Doug Burgum’s trailblazing great-grandmother

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:19 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Before Governor Doug Burgum announced his campaign for president on Wednesday, his wife, Kathryn, spoke about how he comes from a long line of strong women. One of them was Linda Slaughter, but many people might not be aware of who she is or what she did.

“All of her firsts are just great legacies for the community,” said ND State Historical Society Collections Curator Jenny Yearous.

Before Doug Burgum was running for president or governor — or was even born — there was someone else in his family making history in North Dakota.

”Oh my gosh, Linda Slaughter is such an interesting character. She was a lot of firsts in the Bismarck area,” said Yearous.

Linda Slaughter is not only Doug Burgum’s great-grandmother but so much more. She was the first woman to hold an elected office in the Dakota Territory as the Burleigh County superintendent of schools.

”She beat out several male candidates at a time when she could not even vote for herself,” said North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum.

Slaughter was the first postmistress, started the first school in Bismarck and even created the State Historical Society which now houses her portrait.

”She was also a lawyer, and a campaigner for women’s suffrage, and just kind of really a powerhouse of a woman who did a lot here in Bismarck,” said Yearous.

One national recognition Slaughter also has is she was the first woman to vote for a presidential candidate at a national convention.

”So, you have to kind of wonder if she would vote for her great great grandson nowadays,” said Yearous.

Slaughter and her husband settled in Bismarck in 1872.

Slaughter passed away in 1911 at the age of 68 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.