Historical Details

Niobrara County's Woman Legislator Has Had An Interesting Career

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 01/05/1934

Mrs. Josephine Warner Fagan, who is the second woman to represent Niobrara county in the lower branch of the Wyoming legislature, will bring to the Twenty-second Wyoming legislature a wealth of experience gained through many years of activity in public life.

Josephine Warner was born in Williamstown, New York, on a dairy ranch operated by her father, the young Miss Warner was christened Josephine Eleanor, the Eleanor being a family name of her mother's branch.

Niobrara county's woman legislator is a descendant of well-known figures in American History. Her grandmother, Lucy Chase, was a direct descendant of Samuel Chase, who was a signer of the the Declaration of Independence. Her father is also a direct descendant of Seth Warner of revolutionary fame. With such a background, Mrs. Fagan will well take pride in the fact that she is a typical American citizen.

Mrs. Fagan received her elementary and secondary education in the Williamstown schools. Her young girlhood was a most happy one, as she lived in the hop growing section of New York State, where so many gala affairs were held during the hop-picking season.

In 1906, Mrs. Fagan graduated from the Hospital of the Good Shepherd, which is the nurses' training school for Syracuse University. Upon graduation she became a registered nurse in New York State and entered upon her career as a graduate nurse.

For a year and a half she was associated with private, institutional and social service nursing on the East Coast. In 1908 she went to San Diego, California, to practice her profession.

Later in 1908 she went to Tonopah, Nevada, where her brother, D.L. Warner, was foreman of the mine blacksmith shops. It was here that she had her first experience in politics, as she was elected matron of the Miner's Union Hospital.

Her campaign manager was a young miner by the name of Thomas M. Fagan, who at the time was president of the Miner's Union, and who later was destined to become her "manager" for life.

Tonopah at this time was one of the large boom towns of the Nevada mining section. Life was very cosmopolitan, as at night one would entertain college boys who spent their days laboring with pick and shovel on the dump piles.

The Miner's Charity Ball was the gala event of the social season. The ball was accompanied by prize fights, gambling , and--dancing. It was customary for the president of the Miner's Union and the matron of the hospital to lead the grand march at the charity ball. Thus a future event forecast its shadow in this grand march which ultimately blended into a wedding march.

Mrs. Fagan recalls Goldfield, which was the largest of the mining towns. The late Tex Rickard was well known to her, and the show place of Goldfield was the lawn around Rickard's home. The water for this lawn was piped forty miles, which accounts for lawns being such a rarity. Tonopah is an Indian name which means "no water," and Mrs. Fagan still has a warm spot in her heart for the desert.

On June 24, 1915, Miss Warner became Mrs. Thomas M. Fagan. Up to this time she had held her position as matron of the Miner's Hospital.

In 1918 Mr. and Mrs. Fagan and family came to Lusk, Wyo., where they have resided since that time. Thomas M. Fagan, who was a prominent Democrat , and a leading attorney of Eastern Wyoming, represented Niobrara county in the 18th Wyoming Legislature, and in 1924 was the Democratic candidate for Congress, but failed in the election. He passed away in 1931.

Mrs. Fagan has been engaged in many activities in Lusk. She is president of the P.T.A. for 1932-33. In 1932 she was president of the Delphian club and is a Rebecca.

While she has been busy with many activities, she claims that most of her time is devoted to raising her children. She is the proud mother of Margaret and David, twins, 16 years old; Thomas, Jr., 14; Jane, 12; and James Wells Fagan, 6 years old.

On the eve of taking her seat in the Wyoming legislature, Mrs. Fagan says she has no promises to make except "to do the best I can each day, as I have always done."

Her only statement is the gratitude she feels toward the people of the Niobrara county who so generously supported her at the election.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Fagan, Josephine (03/31/1880 - 04/09/1945) View Record