Below are two key dates for anyone writing about “ranked choice” or “preferential” voting in US elections.
1909: first adoption of majoritarian form for public elections (Grand Junction, CO);
1915: first adoption of proportional form for public elections (Ashtabula, OH).
There was use of the majoritarian form in some party primaries, but I cannot find any evidence of this prior to the Grand Junction adoption.
And there was earlier use of the proportional form, around 1911 and/or 1912, in the single-tax colonies of Arden (DE) and Halidon (ME).
The motivation for this post is a recent article flagging the 1940s as the start of US experimentation with preferential voting rules. As far as I can tell, this information passed to the journalist from a political scientist.