Ellis Meredith was the daughter of pioneers. Born in Montana Territory, in 1865, she was the daughter of Emily R. Meredith, a well-known advocate for woman suffrage, and Frederick Allison, a journalist. The family had been drawn to the gold-rush boomtown and territorial capital of Bannack Montana, living there for a couple of years before Ellis’s birth. Later they would return to Minnesota, where her mother had attended Hamline University and her father had been the editor of the Red Wing Republican.
In 1885, the family moved to Denver, Colorado, where Ellis’s father was the managing editor of the Rocky Mountain News for a time, and where her mother worked as a journalist. Ellis followed in their footsteps early, writing for the Rocky Mountain News on her favorite subjects, women’s rights and the temperance movement.
In 1893, Ellis traveled to Chicago for the World’s Exposition, where she met with Susan B. Anthony on the eve of Colorado’s granting of woman suffrage. Already prominent in Colorado politics because of her activism on women’s issues, ten years later, Ellis was elected as a delegate to the Denver City Charter Convention, and then became a member of the Colorado Democratic Party State Central Committee and a City Election Commissioner.
Local politics were not Ellis’s only interest. She lent her support to the national campaign for women’s suffrage in 1904, speaking in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and calling for the amendment of the constitution to provide women the right to vote. In 1917, she would find herself working in Washington, D.C., at the National Democratic Headquarters three years before the ratification of suffrage.
Ellis would live to see women vote nationwide, both world wars, and the start of the Cold War, dying at age ninety in November 1955. Her drive to ensure the rights of women earned her the nicknames “The Susan B. Anthony of Colorado” and the “symbol of the Progressive West.”