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.