Edness Kimball Wilkins

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Edness Kimball Wilkins
Member of the Wyoming State House of Representatives from Natrona County
In office
January 9, 1973 – July 15, 1980
Succeeded byFrank Chapman
In office
January 1955 – January 9, 1967
38th Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives
In office
May 30, 1966 – January 9, 1967
Preceded byWalter B. Phelan
Succeeded byWilliam F. Swanton
Member of the Wyoming Senate
from Natrona County
In office
January 9, 1967 – January 12, 1971
Succeeded byDick Tobin
Personal details
Born(1896-01-31)January 31, 1896
Casper, Wyoming, U.S.
DiedJuly 15, 1980(1980-07-15) (aged 84)
Casper, Wyoming, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseRonald Wilkins
Alma materUniversity of Kentucky
University of Nebraska

Edness Kimball Wilkins (January 31, 1896 − July 15, 1980) was the first women speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives.[1]


She was born Edness Kimball to parents Wilson, mayor of Casper, and Edness Merrick Kimball in Casper, Wyoming, on January 31, 1896.[1] She studied at both the University of Nebraska and the University of Kentucky.[1] She was married to Ronald Wilkins, and together they had one son.[1] During her life she was an active member of the League of Women Voters.[1]


She worked as an assistant for Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman to be governor of a US state,[2] from 1931 to 1935 when Ross was director of the US Mint.[1] Later, Wilkins ran the Water and Sanitation Department for Casper, Wyoming, from 1950 to 1953.[1]

In 1954, Wilkins was elected for the first time to the Wyoming House of Representatives to represent Natrona County.[1] She went on to serve five more terms in the state legislature.[1]

Wilkins was originally rejected as Speaker, and instead Walter B. Phelan was elected Speaker of the House in 1965, despite the fact that Wilkins was leader of the majority party, the Democrats.[3] At the time, she commented she was used to "stepping aside for the men".[3] When Phelan died in 1966, as the leader of the majority party, Wilkins assumed the office of Speaker.[4] However, because the House met only on odd numbered years and the next year Wilkins was elected to the State Senate, she never actually served in session as speaker.[5]

In 1966, Wilkins ran for and won election to the Wyoming State Senate.[1][4] She lost her bid for reelection in 1970. In 1972, she again won election to the Wyoming House of Representatives, and she continued to serve there until her death on July 15, 1980.[6][1]


The Edness K. Wilkins State Park near Casper, Wyoming, was named for Wilkins.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sharp, Nancy Weatherly; Sharp, James Roger; Ritter, Charles F.; Wakelyn., Jon L. (1997). American Legislative Leaders in the West 1911-1994. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 031330212X. OCLC 833126991.
  2. ^ "Today in History - December 10". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2019-11-03.
  3. ^ a b Larson, T. A. (April 1965). "Woman Suffrage in Wyoming". The Pacific Northwest Quarterly. 56 (2): 57–66. JSTOR 40488005.
  4. ^ a b "Wyoming Women in the Legislature" (PDF). Wyoming Secretary of State. January 2013.
  5. ^ "Verda James, First Full-term Woman Speaker of Wyoming's House of Representatives | WyoHistory.org". www.wyohistory.org. Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  6. ^ "Edness Kimball Wilkins dies". Casper Star-Tribune. July 16, 1980. p. A1. Retrieved January 24, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Edness K. Wilkins State Park" (PDF). Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.
Political offices
Preceded by
Walter B. Phelan
Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives
Succeeded by
William Swanton