Mary Allen Wright (1868-1948)

Mary Allen was born on December 3, 1868 to Mary Best and Rev. J.C. Allen in Polk, Missouri. She was educated at local public schools and at Maryville's State Normal School, as teacher-training colleges were called. In 1887, she married George G. Wright and they eventually settled in Rathdrum, Idaho. In Idaho, she was a teacher and was active in the suffrage populist movements.

   

North Dakota had elected the first woman to statewide office in 1892, State School Superintendent of Public Instruction, and other western states soon followed that precedent.    Populists nominated Wright for this office in 1898, but she declined.  Later that year, however, they nominated her for the Idaho House of Representatives; she accepted and won.  Wright chaired the Populist Party Caucus and was nominated for Speaker of the House.  She left her seat in 1901 to serve as Clerk of the House, a position to which she was elected by her peers.

   

In 1904, she divorced her husband for desertion and went back to teaching.  She also studied law and managed Wright’s Loan and Investment Company. She died on March 31, 1948.