wonder if we have too many causes nowadays. Everyone gets so thin-spread not enough gets done. Interesting thought…I’ll have to think on that some more. LOL

  8. Loved reading the interesting facts,lots there I didnt realize,thanks for coming back,historicals are a favorite of mine,Never been to Wyoming,but your writings make me want to go an check it out,thanks

  9. Thanks so much for the information on the beginning
    of women’s rights in Wyoming. Such forward-looking
    people! It’s so sad that the rest of the country
    was so slow in following Wyoming’s lead. Thanks,
    also, for joining us today.

    Pat Cochran

  10. Wyoming was the leader/forerunner for many great things for women. Woohoo!! I find this very interesting so thanks for the look into history.

  11. Welcome! Your post on women’s history in Wyoming was very interesting! We American women sometimes take for granted the rights that we have now. I love historical western fiction, and your new book sounds really good. Good luck with it!

  12. I’m glad to find you and will be reading your work from here forward. Westerns seem to dominate my TBR list and when a writer takes the time to research the historical elements used in the book, I can’t wait to read it.

    I can’t wait to read your work!

    Take care,
    Destiny Blaine

  13. It is amazing how much info you can find when you start digging! Thanks for sharing!!! I love the cover of ONE REAL MAN!!! Wow Wow Wow !!! 😉

  14. I love Wyoming as a setting Janette, and “One Real Man” sounds like great reading.

    Your history of “first” women is very interesting. I have a daughter who wants to be a leader in ministry, and that’s not always easy today either.

  15. A fact I have found interesting. Queens were allowed to rule European countries, but the women had no rights.
    I like to feel like I learn something from the books I read for entertainment.

  16. Reading history of women is interesting. Here’s one bit of history from Finland: Finland was the first country in Europe to give women the right to vote in 1906. And this happened while we were still part of Russian empire.

  17. Great post. I love reading about women who were pioneers for women’s rights. I am looking forward to One Real Man.

  18. Janette, thanks so much for the great blog. I am always up for positive role models for my 14 year old daughter. She is actually very receptive to history, and really into womans history, so I hope that can take her far. Most people would probably be surprised at how much they could learn from the books that I read, when I know the guys that I work with look at the cover and snicker. Wow!!! Sounds a lot like your blog today…LOL What a great afternoon spent at the junction, Thanks to all you ladies, and THANKS AGAIN to you Janette, I’ll look for One Real Cowboy the next time I get out and about!!!

  19. And finally we’re to where we have a woman running for president. Some day having a woman as president will seem common (I hope lol). I think historicals are my favorite because I love learning as I enjoy my reading!

  20. Hi, Janette! Thanks for the fascinating post today! Wyoming sounds like it’s got a lot of history as a pretty forward-thinking state 🙂 Looking forward to reading One Real Man and Josie and Gil’s story!

  21. Hi Janette ~ so gald you joined us today 🙂

    Wow–an amazing post! I am completely fascinated with Wyoming history–we’re headed back there this summer. Thank you for hanging out with us today and sharing all those wonderful details.

  22. My great, great grandmother was a suffergette in early Colorado history. Women really did have it hard in the pioneer days.
    Enjoyed the comments

  23. Love the history lesson. Have always loved history, that is what drew me to historical romance in the first place. Now that I think on it they seem to have less interesting history than they once did.

  24. Great post, Janette. I’m convinced women rule the world. Men just haven’t figured it out yet. 🙂
    I never knew a time when I didn’t think I could do anything I set my mind to. That’s why I had to scratch my head when women’s lib raised such a ruckus in the 60’s. Of course, I lived in the West. I wasn’t in NYC or someplace like that trying to break through a glass ceiling. Which I guess a lot of women tried. You have talked about some amazing women. Thanks for the information.

  25. I have always loved reading about women in history. Women have always been there even when behind the scenes from the beginning of time. I would love to win One Real Man. God Bless.

  26. I loved reading your post. I had no idea about the laws in Wyoming or Esther Slack. I love reading historicals because I learn so many interesting things I probably wouldn’t know otherwise. One Real Man sounds like a great book. I can’t wait to read it.

  27. Fascinating facts about women’s rights. Sounds like you do your homewoek when you write your stories.

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