Book Honors America’s First Female Militia, The ‘Girl Guards Of Wyoming’
As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of woman's suffrage in Wyoming, a book pays tribute to another group of pioneers in the Cowboy State. In The Girl Guards of Wyoming: The Lost Women's Militia, Cheyenne author and historian Dan J. Lyon recounts the legendary tale of Company K, the first all-female military troop in American history.
"In the summer of 1890, an army of teenage women with swords drawn and rifles at the ready marched resolutely toward the state capitol to deliver a message to Governor Francis E. Warren and the nation: women want equal rights," Lyon writes. "As Company K walked alongside women's suffrage pioneer Esther Morris, one could hear the rhythm of their feet keeping step in perfect cadence. Western history remembers murderers, outlaws, prostitutes and saloon girls but not the famous Girl Guards, whose military precision rivaled that of West Point cadets."
Although the Wyoming Territorial constitution prevented women from serving in the military, a group of girls in Cheyenne ranging from 12 to 18 years old trained themselves how to march and quickly earned national acclaim. Lyon credits the woman's militia for helping Wyoming earn statehood and advancing the cause of equality around the country.
"It brought attention to the fact that women can do anything that men can do,” Lyon told Jackson Hole News & Guide. “If you’re a young girl, I hope it shows that you can make a difference in your community.”
"The Girl Guards of Wyoming" is available via Arcadia Publishing. Lyon is a member of Laramie County Chapter of the Wyoming State Historical Society and the Cheyenne Genealogical and Historical Society. He also volunteers at the Wyoming National Guard Museum and F.E. Warren Air Force Base Heritage Museum.