Nellie T Ross


Randall Nielson, Reporter

Nellie Ross accomplished many things in her life. This includes the first female governor of a U.S. State ~ Wyoming, and she became the first female director of the United States Mint (where the government prints money). 

Nellie Ross was born on November 29, 1876, in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Her parents were James Wynns Tayloe and  Elizabeth Blair Green. When Ross graduated high school, her family moved to Omaha. There, she taught piano lessons and went to a teacher training camp. After that, she was a kindergarten teacher for four years. In 1896, two of Ross’ brothers gifted her a trip to Europe. In 1902, Ross married a man named William B. Ross. He always wanted to live in the west, so they moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming. William ran for governor several times unsuccessfully, but in 1922 he finally won. William Ross was only able to enjoy the job he had worked so hard to get because he died because of problems with an appendectomy.

After Williams’ death, Nellie was nominated for a special election. On January 5, 1925, Nellie became the first female governor of a U.S. state. She agreed with and strengthened a lot of her husbands’ policies. These policies included tax cuts, helping poor farmers, banking reform, and lots of laws that protected working women, children, and miners. When Ross ran for re-election in 1926, she was narrowly defeated. After that, she campaigned for Al Smith, who was running for president. 

On May 3, 1933, Franklin D. Rosevelt made Nellie Ross the first woman to ever be the director of the U.S. Mint. Ross endured poor relations with the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt and other people on the presidents’ campaign. Ross created the Franklin half dollar, and she started the making of proof coins for public sale. Ross served five terms before retiring in 1953. During retirement, Ross traveled extensively. She died at the age of 101 in Washington D.C. Nellie Ross was a pioneer for not just women, but a pioneer for all of mankind.