Women’s History Month - County Museum profiles Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman governor in American history

Nellie Tayloe Ross sits on an ornate coach in a flowing gown that reaches the floor. The room is full of other ornate furniture.

Photo #1 - Nellie Tayloe Ross often visited Sweetwater County. She is shown here at the Taliaferro home in Rock Springs, circa 1935. The couch on which she is seated, still in the possession of the Taliaferro family, was made in 1832.


(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - March 19, 2024)     March is Women’s History Month, and the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is recognizing one of the most groundbreaking women in Wyoming history - Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman governor in the United States.

Nellie Ross was born in Missouri in 1876. She became a kindergarten teacher and married lawyer William Bradford Ross in 1902. Later, the Rosses moved to Cheyenne, where Ross established a law practice and served as Laramie County’s prosecuting attorney. He became involved in politics and was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1922. In 1924, after complications following an appendectomy, William Ross died.

Though she at first resisted calls for her to run for Governor in 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross, a Democrat, relented at the last minute and won handily. She served as Governor until she was narrowly defeated in the 1926 election; many believe her defeat was due to her strong support for Prohibition and her refusal to campaign for herself.

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Ross Secretary of the Treasury, the first woman to hold that position. She went on to serve in that post for 20 years, under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. She retired in 1953, traveled extensively, and wrote articles for a range of women’s magazines. Nellie Tayloe Ross died in 1976, age 101, and is buried at the Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne.