Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Nellie, daughter of William Amos and Mary Smith Trent, was born on November 29, 1888, in Cedar County, Missouri. She moved with her parents to Mesa, Arizona, at the age of five.

Very familiar with farm chores from an early age, she worked before and after school and on weekends to finance her education. After graduation from Tempe Normal School with a lifetime teaching certificate, Miss Nellie became a teacher in a Glendale elementary school and helped found the Glendale Woman’s Club.

On December 25, 1912, she married Joseph Everett Bush. Joe, an electrical engineer, was a trailblazer and became captivated by the possibilities in Parker (Arizona) on the Colorado River. Nellie joined him there in 1915, and the couple bought an interest in the Parker ferry, the first in a series of their remarkable enterprises. Their son Wesley was born in September 1915.

As a young wife and mother, she taught the four upper grades in the Parker three-room school and served as the school principal for a semester. In 1917, she began the study of law through a $90 correspondence course. In 1920, she was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives.

While a member of the Legislature, she attended The University of Arizona law school and passed the Arizona Bar examinations in 1923. Nellie was the second Arizona woman to be elected to the State Senate, serving from 1932-36 and again in the early 1940s. She was a member of the Colorado River Water Commission and the Arizona Stream and Boundary Commission.

Nellie helped her husband develop and operate the Parker light plant, water works, a first class hotel, a motion picture theater, a bulk gasoline station and gas utility in addition to the operation of the ferry and freight business on the Colorado River. They later constructed a pontoon bridge across the river.

After Parker was incorporated, Nellie served as the town attorney and magistrate in addition to maintaining her own private law practice. She was a licensed ferryboat operator, took up flying and painting as hobbies and was active in the Arizona Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Nellie died on October 27, 1963, in Phoenix

Donor: Saguaro Chapter of the DAR in honor of Dawn Dollard

Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.