Arizona’s Lady Admiral

Nellie Trent Bush “Admiral of Arizona's Navy”

By the time Nellie Trent Bush won national attention as “Admiral of Arizona’s Navy,” Arizona well knew it had one helluva woman in its midst. But back up a sec—a Navy in a land-locked, desert state? Well, that’s what they called the riverboats in the 1930s during a dustup over building Parker Dam. When Governor B. B. Moeur authorized the National Guard troops to halt construction on the dam, he also authorized Joe and Nellie Bush to bring the troops across the Colorado River. Her photo appeared across the country—she was, after all, the first woman to ever get a ferryboat license—and they dubbed her Arizona’s Admiral. But Nellie had already racked up tons of other accolades: She was principal of Parker Schools; she was elected justice of the peace; she served six terms in the Arizona House, she was the second female state senator. She distinguished herself in new laws to benefit women and children; to build new roads and bridges in her Yuma County, and she helped root out corruption in the state highway department. She later got a law degree and during World War II was chair of the Women’s Division of the Arizona Civilian Defense Council. In 1947, she was the only woman appointed to the Colorado River Basin States Commission. In 1955, she became president of the Arizona Federation of Women’s Clubs. Nellie Trent Bush died on 1963 while still serving her community on the Parker City Council. “I am a firm believer in women going into politics—the more the better,” she said in the 1920s. “They simply have to eliminate some of their old fashioned ideas regarding the differences in the sexes.”

Related Posts

  • Illustration by Bob Boze Bell

    In 1888, New York illustrator extraordinaire Frederic Remington accompanied the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers in…

  • rough riders

    In 1898, Arizona became the first  in the nation to sign up  for a “cowboy…

  • Illustration by Bob Boze Bell

    No matter how big our problems have been, at least one guy always claims to…