Wyoming Women of Note: Esther Hobart Morris, The Statue and Her Creator

Esther Hobart Morris, The Statue and Her Creator
Esther Hobart Morris, The Statue and Her Creator

In 1953, Senator Lester Hunt wrote a letter to Frank Bowron, the president of the Wyoming Historical Society, proposing that Wyoming be represented in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. At this time Wyoming was one of six states not represented. The Senator's inspiration came from being part of an impressive dedication ceremony when the State of Washington presented their statue of Doctor Marcus Whitman. During the ceremony he was introduced to the sculptor Doctor Avard Tennyson Fairbanks. Senator Hunt wanted Wyoming to be portrayed among our sister states and what better person to commemorate Wyoming than Doctor Fairbanks who was internationally renowned for his historical monuments, and classic works of art. He was one of America's finest sculptors of the 20th century. Each of his pieces of art was constructed from the inside out, he focused first on the skeleton, then muscle system working outward to the creases and skin. He had the ability to show emotion in his work which helped bring the significance of the event being recorded to life. Fairbanks's son Eugene Fairbanks wrote that his father's work, if given a spirit, could get up and walk away. His attention to anatomical detail made him one of the world's best realists of his time. The official Esther Morris Memorial commission was created in 1955, the historical society asked state wide associations for their opinion as to who should be monumentalized. Esther Hobart Morris was the most sought out candidate. She was the first female Justice of the Peace and leader in the passage of Wyoming's suffrage amendment. The members raised the funds needed to commission Dr. Avard Fairbanks. In 1960 in Washington D.C. the official presentation took place in the nation's capital building. In 1961 the State Legislature provided $7,500 for a replica of the statue to be placed in front of the Wyoming State Capitol building. In 1963 the replica was finally unveiled in Wyoming. One of the attendees of the ceremony was former Secretary of State Thyra Thompson who stated "the replica statue honored not only the women of Wyoming but the men who put action to their words." Today Dr. Avard Fairbanks' wonderful sculpture of the "Mother of Suffrage" resides in the newly renovated extension of the Wyoming State Capitol building. Dr. Fairbank did an amazing job capturing the strength and emotion of a pioneer woman who helped forge women's suffrage!


Wyoming Women of Note is a series to celebrate Wyoming Women's Suffrage. New highlights will be released each month of this year. Please follow the links below to see previously featured Wyoming Women: