By Mona Reno, Nevada Women’s History Project
Born: May 10, 1861 Sanpete County, Utah
Death: August 11, 1955 Carson City, NV
Role in Women’s Suffrage: Ormsby County Branch of the Woman’s Suffrage League, 1912; Vice-President for Ormsby County of the Nevada Equal Franchise Society, 1912-1914; Delegate from Nevada to the 45th National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention in Washington, DC, 1913; First woman Register Nevada District, General Land Office, 1919-1923
Minnie Leslie was born on May 10, 1861 to George Alexander Leslie and Ann Howard Leslie in Sanpete County, Utah. Minnie arrived in Nevada before it was a state and remained for her entire life. She is living in Dayton, Nevada for the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Censuses. On Christmas Day 1888, Minnie married John E. Bray in Silver City, NV. They had met in Dayton, NV while they were both teaching school. Both remained very active in the education field. John Bray became Nevada Superintendent of Public Schools. Both of their daughters Florence and Mildred became teachers. Mildred Bray also became the Nevada Superintendent of Public Schools.
Early in her life Minnie was involved in women’s issues. In 1902 she was elected Lady Commander of The Ladies of the Maccabees. She remained active in that organization and in 1949 she was honored by the successor organization the Women’s Benefit Association of Reno Review No. 1, as the only living charter member of the Reno group.
Minnie participated in suffrage activities as early as 1912 when a meeting of the “Ormsby County Branch of the Woman’s Suffrage League” was held a meeting in her home. She was the vice-president for Ormsby County for 1912, 1913 and 1914. As an active member of the suffrage effort she was chosen to attend the national suffrage convention in Washington, D.C. in 1913. Minnie also served on many committees with the state organization in nominations and legislation.
Following the successful suffrage campaign Minnie Bray stayed active in politics. She spoke at the Wilson-Marshall Club in November of 1916 about the middle-class women of America “on whose shoulders rests the burden and duty of adjusting fairly and impartially for all classes the great economic, social and national questions which must arise in the government of the greatest republic upon earth.”
U.S. President Wilson appointed Mrs. Minnie L. Bray to the office of Register of the Public Lands in the Nevada District office of the General Land Office. She was sworn in on August 16, 1919 in Carson City. Her appointment was mentioned in The Woman Citizen a week later. Minnie served as Register until June 1923. In 1938 Minnie was the toastmistress at a luncheon for the reorganization of the Nevada branch of the National Woman’s Party. Minnie was elected chairman of the Susan B. Anthony, memorial at that meeting.
Minnie Leslie Bray died on August 11, 1955 in Carson City, NV. She is buried in Reno, Nevada at the Knights of Pythias Cemetery beside her husband John and daughters Florence and Mildred.
- Carson City Daily Appeal. “Suffragettes Meet,” November 21, 1912, p. 1.
- Carson City Daily Appeal. “Women of Wilson-Marshall Club have Edifying Meeting,” November 1, 1916, p 1 and 4.
- Mrs. O.H. Mack and Bird M. Wilson. “Nevada, 1910-1920. In History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI edited by Ida Husted Harper, 1922.
- Nevada State Journal. “Nevada Branch of N.W.P. is Reorganized at Meet,” May 15, 1938, p. 12.
- Official Register of the United States. United States Bureau of the Census, 1919, 1921.
- Research by Patti Bernard, Chair, Nevada Women’s History Project.
- Reno Evening Gazette. “Miss Martin League Head,” February 25, 1913, p. 7.
- The Woman Citizen: A weekly chronicle of progress. Vol. 4, No. 12, August 23, 1919.
- U.S. Census, 1870-1940
- Yerington Times. “Equal Franchise Progress: Successful and Harmonious Suffrage Convention,” March 14, 1914, p. 2.