Two related, side-by-side markers pay tribute to Esther Hobart Morris. Home & office site of
Esther Hobart Morris
First woman Justice
of the Peace
in the World
Feb. 14, 1870
Author with W.H. Bright
of the first
equal suffrage law
Dec. 10, 1869
Controversy exists concerning Esther Morris and women suffrage. In 1869, the legislature passed and Governor Campbell signed a woman suffrage bill authored by William Bright, a South Pass City resident. As a result, Wyoming became the first territory or state to allow women the right to vote.
For eight months in 1870, Esther Morris served as South Pass City's justice of the peace, making her the nation's first woman judge. After her death in 1901, some historians claimed that Mrs. Morris had helped Bright write the suffrage bill. Believing this theory, the Historical Landmark Commission dedicated the adjacent marker in 1939 on the former location of the Morris family's five room cabin.
However, recent studies indicate that Bright was the only author of the suffrage bill, although he may have received some urging from his wife Julia and some help from Edward Lee, Secretary of the Territory. Morris probably held court in the county building near the center of town.
Today, Esther Morris is recognized as the nation's first woman justice of the peace. The monument and the nearby 1870 period cabin honor Mrs. Morris, who exemplified the spirit of frontier women.