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Nellie Ross

Nellie RossAKA Nellie Davis Tayloe

Born: 29-Nov-1876
Birthplace: St. Joseph, MO
Died: 19-Dec-1977
Location of death: Washington, DC
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne, WY

Gender: Female
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician, First Lady
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: First woman elected Governor in America

Nellie Ross's husband was a successful lawyer, elected Governor of Wyoming in 1922, who died during his first term in office. In the special election held to determine who would serve the last two years of her husband's term, Widow Ross was nominated by the Democratic Party, over her own initial objections. She did not campaign, but won based almost entirely on a public statement that if elected she would continue the programs begun by her husband. In office, news accounts generally referred to her as Wyoming's 'Governess'.

She worked as a school teacher in Omaha before meeting her future husband, and before becoming Governor her only political experience was an executive post with the Cheyenne Women's Club. After losing her bid for re-election, Ross served twenty years as Director of the US Mint, under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. She was the first woman to hold that post, and oversaw the automation of many moneymaking procedures.

Ross is generally cited as America's first female state Governor. Miranda Ferguson was elected Governor of Texas on the same day, after her husband, Governor James Ferguson, had been impeached, but by differing state laws, Ross took office in Wyoming about two weeks before 'Ma' Ferguson was sworn in as Governor of Texas.

As was a common practice among genteel ladies, Ross kept her birthdate secret and never discussed her age. Even while she was Governor, she was believed to have been born around 1880, but genealogical research later determined that she was 101 when she died in 1977.

Father: James Wynn Tayloe (grocer, b. 1832, d. 1915)
Mother: Elizabeth Blair Green Tayloe (b. 1845, d. 1889)
Husband: William B. Ross (Governor of Wyoming, b. 1873, dated 1900-02, m. 1902, d. 1924 complications from appendectomy)
Son: James Ambrose Ross (twin, b. 1903, d. 1928)
Son: George Tayloe Ross (twin, b. 1903, d. 1991)
Son: Alfred Duff Ross (b. 1905, d. 1906)
Son: William Bradford Ross Jr. (b. 1912, d. 1997)

    High School: Miltonvale High School, Miltonvale, KS (1895)

    US Treasury Department Director, United States Mint (1933-53)
    Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman (1928-33)
    Governor of Wyoming (1925-27)


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