Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who was Rose Rust?

Photo by Robert Edwards
By Richard I. Gibson

Rose Morrow Rust, "raised in Butte," was a Democratic candidate for the Montana legislature in 1916. The campaign card below was discovered by Robert Edwards in 2011. In the primary August 29, apparently the top 12 vote-getters went on to the general election in November; at the head of the list, it said "vote for twelve." Unfortunately Mrs. Rust came in 23rd in a field of 41, with 1,678 votes. The top vote getter got about 3800 votes and the 12th highest got about 2100. 

The general election of 1916 saw the first women elected to the Montana legislature, Maggie Smith Hathaway, Democrat from Stevensville, and Emma Ingalls, Republican from Kalispell. And of course it is well known that in that election Montana sent the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Representative Jeanette Rankin.

Rose Rust's home at 1124 Utah Avenue still stands.

Resources: Sanborn maps, city directories, newspapers of 1916.


  1. That is not a shabby number of votes! Is there any data showing how many of those candidates were women?

  2. Nicole, I reviewed the candidate list in the paper - did not write down how many were women. Some you could tell by the name, some were just initials so unknown. Next time I go to the Archives, I'll check again.

  3. I love it. I wish my grandma was alive to tell me who she voted for in early elections, although she could not have voted in this one, I don't think. She would have been only 18.

  4. Nicole, based on the election returns for the August 29, 1916 primary election, there were at least three women in the Democratic field of 41: Margaret Gillick, Emma Naughten, and Rose Rust. The Republican field of 14 included Joanna Grigg. All lost, either in the primary or the general election in November. Also, Jeanette Rankin beat out 7 men in the Republican primary and then as we know won the general election as well.