Attendees to celebrate 1st female voter with re-enactment

Louisa Swain, played by Judy Knight, casts her historic vote during a 2017 re-enactment outside of the Wyoming House for Historic Women. Louisa Swain, who was the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election, will be honored at 9:30 a.m. today at the Wyoming House for Historic Women, 317 S. Second St.

Many events can make running errands memorable, but 148 years ago, Louisa Swain created history with a shopping trip, simultaneously changing the world and picking up yeast for dinner.

According to the Laramie Daily Sentinel, Swain donned an apron, grabbed a tin pail and headed into town Sept. 6, 1870.

Somewhere between the store and home, she stopped in at a polling place, cast a ballot and became the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election.

On the heels of granting women the right to vote, Wyoming took the name “The Suffrage State,” then later, “The Equality State.”

In 2008, 138 years after Swain’s historical vote, the U.S. Congress declared Sept. 6 Louisa Swain Day.

To honor Swain’s memory and keep her legend burning bright, the Louisa Swain Foundation hosts an annual weekend celebration around Sept. 6.

“Each year, we have a lady re-enact Louisa Swain’s vote,” Louisa Swain Foundation Executive Director Weldon Tuck said. “This year, Wendy King, of the Zonta Club, will be portraying Mrs. Swain.”

Hosted at the Wyoming House for Historic Women, 317 S. Second St., the celebration kicks off with a continental breakfast at 9:30 a.m. and ceremonies start at 10 a.m.

Tuck said the event has grown from a handful of attendees to dozens in recent years, and while the Wyoming House closed it’s regular tours in August, he said the museum would be open and free to the public Saturday.

“Since the (Louisa Swain Day) resolution, visitation has quadrupled during the summer months,” Tuck said. “People come from all over the world, and I don’t know that they come to Laramie specifically to see us, but we sure do appreciate it when they stop in.”

The visitor log includes entries from all 50 states and 36 countries with Japan and Egypt added this summer, he said.

During the ceremony, King, acting as Swain, follow the historical figure’s footsteps.

“I have a fabulous costume thanks to the Ivinson Mansion,” King said. “The ceremony entails me in costume with a pail casting her vote.”

An advanced practice registered nurse with Snowy Range Health Center, King said this wouldn’t be her first time attending the event, but she’s never played the role before.

“I have attended some past Louisa Swain days,” she said. “(Tuck) graciously asked me to play the role this year. I’m looking forward to it. She’s an important figure in Laramie’s history.”

Go to www.thelouisaswainfoundation.com for more information about Louisa Swain Day.

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