March is Women’s History Month, an appropriate time to recognize the First Ladies of our state. Whether they came to Colorado as pioneers or worked to leave the state a better place, these ladies led very interesting lives. In the 1960s and ’70s Helen Cannon of the Colorado Historical Society profiled a number of the state’s earliest first ladies in Colorado Magazine, which is now available online. The following ladies were profiled.
- Julia Pratte Gilpin was Colorado’s first first lady.
- Margaret Gray Evans was a direct descendant of Pilgrims on the Mayflower.
- Ellen Kellogg Hunt came to Colorado in a covered wagon in 1859.
- Mary Thompson McCook “was renowned for her beauty, charm, and wit.”
- Josephine Evans Elbert has the distinction of being both a first lady and a first daughter. Both her father, John Evans, and husband, Samuel Elbert, served as territorial governors. Margaret Gray Evans was Josephine’s stepmother.
- Eliza Pickrell Routt was active in women’s suffrage.
- Fidelia James Pitkin was an accomplished pianist.
- Mary Goodell Grant lived in Colorado’s famous Grant-Humphreys Mansion.
- Rebecca Hill Eaton joined the temperance movement.
- Ella Nye Adams traveled around the world.
- Jane Barnes Cooper helped found the Craig Colony, which became Craig Hospital.
- Celia Crane Waite was married to Colorado’s only third-party governor.
- Emma Fletcher Thomas was originally from Canada.
- Nellie Martin Orman threw lavish parties.
- Frances Clelland Peabody described herself as “a typical American matron.”
Finally, for a look at some of the more recent First Ladies, see the Colorado Historical Society’s book Queen of the Hill: The Private Life of the Colorado Governor’s Mansion, available for checkout from our library.
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