Utah History to Go
Kanab Residents Chose Women to Run Their Town in 1912
Change and Creativity
Struggle for Statehood
Struggle for Statehood Chronology
In 1895 Utahns Wondered When Statehood Would Come
A State is Born
Party Politics and Utah Statehood
The Constitutional Convention is Called
Constitution Was Framed in City and County Building
African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910
The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah's African Americans Informed
Clarence E. Allen Was Utah's First Congressman
How Utah Lost One of Its U.S. Senate Seats in 1899
Salt Lake Native Was Interred in the Kremlin Wall
The Shooting of Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator From Utah
Convict Labor Helped to Build Utah's Road
Strawberry Valley, 1st Federal Reclamation Project
Women's Suffrage in Utah
Woman Suffrage Dominated Politics in Utah
Kanab Residents Chose Women to Run Their Town, 1912
Ruth May Fox, Forgotten Suffragist
Soren Hanson's "House That Eggs Built"
Utah Arts Council
Utah State Historical Society
The Beginning of Public Support For Libraries
The Pasta King of the Mountain West
Celebrating the New Year in Salt Lake's Chinatown
Electrifying Utah-Engineer Lucien L. Nunn
A Brewer-Sportsman's Prairie Style Home in Ogden
Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live
Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Many Visitors
Minstrel Shows
Utah State Capitol
Utah in the Spanish American War
Captain Richard W. Young and Spanish-American War
A Soldier's Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900's
Methodist Women Missionaries Worked Hard in Utah
Flour Mills
Guano Sifters on Gunnison Island
The Lehi Beet Sugar Factory
The Salt Industry Was One of the First Enterprises
From Free Salt to a Major Industry
Hospitals and Health Crazes in the Late 1800's
The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy
Would the New State of Utah Go Metric?
A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century
Jobs in 1900
Explosion of Pleasant Valley Coal Company
The Lucin Cutoff
Southern Utah's First High School
Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah
Salt Lake City Had Its Typhoid Mary
Vaccinations in Wasatch County
Promoting Physical Fitness
Woman's Home Association Tried to Help the "Fallen"
Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns
Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Utah
The First Large Factory in Utah
The Rise and Fall of Ogden's Packing Industry
Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown
The Bamberger Electric Railway
The First Cars in Two Small Towns
A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert
Daredevils of the Sky-Early Aeronauts in Utah
Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels
Utah's Immigrants at the Turn of the Century
Boys' Potato Growing Clubs
Joe Hill and the I.W.W.
Socialist Women and Joe Hill
A Bit of Polynesia Remains
Justice Zane and Antipolygamy
The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

W. Paul Reeve
History Blazer, April 1995

In January 1912 the southern Utah town of Kanab made history when its newly elected mayor and city council took over governance of the small farming community. It was reportedly the first time in the history of the United States that an entire town board, including the mayor, was comprised of women. The board was headed by Mayor Mary W. Howard* and also consisted of four councilwomen: Vinnie Jepson (later replaced by Ada Seegmiller), Tamar Hamblin, Blanche Hamblin, and Luella McAllister. Each of the five women was married and had a family ranging from two to seven children. In addition, three of the five women gave birth during their term in office. Besides assuming responsibility for Kanab's management, each woman did her own housework, made her own carpets, rugs, and quilts, and attended to her religious duties.

The female board spent an active two years in office, leading some supporters to claim that they had done more for Kanab than all the previous boards combined. Their first official act was to protect local merchants by increasing the license fee for peddlers and traveling salespeople. Other ordinances included the regulation of stray animals, a dog tax, a law requiring residents to use "fly-traps," and the prohibition of "flippers and slings" within town limits to protect birds from thoughtless youth. The women also outlawed foot races, horse races, ball games, and all "noisy sports" on the Sabbath. And, in keeping with the national trend towards temperance, the female board made Kanab a "dry" community with a strict antiliquor ordinance.

These active women also arranged for the town cemetery to be surveyed and plotted, purchased lumber and had bridges built over town ditches, joined with Kanab's Irrigation Company and built a large dike to protect the town from flooding, and, finally, appointed September 12, 1912, as "Stink Weed Day" and awarded prizes of $10, $5, and $2.50 for the best clean-up jobs in town.

Toward the end of the board's term Mayor Howard noted that prior to the women's election nine-tenths of the townsfolk did not know who the members of the town board were. In contrast, she asserted, even the children know all the names of the female board, and they are discussed "in every home for good or ill."

As the influential women's two-year tenure drew to a close, many of their supporters urged them to run again. In response, Howard declared: "We are not at all selfish, and are perfectly willing to share the honors with others. We are in hopes they will elect ladies to fill the vacancies." This hope was dashed when the Kanab town board returned to male domination in 1914, bringing an end to the history-making female rule.
*"Howard" is a pseudonym for Mary Elizabeth Woolley Chamberlain who used the assumed name to escape polygamous persecution.

See Adonis Findlay Robinson, History of Kane County (Salt Lake City, 1970); Mary W. Howard, "An Example of Women in Politics," Improvement Era, July 1914.


The Land
American Indians
Trappers, Traders, & Explorers
Pioneers & Cowboys
Mining & Railroads
Statehood & the Progressive Era
From War to War
Utah Today