A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
April 2016 - December 2016
Four Wyoming Governors (AHC)
State Historic Site
DURING JOHN KENDRICK’S early campaigns, his daughter, Rosa-Maye Kendrick, was in school – first in Sheridan, later at Ely Court in Connecticut and Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. This gave her little opportunity to be involved in politics. After she graduated from college, she voted and did some political charity work as a Washington debutante, but it wasn’t until 1926 that she found a cause that stirred her political heartstrings: the reelection campaign for Nellie Tayloe Ross.
In September of 1926, Rosa-Maye drove her father on a campaign swing through western Wyoming in support of Mrs. Ross. It was in the tiny town of Pinedale that she first witnessed Mrs. Ross’s winning ways amongst her female constituents:
Little groups of women sat with hands folded primly in their laps, maintaining an embarrassed silence or conversing in low tones with their nearest neighbor. Into this group came the Governor, with her sympathetic manner and winning smile. In response to her hostess’s request she arose and spoke impromptu of her experiences during two years in the executive office – spoke as one woman who confides in another her problems in dealing with men – until gradually tension in the room relaxed to receive this gracious personality. The ladies were enjoying themselves at last, for the Governor had saved the day.
HUBERT REILLY HARMON
A QUICK NOTE here about Rosa-Maye’s husband, Hubert Reilly Harmon: In 1927, following a five-year courtship, Rosa-Maye married Major Harmon – West Point graduate, Army pilot and White House aide. By the time he retired in 1956, Lieutenant General Harmon had served his country in many more ways: as a military air attaché at the American Embassy in London, an instructor at West Point, the commander of the Thirteenth Air Force during World War Two, an Air Force representative to the United Nations, and as the first superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy.
Hubert Harmon graduated from West Point in 1915 with future president Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Hubert died in 1957, his commander-in-chief sent the following tribute to Rosa-Maye:
Hubert was loved and admired by many; to Mamie and me he always seemed the ideal classmate and so for him we had a boundless affection. He lived by the motto of his Alma Mater [duty, honor, country] and so he was a loyal friend, a great and gallant soldier, a distinguished citizen of our country.
Because of Hubert’s demanding career, the Harmons and their two children didn’t visit the Sheridan area often. When they did, they spent much of their time at the OW ranch where the children played – along with their two Kendrick cousins – under their grandmother’s watchful eye.
UNLIKE HIS FATHER, Rosa-Maye’s brother Manville seemed to have no political aspirations of his own. He never ran for office, and his public statements on political issues are few and far between. That doesn’t mean, however, that he didn’t have pronounced political positions.
In 1950, Manville was elected to lead the Wyoming Stock Growers Association – once the most powerful force in Wyoming politics. In the thirty-eight years since his father had served as president of the WSGA, the organization’s political influence had waned somewhat, but was still considerable.
One topic of great concern to the WSGA during Manville’s tenure as president might sound familiar to us today: the ongoing “tug of war” between cattlemen and the federal government. Federal agencies accused cattlemen of overgrazing; cattlemen accused the agencies of kicking them off public lands in favor of recreational users. In response, the WSGA created a series of public relations programs which Manville praised for their effectiveness:
Cowmen did not know how many friends they had until they were being attacked. By telling our story with dignity and restraint, we have attracted to our defense many different people and organizations. [The programs also] impressed upon us cowmen that we are no longer sole users of the western lands, and that we must be prepared to justify our use of the same before the bar of public opinion.
NOT LIKE FATHER
JOHN KENDRICK WAS elected to office with the backing of Democrats, Progressives, Socialists and trade unionists. By 1951, Manville Kendrick was a staunch Republican who passionately disagreed with his father’s former benefactors:
An increasing horde of “Reds and Pinks” [Communists and Socialists] are taking advantage of the privileges of American citizenship to advocate a form of government that inevitably must destroy these privileges. The Socialists are well aware of these rights and privileges and are taking the utmost advantage of them. These rights, which protect you, can be used to destroy you.