#Lookback: Adeline R. Ross “Tall Woman”

    A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    Adeline Ross was born in Vermont and graduated from Smith College in 1899 having majored in history and English.  She taught school for a few years before studying to become a missionary in the Episcopal church.  In February of 1910 she found herself on a train headed for the Wind River Reservation.  Twenty-foot snow drifts greeted her train at Shoshoni, Wy and delayed her travel.  When she finally made it to Lander, she was picked up at the train station by Reverend Sherman Coolidge, the celebrated Arapaho Episcopal priest in a horse drawn buggy.  He took her to John Robert’s Mission on the Wind River Reservation where she worked for the remainder of the winter. 

    In the spring she and another missionary woman, Miss Briggs, set up in an adobe building that had recently been abandoned when the fort at Fort Washakie was decommissioned. The Shoshones dubbed Adeline Ross, “Tall Woman.” Miss Ross was assigned to teach Shoshone children. Miss Briggs would teach Arapaho children.   Adeline spent her first Christmas on the Wind River Reservation vaccinating 100 Shoshones for smallpox.  There had been an outbreak of the dreaded disease.   

    In 1912 Adeline was assigned to help establish a hospital in Lander named for Bishop (G. W.) Randall, the first bishop to visit the reservation in 1873.  She also assisted at Trinity Episcopal church in Lander.  She then was sent to neighboring Dubois to prepare for a new pastor.  She wouldn’t return to the reservation until 1914.

    In those days missionaries prepared bodies for burial, acted as midwives when called upon and opened their homes to all who were in need.  She remembered one time when she took care of 10 small Native American children for a week while their parents arranged for a funeral for three adults who had died after drinking wood alcohol. Unexpectedly. the children when delivered had been sewn into their winter clothes, she recalled.

    Miss Ross left missionary work in 1917 and returned to Vermont to care for her ailing father, but returned to Ethete in 1927 and built a four room cabin.  She spent the next 10 years traveling from one rural school to another teaching religion and hygiene to both Native Americans and Whites.

    In 1932 Adeline and a girlhood friend, Mabel Gleason toured England and Scotland. They loved to travel together and attended many Episcopal church conventions. One of Adeline’s proudest achievements was when she presented 17 Native Americans from the reservation for baptism.  

    Adeline officially retired in 1941, but continued to work in schools, Sunday schools, and making visits at Bishop Randall Hospital (in Lander). She was also an active member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In retirement she and Miss Gleason made their home close to the Episcopal rectory in Lander.  

    Author: Liz Farmer, FC Pioneer Museum

    By Kevin Scannell Riverton Museum

    Next up for the Fremont County Museum

    February 8, 6pm at the Dubois Museum, “Brian DeBolt: Wolves in Wyoming” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    March 3, 4-6pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Celebrating Women’s History Month” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    March 14, 7pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Wyoming State Flag History” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    March 27, 6pm at the Dubois Museum, “Bruce Blevins: Mapping Yellowstone” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.

    The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum.  The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish.  In the current economic environment, the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last four years.  Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

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