First female justice of the peace gets obit after 116 years

Legal History

Esther Morris/Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times has published a belated obituary for a woman who became the country’s first female justice nearly 150 years ago.

The trailblazing woman, Esther Morris, died in 1902 at 87. The Times published her obituary as part of its Overlooked series that makes amends for a history of obituaries that favored white males.

The territory of Wyoming had appointed Morris to the job in February 1870, only a few months after it granted women the right to vote. She had moved to Wyoming from Illinois with her husband and children, and was 55 at the time of her appointment in South Pass City.

One newspaper wrote in 1870 that Morris was “the terror of all rogues” and had offered “infinite delight to all lovers of peace and virtue.” She tried about 30 civil actions during her 8½ months of service.

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