Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s First Female Judge

Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s First Female Judge

Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s First Female Judge

By Kathryn Swim Cummings

All women today reap the benefit of that winter day in 1870 when Esther Hobart Morris gathered her courage and walked down the South Pass City street to the saloon where she applied to be justice of the peace.

She became the first woman judge in the nation and the face of the Woman Suffrage movement in the United States. She struck the first resounding crack into the glass ceiling that for centuries had been “keeping women in their place” by denying them the right to hold public office and to vote.

How did Esther go from being the wife of a speculator in a rowdy mining town in Wyoming Territory to being the honored guest at a white glove reception at the 1872 American Suffrage Association Convention in San Francisco? What inspired newspapers from Maine to the Territory of Hawaii to call her “the mother of Woman Suffrage?”

This book examines the life of Esther Morris and clarifies her contributions to women’s rights. Author Cummings also counters the myths that have grown around Esther, her “tea party,” and her participation in the legislation which allowed women to vote in Wyo¬¬ming fifty years before the Nineteenth Amendment gave other U.S. women suffrage.

Esther’s own words from archived family correspondence—plus Cummings’s years of research—bring life to this notable and complex figure.

  • • 9781937147198 • trade paper • 288 pp • $19.95 ORDER NOW
Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s First Female Judge

Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s First Female Judge

By Kathryn Swim Cummings

"Esther Morris has never had a good biography and deserves one. Kathryn Swim Cummings’s Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation's First Female Judge fills the bill, and more.… Cummings’s biography situates Morris’s personal life amid the events of America’s epic mid-nineteenth century national history: the Women’s Rights Movement, the Civil War, and westward expansion, as well as the growth and politics of Wyoming Territory."
••Will Bagley, Author of South Pass: Gateway to a Continent

"Wyoming’s nickname is the “Equality State” because it was the first government to guarantee women’s suffrage. Esther Hobart Morris is a significant part of Wyoming’s history and legacy. Morris not only established her place in history but she continues to embody the strength and resilience of women in the West."
••Affie Ellis, Member, Wyoming State Senate

"Kathryn Swim Cummings has written the first comprehensive biography of Mrs. Morris, adding substantially to our understanding of this complex historic figure. Through the generous use of primary sources, she enables Esther and others to speak to us today."
••Michael A. Massie, Former Curator, South Pass City State Historic Site

Kathryn Swim Cummings

Kathryn Swim Cummings

Seventy-eight-year-old Kathryn Swim Cummings was well prepared to bring to life the story of Esther Morris. Her own story, plus her exhaustive research and interpretive abilities, combined to make her the perfect narrator of Esther’s story.

With a life-long passion for history, Cummings has spent over forty-five years doing genealogical and historical research. In 1992 after many years as a single parent and with her children grown, Cummings left the corporate world in San Diego and moved to the Rocky Mountains of Utah.

Her strong interest in western history focused on Esther Morris, leading to twenty-five years of research into the unembellished lifestory of the first woman judge in the nation. At her seventy-fifth birthday party, Cummings realized it was time to buckle down and write the book.

Cummings has three children, eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren and lives in Holladay, Utah.

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