Emma S. Ingalls (1860-unknown)

Emma S. Ingalls was born in Union Grove, Wisconsin, on February 7, 1860, but lived most of her life in Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana. This Rocky Mountain area was called that because Native Americans there flattened their babies' heads as a sign of clan identity.


By age 29, Ingalls had risen from reporter to editor to publisher of a county newspaper, the Interlake Daily, which she used to forcefully editorialize for civic reform. The editor of the Journal, a rival newspaper, said that she "was a clever and interesting writer, forceful and on occasion wielding a caustic pen."


She was also credited with bringing irrigation to the Flathead Valley and was an innovative farmer:  she was reported to be the first person to plant alfalfa and the first person to grow fruit for commercial use.


A lifelong feminist, she helped Montana women win the vote in 1914 and then ran for the Montana House at the next election.  A moderate Republican, Ingalls served from 1917 to 1921. In August of 1920, Governor Samuel L. Stewart called a special legislative session to ratify the 19th Amendment that enfranchised other American women, and Ingalls introduced this resolution in the House. In the early 1920s, she served as the district deputy of the Montana Bureau of Child and Animal Protection.

Image credit: Montana History Society.