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.NNALS of 

Volume 62, No. 1 

Spring, 1990 









To Wyoming, | 

From Her Women, 

In Honor of the SiAfE Constitution, 1890 


HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT (AMH) was established in 1895 to 
collect and preserve materials which interpret the history of 
Wyoming. It maintains the State Historical Library and Research 
Center, the State Archives, the Wyoming State Museum, the State 
Art Gallery, State Historic Sites, and the State Historic Preser- 
vation Office. The Department solicits original records such as 
diaries, letters, books, early newspapers, maps, photographs and 
records of early businesses and organizations as well as artwork 
and artifacts for museum exhibit. The Department asks for the 
assistance of all Wyoming citizens to secure these documents and 

Mike Sullivan 

David Kathka 

Bill Bruce Hines, Chairman, Gillette 
Orval Meier, Sundance 
Juan "Abe" DeHerrera, Rawlins 
Richard Cornia, Cokeville 
Mary Ellen McWilliams, Sheridan 
Gladys Hill, Douglas 
Gretel Ehrlich, Shell 
George Zeimens, Lingle 
Mary Guthrie, Attorney General's 
Office, Ex-officio 


OFFICERS, 1989-1990 

Lucille Clarke Dumbrill, President, Newcastle 

Scott Handley, First Vice-President, Pine Haven 

Dale J. Morris, Second Vice-President, Green River 

Mary Nystrom, Secretary, Cheyenne 

Gladys Hill, Treasurer, Douglas 

David Kathka, Executive-Secretary 

Judy West, State Coordinator 

ABOUT THE COVER— Thousands gathered in Cheyenne on July 23, 1890, to witness and enjoy Wyoming's official statehood celebration. Spon- 
taneous celebrations occurred around the new state on July 10 after President Benjamin Harrison signed the statehood bill, but the official event 
had to wait until thirteen days later. After a parade through the streets of Cheyenne, the official ceremony took place at the Capitol. One of the 
featured orators that day was Therese A. Jenkins. Active in the suffrage movement, Jenkins spoke about the rights women would exercise in the 
new "Equality State" (inside back cover). After Jenkins' speech, Esther Hobart Morris presented on behalf of Wyoming's women a forty- four star 
flag to Governor Francis E. Warren. Today, the flag is in the possession of the Wyoming State Museum and will be exhibited during 1990. (Photograph 
courtesy Wyoming State Archives, Museums and Historical Dept.) 



Volume 62, No. 1 
Spring, 1990 


Rick Ewig, Editor 

Jean Brainerd, Assistant Editor 

Roger Joyce, Assistant Editor 

Ann Nelson, Assistant Editor 

Paula West Chavoya, Photographic Editor 

Roy Jordan 
David Kathka 
William H. Moore 
Robert L. Munkres 

ANNALS OF WYOMING was established in 
1923 to disseminate historical information about 
Wyoming and the West through the publication 
of articles and documents. The editors of 
ANNALS OF WYOMING welcome manuscripts 
on every aspect of Wyoming and Western 

Authors should submit two typed, double- 
spaced copies of their manuscripts with foot- 
notes placed at the end. Manuscripts submitted 
should conform to A MANUAL OF STYLE 
(University of Chicago Press). The Editor 
reserves the right to submit all manuscripts to 
members of the Editorial Advisory Board or to 
authorities in the field of study for recommen- 
dations. Published articles represent the view 
of the authors and are not necessarily those of 
the Wyoming State Archives, Museums and 
Historical Department or the Wyoming State 
Historical Society. 



The Roots of Woman Suffrage in Wyoming 2 

by Michael A. Massie 

One Suffrage Story at a Time 

I. Introduction 23 

II. Anticipatory Events 25 

III. Passage of the Bill 33 

IV. Motives and Machinations 43 

V. Authorship, Conclusions, and Aftermath 68 

by Sidney Howell Fleming, M.D. 

ANNALS OF WYOMING is published biannually in the Spring and Fall by the Wyoming 
State Archives, Museums and Historical Department. It is received by all members of the Wyo- 
ming State Historical Society as the official publication of that organization. Membership dues 
are: Single $5; Joint $7; Institutional $10; Life $100; Joint Lite $150. Copies of previous and 
current issues of ANNALS may be purchased from the Editor. Correspondence should be 
addressed to the Editor. ANNALS OF WYOMING articles are abstracted in Historical Abstracts 
and America: History and Life. 

© Copyright 1990 by the Wyoming State Archives, Museums and Historical Department 


The Roots of Woman Suffrage in Wyoming 

by Michael A. Massie 

fm - 


W. H. Jackson photographed South Pass City in 1870. 



Casting a ballot on election day is an important respon- 
sibility for any citizen living in our democratic society. Yet, 
restrictions based upon race, age, and gender have re- 
stricted this fundamental right to only certain segments of 
the population for most of this country's history. In par- 
ticular, women could not vote in most places in the United 
States until the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted in 
1920, 144 years after the country was founded. 

Wyoming has been dubbed the "Equality State" 
because of its perceived role in helping remove this political 
barrier for women, beginning with the passage of its 
woman suffrage bill in 1869, the first such law in the nation. 
The territory later insisted upon retaining its woman suf- 
frage law even if it jeopardized its application for state- 
hood. In 1890, Wyoming became the country's first 
state to allow women the right to vote. 

Over the past 120 years, numerous people have writ- 
ten hundreds of articles and books attempting to explain 
why woman suffrage first took root in Wyoming. A vast 
majority of these works cite the contributions of two South 
Pass City residents, William H. Bright and Esther H. Mor- 
ris, and imply that a grassroots, community effort led by 
the six foot, 180-pound Morris and culminating in a tea 
party, resulted in the introduction of the woman suffrage 
bill in the 1869 legislature. After the passage of the legisla- 
tion, Mrs. Morris continued her work on behalf of woman 
suffrage by becoming the town's and the nation's first 
female justice of the peace. 

Despite T. A. Larson's more thorough examination of 
these activities and his subsequent articles and books which 
challenged many of these views, the popular theories have 
persisted. Recently, one author wrote that thousands of 
people throughout the nation sent Esther Morris congrat- 
ulatory telegrams after the passage of the suffrage bill. Until 
two years ago, a large, wooden historical marker next to 
a major state highway, just two miles from South Pass City, 
labeled the town as the "birthplace of woman suffrage." 1 

The roles of Bright, Morris, and South Pass City in 
Wyoming's early experiences in woman suffrage remain 
shrouded in myths and half-truths. If the sign is accurate 
and the tea party occurred, then South Pass City was the 
only town in Wyoming that actively lobbied for a woman 
suffrage reform before the first legislature met. If not, then 

several questions begged to be addressed. What prompted 
the 1869 woman suffrage bill, and why was it passed? Was 
the introduction of the bill and Morris' appointment as 
justice of the peace the result of an organized community 
campaign in South Pass City led by women? Or, were 
these events the distinct result of individual actions 
instigated by personal beliefs? What were Bright 's and 
Morris' roles? Answers to these questions would provide 
important clues to solving the larger riddle of whether 
Wyoming's extension of suffrage to women was the 
deliberate result of an organized effort or whether 
previously unrelated forces unexpectedly converged to 
spawn this reform in this Western territory. 

Situated at the southern tip of the Wind River Moun- 
tains in western Wyoming, South Pass is a long, wide, 
gently-sloped pass that crosses the continental divide be- 
tween the mountains and the Great Divide Basin. For the 
past ten thousand years, various peoples have used this 
corridor to travel west from the Sweetwater River to the 
Green River basin and then through the Rocky Mountains. 
In more recent times, fur traders, Oregon Trail emigrants, 
Pony Express riders, freighters, and stage coach passengers 
rode through the pass to reach settlements elsewhere in 
the West. 

The peak of the Western migration, and traffic through 
South Pass, occurred from 1849-1851, as thousands of 
Easterners rushed to the California gold fields. The end 
of the boom encouraged many prospectors to widen their 
search for new deposits throughout the Rocky Mountains. 
From 1859-1870, hundreds of Western gold and silver 
strikes transpired, particularly in Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, 
and Montana. The ensuing rush to the discovery followed 
a general pattern. Prospectors quickly built a small camp 
in the wilderness, formed a mining district, and started 
several placer mining operations. Because the miners were 
not self-sufficient, merchants and businessmen arrived to 
supply the necessary goods and services, often trans- 
forming the temporary camps into more substantial towns. 
If the boom persisted beyond the first few years, then the 
economy diversified, increasing the settlement's chances 
of surviving the inevitable gold or silver bust. However, 
many towns died or faded to a shadow of their former 
selves. 2 

T. A. Larson, History of Wyoming, 2nd ed., rev. (Lincoln: University 
of Nebraska Press, 1978), pp. 78-94; T. A. Larson, "Petticoats at the 
Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyoming," Pacific Northwest 
Quarterly 44 (April 1953): 74-78; Joyce Spita, A Quick History of South 
Pass City, Atlantic City: Wyoming Ghost Towns (Colorado Springs: Little 
London Press, 1980), p. 33. 

For an overview on Western migration and mining, refer to: John 
Unruh, The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans- 
Mississippi West, 1840-1860 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, h'78), 
Duane Smith, Rocky Mountain Mining Camps: The Urban Frontier 
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, l%7). 


SPRING 1990 

Throughout the early 1860s, several prospectors from 
Colorado and Montana and soldiers protecting the nearby 
telegraph line stopped briefly to pan for gold in the South 
Pass streams, but only uncovered small deposits. How- 
ever, their luck soon changed. With the goal of inducing 
Whites to settle in South Pass, Major Baldwin, commander 
of Fort Bridger, permitted his troops to hunt for gold while 
scouting in the Sweetwater River area. In 1865, he outfitted 
a civilian party that discovered a rich lode, formed a short- 
lived mining district, and spent the winter mining the 
Miners Delight lode. Just ten miles to the west, Tom Ryan, 
leading a small troop of soldiers from the fort, found a 
sizable lode on Willow Creek, built a cabin, and started 
placer mining, before returning to Fort Bridger later in the 
year. For whatever reasons, Ryan did not return in 1866, 
and the small camp of miners departed South Pass in the 
early spring. 3 

Hearing about Ryan's discovery, approximately a 
dozen miners from Salt Lake City rode to South Pass in 
1867, relocated Ryan's previous work, and named their 
claim the Cariso lode. When they uncovered a large deposit 
of gold in June, some of the men carried several thousand 
dollars in gold dust and news of the strike back to the Utah 
city. Soon, newspapers throughout the region, and event- 
ually the country, announced the gold strike at South Pass. 
Within days, another party of men from Salt Lake City 
rushed north to Willow Creek and hundreds of prospec- 
tors from other Western areas arrived at the foot of the 
Wind River Mountains by the late summer. 4 

Land speculation, as much as mining, characterized 
the first months of the South Pass gold boom. In fact, most 
of the early boomers practiced both trades in an effort to 
claim as much of the perceived gold-bearing areas as possi- 
ble before more newcomers arrived. By mid-July, the 
founders of the original lode and another large group of 
miners filed claims on every sizable gulch and large rock 
outcropping within several miles of the Cariso. Objecting 
to this practice, later prospectors eventually forced the min- 
ing district to elect new officers, changed some of the min- 
ing laws, and reopened many areas for new claims. 5 

3. C. C. Coutant, History of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyoming: Chaplin, Spaf- 
ford, and Martin Printers, 1899), pp. 637-647. 

4. Ibid., pp. 647-648; James Chisholm, South Pass, 1868: James Chisholm's 
Journal of the Wyoming Gold Rush, ed. Lola M. Homsher (Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1960), pp. 3-4; Mining Records of the 
Shoshone District, Book 1, pp. 1-9, Carter County Records Collec- 
tion, Ace. #271, American Heritage Center (AHC), University of 
Wyoming, Laramie. 

5. Mining Records of the Shoshone District, Book 1, pp. 1-40, 145- 
146, AHC. 

This speculation exacerbated the confusion which 
typifies the early months of a mining boom. In the zeal 
to strike it rich quickly and leave, miners crudely and 
quickly constructed cabins on any convenient location in 
Altorus Gulch, just south of the Cariso lode. Within the 
first few months, several hundred men, mostly miners, 
initiated work on more than one hundred placer and hard 
rock claims, built an arrastra, dug several ditches to divert 
water, constructed a sawmill, and started several ranches 
and timber operations. By July 3, 1867, several days before 
Cheyenne was founded, Altorus City had been built, only 
to merge a few months later with a nearby camp and 
renamed South Pass City. 6 

The boom rapidly spread over the ten-mile mineral 
belt. In September a small party of miners near the Miners 
Delight lode reported another large gold strike, further 
fueling the rush. By the end of the month, Miners Delight 
(at times, referred to as Hamilton City) had been started 
and was soon connected to Altorus City by a toll road. 7 

South Pass' winter soon cooled the gold fever. Because 
the winters at eight thousand foot South Pass are long and 
often severe, most settlers left the mining camps for a few 
months, seeking the milder climates of Salt Lake City, 
Cheyenne, or another Western gold mining camp. After 
a winter respite of only sporadic mining activity, spring 
weather renewed the South Pass gold rush. 8 

Over the next two years, miners developed hundreds 
of placer claims and hard rock mines, with gulch mining 
usually providing the most lucrative results. Businessmen 
erected several stamp mills and arrastras to process approx- 
imately two million dollars in gold ore, mostly from the 
Cariso (Carissa today) and Miners Delight mines, although 
several smaller mines occasionally struck pockets of the 
precious metal. After most of the surface gold had been 
removed, a mining slump briefly occurred in early 1869, 
only to be followed by a final resurgence when over a 
quarter million dollars in capital arrived from investors in 
Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City. 

During the peak of the boom, more than three thou- 
sand people inhabited the South Pass area, primarily liv- 
ing in South Pass City, Miners Delight, and Atlantic City, 
founded in April, 1868, and soon the district's second 
largest town. Because prospectors were not self-sufficient, 
businessmen quickly arrived in the Sweetwater mining 
district to "mine the miners" by supplying them with 
goods and services. Since men comprised a vast majority 

6. Mining Records of the Shoshone District, Book 1, pp. 1-145, AHC. 

7. Mining Records of the Shoshone District, Book 1, pp. 51-72, AHC. 

8. Sweetwater Mines, March 21; April 1, 1868. 


of the population during the early months of the boom, 
saloons dominated the business community. Within a few 
months, other merchants appeared and built mercantiles, 
butcher shops, hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises 
that served a population which was becoming increasingly 
diversified with the coming of families and ethnic groups. 
A bank, a newspaper, and a post office were also estab- 
lished. Freighters and stage companies hauled supplies 
and passengers along two trails originating from the Union 
Pacific Railroad to the south. By 1869, a building or a tent 
occupied all but a few lots along South Pass City's one- 
half mile long main street. 9 

Initially, the Sweetwater camps were located in Carter 
County, Dakota Territory, with South Pass City as the 
county seat. Due to the rapid growth of these towns and 
the larger communities along the Union Pacific Railroad, 
Dakota was persuaded to cede its Western lands in 1868 
to form the Wyoming Territory. South Pass City remained 
the seat for the county that would be renamed Sweetwater 
several months later. 10 

Due to the independent, transient nature of the pros- 
pectors, political and social stability was difficult, at best, 
to achieve in the Sweetwater mining camps. Within a three 
year period, county commissioners, county attorneys, 
several justices of the peace, and town constables abruptly 
quit for numerous reasons, but primarily to depart to a 
more promising gold strike. On one occasion the county 
sheriff vacated the area with several thousand dollars in 
tax receipts, and South Pass City's postmaster left with a 
rather large payroll. 11 

Social order was not much better. Since most of the 
early miners hoped to strike it rich and quickly leave, they 
had little interest in paying for community services such 
as street repairs, indigent care, and government offices. 
Attempts to erect a jail in South Pass City were defeated 
twice in special elections. The arrival of businessmen and 
the first families in 1868 brought some stability, for these 
residents wanted to transform the South Pass gold camps 
into permanent towns. Their economic success depended 
upon the long-term survival of the communities. Event- 
ually, streets were smoothed and straightened, county 

offices rented, and a jail built with territorial and county 
tax funds. 12 

By 1870, several women and ethnic minorities in- 
habited the mining towns, particularly South Pass City, 
but White males still dominated the population base. For 
example, 24 percent of South Pass City's citizens were 
females, 2 percent of Mexican descent, 2 percent Chinese, 
and 3 percent Black. More residents originated from the 
Upper Midwest than any other section of the country. 
Politically, Sweetwater residents were generally con- 
servative Democrats adamantly opposed to the Radical 
Republicans and intolerant of minorities. The Sweetwater 
Mines and the South Pass News, the town's newspapers, 
often printed derogatory and racist articles concerning 
Chinese and Blacks. 13 

In May, 1868, county Democrats held their party's 
meeting in South Pass City to select a delegate to the na- 
tional presidential convention. An article in the Sweetwater 
Mines clearly warned that only those Democrats who 
"repudiated the Reconstruction policy of Congress, negro 
suffrage, and the principles espoused by the Radical Re- 
publican party ..." should attend. Party members passed 
several resolutions at this meeting, including one that con- 
demned the "Radicals" in Congress for forcing Black suf- 
frage on the Southern states. Justice of the Peace James 
Stillman was one of several prominent citizens to deliver 
speeches in support of this proclamation. Chairing the 
meeting was a Southern Democrat from Virginia— William 
Bright. 14 

Raised in a poor family that could not afford to pro- 
vide much schooling for him, Bright served in the Union 
army throughout the Civil War. After the war, he and his 
wife Julia, 21 years his junior, moved to Salt Lake City 
where he worked at a federal job. Hearing news of the 
South Pass gold strike, Bright joined a group of miners 
traveling to Altorus City, arriving in July, 1867. Competing 
with the original group that had discovered the Cariso 
lode, his outfit initially spent as much time staking claims 
as mining them, as they attempted to control as much of 
the mineral belt as possible before the inevitable arrival of 
more miners. 15 

9. Sweetwater Mines, April 15, 1868; Robert Morris to Frankie, Novem- 
ber 17, 1869, Morris Collection, H8445, Historical Research and 
Publications Division, Wyoming State Archives, Museums and 
Historical Department (AMH), Cheyenne. 

10. Folder, no number, Carter County Records Collection, AHC. 

11. Minutes of the Board of County Commissioners of Carter County, 
Book 3, pp. 1-83, AHC. 

12. Minutes of the Board of County Commissioners of Carter County, 
Book 3, pp. 6, 47, 80, 86, AHC; Minutes of the Board of County 
Commissioners of Sweetwater County, p. 18, Archives and Records 
Management Division, AMH; SiceetwaterMi)ies. April"; lune 1° 18e>°. 

13. 1870 Wyoming Census, pp. 499-505; Sweetwater Mine*. May 30. 1868; 
South Pass News, September 20, 1870; April 5. 1871. 

14. Sweetwater Mines, May 30; lune 6, 1868. 

15. Larson, Histon/ of Wyoming, p. 89; Mining Records of the Shoshone 
District, p. 9, AHC. 


SPRING 1990 

Within a couple of days of his arrival, he owned shares 
in numerous lode claims, such as the Rockwell, Willow, 
Globe, Almira, and Cariso Extension lode, most of which 
were near the original strike at the Cariso mine. This work 
proved profitable, for he sold his share in the Cariso 
Extension for sixteen hundred dollars, one of the highest 
prices paid for a mineral claim in 1867 South Pass. He soon 
built a cabin on Willow Creek and staked a x k by Vi mile 
area along the creek. Although he insisted that he was just 
starting a ranch, this stretch of the creek had excellent 
potential for placer mining. He probably never intended 
to purchase cattle and sheep, and future gold miners ig- 
nored his claim, but not before he sold one-half of it for 
five hundred dollars to a partner in Salt Lake City. He also 
purchased lot 101 in the heart of the recently platted town 
of South Pass City. The lot was at the intersection of the 
camp's two most heavily-used streets. Bright remained in 
the camp long enough to attend the November 3 meeting 
that would settle several mining disputes created by the 
previous summer's fervor in speculation. 16 

Escaping South Pass' harsh winter, Bright rode back 
to Salt Lake City where Julia gave birth to their son, 
William Jr. After returning to South Pass City in May to 
purchase more town lots, Bright briefly moved his family 
to the mining camp in July before settling at Miners 
Delight, where he occasionally speculated in mining prop- 
erties while working some of his mines. In December the 
Board of County Commissioners appointed him as the 
camp's justice of the peace. Resigning his position six 
months later, he and his family returned to South Pass City 
where he opened a saloon on his lot in the center of the 

town. Bright's business joined at least twenty other saloons 
and wholesale liquor distributors in the town's business 
district, including his neighbor to the east, the El Dorado, 
which housed a bar as well as prostitution. He also pur- 
chased lot 30 on Dakota St., where his family lived in a 
log cabin perched on the west side of the hill overlooking 
the northern end of South Pass City. 17 

Why Bright opened a saloon is puzzling. He still 
owned mining property and considered himself a miner, 
as he declared to the 1870 census worker. 18 However, many 
prospectors had started businesses, hoping the enterprise 
would generate funds for additional mining ventures. If 
this was Bright 's reasoning, then his timing was poor. Pur- 
chasing one of South Pass City's few failing saloons, 
erecting a large structure, and entering this cut-throat com- 
petition during a mining slump do not appear to be the 
prudent actions of a man who had proven to be a shrewd 
businessman during the first two years of the boom. On 
the other hand, Bright' s political ambitions may have been 
as important as economic considerations in his decision to 
become a saloonkeeper. 

Since its founding, the Wyoming Territory slowly or- 
ganized its governmental systems. With the arrival of 
Governor John A. Campbell, Secretary Edward M. Lee, 
and the subsequent formation of judicial districts, electing 
a legislature was the final task. After conducting a territorial 
census, the governor divided the thirteen House seats and 
nine Council seats among the counties, with Carter County 
receiving three vacancies in each chamber. 19 

16. Mining Records of the Shoshone District, pp. 9-11, 91, 99, AHC; Book 
of Deeds, Book 9, pp. 56-58, Book 20, pp. 186-187, Carter County 
Records Collection, AHC. 

17. 1870 Wyoming Census, p. 504; Sweetwater Mines, July 11, 1868; Book 
of Deeds, Book 11, pp. 29-30, 188-189, 192-194, Book 21, pp. 385-386, 
AHC; Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, pp. 22, 63, 

18. 1870 Wyoming Census, p. 504. 

19. Larson, History of Wyoming, pp. 69-71. 

Robert Morris sketched his South Pass City 
neighborhood in his November 17, 1869, 
letter to his cousin, Frances McQuigg. 


William H. Bright introduced the suffrage bill which granted the women 
of the Territory of Wyoming the right to vote and hold office. 

By opening a business in the county's largest town, 
Bright enhanced his public visibility, increasing his chances 
of being elected to the territory's first legislature. A com- 
petitive campaign waged among nine candidates for the 
Council and seven for the House culminated in the Sep- 
tember 2 legislative election for Carter County. Drunk 
and armed with revolvers, several South Pass City 
residents, gathered near the precinct polls at Noyes 
Baldwin's store, added further excitement to the election 
by vowing to prevent the town's Blacks from voting. Ex- 
pecting trouble, United States Marshal Church Howe 
traveled to South Pass City and led several Blacks to the 
polls, where they cast ballots in relative peace. 20 

As in the rest of Wyoming, the Carter County 
Democrats swept the legislative races, electing William 
Bright, George Wardman, and William Rockwell to the 
Council, and Benjamin Sheeks, James Menefee, and John 
Holbrook to the House. All the delegates except Menefee 

and Holbrook lived in South Pass City. None of the 
documents from that period indicate what the campaign 
issues may have been, let alone that woman suffrage was 
discussed publicly before the election. As a result, none 
of South Pass' legislators offered any public hint about in- 
troducing a bill that would permit women to vote in 
Wyoming. 21 

Closely linked initially with the anti-slavery movement, 
the national woman suffrage effort organized with the 1848 
convention at Seneca Falls and slowly developed during 
the next two decades, permanently breaking with the aboli- 
tionists after the Civil War. Attempts to pass woman suf- 
frage legislation in a few states and in Congress failed, 
leading many advocates to believe the first woman suffrage 
bill would probably be adopted in a territory, where a 
majority vote of the legislature and the governor's sig- 
nature were the only requirements for passage. Con- 
versely, amending a state's constitution required a % vote 
of both houses, the governor's acceptance, and the ap- 
proval of the people in a special election. Hoping to en- 
courage increased migration to the remote Western region 
of the country, Senator Pomeroy introduced a Con- 
gressional bill which extended the vote to women living 
in territories. The bill died. 22 

Before the Wyoming delegates assembled in Cheyenne 
in October, 1869, woman suffrage bills in three Western 
legislatures had been narrowly defeated— Washington in 
1854, Nebraska in 1856, and Dakota in 1869— and the Utah 
and Colorado lawmakers would soon be considering the 
issue. Wyoming legislators were aware of the discussion 
over woman suffrage, for many of them had moved from 
Midwestern states where the reform had been debated for 
several years. In addition, two women had recently 
delivered speeches in Cheyenne in support of woman suf- 
frage, Anna Dickinson at the courthouse in the fall, and 
Redelia Bates to the legislators in November. Nevertheless, 
neither of the national woman suffrage organizations nor 

20. 1869 Carter County Election Returns, "Elections" File, South Pass 
City State Historic Site (SPC), South Pass City, Wyoming; Larson, 
Hiskm/ of Wyoming, p. 72. 

21. 1869 Carter County Election Returns, SPC; Council Journal of tin- 
Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming, Fust Session (Cheyenne: 
Trihune Office, 1870), pp. 3, 31; House journal of the Legislative Assembly 
of the Territon/ of Wyoming, First Session, 1869 (Cheyenne: Tribune Of- 
fice, 1870), pp. 4, 102. 

22. Miriam Gantz Chapman, "The Story ot Woman Suffrage in Wyo- 
ming, 1869-1890" (Masters Thesis, University of Wyoming 1952), pp. 
3-5; Beverly Benton, "Woman Suffrage in the American West: 
1869-1896" (Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Utah 1976), pp. 1-2. 


SPRING 1990 

any grassroots movement in Wyoming lobbied for the 
passage of woman suffrage in the territory. 23 

Wyoming's first legislative session commenced on 
October 12, with the Council unanimously electing Bright 
as its president. After Campbell's introductory speech, 
representatives began to introduce dozens of laws to 
organize the territory, with South Pass City's Rockwell and 
Wardman being two of the most active councilmen in spon- 
soring legislation. A few of these bills involved women. 
Rockwell offered a bill that enabled married women to 
protect their property during a divorce. In addition to re- 
serving a location in the House to seat women, the 
legislature adopted an act that mandated equal pay for 
male and female teachers with equal qualifications. 24 

In performing the duties of president, Bright was not 
expected to be active in sponsoring bills. However, on 
November 12, he temporarily gave his duties to Coun- 
cilman Poole of Laramie County and announced his inten- 
tions of introducing a woman suffrage bill, which he did 
fifteen days later. Several factors encouraged Bright to 
relinquish his position briefly to propose a measure that 
had not been adopted by any government in the United 
States. 25 

First, and most importantly, he personally believed in 
woman suffrage. Since the nation would not repeal Black 
suffrage, which he adamantly opposed, then he reasoned 
that White women should also vote since they were socially 
and intellectually superior to the former slaves. If Blacks 
vote, then his mother and wife should be permitted to cast 
ballots. 26 

Nevertheless, Bright did not introduce his woman suf- 
frage bill until the final few weeks of the session, indicating 
that he probably did not intend initially to author the 
measure when the legislature convened. However, certain 
factors made the introduction of a woman suffrage bill 
timely and logical by mid-November. Bates' speech 
reminded the Wyoming lawmakers that other territorial 
legislatures had already considered the reform. Also, as 
a devoted suffragette, Julia, his wife, may have used the 
opportunity presented by this speech to encourage her 

23. Larson, History of Wyoming, pp. 81-84; Larson, "Petticoats at the Polls: 
Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyoming," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 
44 (April 1953): 74. 

24. Council Journal, First Session, pp. 3-20, 54; Chapman, "The Story of 
Woman Suffrage," pp. 55-56. 

25. Council Journal, First Session, pp. 66, 110. 

26. Larson, "Petticoats at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyo- 
ming," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 44 (April 1953): 75; Unsigned Essay, 
File 5, Woman Suffrage Files, W842SU, AHC. 

husband to write a bill. In addition, Edward Lee, territorial 
secretary, probably urged Bright to sponsor the legislation 
or at least offered to support his efforts by talking to other 
legislators. Before arriving in Wyoming, Lee had been a 
member of the Connecticut legislature, where his woman 
suffrage bill had been defeated. All or a combination of 
these elements provided Bright with the desire and the op- 
portunity to introduce the legislation. His personal beliefs, 
or perhaps a desire to make a significant impact during the 
session, prompted him to sponsor the measure rather than 
find another legislator to do it. 27 

Council Bill #70, ". . . an act to grant to the women 
of Wyoming Territory the right of suffrage and to hold 
office," was read a first and second time before being sent 
to the committee of the whole, which quickly recom- 
mended "do pass" with only minor word changes. After 
temporarily postponing action, the Council approved the 
bill 6-2, with one abstention. Rockwell cast one of the two 
opposing votes, while Wardman was absent for that en- 
tire day. 28 

After passing the Council on November 30, the bill 
received much more debate in the House, where South 
Pass City's Benjamin Sheeks, one of the chamber's most 
active members, led the opposition to the woman suffrage 
measure. After a special committee's "do pass" recom- 
mendation on December 4, Sheeks and Representative 
Strong, an "at-large" member representing the entire ter- 
ritory, introduced motions for adjournment. While they 
were defeated, their attempts to delay consideration of the 
bill were temporarily successful since their objections and 
actions consumed enough time that the delegates agreed 
to postpone further discussion on woman suffrage in order 
to process other pressing legislation, especially since the 
session would end in approximately one week. When CB70 
was again considered two days later, Acting Chair Sebree 
(Laramie County) sent for the delegates who were absent 
to allow as many representatives as possible to debate the 
bill. Speaker Curran of Carbon County, who opposed the 
bill, appointed Sebree as temporary chair in order to par- 
ticipate in the ensuing discussion. He and Sheeks then of- 
fered several amendments to defer consideration of the 
legislation, to add "all colored women and squaws" to 

27. Interview with Janet Sherlock by Grace R. Hebard, July 6, 1920, SPC; 
Benjamin Sheeks to Grace R. Hebard, August 20, 1920, SPC; Mary 
Lee Stark, "One of the First Wyoming Women Voters Tells How Fran- 
chise Was Granted," no author or publisher, Woman Suffrage Ver- 
tical File #3, Historical Research and Publications Division, AMH. 

28. Council Journal, First Session, pp. 112-122. 


it, and to replace the word "women" with the term 
"ladies." All of their motions failed or were tabled, until 
Sheeks successfully amended the bill in changing the age 
women were permitted to vote from 18 to 21. The House 
eventually approved the act 7-4, with one abstention. 
Holbrook joined Sheeks in opposition while Menefee voted 
for approval. Representative Wilson (Laramie County) 
immediately moved to reconsider the vote, but was 
rebuffed. 29 

Later that same day, the Council approved Sheeks' 
amendment 6-3. Wardman, who was absent from the 
earlier vote, supported the bill but Councilman Brady of 
Albany County changed his mind and opposed CB70 this 
time. At 8:20 p.m. on this busy day, the following bill was 
sent to Governor Campbell, who signed it into law on 
December 10: 30 

Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of 

the Territory of Wyoming: 

Sec. 1. That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, 

residing in this territory, may at every election to be holden 

under the laws thereof, cast her vote. And her rights to the 

elective franchise and to hold office shall be the same under 

the election laws of the territory, as those of electors. 

Sec. 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and 

after its passage. 31 

Ironically, Bright received the least support from his 
fellow Carter County delegates. Only half of the county's 
representatives supported his effort, constituting the most 
significant opposition from a county delegation in the ter- 
ritory. Also, of the four delegates who lived in South Pass 
City, two of them opposed the suffrage act, the only 
Wyoming town to claim this distinction. 

For more than a century, numerous researchers have 
offered several explanations for the legislators' motives in 
passing a woman suffrage act. Many authors have claimed 
that the representatives approved the bill as a joke or as 
a way to embarrass the governor, only to be tricked when 
the speaker of the house quickly sent the bill to the chief 
executive before the delegates could reverse their decision. 
Even though later correspondence by Lee and Sheeks in- 
dicates that at least some lawmakers were kidding, other 
evidence implies that most legislators were serious in 
adopting the reform. Not only was the debate over Coun- 
cil Bill #70 prolonged and the opposition vociferous in the 

House, but the acting speaker found the imminent vote 
serious enough to send for all of the absent delegates. In 
addition, each legislator had the opportunity to reverse his 
previous vote if he had cast it in jest. Yet, the motion to 
reconsider the vote in the House was defeated, and the 
Council once again voted to accept the legislation, six days 
after its first approval. The only delegates who appeared 
to contradict their previous votes were Representative 
Wilson of Laramie County, who supported the bill and 
then immediately asked for reconsideration of the ques- 
tion, and Councilman Brady, whose later vote of "NAY" 
may have denoted his opposition to Sheeks' amendment 
to raise the voting age to 21 as much as a change in attitude 
toward woman suffrage. 32 

Other facts suggest that the passage of CB70 was not 
the result of jocularity. Considering that Curran opposed 
the act strongly enough to relinquish his position as 
speaker during the debate, it is doubtful that he would then 
sign the bill that same day if any chance existed that the 
vote could be reversed. After passing the House, the Coun- 
cil approved the bill with Sheeks' amendment and sent 
it to the governor the same day, not because supporters 
feared that most lawmakers acted in jest and would later 
reverse their decisions, but because the session was draw- 
ing to a close, and all legislation was being processed 
quickly. In fact, three other bills accompanied CB70 to the 
governor's office. It did not receive special consideration. 
Two years later, Governor Campbell noted that the 
legislature had properly considered and thoughtfully 
passed the bill. 33 

Passing CB70 was not a joke gone awry. Instead, a 
genuine belief in woman suffrage, a way to promote the 
territory, and the notion of a temporary experiment with 
this reform influenced the Wyoming legislators. Some 
researchers have asserted that the delegates who voted for 
approval did so more out of a desire to advertise Wyoming 
than in embracing the ideal that women deserved to vote. 
With the departure of the Union Pacific Railroad's work 
crews and a decrease in mining activity in the Sweetwater 
mines, the territory was beginning to experience its first 
bust at a time that Wyoming needed to compete with other 
newly-created territories for population. Being the first 
government to pass a woman suffrage bill would invite 

29. House Journal, 1869, pp. 158-159, 189-207. 

30. Council Journal, First Session, pp. 158, 188. 

31. General Laws, Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of Wyoming Passed 
at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly, 1869 (Cheyenne: Tribune 
Office, 1870), p. 371. 

32. Benjamin Sheeks to Grace R. Hebard, August 20, 1920, SPC; Edward 
M. Lee, "The Woman Movement in Wyoming,'' Galtixy 13 (January- 
June 1872): 755. 

33, Council journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming, 
Second Session (Cheyenne: Evening Leader Office, 1872V p. 82. 



— H — 












£s///t-r Ho/wf Morn's included a sketch of her South Pass City home in her October 13, 1869, letter to her niece Frances McQui^. 

national publicity and create a positive, progressive image 
which would induce more settlement. Knowing that other 
territories had narrowly defeated woman suffrage bills, 
many lawmakers probably believed that it was only a mat- 
ter of time before some legislature would pass the reform. 
Thus, Wyoming needed to act quickly if it wanted the 
distinction and publicity of being the first. In an 1872 article 
in Galaxy, Secretary Lee noted that many legislators sup- 
ported CB70 in order to publicize Wyoming and to increase 
immigration and capital to the territory. 34 

The belief that women should possess the same 
political rights as men probably influenced as many sup- 
porters of the bill as the idea of promoting the territory. 
The legislature had debated measures concerning women's 
rights with regard to equal pay, guardianship, and prop- 
erty. To consider passing a woman suffrage bill would not 
have been a radical notion. 

In addition to recognizing that women possessed cer- 
tain rights, many of the legislators may have agreed with 
Bright's view that White women should be permitted to 
vote since Blacks were enfranchised. Just two days before 

Campbell signed the woman suffrage act, the legislature 
overrode the governor's veto of a miscegenation bill that 
outlawed interracial marriages in Wyoming, particularly 
between Whites and Blacks. 35 

In sending the woman suffrage act to the governor, 
most of the legislators believed that Campbell would veto 
it, particularly since the two branches were engaging in 
a battle over several other bills. The lobbying efforts of 
Secretary Lee, Chief Justice Howe, Mrs. AmaliaPost, Mrs. 
M. B. Arnold, and Judge Kingman, who presided over the 
third judicial district and lived in South Pass City, con- 
vinced the chief executive to sign the legislation. Besides 
citing the country's tradition of fairness and equality, 
Campbell later noted that women were as capable as men 
in exercising the good judgment required to vote. He also 

34. Lee, "The Woman Movement in Wyoming," p. 755; Larson, "Pet- 
ticoats at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyoming," Pacific 
Northwest Quarterly 44 (April 1953): 76; Cheyenne Daily Leader, Janu- 
ary 7; March 12, 1870. 

35. Council journal, First Session, p. 167. 



commented that women who own property must be taxed, 
making woman suffrage necessary to ensure fair repre- 
sentation in the creation of tax laws. 36 

As the news spread throughout the nation that Wyo- 
ming had become "the first place on God's green earth 
which could consistently claim to be the land of the free/' 37 
the legislature adjourned and the representatives rode 
home. Soon after the Brights returned to their log cabin in 
South Pass City, two local residents, Esther and Robert 
Morris, visited them. 

Born on Aug. 8, 1814, near Spencer, New York, Esther 
Hobart McQuigg was the eighth of eleven children. Or- 
phaned at age eleven, she worked as an apprentice to a 
seamstress before marrying Artemus Slack in 1841. Her 
first son, Edward Archibald Slack, was born one year later. 
As a civil engineer, Artemus traveled throughout the 
Upper Midwest until he was accidentally killed in Illinois. 
Esther and her son then moved to Peru, Illinois, to claim 
the property that her late husband had left her. Marrying 
John Morris, a Polish immigrant and a prosperous mer- 
chant, Esther later gave birth to three sons, John, who died 
in infancy, and to twins, Robert and Edward, in 1851. 38 

Reading about the South Pass gold rush in a news- 
paper, John and Archibald moved to South Pass City in 
the spring of 1868 to mine gold. Like many of the other 
fortune hunters who rushed to the Sweetwater mines at 
that time, they were initially discouraged in finding that 
little surface gold existed. Despite their disappointment, 
they eventually purchased mining and business property, 
including the Mountain Jack, Grand Turk, Golden State, 
and Nellie Morgan lodes, hoping to make a profit through 
mining and speculation, much like William Bright and 
many other South Pass miners were doing. Even though 
he had lived in the town less than six months, Archibald 
was appointed South Pass City's constable in September, 
which reflects as much upon his energetic and congenial 
character as upon the significant turnover in South Pass 
City's population and appointed officers during the first 
year of the boom. 39 

36. Larson, "Petticoats at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyo- 
ming," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 44 (April 1953): 76; Council Jour- 
nal, Second Session, p. 79. 

37. "Susan B. Anthony," Laramie Daily Sentenial, June 27, 1871. 

38. Gene Gressley, "Morris, Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack," in Notable 
American Women, ed. Edward T. Jones (Cambridge: The Belknap Press 
of Harvard University, 1971), pp. 583-584. 

39. Robert Morris to Mrs. Damon Stewart, June 27, 1868, Morris Collec- 
tion, AMH; Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, p. 16, 
AHC; Book of Deeds, Book 20, pp. 298-299, Book 21, pp. 117-118, 

In July, 1869, Esther and the twins arrived, moving 
into the 24' x 26' log cabin that Edward had purchased on 
lot 38, South Pass Avenue, near the town's eastern edge. 
Willow Creek flowed along the southern boundary of their 
lot, and the Cariso Mine sat on the northern rim above their 
home. 40 

All of the men soon found jobs in the mining town. 
Contrary to assertions of many researchers, the records do 
not indicate that John Morris owned or worked in a saloon 
before 1873, when he purchased his first liquor license. In- 
stead, he continued to mine and to speculate in various 
properties during his initial years in South Pass City. After 
resigning as constable, Archibald became the clerk for the 
territory's third judicial district for eighteen months. In 
addition to buying several lots in the settlement, he was 
an agent for the John W. Anthony sawmill company, 
located four miles from the town, and helped plan South 
Pass City's July 4th celebration in 1869. Robert also served 
as an agent for the lumber company and was soon 
appointed deputy district clerk, while Edward's clerking 
was confined to a store. 41 

Like many of the other families in the district, the Mor- 
ris clan decided to spend their winters in the frigid mining 
area rather than quit their jobs to move to a more moderate 
climate. Thus, on a cold December night, Esther and Robert 
visited the Brights. In his letter of December 27, 1869, to 
The Revolution, a woman suffrage newspaper, Robert 
described their meeting: 

There have been many representatives of Woman's Suffrage 
in the Legislatures throughout the United States, but the first 
successful legislator of the cause is William H. Bright of Wyo- 
ming Territory, and a brief sketch of him may interest your 

Mr. Bright returned to his home in this place a few days 
ago, and Mrs. M. and myself, as the only open advocates here 
of Woman's Suffrage, resolved ourselves into a committee, and 
called on him to tender our congratulations and thanks for his 
services in our behalf as well as for all true lovers of Equal 

We found Mr. Bright in a comfortable log cabin with his 
good wife and little son. We met with a cordial reception, and 
he expressed himself pleased that there were some persons here 
who endorsed his views on Woman Suffrage. 

40. Book of Deeds, Book 21, p. 479, AHC; Esther H. Morris to Frankie, 
October 13, 1869, Morris Collection, AMH. 

41. 1870 Wyoming Census, p. 499; Minutes of the Commissioners of 
Carter County, p. 61, AHC; Esther H. Morris to Frankie, August 10, 
1870, Morris Collection, AMH; Robert Morris to Frankie, November 
17, 1869, Morris Collection, AMH; Robert Morris to his cousin 
September 6, 1870, Morns Collection, AMH: South Piss News. Octo- 
ber 27, 1869; Sweetwater Mines. June 19, Julv 14. lS(V->. 



SPRING 1990 

Mr. Bright is about thirty-five years of age, is a strong man, 
rather tall, with a frank open countenance which his name 
describes most fully- He is truly an original man, was born in 
Virginia, where in his early life he had not the benefits of a 
free school, and his parents were not in a condition to give him 
an education, and although he writes and is well-informed he 
says, "I have never been to school a day in my life, and where 
I learned to read and write I do not know." 

In regard to Woman Suffrage, Mr. Bright says, "I have 
never thought much about it, nor have I been converted by a 
woman's lecture or newspaper, for I never heard a woman 
speak from the rostrum and never read THE REVOLUTION. 
I knew that it was a new issue, and a live one, and with a strong 
feeling that it was just, I determined to use all influence in my 
power to have the bill passed." 

The Wyoming Legislature have made many important laws 
for our Territory, but Woman's Suffrage is looked upon as the 
most liberal, and will be widely appreciated. 

It is a fact that all great reforms take place, not where they 
are most needed, but in places where opposition is weakest; 

and then they spread until they take up all in one great princi- 
ple of right and become universal; just so it will be with Woman 
Suffrage. Wyoming has been first to lead the way and there 
is probably no state in the Union where women have more 
freedom and are less deprived of their rights, and certainly there 
is no territory where there are as few; and I join Horace Greeley 
in urging the girls to come to this higher plain of Human Rights, 
as well as to have a home in our high, clear, mountain 
atmosphere. 42 

Not only does Robert clearly give Bright credit for the 
passage of the woman suffrage bill, but he urges women 
to move to Wyoming, echoing the philosophy that influ- 
enced some legislators to support the act. Bright probably 
welcomed Morris' support, for most residents of the town 
and mining district opposed his actions and woman suf- 
frage. If woman suffrage had resulted in a mass migration 
to South Pass City, then most residents would have quickly 
supported the reform. Despite more than a quarter of a 
million dollars in investments from Chicago, Denver, and 
English firms, the gold boom had died by December. When 
most of the mines closed for the winter, many miners and 
businessmen left the district permanently. Estimated at 
more than two thousand in 1868, the population of South 
Pass City and the immediate area dropped to 487 by June, 
1870. While several mines and enterprises continued to 
operate, the bust had arrived. 43 

The 1870 bust and the accompanying exodus of many 
community leaders exacerbated the area's already unstable 
economic and political systems. This situation particularly 
plagued the justices of the peace positions in two of the 
district's three settlements, for the county commissioners 
were continually appointing justices who only served for 
a few months. This turnover in office was much less a prob- 
lem in South Pass City than in Atlantic City and Miners 
Delight, thanks to James W. Stillman, who was the town's 
justice of the peace from June, 1868, until December, 1869, 
when he suddenly resigned. Since he remained in the 
town with his family and was elected to his old post nine 
months later, some researchers have speculated that he 
quit to protest the passage of the woman suffrage bill. Not 
only do existing documents lend no support to this theory, 
but it is difficult to believe that Stillman would quit a job 
he had performed for eighteen months over a law that had 
no impact on his position. Circumstances surrounding the 
1869 legislature suggest a more logical reason for Stillman's 

Esther Hobart Morris became the country's first woman justice of the 
peace when she assumed that office during February, 1870. 

42. The Revolution, December 27, 1869. 

43. 1870 Wyoming Census, p. 296. 



During the initial legislative session, lawmakers passed 
bills that created each county and legalized the laws and 
political appointments that had been made between the 
creation of the territory and the convening of the legislature 
fifteen months later. A growing dispute over several issues 
between the Republican governor and the all-Democratic 
legislature eventually resulted in the veto of the act organiz- 
ing Sweetwater County (formerly Carter County). In his 
veto message, Campbell emphasized that the authority to 
appoint persons to public offices belonged to the gover- 
nor, and the right to elect individuals to office rested with 
the people. Not only did he question the legality of how 
some officers attained their positions in the county, but 
he objected to the representatives legislating other in- 
dividuals into county positions. Nevertheless, the Coun- 
cil and the House overrode the veto and the final bill 
assigned several individuals to specific offices, including 
Stillman as South Pass City's justice of the peace. The 
legislature rejected the veto of the Sweetwater County bill 
the same day that Campbell signed the woman suffrage 
bill, an irony that would soon have a dramatic impact on 
woman suffrage. 44 

Despite the legislators' actions, the governor eventu- 
ally exerted his authority by appointing Sweetwater 
County's officers, including the Board of County Commis- 
sioners. If a vacancy later occurred, then the board could 
recommend a candidate for Campbell's consideration. This 
procedure initially created chaos as local citizens and the 
county commissioners strove to learn who was filling what 
political position, and when. Stillman, a staunch Democrat 
who detested "Radical" Republicans, probably resigned 
in protest over the governor's actions, even though the 
legislators had named him the justice for South Pass City 
and Campbell apparently had agreed. Stillman was already 
upset at the former Board of County Commissioners when 
it tabled his request for reimbursement of expenses and 
instead sent it to the county's district attorney for review. 
One or both of these factors, not the passage of the woman 
suffrage act, convinced the justice to resign. 45 

The governor's newly-appointed Sweetwater County 
Board of Commissioners consisted of Chairman John W. 
Anthony, a lumberman, Nathaniel Daniels, a miner, and 
John Swingle, the owner of the popular Miners Exchange 
Saloon in South Pass City. While the commissioners began 
the search to find Stillman's replacement, they approved 

R. S. Barr's application for justice of the peace somewhere 
near South Pass City. Several decades later, author Grace 
Hebard claimed in her article, "How Woman Suffrage 
Came to Wyoming," that Barr resigned in early February 
so that a woman could be appointed to his job. Not only 
does a court document prove that Barr was still a justice 
as late as May 10, 1870, but his justice's position was not 
the same one vacated by Stillman and later filled by Esther 
Morris. In addition, the next candidate the commissioners 
considered for the vacancy created by Stillman was not a 
woman, but a man— John O'Donnell, the county recorder. 
However, O'Donnell failed to qualify for the job, either 
because he wanted to hold two county positions simul- 
taneously, was in Chicago when he was nominated, or for 
another unspecified reason. 46 

With the encouragement of a few local residents and 
the influential support of Judge Kingman, Esther Morris 
submitted her application for this vacancy, which the 
county commissioners approved at their February 12 
meeting, making her the nation's first woman judge. This 
action immediately created controversy, for Stillman re- 
fused to give his docket and remaining records to the 
board, in protest at being replaced by a woman. Also, he 
may have still been irritated at the board for not reimburs- 
ing his expenses, for he still possessed the docket several 
weeks after he had quit. 47 

Commissioner Swingle also created some controversy. 
At the board's next meeting, he claimed he had opposed 
Esther's application rather than approved it as recorded 
in the minutes. Since Morris' appointment increased the 
outspoken opposition to woman suffrage in South Pass 
City, Swingle probably changed his vote more out of 
political expediency and public outcry than a desire to cor- 
rect the record. In any event, her appointment became a 
split decision. 48 

44. Council journal, First Session, pp. 176-178; General Laurs, 1869, p. 384. 

45. Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, pp. 73, 75, AHC; 
Minutes of the Board of Sweetwater County, p. 23, Archives and 
Records Management Division, AMH. 

46. Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, pp. 75, 81, 85-86, 
AHC; Grace R. Hebard, "How Woman Suffrage Came to Wyoming' ' 
(no publisher, 1920); Justice of the Peace Docket, Esther H. Morris, 
p. 70, Archives and Records Management Division, AMH. 

47. Chapman, "The History of Woman Suffrage," p. 41; Minutes of the 
Commissioners of Carter County, pp. 85-86, AHC. While the minutes 
of the county commissioners clearly indicate that Esther H. Morris 
submitted an application to the board for the justice's position on 
February 12, the minutes of the March 22, 1870, meeting indicated 
that Morris is a ". . . justice of the peace under an appointment by 
the Gcwernor of the Territory. ..." Since Acting Governor Lee did 
not write her letter of appointment until February 17, one can assume 
that the county commissioners approved her application and sent 
it to Lee for consent and "official'' appointment. He sent a letter ot 
appointment to Neil on the same day. 

48. Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, p. 87. AHC. 



SPRING 1990 

With her son Archibald and the postmaster, G.W.B. 
("Alphabet") Dixson, underwriting her five hundred 
dollar bond, the board sent the nomination to Acting 
Governor Edward Lee, who approved it two days later. 
Knowing that the entire country, particularly the town's 
citizens, would be closely watching her actions and deci- 
sions, Morris probably hoped for a few routine cases to 
begin her tenure as justice. Instead, she received the most 
difficult challenge she would encounter in her job, for the 
board decided to prosecute Stillman for not relinquishing 
the docket. 49 

On February 17, 1870, local citizens packed South Pass 
City's rented courtroom to see the female judge in action. 
Having been arrested just a few moments before the trial 
started, Stillman was escorted into the log building. Upon 
a motion by Stillman 's lawyer, Mrs. Morris agreed to 
postpone proceedings for the remainder of the day in order 
to allow the defense attorney enough time to prepare his 
case. When court was reconvened days later, the room was 
again crowded, and the businesses near the courthouse 
closed for the day. When the defense attorney correctly 
noted that the warrant for Stillman's arrest was not com- 
pleted correctly, Morris sustained his motion to dismiss 
the case, but then immediately issued a new warrant to 
begin the proceedings again. Finally, the defense attorney 
claimed that Esther did not have the jurisdiction to try the 
case because, as Stillman's successor, she had an interest 
in the docket's return. She agreed and dismissed the case. 50 
Since Stillman retained the docket to continue his per- 
sonal protest of a female justice, Morris purchased a new 
book to record the twenty-seven cases she tried during the 
next eight months. Most of the complaints consisted of dis- 
agreements over debts, although she presided over ten 
assault cases, including three with the intent to kill. 51 At 
times, the behavior of the participants added some interest 
to the routine nature of most of these cases. Attorney Ben- 
jamin Sheeks, the ardent opponent of woman suffrage, 
occasionally practiced in Morris' court. He related the 
following incident: 

I remember one case in particular where the attorney on the 
other side persisted in pettifogging [fussing over details] until 
I became exasperated and put him out of the room. I returned 
and apologized and offered to submit to any punishment she 
[Justice Morris] thought was justified. She merely remarked that 
she thought I was justified. 52 

49. Minutes of the Commissioners of Carter County, pp. 85-86, AHC; 
Minutes of the Commissioners of Sweetwater County, p. 15, AMH. 

50. Undated newspaper article, Woman Suffrage File #9, AHC; Justice 
of the Peace Docket, Esther H. Morris, p. 2, AMH. 

51. Justice of the Peace Docket, Esther H. Morris, pp. 2-10, 70-84, AMH. 

52. Benjamin Sheeks to Grace R. Hebard, August 20, 1920, SPC. 

With national attention focused on Morris and her 
work, the creation of rumors and myths was inevitable. 
One story asserted Esther had tried her husband, John, 
for drunkenness and had him tossed in jail. Denying it, 
she replied, "A man is not alowd to be the judge of his 
wife much less a woman of her husband. It would not be 
a legal proseding." 53 Common sense, more than the 
knowledge of the law, explains the success of Morris' 
tenure as justice. 

Despite their initial misgivings about a female justice, 
many citizens of South Pass City became advocates of 
woman suffrage by the time Morris' term ended in Oc- 
tober. With the organization of the territory, residents 
would now vote for their town's justice of the peace begin- 
ning in September. However, Esther declined to seek elec- 
tion to the position. Robert explained his mother's deci- 
sion by noting she had received "much glory" from 
holding the job and had demonstrated that women could 
perform well in elected offices. In other words, she had 
accomplished her goals. In addition, the stress generated 
by the national publicity over her appointment and the 
initial opposition in her town undoubtedly affected her, 
for she wrote to her cousin two months before her resigna- 
tion: "... the post was given to me but the frightful fact 
is that no man nor woman can hold it all." 54 Her husband 
was also a source of anxiety, not only because his health 
began to fail him toward the end of her term in office, but 
because he opposed woman suffrage and probably her job 
as justice of the peace. Finally, if she had decided to seek 
election, her opponent would have been James Stillman, 
who had spent the last few months organizing the coun- 
ty's first public school. Not wanting to create further con- 
troversy in her town, which was experiencing the trauma 
of a mining bust, may have been an additional reason for 
not retaining her seat. Stillman won the election, and Mor- 
ris gave her docket to him. 55 

The notoriety surrounding Morris' accomplishments 
overshadowed the appointment of Caroline Neil, another 
Sweetwater County resident, as the justice of the peace 
for Point-of -Rocks. Not wanting to ride seventy miles 
through the Red Desert to submit an application to the 
county commissioners in South Pass City, she applied for 
the justice's position directly to Secretary Lee, who oblig- 
ingly gave her the job. Perhaps out of irritation at the acting 
governor's unilateral action and due to the public outcry 

53. Esther Morris to her niece, June 16, 1872, Morris Collection, AMH. 

54. Esther Morris to Frankie, August 10, 1870, Morris Collection, AMH. 

55. Robert Morris to his cousin, September 6; November 1, 1870, Morris 
Collection, AMH; South Pass News, December 28, 1870. 



over their approval of Morris' application, the county com- 
missioners were reluctant to approve Neil's bond, first 
returning it to her because an officer did not properly 
notorize it, then indefinitely tabling it before finally ac- 
cepting it on May 2, one month after it had been submitted. 
Contrary to his earlier action, Commissioner Swingle not 
only voted to support the bond but made the motion to 
pass it. Some historians have questioned whether Neil ever 
served as a justice, primarily because her docket, if one 
ever existed, has never been located. However, the acting 
governor's appointment and the county commissioners' 
acceptance of her bond indicate that she occupied the 
office, even if she never tried a case. 56 

As acting governor, Lee designated a third woman 
justice of the peace in Wyoming before Campbell's return 
to the territory. 57 If Campbell would not have made these 
appointments had he remained, then Lee made the most 
of an opportunity to exert a tremendous influence on the 
course of woman suffrage in Wyoming. 

Ironically, South Pass City opposed woman suffrage 
as much as, or more than, any other Wyoming settlement 
at the same time that Bright 's sponsorship of the woman 
suffrage bill and Morris' tenure as justice were focusing 

Let It be Recorded. 
On the Oth inst., this territory had 
the female suffrage theory put into 
practice. On Tuesday last eight wom- 
en voted for Delegate In Congress and 
county rmd precinct officer* in tiii*» 
city, eight voted in Atlantic and nine 
in Miner's Delight, We are unahlc to 
state how many voted in other towns 
throughout the territory, but as. the 
Republicans of Laramie county had 
nominated two women for county offi- 
ce*, and have two others on their coun- 
ty committee, it is safe to presume 
that u greater number ot women vo- 
ted in that county than in this or any 
other county of the territory. Women 
held office in this territory and served 
M jurors previous to this, but Tuesday 
the Oth day of Sept., 1S70, was tin: 
first time the women of this territory 
exercised the privilege of voting at 
any general election, ko far as our in- 
forwaie-n on, thla gubject goes. 

national attention on the town. The general opposition to 
woman suffrage included both sexes, for most of the women 
refused to become involved in politics— voting or other- 
wise. As a result of this attitude, Esther Morris, a 
Republican, was the only woman to attend South Pass 
City's Democratic meeting in September, 1870, and only 
eight women, 11 percent of the eligible female electorate, 
voted in the ensuing elections. Only 15 percent of the 
women over twenty-one years of age voted in Atlantic 
City. More women cast ballots at the Miners Delight poll 
than in either of the other two settlements, even though 
this small mining camp had only 1/6 the population of 
South Pass City. 58 

With the 1870 election of Judge Jones, a Republican, 
as the territory's Congressional delegate, woman suffrage 
developed into a partisan issue. Since the Democrats 
believed that their party had given Wyoming women the 
right to vote, they felt betrayed over Jones' narrow victory. 
Before woman suffrage, the Democratic candidate had won 
decisively. After women received the vote, a Republican nar- 
rowly won. In addition, many saloonkeepers, usually 
Democrats, were growing concerned over the link at the 
national level between the woman suffrage and tem- 
perance movements. By the 1871 legislative elections, an 
organized opposition to woman suffrage existed that had 
not been present at the 1869 legislature. 59 

Unbeknownst to the citizens of the Sweetwater mining 
district, they would again elect a legislator who would exert 
a significant impact on woman suffrage. However, this 
lawmaker would not be William Bright. Due to the eco- 
nomic decline and perhaps because of the town's opposi- 
tion to woman suffrage, Bright' s saloon went bankrupt and 
was sold at public auction in September, 1870. After an 
aborted attempt to establish another saloon at Miners 
Delight, and following a brief stay in the Wind River valley, 
the Bright family paid a farewell visit to South Pass City 
in June, 1871, before moving to Denver. They never 
returned to the mining camp. 60 


The South Pass News reported the first election 
in Wyoming in which women voted. 

56. Minutes of the Commissioners of Sweetwater County, pp. 
AMH; Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 84(f). 

57. Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 84(f). 

58. South Pass Neivs, September 13, 1870; 1870 Wyoming Census, pp. 
455-515; Robert Morris to his cousin, September 6, 1870, AMH; Robert 
Morris to Frankie, September 8, 1870, Morris Collection, AMH. 
Larson, "Petticoats at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial Wyo- 
ming," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 44 (April 1953): 78. 
License Records, Sweetwater County, Sweetwater County Court- 
house, County Clerk's Office, Green River, Wyoming; Siwth Pa>> X'rws. 
August 31, September 13, 1870; June 28, 1871; Cheyenne Daily Leader, 
January 23, 1876. 





SPRING 1990 

In the month before the 1871 elections, the exodus of 
several more of the district's past political leaders, the social 
upheaval caused by the bust, and unspecified local issues 
split South Pass' powerful Democratic Party. Eager to 
dissociate with a national platform that most local residents 
opposed, several Republicans joined with dissatisfied 
Democrats to create a third political party. The newly 
named People Party held their convention in Atlantic City 
to select several candidates for the territorial legislature and 
county offices. The Democrats did likewise at their South 
Pass City gathering, while the Republican Party did not 
nominate any office seekers becoming temporarily defunct 
in the Sweetwater district. 61 

Even though woman suffrage had been a volatile issue 
in South Pass for the past two years, it was not a factor 
in splintering the Democrats and creating the People Party. 
In fact, the editor of the South Pass News, Archibald Slack, 
chastised the two parties for ignoring the needs of women 
and urged the females to form their own political organiza- 
tion. By late 1871, most of the remaining citizens in the 
Sweetwater mining district had gradually accepted woman 
suffrage, particularly after witnessing Esther Morris' suc- 
cess as a justice of the peace. Thus, the area's antagonism 
toward woman suffrage was declining while opposition in 
the territory was increasing. 62 

Even though the People Party won several local races, 
the organization captured only two of the five legislative 
positions. John Fosher, the owner of an Atlantic City 
billiard hall, won a seat on the Council, and Herman G. 
Nickerson, miner, former Sweetwater County superin- 
tendent of schools, U.S. Commissioner to the Shoshone 
Reservation, and resident of Miners Delight, became one 
of the district's three representatives. Both men unsuc- 
cessfully ran in the county's 1869 legislative races. 
Democrats Dr. F. H. Harrison of Atlantic City, Duncan 
Blair of Green River, and Benjamin Sheeks also were 
elected. George Wardman lost his bid for a second term. 63 

As the legislators gathered in Cheyenne in early 
November to convene the territory's second session, the 
Democratic lawmakers promised to repeal the woman suf- 
frage act, although some of them personally favored the 
measure. But, in his opening remarks to the legislators, 

Governor Campbell announced his opposition to any at- 
tempts to deprive Wyoming women of their right to vote, 
claiming that women have "... conducted themselves in 
every respect with as much tact, sound judgment, and 
good sense as men . . ," 64 in the past two years. He fur- 
ther implied that it was too early in the woman suffrage 
experiment to consider eliminating the reform. Given the 
governor's likely veto of any attempt to eliminate the 
reform, the Democrats realized that they would need a 2/3 
vote in both chambers to repeal the law. Democrats out- 
numbered Republicans 10-2 in the House but only 5-3 in 
the Council, with Representative Nickerson and Coun- 
cilman Fosher aligned with a third party. Therefore, at a 
time that each party was dictating how its members would 
vote, Nickerson and Fosher were free to follow their con- 
science. Nickerson was a professed Republican who had 
jumped to the People Party in order to get elected. What 
was Fosher' s allegiance on this issue? 65 

On November 16, nine days after the session began, 
Representative Castle of Uinta County introduced House 
Bill #4, an act to repeal woman suffrage. Sheeks, who was 
elected speaker, sent the bill to the engrossment commit- 
tee, which included Nickerson and two Democrats. Con- 
cerned that the committee may delay action on the legisla- 
tion, Wilson of Carbon County and Kuykendall of Laramie 
County successfully sponsored a motion that brought the 
bill to the House floor for immediate consideration. After 
a lengthy discussion on November 17, the House passed 
it 9-3, with Nickerson joining the two Republicans in op- 
posing the measure. 66 

After receiving HB4, Council President Nuckolls of 
Laramie County assigned it to a committee, which recom- 
mended "do pass" on November 24. After postponing a 
vote for several days, the Council approved the bill 5-4, 
with Fosher aligning with the three Republicans. The ac- 
tion of the Atlantic City legislator must have surprised the 
Democrats, for they had extended privileges to him usually 
reserved for other Democrats, such as chairing the com- 
mittee that organized the Council during the initial days 
of the session and presiding as acting Council president 

61. South Pass News, August 31, 1871. 

62. South Pass News, August 31, 1871; Robert Morris to his cousin, 
September 6, 1870, Morris Collection, AMH. 

63. South Pass News, April 26; September 7, 1871; Tax Assessment Roll, 
1870, 1871, Sweetwater County, Sweetwater County Museum, Green 
River, Wyoming; 1869 Carter County Election Returns, SPC; 1870 
Wyoming Census, p. 483, Council Journal, Second Session, p. 31. 

64. Council Journal, Second Session, p. 18. 

65. Council Journal, Second Session, p. 18; Cheyenne Daily Leader, Novem- 
ber 21, 1871; Journal and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the 
State of Wyoming (Cheyenne: Daily Sun, Book and Job Printing, 1893), 
p. 352. 

66. House Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming, Sec- 
ond Session (Cheyenne: Evening Leader Office, 1872), pp. 37-50. 



on a few occasions. Now, Fosher had supported the Re- 
publican minority during the only truly partisan vote of 
this legislature. 

As expected, the governor vetoed the bill on Decem- 
ber 4. Outlined in a lengthy treatise sent to both chambers, 
Campbell offered several reasons for his decision, including 
his doubts that the legislature could constitutionally 
abrogate the voting privileges of any American citizen, 
male or female. He concluded his veto message by em- 
phasizing that: 

For the first time in the history of our country we have a govern- 
ment to which the noble words of our magna charta of freedom 
may be applied, not as a mere figure of speech, but as express- 
ing a simple grand truth, for it is a government which derives 
all just powers from the consent of the governed. 

We should pause long and weigh carefully the probable 
results of our action before consenting to change this govern- 
ment. A regard for the genius of our institutions, for the fun- 
damental principles of American autonomy, and for immutable 
principles of right and justice, will not permit me to sanction 
this change. 67 

Nickerson was one of the two absentees on Decem- 
ber 9 when the House overrode Campbell's veto, 9-2. Con- 
sidering that no Democrat or Republican had deviated from 
the party line, the lawmakers realized that Councilman 
Fosher would determine the future of woman suffrage in 
Wyoming. If he reversed his previous vote to support the 
Democratic majority, then the Council would have enough 
votes to annul the veto, ending woman suffrage in Wyo- 
ming. Maintaining his opposition to HB4 would preserve 
the women's right to vote. Worried that Fosher may not 
change his mind, Representative Pease of Uinta County 
introduced a bill on December 11 that would provide for 
a special election on woman suffrage. However, the 
measure died quickly when the House voted not to sus- 
pend the rules to allow the bill to pass before the end of 
the session. 68 

Fosher was initially indecisive. While he personally 
favored woman suffrage, as owner of a billiard hall that 
served liquor he was concerned about the growing link be- 
tween the temperance and woman suffrage movements 
nationally. While not a Democrat, he lived in a 
predominantly Democratic part of Sweetwater County 
where the citizens had initially opposed woman suffrage 
and Esther Morris' appointment, but now generally 
accepted both. 

In contrast to the first legislative session, women 
actively lobbied during the 1871 meetings for the preser- 
vation of their voting rights. Besides closely following the 
moves of the chambers from their seats in the bleachers 
of the legislature, several women visited Campbell to en- 
sure that he still planned to veto HB4. When Republican 
Councilman Corlett of Laramie County noticed that Fosher 
was wavering in his opposition to the bill, he arranged for 
the delegate to dine with Mrs. Amalia Post, a Wyoming 
suffragette. As a result of the supper or because of his fun- 
damental belief in woman suffrage, Fosher once again 
sided with the three Republicans in voting against the bill 
and preventing the override of the veto. Woman suffrage 
was sustained, and the legislature would never challenge 
its existence again. For the second time in two years, a 
South Pass saloonkeeper would strike a blow for woman 
suffrage. 69 

While woman suffrage continued to thrive, the same 
could not be said of the South Pass camps. Despite re- 
newed mining activity around Miners Delight, the popula- 
tions of South Pass City and Atlantic City continued to 
plummet, with only several hundred people remaining in 
the area in 1872. The absence of large gold deposits com- 
pelled South Pass miners and businessmen to move to 
other Western mining settlements in their search for 
precious metals, or a favorable economic climate. Some en- 
trepreneurs stayed in the western region of Wyoming, 
playing critical roles in the development of communities 
such as Lander. A few pioneers remained in South Pass, 
perhaps hoping eventually to strike a rich pocket of gold 
or because they had discovered a sense of community and 
place that they had not experienced in their earlier travels. 
Gold booms in the 1880s, 1890s, and 1930s precipitated 
another large influx of miners, promoters, and busi- 
nessmen into the Sweetwater mining towns, but busts 
always followed. Even though South Pass City and Atlantic 
City were never deserted, they reverted to shadows of their 
former selves. After more than seventy years of sporadic 
activity, Miners Delight became a ghost town in the 1940s. 

During the throes of the initial bust, the champions 
of woman suffrage left the area which they had placed 
briefly in the national spotlight. While living in Denver, 
Bright played a prominent role in the unsuccessful attempt 

67. Council Journal, Second Session, p. 84. 

68. Council Journal, Second Session, pp. 1-52, 79-84; House Journal, Second 
Session, pp. 111-112, 122. 

69. Woman Suffrage File #4, AHC; "Mrs. Amalia B. S. Post, no author 
or publisher cited, Woman Suffrage Vertical File *3. AMI 1: 1 lamilton 
Wilcox, Wyoming: The True Cause and Splendid Fnuts (no publisher or 
date), p. 17; Benton, "Woman Suffrage in the American West 
pp. 18-20; Council journal, Second Session, pp. 93-95. 



SPRING 1990 

to pass a woman suffrage law in Colorado in 1877. He and 
Julia eventually moved to Washington D.C., where he died 
in 1912. 70 

John Fosher continued to work his mining claims and 
operate his billiard hall/saloon until 1873, when he is no 
longer listed on any of the area's records. His later activities 
and residence are a mystery. 71 

All of the Morris family members remained in South 
Pass City until 1871, when a fire destroyed the South Pass 
News newspaper office, forcing Archibald Slack, the owner, 
and his wife Sarah, whom he had married the previous 
year, to move to Laramie where he and T. J. Webster 
created the Laramie Daily Independent. In 1876 he settled in 
Cheyenne to start the Cheyenne Daily Sun which eventually 
merged with the Cheyenne Leader in 1895, when Slack 
retired. 72 

Because of a deteriorating marriage and after the very 
harsh winter of 1871-72 in which the snow in South Pass 
City was still ten to twelve feet deep in June, Esther left 
South Pass City to live with Archibald in Laramie. After 
refusing a nomination for territorial representative on a 
woman's party ticket in 1873, Esther moved to Albany, 
New York, and then Springfield, Illinois, where she spent 
her winters. She visited her sons in Wyoming during the 
summers until she moved back to Cheyenne permanent- 
ly in the 1880s to live with Robert. In 1895 Esther was 
elected as a state delegate to a national woman suffrage 
convention in Cleveland. She died in Cheyenne in 1902. 73 

After leaving South Pass City with his mother in 1872, 
Robert Morris held several important jobs, such as state 
stenographer, clerk of the supreme court, and the secretary 
for Senator Joseph M. Carey. The two had met in South 
Pass City when Carey visited the town as U.S. Attorney 
for the territory and Morris was the assistant district clerk. 
After his mother passed away, Robert moved to Green 
River to be near his twin brother, Edward. 74 

Even though most of the family vacated South Pass 
City, John and Edward Morris remained in the area for 
several more years. As one of the handful of settlers who 

70. Denver Tribune, January 21, 1876; "Dr. Larson Questions Right to 
Single Out Esther Morris," Laramie Republican-Boomerang, Decem- 
ber 20, 1954; Benton, "Woman Suffrage in the American West," p. 33. 

71. Tax Assessment Roll, 1871-1873, Sweetwater County. 

72. W. E. Chaplin, "Woman Suffrage Pioneer Recalled Here," Laramie 
Republican-Boomerang, July 25, 1937; Douglas C. McMurtrie, "Pioneer 
Printing in Wyoming," Annals of Wyoming 9 (January 1933): 740. 

73. Esther H. Morris to her niece, June 16, 1872, Morris Collection, AMH; 
Gressley, "Morris," p. 584; Robert Morris to his cousin, Feb- 
ruary 6, 1877, Morris Collection, AMH. 

74. Insert Robert Morris file, AMH; Chaplin, "Woman Suffrage Pioneer 
Recalled Here." 

did not leave during the bust, John opened a saloon and 
billiard hall in 1873. Unfortunately, his health continued 
to deteriorate, and he died during October, 1877. 75 

Edward performed several odd jobs in the South Pass 
area until his father's death, when he assumed the 
management of John's billiard hall. He briefly lived in 
Atlantic City before moving permanently to Green River 
in the early 1880s to open a large mercantile business. 76 

While the Bright and Morris families continued with 
their lives, their activities with regard to woman suffrage 
would produce debates and controversies that have 
spanned nearly a century. Beginning with a growing con- 
flict between Archibald and Robert over how much credit 
their mother deserved in the success of woman suffrage 
in Wyoming, countless authors have offered dozens of 
opinions on the evolution of this reform during the initial 
territorial years. It is beyond the scope of this paper to ex- 
amine all of the theories and myths that have been created 
since the 1870s. More than any other researcher, Dr. T. A. 
Larson, Wyoming's eminent historian, has critically ex- 
amined and addressed most of these legends in his book, 
History of Wyoming, an essay, "Petticoats at the Polls," and 
articles and letters in several issues of the 1954 Laramie 
Republican Boomerang and the 1974 Casper Star-Tribune. 
Despite all of the literature on the subject, one controversy 
continues to thrive— who instigated the 1869 woman suf- 
frage act. 

Esther's sons initiated this debate. Beginning in the 
1890 editions of his newspaper, the Cheyenne Sun, 
Archibald Slack referred to Esther as the "mother of 
woman suffrage," even though Robert always insisted that 
his mother did not deserve the title. In one of its issues 
in the same year, the Cheyenne Daily Leader claimed Mrs. 
Morris did not ask Bright to introduce the woman suffrage 
bill and that she did not know that the legislature would 
consider the issue. Neither Esther nor Archibald wrote let- 
ters to challenge this statement even though both lived in 
Cheyenne at the time. Ironically, some people credit Robert 
with originating Wyoming's motto, the "Equality State." 77 

75. Tax Assessment Roll, 1871-1876, Sweetwater County; License 
Records, 1873-1877, Sweetwater County; Laramie Daily Sentinel, 
October 4, 1877. 

76. License Records, 1877-1878, Sweetwater County; Tax Assessment 
Roll, 1870-1879, Sweetwater County; Chaplin, "Woman Suffrage 
Pioneer Recalled Here." 

77. Howard Lamar, ed., The Reader's Encyclopedia of the American West 
(New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1977), p. 773; Cheyenne Daily 
Leader, July 23, 1890, Woman Suffrage File #9, AHC; Sadie Bristol 
Jensen to Miss Burke, November 30, 1936, Woman Suffrage Vertical 
File #1, AMH. 



While Esther Morris' accomplishment as the nation's 
first female justice of the peace continued to receive acclaim 
for many years, no one seriously claimed that she, not 
Bright, deserved credit for the introduction of the woman 
suffrage bill until Herman Nickerson's letter appeared in 
the February 14, 1919, edition of Lander's Wyoming State 
Journal. Responding to an article which credited the 
Democratic Party for initiating woman suffrage in Wyo- 
ming, Nickerson made the following assertions: 

To Mrs. Esther Morris is due the credit and honor of advocating 
and originating woman's suffrage in the United States. At the 
first election held in South Pass, (then in Carter County, Wyo- 
ming) on the 2nd day of Sept. 1869, Col. Wm. H. Bright, 
democrat, and myself, republican, were candidates for the first 
territorial legislature. A few days before the election, Mrs. Mor- 
ris gave a tea party at her residence at which there were about 
forty ladies and gentlemen present. Col. Bright and myself being 
invited for a purpose, for while sitting at the table Mrs. Morris 
arose and stated the object of the meeting, she said: "There 
are present two opposing candidates for the first legislature of 
our new territory, one of which is sure to be elected, and we 
desire here and now to receive from them a public pledge that 
whichever one is elected will introduce and work for the passage 
of an act conferring upon the women of our new territory the 
right of suffrage." 

Of course we both pledged ourselves as requested, and 
received the applause of all present. There were no republicans 
elected at this first election, the legislature was solidly 
democratic. Col. Bright, true to his promise, introduced the bill 
and it became law, passed in a jocular manner as an experi- 
ment, as Col. Bright informed me on his return home. Mrs. 
Morris was an ardent republican. 

Nickerson continued his letter by summarizing the 
Democrats' attempt to repeal woman suffrage in 1871, by 
noting that a few Democrats desired to drop the reform 
in 1889 to ensure statehood, and by concluding that the 
Republicans deserve the credit for the success of woman 

Although politics clearly motivated Nickerson to write 
this letter, many researchers, primarily Grace Hebard, ac- 
cepted the story of the tea party at face value. Thanks to 
Hebard 's 1920 article, "How Woman Suffrage Came to 
Wyoming," Morris' alleged involvement in the introduc- 
tion of the woman suffrage bill became fact. On the site 
of the Morris' 1869 log cabin in South Pass City (but not 
the nearby location of their 1870 home), Nickerson and 
Hebard erected a stone marker that proclaimed: "Site of 
Office and Home of Esther Morris, First Woman Justice 
of the Peace, Author of Female Suffrage in Wyoming." 
Now they were claiming that Morris not only elicited a 
promise from Bright to introduce a bill, but she wrote the 
legislation for him. A similar notation was etched into a 

concrete monument that replaced the marker during a 1939 
ceremony. 78 

By the 1950s, the legend of the tea party was so widely 
accepted that the Wyoming legislature considered a 
measure naming Esther Morris as one of the state's two 
outstanding citizens and placing a bust of her in the 
nation's Capitol Rotunda. Despite a series of newspaper 
articles by Dr. Larson that questioned the tea party theory 
and Morris' influence on Bright, the legislature passed the 
bill. The legend is still popular today, for Nickerson's story 
appears in many recent articles and publications. 79 

Nevertheless, common sense and the historical record 
cast serious doubt on the claim that William Bright in- 
troduced the woman suffrage bill to fulfill a promise to 
Esther Morris, let alone that she extracted the commitment 
at a tea party. Considering that most of the residents of 
South Pass City opposed woman suffrage, it is difficult to 
believe that Morris could find forty people in the town on 
the eve of an election to attend a tea party to support the 
introduction of a suffrage bill. While Nickerson states that 
he and Bright "... pledged ourselves as requested and 
received the applause of all present . . .," 80 Robert Morris 
noted in his December, 1869, letter to The Revolution that 
he and his mother were the only open advocates of woman 
suffrage in the settlement and further wrote that Bright was 
"... pleased that there were some persons here who en- 
dorsed his views on woman suffrage." If forty people had 
attended the tea party in September, Robert would never 
had made these comments in a letter written just three 
months later. 

Furthermore, from a logistical perspective, the Mor- 
ris' 1869 log cabin was too small to hold forty people. In 
a letter to her cousin, Esther estimated that her cabin 
measured 24 feet x 26 feet, which included the storage 
room, open-air platform, two bedrooms, and a pantry. 

If one continues to believe that forty supporters of 
woman suffrage squeezed into the Morris house or that 

78. Hebard, "How Woman Suffrage Came to Wyoming"; untitled arti- 
cle, Woman Suffrage File #1, AHC. 

79. Mable Cheney Moudy, "Fame as Equality State Cited as Support for 
Esther Morris," Laramie Republican-Boomerang, January 6, 1955; Ralph 
E. Conwell, "Dr. Hebard Gave Mrs. Morris Credit for Suffrage," 
Laramie Republican-Boomerang, December 6, 1954; T. A. Larson, "Lar- 
son Says Hebard Writing Must Be Examined Carefully," Laramie 
Republican-Boomerang, December 14, 1954; T. A. Larson, "Dr. Larson 
Questions Right to Single Out Esther Morris," Laramie Republican- 
Boomerang, December 20, 1954; T. A. Larson, "Dr. Larson Offers Mrs. 
Pence Compromise on Statue Choice," Laramie Republican-Boomerang, 
November 29, 1954. 

80. Wyoming State Journal, February 14. L919. 



SPRING 1990 

Esther moved the tea party outside, then explaining how 
Esther could command enough respect to generate such 
enthusiasm for a controversial issue in an unstable, 
tumultous gold mining town is difficult, especially since 
she had moved to South Pass City less than three months 
before the September election. The town's leaders, many 
of whom had resided in the town for more than a year, 
would find difficulty in locating forty citizens during the 
peak of the mining season to endorse any issue not related 
to mining, Indians, or anti-Republican sentiment. 

Nickerson's letter contains another erroneous assump- 
tion. He indicated that Esther invited Bright and him to 
the tea party because one of them was "... sure to be 
elected . . ."to the legislature. However, nine candidates 
competed for the three Council positions, making the odds 
less than 50 percent that either would be elected. In fact, 
if Morris was politically astute enough to throw a tea party 
to lobby Nickerson and Bright on woman suffrage, then 
she would have invited as many of the contestants as possi- 
ble, including the seven men vying for the three House 
seats. After all, more Carter County legislators voted 
against the suffrage act than any other county's delega- 
tion. Besides, Bright would have committed political suicide 
by promising to support a reform that proved to be so un- 
popular in South Pass City. If he did and still won, why 
did he wait until the closing days of the session to in- 
troduce the bill and keep a promise he made publicly? 

Besides common sense, the historical record does not 
lend support to the notion of a decisive tea party two days 
before an election. Other than Nickerson's claim, which 
he made almost fifty years after the event, no other primary 
source, including former residents of South Pass City, have 
even alluded to the event. In fact, in his 1886 article, "Early 
History of Fremont County," Nickerson failed to mention 
the tea party. Neither Slack's 1920 letter to Hebard nor her 
oral interview with Janet Smith, a long-time resident, 
references the event, although Smith thought that Bright 
promised Morris to introduce the bill while Slack firmly 
contends that Julia, not Esther, influenced the colonel. 81 

Since Archibald Slack operated a newspaper from 
1870-1895 and touted Esther as the "Mother of Woman 
Suffrage," he possessed every opportunity to publicize the 
tea party as proof that his mother deserved the title. This 

81. H. G. Nickerson, "Early History of Fremont County," State of Wyo- 
ming Historical Department Bulletin 2 (July 15, 1924): 1-16 (reprint of 
1886 article); Benjamin Sheeks to Grace Hebard, August 20, 1920, 
SPC; Interview with Janet Sherlock Smith by Grace Hebard, July 6, 
1920, SPC. 

never occurred. In the letter to The Revolution, Robert Mor- 
ris clearly gave Bright credit for writing and introducing 
the bill on his own volition. If he was simply fulfilling a 
promise to Mrs. Morris, why would Robert not bestow the 
credit on his mother? More than likely, she read his letter 
before he sent it to the newspaper and obviously did not 
object to its content. 

Neither Bright nor Morris ever hinted that the tea party 
occurred. In an 1876 letter to the Denver Tribune and an 1895 
interview in Washington D.C., Bright discussed the pas- 
sage of the woman suffrage bill without any mention of 
a tea party or a promise to Morris, although he noted that 
Esther, Mrs. M. E. Post, and Mrs. Seth Paine advocated 
suffrage. 82 

Throughout the rest of her life, Esther never claimed 
she deserved any credit for the woman suffrage bill, At 
the 1871 Woman Suffrage Association meeting in Wash- 
ington D.C., Mrs. Post read to the attendees the follow- 
ing letter from Mrs. Morris: 

My Dear Mrs. Hooker: After this long delay I would return 
many thanks for your kind letter, your sensible report, and more 
than all, for the strong right-hand of fellowship. So far as 
woman suffrage has progressed in this Territory we are entirely 
indebted to men. To William H. Bright belongs the honor of 
presenting the woman suffrage bill, and it was our district 
judge, Hon. John W. Kingman, who proposed my appointment 
as a justice of the peace and the trial of women as jurors. 

Circumstances have transpired to make my position as 
justice of the peace a test of woman's ability to hold public office, 
and I feel that my work has been satisfactory, although I have 
often regretted I was not better qualified to fill the position. 
Like all pioneers, I have labored more in faith and hope. 

I have assisted in drawing a grand and petit jury, deposited 
a ballot, and helped canvass the votes after the election, and 
in performing all these duties I do not know as I have neglected 
my family any more than ordinary shopping, and I must ad- 
mit that I have been better paid for the services rendered than 
for any I have ever performed. In some thirty civil actions, tried 
before me, there has been but one appeal taken, and the judge- 
ment was confirmed in the court above, and in the criminal 
cases also before me there has been no call for a jury. 

My family consist of a husband and three sons, all of whom 
have been more ready to assist me in the performance of my 
official duties than in my domestic affairs. 

My term of office expired November first, and I sent you 
a paper with an account of a supper given by the new officers, 
and notice of my retirement from office. 

My idea of the woman question in Wyoming is, that while 
we enjoy the privelege of the elective franchise, we have not 
been sufficiently educated up to it. The election here, and agita- 
tion of woman's voting, has caused us to think, and has placed 

82. Denver Tribune, January 21, 1876. 



us far in advance of what we were, and I now think that we 
shall be able to sustain the position which has been granted us. 83 

Since Morris and Bright died before Nickerson's let- 
ter appeared in the Lander newspaper, the story of the tea 
party will never be definitely confirmed or denied. Un- 
doubtedly, the citizens of South Pass City debated woman 
suffrage at many social gatherings after 1869. Perhaps 
Nickerson, fifty years later, was recalling a meeting of 
South Pass City's Literary Association, which was formed 
in early 1871, met in private homes, and often discussed 
woman suffrage. 84 

With the exception of Nickerson's claim, the historical 
record indicates that Bright deserves credit for taking the 
bold step of introducing the country's first successful 
woman suffrage bill, with his wife, Julia, and perhaps Ed- 
ward Lee lending some influence and encouragement. Lar- 
son stated as much in History of Wyoming. Esther Morris' 
claim to fame is her appointment as the nation's first 
woman judge. Considering her courage in accepting this 
position, opening herself to the ridicule of woman suffrage 
opponents in her town, and extricating herself from the 
social and political bonds of her time, she does not need 
a tea party to reserve her place in history. 

Of course, Bright and Morris must share the successes 
of woman suffrage in Wyoming with the other legislators 
who supported the 1869 bill and opposed the 1871 attempt 
at repeal, the women jurors, Governor Campbell, Judge 
Kingman, Chief Justice Howe, and the score of other men 
and women who worked to make a temporary experiment 
permanent. Rather than the emissaries of a grassroots ef- 
fort in a frontier mining town, personal beliefs motivated 
Bright and Morris, whose accomplishments are even more 
remarkable considering that the South Pass mining com- 
munities opposed woman suffrage more than any other 
area of settlement in the territory. 

The course of woman suffrage in territorial Wyoming 
certainly presented some dilemmas to the national suffrage 
organizations. While they focused their efforts to install 
woman suffrage laws in Eastern states and in Congress, 
Wyoming passed its bill without any help or encourage- 
ment from these groups. In fact, by 1914, all of the states 
and territories which had adopted woman suffrage were 
west of the Rocky Mountains, except for Kansas. 

There are other ironies. Even though the suffrage 
organizations were closely aligned at times with aboli- 
tionists, the Republican Party, and temperance, an all- 
Democratic legislature passed the country's first woman 
suffrage bill, which was written and introduced by an ex- 
Southern saloon owner motivated by an anti-Black, racist 
attitude. In addition, a third-party legislator, who owned 
a billiard hall and a liquor permit, cast the decisive vote 
to sustain the territory's woman suffrage bill. 

In the debate over the use of public lands, wilderness 
proponents and oil developers claim that conflict is in- 
evitable because they have no control over where the 
resources are located. Suffragists must have possessed 
similar thoughts about the passage of a woman suffrage 
bill in Wyoming. Reform is where you find it. In other 
words, the adoption of a reform is not always the result 
of organized efforts or the general acceptance of a particular 
philosophy. As some of the events associated with woman 
suffrage in Wyoming from 1869-71 prove, several unrelated 
ideas, both ideal and utilitarian, may suddenly create the 
opportunity for the birth of reform. The fact that Wyoming 
passed woman suffrage, refused to repeal it, and later in- 
sisted that it would never become a state without the 
reform should make its citizens proud that the reform was 
first "found" in Wyoming. 

MICHAEL A. MASSIE presently is Director of the City of Greeley Museums, 
Greeley, Colorado. From 1982 until 1989 he ivas the Curator of the South Pass 
City State Historic Site. He received his M.A. in History from the University 
of Wyoming in 1980. 

83. The letter is reprinted in: Chapman, "The Story of Woman Suffrage,' 
pp. 41-42. 

84. South Pass Ncivs, April 5, 12, 1871. 


f ^NK>ESL f £,^ 

NKW YOllK KOU I UK VVEKK ENDING N'nVEMIiEli 24, 18KX. [I'mre, n im. " . 

l;\ • i m 



One Suffrage Story at a Time 

by Sidney Howell Fleming 

Part I: Introduction 

When the news came that the Wyoming State Con- 
stitution did contain the woman suffrage provision, a 
group of women meeting in Chicago rose and sang the 
Doxology. 1 At the root of their joy and thanksgiving was 
a law that had existed in Wyoming for almost 20 years. 
This succinct bill, just 100 words or so, signed by four 
men and the governor of Wyoming Territory, made all 
Wyoming women age twenty-one and older, voters, elec- 
tors, and potential office holders on December 10, 1869. 
An act to grant to the women of Wyoming Territory the right 
of suffrage and to hold office. Be it enacted by the Council and 
House of Representatives of the Territory of Wyoming: 
Sec. 1. That every woman of the age of twenty-one year's, 
residing in this territory, may, at every election to be holden 
under the laws thereof, cast her vote. And her rights to the 
elective franchise and to hold office, shall be the same under 
the election laws of the territory as those of electors. Sec. 2. 
This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its 
passage. 2 

The year the first territorial legislature of Wyoming and 
Governor John Campbell chose to bring woman suffrage 
into being was like all years, a transient intersection in time 
when the present happened, then slid into the past, and 
future ideas and events did not dwell, even in preliminary 
form, in infants born. This year of 1869, viewed through 
the telescope of hindsight, was vastly different from our own 
times in daily activities and pleasures, science and art. The 
scientific world as we know it was in the midst of crea- 
tion. Four years earlier Gregor J. Mendel had published 

his article that in time would lead to genetics. In 1869 
D. I. Mendeleyev had published his first version of the 
periodic table. Balloons were aviation. John D. Rockefeller 
had not yet founded the Standard Oil Company, so the 
corporate era stood behind the veils of the future. The first 
American professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, 
had been organized the previous year. 3 In November, 1869, 
the first intercollegiate football game was played: Rutgers 
beat Princeton 6 to 4. The Pony Express mail service had 
slipped into history eight years earlier, yielding to new 
technology, the telegraph. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women 
was a year old. Sigmund Freud was a 13 year old boy; 
Mahatma Gandhi and Neville Chamberlain were born that 
year when Wyoming changed the rules of citizenship. Elec- 
tric lights and telephones lay in the future. The Central 
Pacific heading east and the Union Pacific heading west 
met on Utah's sandy flats at a place called Promontory 
Point, and Manifest Destiny was a dream realized. Gover- 
nor John Campbell had attended the celebration, as did 
some Cheyenneites who had seen the dawn of the steam 
age when the locomotive arrived in Cheyenne. The man 
who had said "Let us have peace," Ulysses S. Grant, was 

1. Woman's journal, November 16, 1889. 

2. General Laws, Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory ot Wyoming 1869 
(Cheyenne: S. Allan Bristol, Public Printer, 1870), p. 371. 

3. Bernard Grun, The Timetables of History: A Horizontal linkage of People 
and Events (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1%2). 



SPRING 1990 

the president of the United States. The United States Con- 
stitution had fourteen amendments and a fifteenth was 
under consideration. 4 

This landmark event in the history of American 
women, conferring the right of suffrage and to hold office, 
operated continuously throughout the territorial period. 
Twenty years later, these rights, or most of them— jury 
duty died along the way— were included in the state con- 
stitution and an ideal of equality was set forth in the 
Declaration of Rights. During the twenty year epoch bet- 
ween the passage of the suffrage act and the final phase 
of institutionalization, there had been five separate phases: 
1) the passage of the act 2) experimentation 3) opposition 
to the act, a repeal effort 4) maturation and finally, 5) in- 
stitutionalization in the state constitution. In addition, in 
the two years before the passage of the act, there were 
significant related events that were anticipatory. Because 
the suffrage act reached the state of institutionalization in 
the state constitution, which centennial is now being 
celebrated, the legislative history of the 1869 law is impor- 
tant first because it happened, and second, because it was 
maintained. These important events offer a window into 
the ever expanding circle of opportunity for women. The 
nation followed suit fifty-one years after the first territorial 
legislature acted, and thirty-one years after the constitu- 
tional convention acted. Wyoming was, as Secretary Ed- 
ward M. Lee, one of Wyoming's earliest suffragist pro- 
ponents proclaimed, in the "vanguard" of the 19th cen- 
tury advances in the status of women. 5 

In 1884, a mere five years before the Wyoming con- 
stitution was framed, the editors of the History of Woman 
Suffrage noted the many advances in the status of women 

in the previous half century. There had been a great im- 
provement in the legal status of women in the last fifty 
years, and the last remaining struggle was for suffrage. On 
a muggy day in August, in Tennessee, Harry Burn and 
then Banks Turner cast the final votes that sent millions 
of American women to the polls in 1920. The quest for 
suffrage begun at Seneca Falls in 1848 had been resolved 
in the affirmative, and Alexis De Tocqueville had been 
proven correct in his earlier prediction that democracy 
would ultimately result in a tilt toward or produce an 
equality between the sexes. 6 

The importance of the Wyoming contribution to the 
advances of the status of women was not overlooked out- 
side or inside Wyoming: "No adequate history of our times 
can ever be written without giving large space to the ad- 
mission of the first woman suffrage state and the ex- 
periments, experiences, and debates that led up to it." 7 
That text does not yet exist. A rigorous reconstruction 
of these events is historically important, and its importance 
also goes beyond the crucial historical reconstruction to the 
psychological dimension. 

Students of human behavior generally concede three 
great roots of behavior: the biological, the psychological 
and the sociocultural. Few would now challenge the maxim 
that psychological development is intimately entwined 
with cultural opportunity. 8 Understanding what happened 
in Wyoming offers a window into the complex matter of 
the factors that operated to provide the new, for women, 
opportunity of citizenship and into the impact of cultural 
restrictions and then cultural opportunity about behavior. 
While much has been written about discrimination, fewer 

4. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. "Football" (for purists it was 
soccer style); Howard R. Lamar, ed., A Reader's Encyclopedia of the 
American West (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977), pp. 
948-949; Grun, Timetables of History; Robert G. Athearn, Union Pacific 
Country (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press), p. 98; David 
Lavender, Westward Vision: The Story of the Oregon Trail (New York: 
McGraw-Hill, 1971), p. 347; "John A. Campbell, Diary, 1869-1875," 
Annals of Wyoming 10 Qanuary 1938): 8; William S. McFeely, Grant: 
A Biography (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1982), p. 244; 
General Laws of the Territory of Wyoming, 1869, Amendments to the Con- 
stitution, pp. 15-17; Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished 
Revolution 1863-1877 (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1989), 
p. 446. 

5. Virginia Cole Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol II (Cheyenne: 
Pioneer Printing and Stationery Company, 1974), p. 13; Eleanor Flex- 
ner, A Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United 
States (New York: Atheneum, 1968), pp. 323-324; General Laws of the 
Territory of Wyoming, 1869, p. iv. 

6. Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, eds., History of Woman 
Suffrage 1883-1900, vol. IV (New York: Arno Press and the New York 
Times, 1969), pp. xiii-xxxiii; Flexner, Century of Struggle, pp. 323-324, 
77; Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. II, trans. Henry 
Reeve, Francis Bowen and Phillips Bradley (New York: Vintage Books 
of Random House and Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), pp. 222-225. 

7. Quote from Boston Advertiser found in Wyoming Commonwealth, 
August 17, 1890. 

8. Nancy Roeske, ed., "Towards a New Psychology of Women and 
Men," Special Issue, Journal of Psychiatric Education 7 (1983). 

9. Kirk Porter, A History of Suffrage in the United States (Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1918), pp. 238-239. 

10. Eugene Andersen, "Unchaining the Demons of the Lower World or 
a Petition of Ninety-Nine Per Cent Against Suffrage," published by 
the Georgia Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, n.d. 

11. Woman's journal, July 5, 1890. 

12. Cheyenne Daily Leader, January 13, 1870. 

13. Wyoming Tribune, January 15, 1870. 

14. Wyoming Tribune, January 1, 8, 1870. 



studies have focused on how and why barriers to full 
citizenship were removed and how opportunity evolved. 
The importance of the events in Wyoming to the psy- 
chological dimension can only be acknowledged. At the 
heart of the matter, though, is the fact that casting a ballot 
was a public act signaling completion of private psy- 
chological and cognitive processes. In the psychological 
sphere the key, operative principles were independent 
thinking, decision-making, weighing how one's own best 
interest fit into the larger public scheme of things, or in 
short, autonomy. This is not to say that every voter reached 
that ideal, but various views on this issue can be identified 
in nearly every debate about woman suffrage. Suffragists 
advanced arguments that women were "fit" for the ballot, 
while some men feared their dependence and other men 
feared their independence. Very few identified with pre- 
cision just what ominous threat the prospect of a woman 
casting a ballot heralded, but as Kirk Porter pointed out, 
the men women had to face down in debate were good 
and decent men, 9 some of whom issued such babblings 
as "Unchaining the Demons of the Lower World, or A 
Petition of Ninety-Nine Per Cent Against Suffrage." 10 
When Wyoming became a state, as Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton immediately grasped, it was a turning point for 
women, from hazy, emotional, and intellectual arguments 
of what woman suffrage might be, to the practical, pen and 
ink on the lawbook, an example to point to, a republic in 
operation. 11 In Wyoming, cultural barriers to personal 
development fell. Opposition to a woman's voting, to 
potential autonomy of thinking and expression at the ballot 
box, was relegated to a matter of opinion, the law having 
conferred the right. This fait accompli also forced the 
opposition to woman suffrage to find new methods of ex- 
pressing their opposition. 

The purpose of this paper is to analyze those factors 
cooperating to inspire the passage of the suffrage act in 
December, 1869, including the absence of resistances that 
might have operated adversely in other settings, and the 
personalities, to the limited extent reconstruction is now 
possible. It is important not to confuse those factors that 
started the process with those that operated to maintain 
it, particularly when the maintenance of the right of suf- 
frage involved posturing to achieve its institutionalization. 
An arbitrary limit of one month and one day following the 
passage of the suffrage act has been drawn to separate the 
phase of experimentation from the phase of passage. The 
great Cheyenne fire occurred at that point in time, 
January 11, 1870. 12 This catastrophe naturally captured the 
time, attention, heart and the pocketbook of the Cheyenne- 
ites and cut into all the processes of life. In spite of it, the 
Wyoming Tribune seized this opportunity to begin a descrip- 
tive phase of women light years away from the 19th cen- 
tury perceptions of women, and taking a prescriptive 
stance— advancing a new perception of women and their 
behavior. 13 Also in this month, letters of thanks, almost 
palpable, began to arrive from suffragists outside the ter- 
ritory, 14 defining the reaction theme of the experimenta- 
tion phase rather than the reasons for the passage. Thus 
it is an arbitrary but plausible point for contemporary ex- 
planations to emerge. This analysis reports preliminary 
findings, and has some specific limitations, primarily the 
absence of materials reflecting the perspective of the 
Democrats in the territory, and the absence of private con- 
temporary writings of key persons. This analysis is divided 
into 1) the anticipatory phase 2) the process of passage and 
3) the reconstruction of the reasons for passage and 4) 
finally, other facts pertinent to the passage of the bill, and 
then the aftermath. 

Part II: Anticipatory Events 

There were a myriad of factors operating to provide 
the fertile soil on which the gossamer ideas of change took 
root. The press, both in Wyoming and Dakota Territory 
focused attention on the pros and cons of woman suffrage. 
In 1867, a young newspaperman from Colorado, a Unionist 
and Republican, came to Cheyenne. In the eighth issue 
of his fledgling Cheyenne Leader, not yet a daily newspaper, 
Nathan A. Baker 1 wrote about a "novel" situation down 
in Kansas, a proposition which if adopted, could "seriously 
disturb the old order of things in politics throughout the 

entire country." Taking an even-handed approach, Baker 
assessed all variety of reactions to the proposition for giv- 
ing women the right to vote, and concluded: 

If the experiment of female suffrage should he deemed wise 
and prudent, after trial, and no serious evils succeed, this 
revolution in the civil and social system, other States will un- 
doubtedly follow the example of Kansas. Many sensihle peo- 
ple will regard the whole movement as foolish and fanatical; 
many others, that instead of securing the object at which it aims 
it will be only productive of domestic discord and social con- 
fusion, while others are sanguine that this policy, dictated by 



SPRING 1990 

the highest and most universal justice would not only be pro- 
ductive of private and public virtue, but would affect public 
legislation in a most salutary manner. We do not propose to 
decide this matter, but give the event to our readers as one of 
the curious movements of this progressive age, that must be 
discussed and disposed of by the press and platform, and finally 
by the votes at the ballot box. It will not "down" at our bidding, 
nor fly at our sneering anathemas. 2 

This stimulus to private discussion would continue 
throughout the time Baker kept his promise. 

Baker was true to his promise although he was not 
always able to manage a dispassionate approach, and is 
exemplary of the ambivalent feelings generated by the calls 
for woman suffrage. He heaped his share of ridicule on 
all the suffragists, at times tempering it with praise. Baker 
was one of those receiving copies of the suffragist news- 
paper, The Revolution, funded by George Francis Train. 
When the erratic Train left Susan B. Anthony in a finan- 
cial bind, she cut down her distribution list of editors to 
whom she sent a copy of her paper. Baker was notably un- 
dismayed: "Good bye, Sooky!" he wrote. Yet one com- 
pliment deserved another and when he found that he was 
on the exchange list after all, he wrote candidly on June 
29, 1869, that he could not endorse all the paper espoused, 
but, he did "recommend the Revolution as being a valuable 
and interesting paper for ladies to subscribe for and read." 
The key point is that he made it possible for anyone who 
read his paper to be aware of and at least be encouraged 
to subscribe to the suffragist paper, focused on suffragist 
reasonings. Though the latter is the endorsement closest 
in time to the passage of the suffrage bill, the Leader had 
supported The Revolution and its philosophy earlier, in 
October, 1868. 3 

The Dakota press and legislature also played a part in 
the prelude. Before Wyoming Territory was organized, it 
was a part of Dakota Territory, which played its own game 
with a woman suffrage act in the winter of 1868-9. The 
Dakota House passed a bill conferring suffrage and office 
holding; the other chamber defeated it, and sent back to 
the House a substitute, which the pro-suffrage House 
promptly killed. One Dakota woman judged the substitute 

1. Nolie Mumey, Nathan Addison Baker (Denver: The Old West Publishing 
Company, 1965), p. 91; Cheyenne Leader, December 28, 1867. 1 am using 
the name of the editor of the Leader interchangeably with the name 
of the newspaper, even though Baker may not have authored per- 
sonally every piece. Baker's tight editorial control is suggested by 
W. Richardson's statement in the Argus, November 12, 1869. 

2. Cheyenne Leader, October 8, 1867. 

3. Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in 
the United States (New York: Atheneum, 1968), p. 151; Oieyenne Leader, 
June 15, 1869; June 29, 1869; October 20, 1868. 

bill a "burlesque" and the motivating spirit of the Coun- 
cil, "mischief." The people down in the part of the ter- 
ritory that would become Wyoming had a variety of ways 
of finding out about this caper: the Wyoming representa- 
tive, CD. Bradley, was on site; the Dakotaian carried 
enough in its weekly issue to inform anyone that some- 
thing was underfoot, and Baker made limited mention of 
the action, calling it "humbuging" and "trifling with feel- 
ings of females." At least the chief clerk intended for the 
word to get around since he sent a press release to the St. 
Paul Press stating that Enos Stutsman's bill had passed the 
House by a majority on December 23, 1868. The editors 
of the Press ridiculed the announcement, waxing to the ef- 
fect that the West would be where the Salic law was over- 
thrown, predicting a deluge of the strong-minded, who 
just might get scalped by the Indians— thus dying in a 
"noble cause." 4 

By February 6, 1869, the editor of the Union Dakotaian 
was having second thoughts about the "feeble" efforts of 
the legislature to pass a woman suffrage bill. He pointed 
out what a "sensation" would have been wrought had 
they done so and the thousands that would have poured 
into the territory. In other words, advertised the territory 
and brought that pot of gold ever sought after by each new 
territory, a horde of new citizens who had gold coins in 
their pockets. The same melody would echo later in Wyo- 
ming events. The reactions of the St. Paul Press, which he 
reprinted, made two significant points. One was that if 
Dakota proceeded, "the world would have an opportunity 
to observe the practical results of the experiment ..." Sec- 
ond, they pointed out that the legislators of eight territories 
had the authority, by terms of the Organic Act, to decide who 
would be electors— an easy procedure, compared to the 
onerous and complex provisions for changing a state 
constitution. 5 

The Union Pacific Railroad corporation did not offer 
public resistance to woman suffrage, and its business aims 
were consistent with attracting men and women to the ter- 
ritory. Wyoming Territory came to be organized because 
the transcontinental railroad moved across its arid land, 
not because it linked existing settlements. The railroad cor- 
poration was actively engaged in efforts to lure folk to set- 
tle on lands along its path. Thus the dominant corpora- 

4. Dale Gibson, with Lee Gibson and Cameron Harvey, Attorney for the 
Frontier: Enos Stutsman (Canada: University of Manitoba Press, 1983), 
pp. 74-75; Mrs. John A. Pickler, South Dakota Historical Collections II 
(n.p., 1904), pp. 27-28; The Union and Dakotaian, December 26, 1868; 
Cheyenne Leader, January 4, 9, 1869; The Union and Dakotaian, February 
6, 1869. 

5. The Union and Dakotaian, February 6, 1869. 



tion of Wyoming Territory had a self-interest in supporting 
whatever would attract settlers and travelers, and they had 
a variety of strategies in operation. Land agents wanted 
to lure land purchasers. Excursions of notables, news- 
paperman, congressman, and bankers would get the word 
out about the railroad route and the lands. If schools and 
churches would attract solid settlers, including women, 
this was in line with the UPRR profit interests. Opposi- 
tion to anything that contributed to the building of stable 
railroad towns was lacking, and whatever publicized the 
territory favorably was simply a supplement to UPRR's 
promotional budget. 6 

Suffrage for Black men was a big item on the national 
agenda. One of the great debates of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, crescendoing in the post civil war years, was the ques- 
tion of whether or not to empower Black men with the 
vote. The decision of the radical Republicans to support 
Black suffrage as a priority and single issue, jettisoning at 
least for the time all support of woman suffrage, split the 
woman suffrage movement. 7 Opponents of Black suffrage 
early found in the issue of woman suffrage a strong 
counter-argument to Black suffrage; woman suffrage in this 
context was proposed as an antidote for Black suffrage. 
Senator Cowan of Pennsylvania proposed striking the 
word male from a bill which would have given Blacks the 
vote in the District of Columbia. Cowan, who did not favor 
woman suffrage per se, vowed "... if negroes were to 
vote I would persist in opening the door to females." His 
argument for universal suffrage, including women, was 
his expression of opposition: 

While I yield to the demand for negro suffrage, I demand at 
the same time female suffrage; and when I yield to the ques- 
tion of manhood suffrage, I feel assured I throw along the an- 
tidote to all the poison which I suppose would accompany the 
first proposition. I am not afraid of negro suffrage if you allow 
female suffrage to go hand in hand with it. 8 

Laughter punctuated, occasionally, the bitter and con- 
voluted debate. 9 When Black suffrage was on the agenda 
of state legislatures, the same refrain could be identified 
in a myriad of melodies. In Connecticut, for instance, in 
1867, the same year that suffragist Edward M. Lee served 
in the House, (he was later Secretary of Wyoming Ter- 
ritory), Mr. Waller confessed that he was not a complete 
convert to the "doctrine" that women should vote, but 
that he did judge women to be "more worthy" of the ballot 

6. Robert G. Athearn, Union Pacific Country (Lincoln: University of 
Nebraska Press, 1976), pp. 117-118, 147-157. 

7. Flexner, Century of Struggle, pp. 145-146. 

8. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 2ndsess., 1866, December 10, 11, 
pp. 57, 59. 

9. Daily National Intelligencer, December 12, 1866. 

than Blacks. Furthermore, he would be "ashamed" to go 
home and tell his wife that he thought her less qualified 
for the ballot than those of another race. 10 

Speaker of the Wyoming House, Sterrit M. Curran, 
had served in the Nebraska legislature at a time the 
Nebraskans were chafing about Black suffrage. At that time 
he signed a minority report calling for universal suffrage, 
an expression of opposition to the Congressional demand 
for Black suffrage. 11 

When the 15th amendment passed out of Congress for 
action by the states, the Nevada legislature, after 
resistance, passed two constitutional amendments de- 
signed to give Black men and also women the right to vote. 
Neither amendment survived the additional procedures to 
become law. It is worth noting that a member of the first 
Wyoming Council called for two copies of the Nevada code 
and got them the next day, fast enough to suggest they 
were already on hand in Secretary Lee's office. 12 

Cowan was not the only man who favored woman suf- 
frage, not as justice, but as a reform, a way of going on, 
burying in peace what war had not decided. There is 
modest evidence that there were some in Wyoming who 
favored the ideas of Clement L. Vallandigham. He was a 
peace democrat, a copperhead, who idealized the southern 
way of life, was in fact exiled there by President Lincoln. 
After the war, he advocated a new course, a burying of 
opposition to civil war and reconstruction issues, especially 
Black suffrage, which was called the New Departure. What 
changed was the rhetoric of racial opposition, but opposi- 
tion to enforcement of the federal reconstruction amend- 
ments remained. In 1867, the Leader made an oblique 
reference to the Democrats, Vallandigham, and the Re- 
publican overload of issues, like woman suffrage and 
temperance. The Sweetwater Mines reported ledges named 
for Jefferson Davis and Vallandigham. Governor John A. 
Campbell wrote a letter to General Christopher C. Augur 
in which he confessed he was a partisan and opposing 
followers of Sterling "Pap" Price, Davis, and Val- 
landigham. Writing about the repeal in Wyoming, Henry 
Blackwell asserted without further explanation that the 
Wyoming act was passed partly out of convicticjn, partly 
out of the influence of Vallandigham' s ideas. Blackwell ex- 
plained that the Ohio Committee on the platform removed 

10. The Daily Courant, July 18, 1867. 

11. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Cage, 
eds., History of Woman Suffrage 1876-1885, vol. 3 (New York: Arrto 
& The New York Times, 1969), p. 674. 

12. Jill M. Winter, "From Women's Suffrage to ERA and Beyond: 
Women's Rights in Nevada," Nevada Public Affair* Review (1983): 4: 
Council Journal of the Firs/ Legislative Assembly, Territory of Wyoming, 
1869. pp. 23, 30. 



SPRING 1990 

by a majority of one the word sex from the original draft. 
So, said Blackwell, woman suffrage failed to become a 
national Democratic issue in 1871. The South Pass News, 
in August, 1871, reprinting from the Wyoming Tribune, 
noted that Vallandigham had tried for several hours to per- 
suade his friends to add woman suffrage to the "new 
departure platform." Also in 1871, the Leader noted Val- 
landigham 's capitulation to Black suffrage and recalled his 
earlier opposition, which promised miscegenation. Likely 
the loss of the Democratic perspective due to absence of 
Democratic Cheyenne newspapers has left only soft rem- 
nants of a more important influence. 13 

The visit and speeches of three suffragists, George 
Francis Train, Anna Dickinson, and Redelia Bates, served 
to focus attention on woman suffrage, even if these 
inspired Baker's opposition. One of the territorial officers, 
Secretary Lee, arrived with solid suffragist credentials, 
access to the national lecture circuit, a scheme to run for 
Delegate to Congress, and he was visible in the territory 
when Bates and Dickinson endeavored to sway people to 
a favorable opinion of woman suffrage. 

George Francis Train, an eccentric, wealthy suffragist 
visited Cheyenne in 1867. Editor Baker welched on his 
promise to cover woman suffrage on this occasion. Train 
spoke on a wide variety of topics, including woman suf- 
frage. The frenetic Train climbed on a box one moonlight 
evening in Cheyenne and called for woman suffrage from 
a racial perch: do you want your wives, daughters, and 
sisters to have fewer political rights than Blacks? queried 
Train. An observer noted that the crowd's reaction was 
clear: they did not favor woman suffrage. Cheyenne that 
night was not a suffragist town. Though Baker covered and 
reported the speech, heaping praise on the man who was 
going to put his money into a hotel in Cheyenne, Baker 
did not print one word about the part of his speech which 
called for woman suffrage. 14 

13. Walter Havighurst, Ohio: A Bicentennial History (New York: W.W. Nor- 
ton & Company, Inc., 1976), pp. 100-101; Eric Foner, Reconstruction: 
America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877 (New York: Harper and Row 
Publishers, 1989), pp. 505-506; Cheyenne Leader, October 19, 1867; 
Sweetwater Mines, March 25, 1868; Governor John A. Campbell to 
C. C. Augur, October 23, 1869, Governor John A. Campbell Letter- 
press Book, Archives and Records Management Division, Wyoming 
State Archives, Museums and Historical Department (AMH), 
Cheyenne; Woman's Journal, December 23, 1871; South Pass News, 
August 13, 1871; Cheyenne Leader, June 5, 1871. 

14. Louis L. Simonin, The Rocky Mountain West in 1867, trans. Wilson O. 
Clough (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), pp. 146-147; 
Cheyenne Leader, November 19, 1867; November 12, 1867. 

Edwin Merwin Lee, a lawyer of Guilford, Connecticut, 
a former Union Army officer, was appointed by President 
Grant as Secretary of Wyoming Territory. Aspiring to the 
position of Delegate to Congress, Lee was conducting a 
campaign of sorts for it. He, Judge Howe and Governor 
Campbell arrived in Wyoming May 7, 1869. Lee had ad- 
vocated woman suffrage in the House of the Connecticut 
legislature in 1867, with fair success. Just when this first 
became known is uncertain. As secretary, Lee controlled 
the printing patronage. Brother Republican Nathan A. 
Baker wanted it, and a good case could be made that he 
had earned it. Lee had a scheme going, but probably Baker 
did not know this yet. Baker knew who could ink his 
presses with work, and he may have tried to curry a little 
favor. While it was in character for Baker to cover the 
woman suffrage story, it was not in character for him to 
bellow on the front pages to bring in a suffragist to speak. 
On Monday, June 7, the first issue following a big banquet 
hosted by another territorial official with congress on his 
mind, at which Secretary Lee and Editor Baker were both 
present, Baker called front page center for someone, James 
McDaniel of McDaniel's Theatre, an entertainment spot, 
to arrange a visit and lecture by Miss Anna Dickinson. 15 

Someone, probably Lee, did arrange such a lecture. 
On September 18, Baker noted that Dickinson had passed 
through town, was pleased with her trip west, and that 
she looked better than she had a few weeks earlier. That 
must have been icing on the cake, since Baker had pro- 
nounced her "good looking" the first time. Baker also an- 
nounced on the back page of the same September issue 
that he had received a ticket to her lecture (he called her 
"Mr. Anna Dickinson") which was to be at the U.S. Court 
House the following Friday. On Thursday, Baker troubled 
himself to publish a most unflattering account of the reac- 
tion to her speech in San Francisco, and he put it on the 
front page again. 16 

On Friday, the day of her speech, which he had called 
for, Baker showed his colors. He wrote a long editorial 
titled "Men and Women." Baker expressed himself on the 
side of politeness, the little niceties that soften and made 
living pleasant. He proceeded to applaud the American 
way of "courtesy uniformly shown toward women in our 

15. "John A. Campbell, Diary 1869-1875, "Annals of Wyoming 10 (January 
1938): 7, 11; House Journal, Connecticut Legislature, 1869, p. 777; Ed- 
ward M. Lee to Hon. R. W. Taylor, October 26, 1869, E. M. Lee Let- 
terpress Book, Archives and Records Management Division, AMH; 
Cheyenne Leader, June 7, 1869. 

16. Cheyenne Leader, September 18, 1869; June 18, 1869; September 23, 


t;^fj v< yy*)3' -i-? 

Cheyenne as it appeared in 1868. 

land." American women, asserted Baker, are "entirely 
relieved from all drudgery and menial labor." They are 
"petted and indulged and worshipped" and "encouraged 
and protected and patronized" more than in any other 
country. Women had been "welcomed" in science, in law, 
and at the podium. And he felt it remained for America 
to open the doors of all occupations and professions to 
women that they were competent to fill and wanted to 
fill— this, to Baker, was just and proper. He was glad for 
the liberal sentiment in that direction. But while he favored 
women's rights, and because he favored women's rights, 
he opposed suffrage. Just lower than the angels, woman 
was still weaker as God and nature had proclaimed. Call- 
ing up the old physiology argument (without citing any 
proof of the physiology pudding), Baker stated that 
women's physiological inferiority "forever confirms her 
incompetency for places of great public trust." Proceeding 
to dissect (by his lights) Catherine the Great and Queens 
Elizabeth and Victoria, he credited men with their 
accomplishments. 17 

Warming to his point, Baker stated that men had 
created "peace, order and protection," without acknowl- 
edging the recent war. Continued Baker: "Men make it 
possible for women to harangue the public with long 
preposterous theories about the oppression and wrong 
which they imagine their sex is suffering in this free land." 
Women had better be glad that men had organized things 
so that the women were "not slaves and victims of riot 
and rapine." Suffrage and petticoat government would 
come at the price of less male regard and consideration. 
Women had never been brought into conflict with "man's 
subtlety or the terrible force of his energv." Baker's 
editorial is a good example of the oppositions to suffrage, 
entertained by upright men. 18 

Baker announced Dickinson's speech, scheduled for 
that evening, also front page. He showered her person 
with praise, "most entertaining and graceful of female 
orators." As a lady she was fine; but, as a suffragist, she 

17. Cheyenne leader, September 24, 18f». 



SPRING 1990 

"must come in for her share of the ridicule" even though 
she was "the most ladylike, the best looking, and decidedly 
the most feminine of all the suffragers." "But as a 
gentleman she is not a success." Such was the welcome 
of Anna Dickinson to Wyoming Territory in September, 
1869, just three months before the suffrage bill passed. 19 

Two hundred and fifty people, including Governor 
Campbell, showed up to hear Dickinson. Introduced by 
Lee, Dickinson made her speech and naturally Baker did 
not approve. He described everything about her person 
but her teeth: Below medium height, dark, curly hair, oval 
face, big head indicating "large propelling powers, 
courage, firmness and energy" (this was the age of 
phrenology), "not good-looking or even pretty" except 
when her face lit up from her thoughts and then she was 
"almost beautiful." She wore a black dress, diamond 
jewelry and a gold chain she fingered as she spoke. Her 
voice was "heavy, masculine and anything but musical." 
He omitted giving the content of her message, which he 
judged to be well received, but which, nevertheless, he 
challenged on a variety of grounds. She is a reformer who 
is well paid to talk her reform talk, charged Baker. Many 
years later prominent women would reach a similar con- 
clusion. 20 

Redelia Bates gave a suffrage lecture in Cheyenne 
while the first territorial legislature was in session. Lee was 
a prime candidate for having had a hand in bringing her 
to Cheyenne, and adding a sweetener to curry a prestigious 
place to speak. On November 3, in a brief item on the back 
page, Baker noted that Bates, "the noted female writer and 
lecturer" would lecture in Cheyenne on November 5, 1869, 
about "The Question of The Hour." Predicting a large 
turnout of citizens, Baker described her as "wideawake in 
the cause of woman's rights." Admission was fifty cents. 
The next day, Louis Miller, representative from Laramie, 
asked for the use of the Hall of the House of Representa- 
tives for her lecture. If he indicated that this was to be a 
suffragist lecture, it was not noted in the legislative record. 
Carried. The next motion from Miller was that a commit- 
tee be appointed to see Lee about a committee room. Car- 
ried. Committee appointed. On November 5, Baker an- 
nounced Bates' arrival and that her topic was woman suf- 
frage and that her lecture would be given in the Hall of 
the House of Representatives. He included the opinion of 

the Denver News that she was better than Dickinson. He 
also welcomed her business manager, M. E. Ward, who 
had previously been Associate Editor of the Cheyenne 
Leader. On the morning of November 5, 1869, Miller 
reported that Lee had been obliging: he would furnish the 
committee room on Monday, which was after Bates' 
speech. 21 

On Friday evening Bates spoke. What is not reported 
is as interesting as what was. Baker did not report who 
introduced Bates, nor how many came to hear, "not large" 
but "appreciative" of whatever she said. Basically, as with 
Dickinson, Baker described her physical appearance and 
decried her womanly way of doing an unwomanly thing- 
orating. He said she spoke in the court house. Lee, when 
his newspaper appeared two weeks later, would state she 
spoke to a "large and appreciative audience" in the Hall 
of the House of Representatives. 22 

At least one representative, Posey Wilson, felt a prob- 
lem had occurred about the use of the Hall of the House 
of Representatives. Wilson introduced a resolution: "Re- 
solved. That the hall of the house of representatives, shall 
not be tendered to any person, or persons, for any pur- 
pose whatever, without first abtaining (sic) the consent of 
two-thirds of the members of the house." Adopted. Then 
a member introduced a resolution to thank Lee for his 
prompt response to requests by members. One member 
opposed. Miller who had received Lee's notice that he had 
supplied a committee room, moved to adopt. Lost. A 
motion to reconsider also lost. The House moved to other 
business; they would not thank Lee for anything that day. 23 

One of the most significant events that anticipated the 
passage of the woman suffrage bill was a formal written 
opinion, issued by the young lawyer and United States At- 
torney for the Territory of Wyoming, Joseph M. Carey. 
Had Campbell wished to oppose the legislature, after it 
passed the woman suffrage bill, he would have run smack 
into the opinion of his own young colleague, who was leav- 
ing no stone unturned to assure the right of Black men to 
vote. The problem on which the issue turned had come 
from the very beginning of the territory. The territory of 
Wyoming was organized in May, 1869. Governor Camp- 
bell ordered a census, which dragged out until late July, 
delaying the election of the legislature and the Delegate 

18. Cheyenne Leader, September 24, 1869. 

19. Cheyenne Leader, September 24, 1869. 

20. Cheyenne Leader, September 25, 1869; Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena 
A. Hickok, Ladies of Courage (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1954), 
pp. 6-7. 

21. Cheyenne Leader, November 3, 1869; House Journal, First Legislative 
Assembly, Territory of Wyoming, 1869, p. 59; Cheyenne Leader, November 
5, 1869; House Journal, 1869, p. 61. 

22. Cheyenne Leader, November 6, 1869; Wyoming Tribune, November 20, 

23. House foumal, 1869, p. 68. 



to Congress. There were three separate issues concerning 
eligibility for voting in the September 2, 1869, election: 
residency requirements, the right of Blacks to vote, and 
the right of soldiers to vote. 24 

Residency requirements for voting had been muddled. 
One problem with deciding which resident was eligible to 
vote was the long lag between the organic law which 
organized the territory in July, 1868, and the effective date 
of the act, defined as when the officers qualified, which 
was May 19, 1869. Could only those in the territory in July, 
1868, vote? Or could those who came after that date vote? 
Or was this simply an extension of the right of suffrage, 
not to abridge or restrict the laws of Dakota? 

Both the Republican and the Democratic candidates re- 
quested an opinion from Carey, who issued a long, tightly 
reasoned opinion. His bottom line was that the right of suf- 
frage was extended to those in the territory in July, 1868, 
but not restricted to those then present. Any male person 
above the age of 21 who had been in the territory 90 days, 
in the county 20 days preceding the election, could vote— a 
citizen or a person declaring an intent to be a citizen and 
who had taken an oath to support the Constitution. This 
same opinion flatly stated, citing the authority of the 
organic law, that the legislature of Wyoming "may specify 
who are electors and who are eligible to hold office, pro- 
vided it does not make a residence in the Territory previous 
to July 25th, 1868, a necessary qualification, and does not 
abridge these rights on account of race, color or previous 
condition of servitude." It is one skein of the future that 
the U.S. Attorney of Wyoming Territory stated unequivocally 
that the legislature could do as it pleased so long as no 
residency requirement before July, 1868, was imposed and 
so long as the right to vote was not restricted because of 
race or prior condition of slavery. Carey had assured the 
legal basis for Blacks to vote in Wyoming in the September 
elections in keeping with his beliefs against slavery and 
discrimination against Blacks who had been slaves. In this 
opinion, he also clearly went on record that the legislature 
of Wyoming could "specify who are electors"— presum- 
ably including women. 25 

Partisan dissension between the governor and Laramie 
County Democrats also focused on soldiers and their right 
to vote. Implicit in this too was the power of the post trader 
to control votes, though this did not surface in the local 
newspapers. This issue contributed to the homefolk's feel- 

24. Council journal, First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming, 
Governor's Message, p. 9; Cheyenne Leader, August 25, 1869; W. L. 
Kuykendall, Frontier Days (J.M. and H.L. Kuykendall, Publishers, 
1917), P. 132. 

25. Cheyenne Leader, August 25, 1869; Woman's Tribune (April 1887). 

ing that skullduggery was afoot, but the details belong to 
another story. What is important to the woman suffrage 
story is the fact that Republicans were thought to be cur- 
rying the soldiers' vote just as they had, and apparently 
succeeded, in getting much of the Black vote. Practical 
politics would suggest that the Democrats could use votes 
to counterbalance these relatively small but potentially im- 
portant voters. 26 

What were the women of Wyoming doing, and what 
had they been doing in the years before the legislature 
passed the woman suffrage bill? On this point an open 
mind to all data is essential since the most likely source 
of information, a newspaper, was by custom closed to the 
report of individual women's doings, except for a few 
advertisements by business women. While not an absolute 
or invariable practice, newspapermen usually did not 
report women's actions by name. Even in laudatory social 
affairs, the ladies who were hostesses or participants were 
acknowledged by a first initial or a dash, or by the rela- 
tionship to a man: "Dr. Scott and lady"; 27 a strawberry 

festival, "Mrs. P t, Mrs. B l"; 28 a party, the host and 

hostess named, the guests identified by initials; 29 a railroad 

excursion, "Mrs. H r . . . Misses L. and P." 30 Deviant 

women were more likely to have their full names em- 
blazoned in ink. When the vigilantes invited folk to leave 
Cheyenne in the columns of the Rocky Mountain Star, Nell 
Murphy was one of those named. 31 Emma Cleveland, 
"fallen angel," also got publicity when she shot at "sport- 
ing man" McFatter, giving at least one first territorial 
legislator, who voted yes on woman suffrage, a lesson from 
the handbook of one kind of womanhood. 32 Very few 
copies of Cheyenne Argus, the Laramie Sentinel and the Rocky 
Mountain Star remain for the period from May, 1869, to 
January, 1870, and this prevents reaching a judgment about 
the extent of the general custom. However, the weekly 
Rocky Mountain Star, reporting on New Years festivities of 
1869, stated it could fill a column about the event but that 
"ladies do not care to be publicly advertised." 33 The same 
paper reporting a social event did report some ladies by 
name, Mrs. Baker, and some as related to their escort, Mr. 
Whitehead and ladies. 34 Even though the activities such 

26. Cheyenne Leader, August 24, 27, 1869; Chicago Tribune. November 13. 
1869; Cheyenne Leader, August 26, 1869; August 25, L869. 

27. Cheyenne Leader, January 21; August 22, 1868. 

28. Wyoming Tribune, July 2, 1870. 

29. Sweetwater Mines, July 3, 1868. 

30. Cheyenne Leader, June 14, 1869. 

31. Cheyenne Leader, January 22, 1868. 

32. Cheyenne Leader, June 9, 1869. 

33. Weekly Rocky Mountain Star, January 13, 1869. 

34. Weekly Rocky Mountain Star. June 9, 1869. 


Cheyenne, 1872. 

as these undertaken by the social and civic-minded women 
were reported, the individual women involved often were 
not. Exceptions, however, such as prominent women pass- 
ing through town or a hostess, are readily found. 35 

Women were, however, included in the social life of 
the community. At least one newspaperman intended to 
address both men and women; in the same issue, an 
editorial calling for schools acknowledged the need for 
women and families as the glue of the social fabric. Women 
especially were invited to a theatre, a school opening and 
to the July 4th celebration; ladies were invited to the debate 
on temperance. The editor of the Leader, believing that the 
presence of wives and daughters would elevate the moral 
status of the town, suggested that men bring their families 
to Cheyenne. Old settler J. R. Whitehead at a Masonic 
festival gave a thoughtful and startlingly direct explana- 
tion of why ladies were excluded from the order. Ladies 
were excluded because they did not need the social bonds 
and commitment to good works and because the men 
could not handle it, "consciousness of our own weak- 
ness"— men would, if women were present, turn rivals to 
their friends. 36 

Women by name could be found on the church docu- 
ments and their labors, like raising money for the church 
through festivals and donations (a gift-giving party for the 
preacher), showed up in the newspapers. These funds 
were accepted and put to use, even if the propriety of that 

35. Exceptions e.g., Cheyenne Leader, August 6, 12, 18, 21, 1868. 

36. Cheyenne Leader, October 24, 1867; December 3, 1867; April 1, 1869; 
January 3, 1868; July 3, 1868; February 15, 1868; July 1, 1868. 

37. Records of the Methodist Church, H255a-c, Historical Research and 
Publications Division, AMH; Cheyenne Church Records and Laramie 
Church Records, MSS 39283, Laramie County Library, Cheyenne, 
Wyoming; Daniel Y. Meschter, "History of the Presbyterian Church 
in Rawlins, Wyoming," Annals of Wyoming 38 (October 1966): 173-212; 
Cheyenne Leader, June 18, 19, 1868; Reverend Joseph Cook, Diary and 
Letters of the Reverend Joseph W. Cook, Missionary to Cheyenne (Laramie: 
Laramie Republican Company, 1919), pp. 33, 75, 99-100, 102. 

38. Cheyenne Leader, September 10, 1868; September 13, 1869; October 
30, 1869; December 10, 1870; September 14, 1869. 

39. "John A. Campbell Diary 1869-1875," Annals of Wyoming 10 (April 
1938): 65. 

40. Anthony, et. al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 731. 

41. The Revolution, January 27, 1870. 

42. "John A. Campbell, Diary 1869-1875," Annals of Wyoming 10 (April 
1938): 72. 



method of fund raising, by public festivals, troubled one 
preacher. Women were schoolteachers, and more were 
needed than available. Women by name showed up in the 
brand list and tax rolls, and of course, the census. 37 

Prostitutes, though euphemisms were used, were 
openly discussed in the newspapers, sometimes sym- 
pathetically, often with an eye to reform. These women 
by name showed up on police dockets or anonymously in 
reports, such as "The Wages of Sin," which listed fines 
assessed, forty women at five dollars. Baker challenged the 
action, and implicitly the hypocrisy of it, commenting that 
the "periodical flinging of corporation stones" placed 
Cheyenne high on the throne of the virtuous reformers. 
Vice money, nevertheless, helped to swell the coffers. 
Baker called for an end to prostitution, through prosecu- 
tion, through condemnation of the male patrons as well 
as the prostitute, through reform efforts by men and 
women, and finally through women reforming women. 
This latter activity was Baker's suggestion as an activity 
for women in lieu of woman suffrage. Baker also recog- 

nized that the desire to collect the money dimmed the 
vision of it as vice money. 38 

Governor Campbell, at least judging by his later com- 
ments, did not arrive in the territory as a suffragist. Though 
he attended Dickinson's lecture, 39 Campbell was not an 
ardent proponent or opponent of woman suffrage. The 
issue, at the time, was not high on his agenda, although 
he evolved into a devoted suffragist. His disinterest adds 
to the difficulty of an even handed reconstruction of events. 
For example, the national suffragists reported that Amalia 
Post called on Campbell and asked him to sign the bill. 40 
No such visit appears in his diary, and he did list dozens 
of citizens with whom he spoke. However, the governor 
attended a national suffrage meeting in Washington on 
January 20, 1870. The excitement generated by the presence 
of the governor of Wyoming, the suffrage territory, rip- 
pled across the audience, disturbing a speech being given 
by Olympia Brown. 41 However excited the ladies may have 
been by his presence, the occasion was not a sufficient ex- 
perience to Campbell to record in his diary. 42 

Part III: Passage of the Bill and Samples of 
Press Coverage 

On September 2, 1869, the men of Wyoming sent the 
federal officials and the Republicans a message and elected 
Democrats, and only Democrats, as their representatives 
to the first territorial legislature. In a harbinger of things 
to come, they elected S. F. Nuckolls, also a Democrat, who 
was accused, of being a "woman-hunting, woman-whip- 
ping, baby-stealing slave driver." Nuckolls was a Virginian 
and he had been a slave owner in Nebraska. 1 

Just after the election, Baker charged the Democrats 
with importing voters, and judged that the "barbarism and 
rebelism" in Wyoming had to be civilized. He added 
cryptically: "... there shall yet be worked out a revolu- 
tion in the moral and political status of Wyoming." 2 

At half past twelve, on October 12, 1869, most of the 
Democrats elected were present in Cheyenne. Secretary 
Lee called the legislature to order; Chief Justice Howe ad- 
ministered the oath. They began with laughter, "some con- 
fusion and merriment." Some of the few anecdotes about 
them and their work suggest they were earnest, and jovial 
and high-spirited. The Council met on the second floor of 
the frame post office. The House deliberated in a room 
covered by several inches of sawdust, and in which a stove 
cut the chill from the wintery air. 3 

Though William H. Bright promised on Friday, Novem- 
ber 12, 1869, that he would introduce a bill for women's 
rights, the announcement did not show up in the Cheyenne 
Leader which devoted only one sentence to the Council's 
activities for that day. On Saturday, November 27, 
Bright introduced his bill to give the vote to the women 
of Wyoming. It was read twice and referred to the com- 
mittee of the whole. 4 

Press coverage was scant. A small item on the back 
page of the Leader, titled "INTERESTING QUESTION," 
gave notice of the event: "Col. Bright, of the Council, has 

1. Virginia Cole Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol. I (Cheyenne: 
Pioneer Printing & Stationery Co., 1974), pp. 151-152, 284; Cheyenne 
Leader, August 23, 1869; ]. Sterling Morton, Illustrated History oj 
Nebraska, vol. II (Lincoln: Jacob North & Company, 1907), pp. 62-63; 
Alfred Sorenson, History of Omaha (Omaha: Gibson, Miller & Richard- 
son, Printers, 1889), pp. 134-135. 

2. Cheyenne Leader, September 4, 1869. 

3. Cheyenne Leader, October 12, 18b 1 -'; W. 1 .. Kuykendall, Frontier Days 
(J.M. and H. L. Kuykendall Publishers. l l M7), pp. 132-134. 

4. Council Journal o) the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory oj Wyo 
ming, 1S69, p. 66; Cheyenne Leader. November 12. 1869; Council jour- 
nal, p. L10. 



SPRING 1990 

introduced in the Council, a bill providing for female suf- 
frage in this Territory. It will be up for consideration 
tonight, at the evening session, on which occasion many 
of our citizens will doubtless find it convenient to attend." 
The second issue of the newly issued Wyoming Tribune also 
took brief notice, though separate from the other reports 
on the legislative proceedings. Titled "THE WORLD 
MOVES," it was even more skeletal than the Leader— 
failing to announce the upcoming Saturday evening 

President Bright, of the Council, has presented a bill for an Act 
to grant the women of Wyoming Territory the right of suffrage. 
The bill has passed the first and second reading, and been re- 
ferred to [the] committee of the whole. 5 

In the Saturday evening session the committee 
"reported council bill No. 70 back to the council, with the 
recommendation that it pass with the following amend- 
ment: to strike out the words 'entitled an act.' " Later that 
evening the bill was taken up, and on motion of Coun- 
cilman George Wilson, postponed. 6 

In the next issue of the Leader, Monday, November 29, 
the man who had promised to cover the woman suffrage 
debate covered the health of an acquaintance, newspaper- 
man A. D. Richardson (shot in a notorious affair), and the 
Sunday snow, but he wrote not one word about the action 
in the Council in its Saturday night suffrage show. The 
newspaper remained quiet about Tuesday, November 30. 7 

The woman suffrage bill was passed immediately after 
a bill giving married women rights to their property. On 
November 30, 1869, the Council received word that the 
House had passed, among other bills, a married women's 
property act. 8 Two issues are important. First, this once 
radical protection of women's property had become, in a 
quiet revolution, a standard provision, 9 though the provi- 
sion could be narrow and restrictive or broad and 
generous. The Wyoming experience bears this out. Lawyer 
William S. Rockwell gave notice on November 1, that he 
would introduce this bill on November 2, and he did do 
this in the Council on November 3. It passed the Council, 
George Wilson dissenting. 10 The House, with 2 dissenters, 
young Mr. Strong and Speaker Curran, both of whom 

5. Cheyenne Leader, November 27, 1869; Wyoming Tribune, November 27, 

6. Council Journal, pp. 112, 115. 

7. Cheyenne Leader, November 29, 30; December 1, 1869. 

8. Council Journal, p. 121. 

9. Kay Ellen Thurman, "The Married Women's Property Acts," (Master 
of Laws thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1978), p. 7. 

10. Council Journal, pp. 50, 54, 65. 

would also oppose the suffrage bill, passed the bill on 
November 29, and sent word to the Council, which took 
each bill passed by the House, acted and then enrolled the 
bills. 11 Though there is no evidence to support this specula- 
tion, it would have been fine strategy to wait until all key 
bills conferring rights on women, which the property act 
surely did, had been acted on favorably by both houses 
and were set to go to the governor. Such sequencing would 
have safeguarded these bills against tampering by suffrage 
opponents, who could have used them as leverage for 
negotiation; the antis did in fact introduce legislation to 
encumber the suffrage bill. 12 None of the three lawyers, 
Ben Sheeks, Rockwell, and James R. Whitehead, who op- 
posed the bill and its provisions, were very generous. The 
Leader gave strong support to the bill, suggesting it was 
needed more in a territory than in settled states. He argued 
that a clear moral right of a wife to protection in property 
should be made into a legal right. 13 

Someone was watching these events with hopeful 
eyes, and writing a letter. A letter written November 14, 
1869, unsigned and identified as a private letter, was 
published in The Revolution. This letter spoke of the ad- 
vanced position about women's property rights shown by 
the Wyoming Council which had passed the Married 
Women's Property Act. The letter went on to say "Yester- 
day a bill was presented by the President of the Council 
to allow women to vote." The writer further said that 
"from my conversation with the members of the Legis- 
lature I am inclined to the opinion that such will soon be 
the law of Wyoming. ' ' The writer was off by one day; Mr. 
Bright gave notice on November 12 he would introduce 
a bill for women's rights. There are at least two sets of can- 
didates who might have authored the letter. Any member 
of Esther Hobart Morris' family, including Mrs. Morris, 
could have been writing to their kinswoman, Mrs. Chat- 
field, at The Revolution, and since it was a private letter, 
it makes it the better possibility. Couple that with the fact 
that E. A. Slack was in Cheyenne on November 13, and 
given the custom of silence about the ladies, so might his 
mother. Excerpts from letters written by Morris' sons do 
appear in The Revolution. The other possibility is Lee, who 
later wrote to The Revolution, but he typically signed his 
name and made his claim publicly, or was identified by 
the editors. Leapfrogging ahead for a moment, it will later 

11. House Journal, First Legislative Assembly of Wyoming, 1869, p. 148. This 
document suggests an error in the dating of the message to the Coun- 
cil. Council Journal, p. 121. 

12. House journal, p. 213. 

13. Cheyenne Leader, November 10, 1869. 



be said that Morris gave Bright the bill he introduced. 
E. A. Slack's presence in Cheyenne means that there was 
opportunity and mechanism for Morris to send or deliver 
a bill to Bright, which of course is not the same as show- 
ing that either did. 14 

After the Married Women's Property Act, and other 
bills from the House were enrolled, the very next bill taken 
up was Council Bill 70, the woman suffrage bill, which was 
read a third time and passed: 6 ayes: Bright, James W. 
Brady, Frederick Laycock, T. D. Murrin, Rev. W. C. Poole, 
and Wilson; 2 noes: Rockwell and Whitehead; 1 absent: 
George W. Wardman. On November 30, the Council sent 
word to the House that it had passed the woman suffrage 
bill, and the message was received by the House in the 
afternoon session. Shortly, thereafter, Council Bill 70 was 
taken up and read the first time. On motion of Sheeks, 
the rules were suspended, the bill read a second time by 
title and referred to a committee of the whole House, and 
made a special order for 7:00 p.m. 15 

At the evening session, J.N. Douglas moved that the 
House reconsider its action on Council Bill 70. It was made 
a special order for this hour and referred to a special com- 
mittee. Carried. Speaker appointed Douglas, James W. 
Menefee, and J. C. Abney. On Wednesday, December 1, 
1869, the Leader did not report on the Council events, much 

i , ' . , 'I ft /A/ U 

^L^ e^ri»ir ^-r ,■■■ 

,y'.4.-<,<-. ' > <S .. 



& ■ .''. 


( ' 

less the reasons for the actions by the House. Women were 
featured on the front page; a brief report and comment 
about the courtesy due ladies at all times, with emphasis 
on all. In Philadelphia, women students who wished to 
be doctors had attended a lecture and been jeered by the 
men. "The conduct of the rowdy students of that institu- 
tion was very properly condemned, throughout the entire 
country, by not only the friends of woman's advancement 
and elevation, but by every decent man and woman in the 
country." Evening lectures for women had been sched- 
uled, approved the Leader, not in tune with sexual segrega- 
tion. There was also space to cover the health and bed- 
side marriage of the dying newspaperman, A. D. Richard- 
son, again. But there was not one word about the wind 
of woman suffrage that swept through the Council hall and 
was making its way through the House. 16 

On Saturday, December 4, 1869, in the morning ses- 
sion, 17 Douglas, actually Dr. Douglas, whose flamboyant 
associate specialized in the diseases of women, 18 presented 
the report of the special committee to which the Council 
suffrage bill had been sent. The special committee recom- 
mended passage. Abney, a member of the special commit- 
tee, moved to adopt and the report was adopted. 19 

During the afternoon session, Council Bill 70 was again 
taken up. Sheeks moved to postpone indefinitely. Lost. 
On motion of Douglas, the bill was made a special order 
of business for 7 p.m. Another Saturday night suffrage 
show was scheduled, but the Leader did not, may not have 
had time, to announce it. The new weekly Tribune carried 
only a supportive front page item on that Saturday, 
December 4, 1869: 

The passage of the Woman's Suffrage Bill is likely to be THE 
measure of the session, and we are glad our Legislature have 
taken the initiative in this movement, which is destined to 
become universal. Better appear to lead than to hinder when 
a movement is inevitable. 20 
The press was not turning out people for the legislative 

The original suffrage bill passed by Wyoming's First Territorial Assembly 
and signed into law in 1869. 

14. The Revolution, December 2, 1869; Oivego Gazette, May 3, 1917; 1 am in- 
debted to Mrs. Edward Dav for giving me a copy of a letter to Cousin 
Frankie from E. A. Sack, November 13, 1869; The Revolution, January 
13; March 17, 1870; February 17; March 3, 1870. 

15. Council journal, p. 122; House Journal, pp. 157-158. 

16. House Journal p. 159; Cheyenne Leader, December 1, 1869. 

17. House Journal p. 189. 

18. Rocky Mountain News, March 31, 1866. 

19. House Journal, p. 157. 

20. House Journal, p. 196; Cheyenne Leader, December 4, L869; Wyoming 
Tribune, December 4, 1869. 



SPRING 1990 

The evening session began at 7 p.m. Speaker Curran 
was in the chair; roll call showed three absent— Abney, 
Howard Sebree, and Wilson. J. C. Strong moved that they 
be sent for, and they were. Douglas moved to suspend fur- 
ther proceedings; Strong moved, and the House agreed, 
to form a committee of the whole to consider the suffrage 
bill. Douglas took the chair. "After some time," Douglas 
reported to Speaker Curran that the committee reported 
the bill back to the House. Wilson moved the report be 
received. Lost. Sheeks moved that messages from Coun- 
cil be taken up. Lost. Sheeks moved to adjourn. Lost. 
Young Strong moved to reconsider the vote on the re- 
ception of the report of the committee. Lost. Strong 
appealed from the decision of the chair; appeal not sus- 
tained. Sheeks moved to adjourn. Lost. Strong moved to 
adjourn. Lost. Herman Haas moved to take up Council 
messages. Agreed. There was no other mention of the bill 
in this Saturday evening session, December 4, 1869, which 
ended at 7:55 p.m. 21 

On Monday, December 6, during the afternoon ses- 
sion, William Herrick moved to consider the suffrage bill. 
It was taken up; Speaker Curran called Sebree to the chair 
and absentees were called to the hall. Curran, Strong, and 
Sheeks tried delaying tactics. 

Sheeks moved to recess until 7 p.m. Lost. 

Curran moved the bill be postponed until Independence Day, 

1870. Lost. 
Sheeks moved to postpone until the following Saturday. Lost. 
Curran moved to insert in Section, 2, which was the date the 
bill was in force, "three years or sooner discharged." 
The next effort to defeat tried to limit who could vote. 
Sheeks moved to amend section 2 to "all colored women 

and squaws." Miller moved to lay on the table. Done. 
Strong, invoking another dimension of limitation, moved to 
substitute "ladies" for "women." Miller moved to lay on 
the table. Done. 

The final effort was to limit. 

Sheeks moved to raise the age to 21 years instead of 18 years. 

Wilson moved to suspend the rules, and it was done. The 
bill was read the third time and put on its final passage. 

AYES: 7 Abney, Douglas, Herrick, Miller, Menefee, Sebree 

and Wilson. 
NOES: 4 Holbrook, Sheeks, Strong, Speaker Curran. 

The bill passed and the title was agreed to. Wilson, who 
had voted for the bill, moved for reconsideration, which 
under the rules was an option until voted down. Lost. That 
was it; done. The bill was passed and reconsideration was 
not a possibility. 22 

Baker filled almost the entire front page of the Leader 
with President Grant's speech to congress. But a wee item 
on the front page stated: "The Female Suffrage bill passed 
the House to-day. The vote stood as follows" and he ac- 
curately gave the tally. Baker had said only a few months 
earlier about the rationales for woman suffrage: "No sane 
man attaches the slightest political importance to such ab- 
surd claims." Singing a new tune, this day he said: 
"Ladies, prepare your ballots." Not one word on the 
debate, pro or con. 23 

On the same day, December 5, 1869, the House sent 
the Council word that they had passed several bills, in- 
cluding Council Bill 70 with an amendment changing the 
age to 21. Taking the bills in the sequence returned by the 
House, the council reached the suffrage bill and voted on 
the amendment. There were: 6 ayes, Laycock, Murrin, 
Poole, Wardman, Wilson, and President Bright. 3 noes: 
Rockwell, Whitehead, and Brady. The two original op- 
ponents to the suffrage bill, Rockwell and Whitehead, were 
joined by Fenian Brady, 24 who had voted for the suffrage 
bill originally. Either he favored the age of 18 years, or he 
had changed his mind about suffrage. 

During the evening session, Wilson, with his penchant 
for exactness, reported to the Council that he had sent the 
bill to the governor at 8:20 p.m., December 6, 1869. Now 
the hot potato was in the governor's lap. It was not his 
only problem. The legislature was on many fronts giving 
the governor the full benefit of their opinion. Campbell's 
choices were three: sign, veto, or do nothing for five days, 
which would mean that either he acted before Saturday, 
December 11, or the bill became law on Saturday, 
December 11, without his signature. 25 

On December 7, 1869, the Leader was silent about 
woman suffrage. In the House, one opponent of suffrage, 
the Representative-at Large, Strong, was busy taking a con- 
frontational position with the suffrage bill, by introducing 
legislation providing that "women who exercise the rights 

21. House Journal, pp. 198-199. 

22. House Journal, p. 207. 

23. Cheyenne Leader, December 6, 1869; September 17, 1869. 

24. Council Journal, p. 158. 

25. Council Journal, p. 160; T. A. Larson, History of Wyoming, 2nd ed., 
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978), p. 76; Trenholm, ed., 
Wyoming Blue Book, vol. I, p. 79. 



of the elective franchise shall perform all other duties of 
citizens." Duties were not specified, but chasing Indians 
as a militia-person and working on roads or juries would 
be possibilities. Douglas tried to stop Strong and called, 
under the rules, to reject the bill. But he failed by one vote 
7 to 6, though the bill was eventually tabled. 26 

Three months earlier Baker had characterized the 
women's suffrage movement as "the reform against 
Nature." On December 8, 1869, Baker again sang a new 

Wyoming the youngest of the Territories, has through the act 
of her legislature resolved on the experiment of female suffrage. 
The Council passed the bill, giving the right to women to vote 
and hold office, several days since, and on Monday afternoon 
the House, by a vote of seven to four concurred in its passage. 
All that now remains is for the Governor to sign the bill to cause 
it to become a law. This, although he has not yet done, we feel 
certain he will do. Although we have not yet been fully con- 
vinced of the wisdom or necessity for the measure, yet we have 
something of a curiosity to witness its practical operation and 
results, and we hope, as we believe that Governor Campbell 
will approve the bill. 28 

The hometown pioneer, Republican editor, was urging the 
Republican governor to sign the bill, in stark contrast to 
Baker's steady stance against suffrage. So, if later, it would 
be said that the governor was expected to veto the bill, 29 
it must also be noted that the Republican, pioneer Chey- 
enne newspaperman had called for his endorsement, and 
conveyed to anyone interested his opinion that Campbell 
would sign it. 

On December 10, the Leader carried notice that the 
legislature would adjourn on the evening of December 10, 
1869. Further, a ball, put together by some Cheyenne 
citizens, would honor the governor and the legislators. 30 

During the evening session, on December 10, 1869, the 
governor notified the Council that he had signed the 
woman suffrage bill. So it was that a Democratic legislature 
and a Republican governor had allied on a bill establishing 
a new principle, which would extend throughout the 
world. The women of Wyoming, for whatever reason, now 
had the rights of electors, the right to vote and to hold of- 
fice by statutory law: "this act shall take effect and be in 
force from and after its passage." 31 

26. Cheyenne Leader, December 7, 1869; House journal, pp. 25, 213, 255. 

27. Cheyenne Leader, September 17, 1869. 

28. Cheyenne Leader, December 8, 1869. 

29. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, 
History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 (New York: Arno & The New York 
Times, 1969), p. 730. 

30. Cheyenne Leader, December 10, 1869. 

31. Council journal, p. 188; General Laws of tlie Territory of Wyoming, 1869, 
p. 371. 

The next day, Saturday, December 11, 1869, the Leader 
reported the event: 

Governor Campbell yesterday approved the Female Suffrage 
Bill, thus making it a law of the Territory. We now expect at 
once quite an immigration of ladies to Wyoming. We say to 
them all, come on. There is room for a great many here yet. 
When Wyoming gets tired of such additions to her population, 
we'll agree to let the outside world know of the fact. Won't 
the irrepressible 'Anna D.' come out here and make her home? 
We'll even give her more than the right to vote— she can run 
for Congress. 32 

Thus without any explanation of the reasons for the 
legislative or gubernatorial actions, the reality was 
acknowledged, women welcomed, a good-natured sound- 
ing of the refrain of advertise the territory, something Baker 
could always favor. The Tribune's exuberant report, sus- 
tained for a month, will be examined shortly. 33 

At the ball, an impromptu festivity for which invita- 
tions did not get out until about four in the afternoon, 60 
couples celebrated. The ladies and gentlemen had gathered 
at Turner's Hall about 11 p.m.; the governor and legislators 
arrived around midnight. About one o'clock they went 
over to the Ford House for a late supper, and then danced 
into the wee hours. 34 

On Saturday, December 11, 1869, Campbell wired 
Judge Howe who was in Illinois to come to Cheyenne. 35 
The governor moved at once to test several laws he felt 
overstepped the authority of the legislature. But there was 
no move to test the woman suffrage law by anyone, at least 
at this point. 

The cheerful call to women to come to Wyoming Ter- 
ritory did not last long. Baker of the Leader lost his jovial 
tone on December 16, and having found his tongue, he 
made it plain he had several peeves, "Bungling and 
Blundering Legislation." Woman suffrage was one. The 
passage of the woman suffrage law had given all the 
nation's "strong-minded" a reason to offer thanks, wrote 
Baker. And it had caused well informed men to question 
the legislators' "probity, and knowledge of the 'science 
of government. . . .' " Baker was frothing at what was 
actually his erroneous notion— that the men had to wait 
until age 21 while the women could vote at age 18. This 
had been the case until the House amended it, but was 
not the law. Baker clearlv was not tuned into the inside 

32. Cheyenne Leader, December 11, 186^. 

33. Wyoming Tribune, December 11, 1869. 

34. Cheyenne Leader, December 11, 1869; Wyoming Tribune. December 1 1 

35. "John A. Campbell, Diary, 1869-1875," Annals ol Wyoming 10 (April 
1938): 70. 



SPRING 1990 

track. He had one point straight: "Whether its action in 
this particular, [the woman suffrage law] will be produc- 
tive of good, remains to be practicably tested. Women can 
by law, now hold office and vote in Wyoming." 36 It was 
a fait accompli, and in force, there and viable for testing 
in the actual political arena. Going from good natured calls 
for an immigration of ladies to grumbling at the lack of 
wisdom of changing the laws of government of all history, 
Baker nevertheless did not offer any explanation of the 
reasons for the passage, though he would get around to 
it and more than once. But whatever the motivation, he had 
made plain that the field for testing was established. The 
experiment had begun. 

Outside Wyoming, the press gave brief attention to the 
Wyoming suffrage bill. On December 14, the New York 
Herald noted the passage of the bill and the governor's af- 
firmation. On December 16, 1869, the New York Times noted 
the action of the Wyoming legislature and, a shade off ac- 
curacy, asserted that congressional approval was needed 

for the law to be valid, urging Congress to prepare to join 
the issue. On December 16, 1869, the New York Herald also 
carried a report which said Susan B. Anthony had talked 
about Mrs. Stanton's stumping the West and making many 
converts, leaving open at least the idea that this was their 
victory. On December 16, 1869, The Revolution received 
notice of the event as the paper was going to press. 
Presumably because of this timing, they put it not on the 
front page, but toward the end. By December 30, The 
Revolution focused on Redelia Bates, giving attention for 
her part in setting the stage for the Wyoming suffrage act. 37 

The Wyoming Tribune celebrated the passage of the 
woman suffrage bill from its passage, throughout 1870, up 
to and through the 1870 election, which was the first elec- 
tion in which women participated. After that, the Tribune 
had charges to hurl. But in the beginning, the woman suf- 
frage bill was reported as a Wyoming triumph. 

The fourth issue of the new weekly Tribune came out 
on Saturday, December 11, 1869, the day after the gover- 
nor had signed the bill. Blaring the event from the front 
page in all capitals and exclamation points, the Tribune left 
no doubt of its strong support. "WOMAN SUFFRAGE! 
Mouths of POLITICAL Babes and Sucklings praise hath 
RITORIAL SISTER!" Wyoming had chosen "... an ad- 
vanced position on the question of human rights. . . . "And 
so the praise continued in exuberant rhetoric: "Forgetting 
heathenish prejudices, arising from race or sex, she invites 
them to stand with her upon 'the skirmish line of civiliza- 
tion,' the Genius of Liberty is on picket duty in Wyoming." 
The Wyoming word was "Human rights; equality before 
the law, ...""... a better national life— to a grander 
civilization!" "Pass on, to a condition where all mankind 
shall be politically regenerated, and stand upon an equal 
plane, as they will before the Throne of God!" The 
metaphor of war, coupled with images of freedom and 
redemption, was chosen to describe the new rights given 
to women. Like the Leader, the Tribune offered not a single 
word of explanation. 38 

The following week, the Tribune editorial of December 
18, 1869, dealt with woman suffrage. The previous week, 
explained the editor, the bill had passed so close to press 

Wyoming's first territorial governor, John A. Campbell, signed the suf- 
frage bill on December 10, 1869. 

36. Cheyenne Leader, December 16, 1869. 

37. New York Herald, December 14, 16, 1869; New York Times, Decem- 
ber 16, 1869; The Revolution, December 16, 30, 1869. 

38. Wyoming Tribune, December 11, 1869. 



—Governor Campbell yesterda.v 
Approved th<* Female Suffrage Bill, 
thus making it a law of tin- Territo 
ry. We now expert at once quite 
an immigration of Ladies to Wyom- 
ing. We say to them all, come on 
There is room for a gn-at many hen 
yrt. When Wyoming gets tired ot 
such additions t<> h»r population, 
we'll agree to let the outside world 
know of the fact. Won't the irre- 
pressible " Anna I>." come out lien 
and make her home? We'll evei 
give lirr more than the right to voh 

she can run for Cooffresfl ! 

The Cheyenne Daily Leader reported on December 
11, 1869, Campbell's signing of the suffrage bill. 


i.\i!»;k majukity i\ hotii 
1101 <v< 

bill tn-Koun ry nil (.oymwhl 

Wyoming In the Van ! 
i UK infant i EftRi roBi i i urn 

THI-. < oil M\ 

"Obi of Ibr ImIIi at puLiriitL 
B»Be* and s». klliur* sraKr kath born 
Prrfrrtrd. v 


Weaning. fr.»m her r--< \\ «»vrie. 

an<i invito tk.-int' roow u|» higher — 
even tu tha^;Mi\:«ii<-.K| ptwttioq obj th4 
l|ii(i>li'Mi of human rights which fh* 

Edward M. Lee's newspaper, the Wyoming Tribune, 
also reported on December 11, 1869, the advent of suf- 
frage in the Territory of Wyoming. 

time that there was not adequate time for comment. What 
had been done was important: "That the policy of suffrage, 
without regard to race or sex, will ultimately be adopted 
by the entire nation may be regarded as no longer matter 
of doubt, and to Wyoming belongs the proud privilege of 
pioneership in this grand modern reform." Regretting the 
unanimously Democratic legislature, well, perhaps that 
could be forgiven, since good had come from it. (A parallel 
article rips the same legislators for their failures during the 
session.) "Let fogyism, prejudice and caste ..." take their 
place "... among the ghouls of darkness and the dead 
past." What had happened in Wyoming, asserted the 
Tribune, was: 

... we have inaugurated for the first time in history complete 
civil and political equality. And why should it not be so? We 
have virtually provided that for causes over which the person 
has not and never can have any control, and for those causes 
alone, that person shall not be debarred the privilege of a voice 
and a vote in governmental affairs. We are willing that suffrage 
should be limited for the general welfare, but are unwilling that 
the mere accident of sex, race, or color, and those alone or any 
of them, should operate as an impassible barrier to that in- 
estimable privilege. 

Race and sex were entwined in the analysis, as occurrences 
which ought not to bar citizenship and the use of the ballot 
for protection of self and property. Women would provide 
a "politically civilizing antidote," judged the Tribune, and 
asserted that women as a class were "morally superior" 
to the other class. It was, beyond this moral dimension, 
justice for women property owners, particularly the un- 
married women and working class women, who needed 
the ballot to catch the attention of men whom they now 
voted into office to secure reforms in pay and working 
conditions— just as men had demanded the eight hour 
working day. Wyoming had ratified the practical doctrine 
as well as the theoretical doctrine. The same issue carried 
remarks of Uncle John Herrick to the House; he argued, 
said the Tribune, that taxation without representation was 
tyranny and that the civilizing influence of women was 
needed in the nation's government as well as in the 
home. 39 Unfortunately, the House Journal, like the Council 
Journal, did not record debates, but only procedure and 

Nor was that all about suffrage. Were there space, the 
Tribune declared, the paper could be filled with reactions 
to the Wyoming suffrage bill. Many praised the "pluck and 
progress" of Wyoming. Short shrift was given to un- 
favorable reactions: others, "who never see anything 
clearly, unless it was visible to their grandfathers," "try 

39. Wyoming Tribune, December 18, 18b 1 -'. 



SPRING 1990 

to laugh it down." "Taunts and jeers and gibes are 
harmless mouthfuls of spoken wind." Right is right, con- 
cluded the Tribune, and "to falter would be sin." None of 
the harsh gibes made the newspaper; what did get space 
was a letter of praise from an Ohioan, expressing exuberant 
joy: "the old world feels the impulse of a new springtime, 
and deep calleth unto deep, while mountain unto moun- 
tain calls Praise God, for we are free!' " 

"Since the days of Luther nothing has occurred like 
this." Clearly the initial word that went out from Wyoming 
did not hint of a joke, as would later be said. Instead the 
response was joy, a celebration with Biblical images, a 
"political redemption," a momentous event. 40 

The Christmas Day issue of the Tribune published a 
flamboyant letter of congratulations from suffragist Train, 
and issued a merry word of support to Lizzie Boynton of 
Indiana, who wanted to run for Congress. Come on to 
Wyoming, where you'll get a certificate if you get the votes, 
urged the Tribune. Without a word of explanation, the 
Tribune asserted: "The law-makers have adopted your 
creed, and a bachelor governor has agreed thereunto. 
Wyoming is the place as Woman's Rights are here all the 
go." And so the paper owned by the suffragist Secretary 
of Wyoming who was aspiring to the slot of Territorial 
Delegate laid claim that Wyoming had adopted the suf- 
fragist creed. The same front page reported the names of 
the women, Mrs. and Miss Slaughter, and their excellent 
management of a social club, called Sociables. In a further 
show of attitude, the Tribune ran a kindly article noticing 
the untimely death, a suicide by poisoning, of a young 
prostitute named Duffie. Suggesting that some were more 
"sinned against than sinning," the Tribune lashed out at 
the "noble, chivalric, Christian man" who authored the 
ruin of such women, and decided a special place in hell 
was reserved for those villains. 41 

The Christmas, 1869, issue of the Tribune had still more 
to say about woman suffrage, though it had nothing to say 
about why it came about. The Tribune reprinted a press 
comment to the effect that the woman suffrage law was 
a way of advertising for a governess to enhance the gover- 
nor's quarters. No, replied the Tribune in good humor, no 
such intention. The governor, reported the paper, had only 
the highest motives: 

... to aid humanity in its rapid march to a grander and nobler 
state of existence. The world moves, and the Governor, a ge- 
nuine Republican, is willing to contribute to the destruction of 

every vestige of discrimination in sex, and between all condi- 
tions and races of men. 42 

There was still more perspective, all positive, in the 
same Christmas issue. The Tribune picked up the coverage 
of the woman suffrage law by several other papers, in- 
cluding the Philadelphia Post. The Post gave the text of the 
law, and asserted that Wyoming would profit from the in- 
crease in voters, which would hasten its admission as a 
state. The back pages contained two letters of thanks from 
women in the St. Louis and Missouri praising the legis- 
lature for their action. Another item in the same issue 
credited Iowa with the honor of awarding women the right 
to hold office, and recounted at length the election of a 
woman to the post of superintendent of schools. 43 

The New Year's Day issue of the Wyoming Tribune 
bulged with news, much of it about women— some serious, 
some light-hearted. In the latter category, the Tribune hap- 
pily agreed that women could do the courting in Wyoming, 
yet bet that Wyoming men would relish courting a Ver- 
mont girl. In a more serious vein, the Tribune featured front 
page a congratulatory note from the Dayton, Ohio, 
Woman's Advocate, which proclaimed exuberant plaudits to 
the legislators: "All hail bright star of the West!! Your fame 
is immortal!!! Your glory fadeless." Counterpointing to the 
good news was a darker refrain; the number of women 
dying during the holiday season continued. Calling it the 
"Poisoning Mania," the Tribune reported that a Black 
woman, Mrs. Overshiner, who had had charge of the mess 
at the Everett House, had also committed suicide. During 
the week, reported the Tribune, another woman, not 
named, tried, but did not succeed. 44 

This same issue for New Year's Day, 1870, offered 
more woman suffrage news. The assessment of the Pitts- 
burg Dispatch got full play and comment. The Dispatch first 
carefully defined the location of Wyoming Territory, noted 
that people were scarce, women especially, and judged 
that the reason for the legislation was that scarcity. "Here, 
then, we are to have an experiment which millions of eyes 
will watch most anxiously." If it worked well in Wyoming, 
then it would be tried elsewhere. If it worked poorly, then 
all the words of advocacy would not effect action against 
a poor result in Wyoming. In other words, the stakes were 
bigger than Wyoming. The Tribune was proud of the 
woman suffrage law, and acknowledged the favorable 
publicity generated— glossing over adverse reactions. The 

40. Wyoming Tribune, December 18, 1869. 

41. Wyoming Tribune, December 25, 1869. 

42. Wyoming Tribune, December 25, 1869. 

43. Wyoming Tribune, December 25, 1869. 

44. Wyoming Tribune, January 1, 1870. 



Tribune pointed out that much more could have been done. 
The bureau of immigration, which failed, was defeated, 
said the Tribune, because the legislature said the territory 
could not afford it. Had the legislators not raised their own 
pay, and funded the immigration bureau with that money, 
lots of folk could have been recruited to settle in Wyoming. 
Clearly focusing on a self-serving motive, the accusation 
that woman suffrage advertised the territory for free and 
the legislators would pocket the money otherwise spent 
on agents and statistics and publicity was soft but clear. 
The Tribune had another criticism: it fell short, as an im- 
migration and advertising strategy: "Woman suffrage will 
bring energetic women, but we want men also." 45 

To this point, Bright has not had an iota of publicity 
for his work, except his name given as the one who in- 
troduced the bill. Likewise conspicuously missing are his 
reasons for favoring woman suffrage. Granting that it may 
be an artifact of the missing Cheyenne, Laramie, and South 
Pass newspapers, the fact is that neither the Republican 
Leader nor the Tribune has offered any focus on Bright. 
Without asserting or denying causality, two days after the 
Tribune asserted that Wyoming had ratified the suffragist 
creed, young Robert Morris wrote a letter to The Revolu- 
tion to offer a personal sketch of the first "successful 
legislator" in the cause of woman suffrage. 46 

When Bright returned to South Pass, young Morris 
and his mother, Esther Morris, "... the only open ad- 
vocates here of Woman's Suffrage, resolved ourselves into 
a committee and called on him to tender our congratula- 
tions and thanks for his services in our behalf as well as 
for all true lovers of Equal Rights." Bright "... expressed 
himself pleased that there were some persons here who 
endorsed his views on Woman Suffrage." If Morris is cor- 
rect, that he and Mrs. Morris were the only open advocates 
in town, it suggests that Bright's move was not forecast 
in his home community. What were Bright's views that 
Mrs. Morris and Robert endorsed? As reported by Mor- 
ris, Bright made plain what his views were not: "I have 
never thought much about it, nor have I been converted 
by a woman's lecture or newspaper, for I never heard a 
woman speak from the rostrum and never read THE 
REVOLUTION." In short, Bright was not a convert to the 
woman suffrage movement. What he favored was fuzzier: 
"I knew that it was a new issue, and a live one, and with 

a strong feeling that it was just, I determined to use all in- 
fluence in my power to have the bill passed." Young Mor- 
ris' brief letter brought Bright some publicity, and the only 
attention he had received so far. 47 

On January 8, 1870, the Tribune, while taking notice 
of Anna Dickinson's home, featured the opinion of the 
paper's Washington correspondent. The woman suffrage 
law "is the best advertisement your Territory could put 
forth. ..." The "boldness and novelty and popular ad- 
vance in the movement, which invites discussion ..." was 
better than "tens of thousands spent through agents for 
that purpose." 48 

On January 11, 1870, tragedy struck Cheyenne. On 
January 13, 1870, the Cheyenne Daily Leader reported that 
at 11:30 a.m., a defective flue in a liquor store had begun 
a fire; the fact that the first engine had not been fueled for 
an emergency and soon gave out, the water likewise, gave 
rise to a catastrophe. Baker, who once confessed to hav- 
ing Cheyenne on the brain, recorded its wounds, and his 
own: "The entire outfit of the office . . . was consumed 
in less time than one can write an account of it." Baker 
recorded the women's contribution: "delicate women" 
were seen "staggering under heavy loads." He also re- 
corded men's agony: "men from whose faces every trace 
of color had fled, worked with frantic energy to save 
their hard earned accumulations from the merciless 
destroyer." 49 

The January 15 issue of the weekly Tribune also 
reported the Cheyenne fire: "This calamity will serve to 
teach the people ..." the importance of fire insurance, 
fire-proof buildings and an adequate fire company. It also 
reported on the behavior of the women: 

Men are expected to be heroic under such circumstances, 
therefore we cannot particularize, except with regard to the 
newly enfranchised sex. When delicate ladies, unaccustomed 
to life's rough experiences, are found equal to these trying 
occasions, and manifest by their efforts the greatest intrepidity, 
we think the fact should not be allowed to pass without notice. 

Detailing the names of women who saved children from 
the flames, and who moved property out of the fire's path, 
the Tribune found them to be "deeds of charity and 
heroism," and "of holy instinct," "angelic sentiment," 
and leaped to a conclusion. "Let it no longer be said that 
the women of Wyoming are of the weaker sex." 50 

45. Wyoming Tribune, January 1, 1870. 

46. Wyoming Tribune, November 27, 1869; The Revolution, January 13, 1870. 

47. The Revolution, January 13, 1870. 

48. Wyoming Tribune, January 8, 1870. 

49. Cheyenne Daily Leader, January 13, 1870; Cheyenne L-ader. Decem- 
ber 5, 1867. 

50. Wyoming Tribune, January 15, 1870. 



SPRING 1990 

Despite the fire, there was space to include in the 
Tribune Colorado Governor McCook's recommendation to 
pass a woman suffrage law, and another letter of thanks 
to the legislature and to the governor. The Woman's Suf- 
frage Association of Cincinnati sent a poignant expression 
of appreciation for the woman suffrage law, with almost 
palpable thanks and hopes for a fair execution of the law, 
"we sincerely hope . . . will manfully abide by its pro- 
gressive laws." 51 And so even in the midst of the upheaval 
created by the fire, the call for fair execution of the law was 
firmly featured. The Tribune seized on these events to 
elevate the new women voters of Wyoming from the 
weaker sex to the brave sex. Many of the women of Wyo- 
ming, as on all the pioneer trails and in earlier settlements, 
no doubt were brave. But never before had it been possi- 
ble to use it as political fodder, a metamorphosis of sorts, 
and a call to arms to the women and announcement of the 
mettle of Wyoming women to Wyoming and to the out- 
side world. The phase of the passage was ended and the 
stage for the execution and action was being set. And 
throughout it all, despite the rosy reporting, no explana- 
tion of why and how the law came to be was ever set in 
print in the Tribune in 1869 or before the fire. 

Almost the same can be said for the Leader. Since 
Baker's grumbling over the passage of the woman suffrage 
and other laws, the Leader, like the Tribune, focused on the 
laws submitted to the judiciary and the results: the gover- 
nor, not the legislature, would appoint county officials; 53 
the pay raise the legislators voted themselves was 
stopped. 54 The Leader also occasionally noted a response 
outside Wyoming to the suffrage act. On January 4, 1870, 
the Leader focused on the way Atchinson Patriot hu- 
morously alludes to female suffrage in Wyoming: Emma 
Fields, [Mrs. Overshiner] "one of the newly made voters 
of Wyoming," committed suicide by morphine ingestion. 
Obviously woman suffrage was not enough for Emma 
Fields, though that poignant fact was obscured by the fact 
of humor at the idea that a woman, especially a woman 
like Emma Fields, should be a voter. 55 But the Leader, unlike 
the Tribune, did not keep a major focus on the reaction 
to the woman suffrage law, featuring instead such issues 
as the merits and mechanics of the Big Horn Mining 
Expedition. 56 

On January 7, 1870, the Leader, like the Tribune, noted 
that McCook favored the extension of suffrage to the 
women of Colorado, and predicted its adoption. What 
neither newspaper said was that McCook defined three 
stages in the adoption of new movements; ridicule, argu- 
ment, and adoption. McCook, reported The Revolution, 

gave short shrift to the Wyoming action: "It rests with you 
to say whether Colorado will accept this reform in its first 
stage, as our sister Territory of Wyoming has done. . ." 
What Baker did give— the day after the governor signed 
the bill, was a jovial quasi-explanation alluding to territorial 
advertisement, a flood of ladies coming, light-hearted and 
incomplete. Then almost a month later, the Leader off ered 
its second explanation (the first serious in tone) but by no 
means the last, of why the legislature passed the bill: 
Our own legislature passed the bill giving women the right to 
vote, principally, we believe, because of the novelty of the thing, 
and partially because of the value of such a proceeding as direc- 
ting the attention of the outside world to this Territory. 57 

Also on January 7, 1870, the Leader, noting that a bill 
to give the women of New Mexico the vote, called: "Bully 
for New Mexico." On the day preceding the Cheyenne 
fire, which destroyed the Leader office, Baker touched on 
two reports peripherally related to suffrage— the safety of 
women in the halls of congress and what Anna Dickinson 
said in Salt Lake City. But then, on Tuesday, January 11, 
1870, the great fire in Cheyenne occurred and attention was 
turned to the pain of loss and the necessity of survival and 
rebuilding. 58 

It took the Tribune longer to discard the mantle of 
joyful equality. In October, 1870, just after the first elec- 
tion, despite all of its rhetoric at this point and through 
the election, the Tribune called the motivating spirit of the 
law a "joke." "Once, during the session, amid the greatest 
hilarity, and after the presentation of various funny amend- 
ments, and in full expectation of a gubernatorial veto, an 
act was passed." 59 

Clearly one of the most conspicuous features of the 
passage of the suffrage bill was the silence surrounding 
it. The legislative journals show only the procedural mat- 
ters. The extant Wyoming newspapers reacted, but did not 
offer explanations for legislators' support and passage of 
the bill. The newspapers did not give Bright publicity either 
personally or philosophically. 

51. Wyoming Tribune, January 16, 1870. 

52. Cheyenne leader, December 16, 1869. 

53. Cheyenne leader, December 22, 1869. 

54. Cheyenne leader, December 24, 1869. 

55. Cheyenne Leader, January 4, 1870. 

56. Cheyenne Leader, December 13, 15, 16, 17, 28, 31, 1869; January 2, 3, 
6, 7, 10, 1870. 

57. Cheyenne Leader, January 7, 1870; The Revolution, January 20, 1870; 
Cheyenne Leader, December 11, 1869; January 7, 1870. 

58. Cheyenne Leader, January 7, 10, 13, 1870. 

59. Wyoming Tribune, October 8, 1870. 



Part IV: Motives and Machinations 

Why was the 1869 law passed, and passed in silence, 
without press attention to the reasons of the legislators pro 
and con? What motives operated, which were powerful 
enough to inspire men to discard the traditions of cen- 
turies, and experiment with a new concept and tradition 
of woman as citizen? 

A few general issues of motive aid in understanding 
the plethora of explanations offered. This analysis reports 
preliminary findings of an open-ended gathering of facts 
designed to answer the question: why and how did the 
woman suffrage bill of 1869 become law? The myriad, 
diversa explanations for the passage of the suffrage act 
reflect the relative absence of adequate and timely infor- 
mation during its passage. Inside and outside Wyoming, 
reactions were as truthful as prejudices, pro and con, 
would allow. As time passed, and women served as 
justices of the peace, as jurors, and as candidates for office, 
the furor grew. Each new experiment prompted some re- 
counting of earlier events to further fuel or stifle the suf- 
frage cause. Thus, the later the explanation, the more likely 
bias crept in, confusing events in the stage of experimen- 
tation with the motives for the original passage. Objective 
reports were few and far between, and the same in- 
dividuals advanced different arguments on different oc- 
casions or weighted them differently. For instance, the same 
argument, territorial advertisement, was a joke to one and 
justice to another. The context, or audience, changed the 
balance: versions designed to woo an audience to the 
substance of woman suffrage often did not recount neu- 
trally the mischievous mayhem of the opposition (if they 
mentioned opposition at all); versions designed to claim 
a spot for self, relative, or friend focused narrowly on such 
as would support the claim. 

A key fact is that there were only twenty -one men in the 
first Wyoming territorial legislature, and many explana- 
tions. 1 Thus, the number of legislators was small and the 
number of explanations offered, throughout the years, 
many. It is key to an informed perspective not to confuse 
after-the-fact explanations of the arguments offered to 
legislators with the facts of how they did vote. One whole 

series of motives offered is that, despite the passage, the 
votes were cast in anticipation that the other chamber or 
someone else, the governor, Congress, the president would 
stop it, or that it could be repealed. Repeal and modifica- 
tion were and are standard processes of legislation, and 
obviously a possibility. But the record clearly shows that 
the notion that one chamber was waiting on the other to 
pounce with the killing vote was simply a notion. 

Though there were a variety of procedural votes, there 
were only three votes to vote yes, do pass this bill, or no, 
do not pass this bill: two in the Council, one in the House. 
The Council passed it, and the House passed it, though 
it amended the voting age to twenty-one years. This 
change in age required a second Council action, and had 
the Council been motivated by astonishment over the fact 
that the House passed it, it had the option of killing the 
measure then and there. It did not, and so the most that 
can be said for the serial astonishment arguments, is that 
it did not happen; it may have been argued that it would 
happen, but it did not. 2 

Further, when the House passed the bill and sent it 
back to the Council, that did not end the matter in the 
House. Opponents of the bill, who had tried and failed 
to stop it, continued to push legislation to restrict the 
exercise of the ballot by women. 3 

It is also important that six men were not swayed by any 
of the reasons offered: J.R. Whitehead, J.R. Rockwell, Ben 
Sheeks, S.M. Curran, J.C. Strong, and John Holbrook. 
Only one man, James Brady, voted both yes and no; in 
the Council, he voted yes to pass and no to the amend- 
ment raising the age, so either he had changed his mind 
or favored the younger age of eighteen years. Councilmen 
and lawyers Rockwell and Whitehead opposed the 

1. Virginia Cole Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol I (Cheyenne: 
Pioneer Printing and Stationery Company, l c >74). pp. 131-152. 

2. Council Journal of the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyo- 
ming, 1869, pp. 122, 158; House Journal ot the First Legislative Assembly, 
Territory of Wyoming, 1869, p. 207. 

3. House Journal, p. 213. 



SPRING 1990 

measure both times it came up in the Council. In the 
House, Sheeks and Strong kept up the anti-suffrage ef- 
fort by proposing a bill to cause women who did exercise 
the right of the elective franchise to do "all other duties 
of citizens"; they were joined by suffrage opponents, Cur- 
ran and Holbrook, and Haas, who being absent did not 
vote in the "pass, don't pass" vote. Menefee who had 
voted for the suffrage bill joined this effort also. The 
evidence from the record shows that the opposition was 
consistent and does not support the idea that everyone was 
anticipating an instant demise of the bill when it returned 
to the Council. 4 

General biases of perspectives can be identified in 
many of the accounts to be inspected shortly. One 
approach is to take the key explanations, selecting the 
accounts by people in Wyoming at the time of the passage 
or by those who were in Wyoming during the early experi- 
mentation phase, and see to what extent they agree or 
disagree. Two biases can be identified, distinct from pre- 
judice for or against woman suffrage per se, which formed 
the perspective of many accounts. The political motif was 
present from the beginning; partisan statements, motivated 
by a desire to make one's party look good, lure votes, or 
capture support, were present in the beginning and all the 
way to and beyond statehood. Since this radical, for the 
times, legislation took place in the context of a Democratic 
legislature warring with a Republican governor and a 
Republican executive branch of federal appointees, many 
of the versions reflect that antagonistic attitude. It blends 
imperceptibly at times into the insider Wyoming attitude 
of looking askance at the foreign carpetbaggers versus the 
outsiders looking down their noses at the "rough and tum- 
ble" natives. Accounts by federal Republican appointees 
give little credit to the Democratic legislature for anything 
good; conversely, accounts by the homefolk rarely give the 
federal officials credit for anything good. At least two of 
the major chroniclers lost their positions due to the actions 
of the Wyoming people, and the possibility is apparent that 
their views were affected by an interest in revenge. So too 
the simple human motives of like and dislike inspired 
name-calling in the accounts. The human foibles of a faulty 
memory or difficult expressions of a memory are also en- 
countered. No single statement about a complex event is 
entirely true, therefore, the context in which the statement 
is made is taken as a directing matrix of intent. All of these 
factors complicate the already complex story of a major 
change in the definitions and conduct of human affairs. 

These new dimensions of human behavior did not emerge 
as finished portraits, smooth with rounded edges; rather 
they crackled and bent into shape. 

Before detailing the many reasons which have been 
advanced for the passage of the woman suffrage act, one 
simple fact should be reemphasized. Fourteen of the 
twenty-one legislators voted at one time or another for the 
passage of the suffrage bill. That was enough to make it law. 

Four legislators are recorded as stating reasons for their 
votes: two for justice, one for territorial advertisement, and 
one to please someone else. For the other ten legislators, 
and probably for these four as well, it is likely that their 
votes resulted from a complex set of motives, not for a 
single reason. Except for basic drives, such as hunger and 
thirst, human actions generally involve complex mixtures 
of motivations. Thus, in analyzing the reasons for the suf- 
frage act, the focus will be to identify motives and con- 
nections between the major reasons and search for a 
multiplicity of complex motives. 5 

Judge John W. Kingman, Associate Justice of Wyoming 
Territory in 1869, wrote three major accounts of the events 
in Wyoming. His earliest version, 1876, is a good place to 
start because it addresses the range of motives for passage 
and reactions to the passage of the law. Kingman's sum- 
mary of the passage of the suffrage bill is regrettably short 
and the intent to persuade an audience, including people 
opposed to accepting woman suffrage, weights the 
account, apparently producing an accentuation of the good 
results of what Wyoming women had done with the ballot, 
and a softpedaling of negative aspects. Kingman, who was 
in the territory at the time of the passage of the suffrage 
bill and for many years afterward, addressed the Massa- 
chusetts legislature on January 18, 1876. The judge who 
hailed from New England and learned some of his law in 
Daniel Webster's law office put himself out to give an even 
version of reasons for the passage. His opening statement 
underscores that Wyoming adopted universal suffrage for 
"all adult inhabitants": "There is practically no limitation 
of the franchise for either men or women in our Territory." 
The sole requirements, continued Kingman, were short 
residency requirements and even from foreigners, a sim- 
ple declaration of intent to be a citizen instantaneously 
made a man or woman eligible to vote or hold office. Then 
Kingman stated: "Some of the members urged it from [1] 
conviction, other voted for it thinking it would [2] attract 

4. Council journal, pp. 122, 158; House Journal, pp. 207, 213. 

5. The Revolution, January 13, 1870; Letter from C. G. Coutant to Frank 
W. Mondell, May 22, 1903, Historical Research and Publications Di- 
vision, Wyoming State Archives, Museums and Historical Depart- 
ment (AMH), Cheyenne. 


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John W. Kingman 

John IV. Kingman's testimony delivered befort 
the Massachusetts legislature on January 18 




SPRING 1990 

attention to the Territory, others as a [3] joke, and others 
in the expectation that the [4] governor would veto 
the measure." Kingman's 1885 account for the suffrage 
history confirmed these reasons, though he omitted the 
joke motif, and amplified "that the favorite argument, 
however, and by far the most effective was ..." territorial 
advertisement. He also supplied one more. Bright had 
argued that the [5] Democrats would gain a political 
advantage by being more liberal than the governor; in 
short, it would help their party. His final account, written 
in 1897, when he was seventy-six years old, gave short 
shrift to all the legislators reasons and thus is exemplary 
of changing emphasis in versions: "This was done by that 
first Legislature, but with very little knowledge of what 
they were doing or care for its consequences. Some said 
it would make a noise and advertise the Territory, but the 
chief reason given for it was a report that the Governor was 
opposed to it and would veto the bill." 6 

Kingman's brevity about the details of the passage of 
the bill, common in all three of his major accounts, is a 
feature common to all the territorial officials with the ex- 
ception of the Secretary of the Territory, Edward M. Lee, 
and speeches made by Joseph M. Carey. The few com- 
ments offered are exceptional for their brevity and the 
absence of reasons offered. Since these succinct accounts 
of these officials do not fall in any of the five categories 
offered by Kingman, even the "favorite argument" of ter- 
ritorial advertisement, they are summarized here. 

Judge John H. Howe was typically succinct: "I had no 
agency in the enactment of the law in Wyoming confer- 
ring legal equality upon women." Judge William T. Jones 
took a narrow and politic stance in 1870; since he had been 
elected Delegate to Congress in part by the votes of 
women, he felt woman suffrage was a wise policy. Though 
he can be shown many years later to be an active suffragist, 
no comments by Marshal Church Howe on the Wyoming 
saga have been located. Many years after the passage, 
when he had become one of Wyoming's illustrious men, 
Judge Carey was the associate editor of a history of Wyo- 
ming. In stark contrast to other occasions when he gave 

6. "Judge John W. Kingman, Woman Suffrage in Wyoming: Six Years 
Practical Workings, Testimony Delivered January 18, 1876, Before 
the Massachusetts Legislature," Historical Research and Publica- 
tions Division, AMH; "John W. Kingman," in Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds., History of 
Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 (New York: Arno and the New York Times, 
1969), pp. 727-738; "Honorable John W. Kingman: Associate Justice 
of the Supreme Court, Wyoming Territory," Annals of Wyoming 14 
(July 1942): 221-227. 

much about the history of the suffrage bill, Carey, in this 
history, was mute; shorter shrift to the origins of woman 
suffrage can hardly be imagined. Carey devoted one 
quarter of one sentence to the fact it occurred: "A territorial 
seal was adopted; the right of suffrage was extended to 
women; several territorial roads were ordered and new 
judicial districts were established." Nevertheless, Kingman 
did not lack company. 7 


Territorial advertisement, whether a favorite argument 
or not, was an important one, and if it called to women 
in their most traditional roles, still it was not disingenuous. 
Joining Kingman in his opinion that territorial advertise- 
ment was a reason offered for supporting the suffrage bill 
is Lee, whose versions changed so radically over time that 
they require separate analysis. Each man had cause to have 
an ax to grind; both were removed from their posts by 
Wyoming men, and staunch suffragist Lee was repaid for 
his kindness by petitions signed by women calling for his 
removal. Governor John A. Campbell's blind, lawyer 
brother, Walter, was in Cheyenne at the time of the 
passage of the bill and he supported Kingman also: "It was 
thought by the managers of the scheme that the young 
Republican Governor might be embarrassed by being con- 
fronted with a measure of this kind in an early period of 
his administration, and however it might affect him, the 
novelty of the thing would make some fun and advertise 
the Territory." 8 

The editors of the Laramie Weekly Sentinel and the 
Cheyenne Daily Leader repeatedly said the same. In a speech 
in Denver, J. H. Hay ford said "advertise our young ter- 
ritory and bring into notoriety abroad," and "... raise a 
breeze and bring their territory into notice, ' ' said the Rocky 
Mountain News reporting this speech. 9 The Denver Tribune, 
covering the same Hayford speech reported: "The idea 
was, that such a law, while it would be right, would serve 
as an advertisement for the Territory. . . ." 10 In his own 

7. Letter from J. H. Howe to Mrs. Myra Bradwell, April 4, 1870, in 
Stanton et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, pp. 683-685, 
736-737; Atlanta Constitution, November 24, 1870; Joseph Maul Carey, 
ed., "State of Wyoming," in The Province and the States, Weston 
Arthur Goodspeed, ed. (Madison: Western Historical Association, 
1904), p. 352. 

8. Edward M. Lee, "The Woman Movement in Wyoming," Galaxy 13 
(January-June 1872): 755; T. A. Larson, History of Wyoming, 2nd ed., 
rev. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1978), pp. 121, 125; 
"John A. Campbell, Diary 1869-1875," Annals of Wyoming 10 (April 
1938): 68; Youngstoum Evening Register and Tribune, July 15, 1880. 

9. Rocky Mountain News, January 15, 1876. 
10. Woman's Journal, February 5, 1876. 



paper, in response to a letter, Hayford said again, the 
motive was "a mere freak of the legislators, who thought 
it would immortalize them" and the latter got national 
publicity by its reprint in the Woman's Journal. 11 Hayford 's 
comments are supported by Nathan Baker, though they 
differ in intent. Hayford was talking about the Wyoming 
experiment, promoting it to persuade others in Colorado 
to the value of woman suffrage. But Baker grudgingly 
acknowledged the argument, and some success of it, while 
trying to end the experiment. 12 Reverend D. J. Pierce said 
that woman suffrage was the product of two or three sages 
who sold it as a territorial advertisement. "Notoriety," said 
Pierce, 13 and the point is important; it was a slogan, a sales 
technique. Morton E. Post, Delegate to Congress echoed 
this: territorial advertisement, 14 as did Strong, 15 Henry Caly 
Waltz, who understood this to be the motive causing the 
governor to sign the bill, 16 Hamilton Willcox, 17 Horace 
Plunkett, 18 Carrie Chapman Catt, who implied that the 
justice of it was the advertisement, 19 and W. L. Kuyken- 
dall. 20 

Furthermore, there was local precedent. In the winter 
of 1868-1869, the Dakota legislature, which was at that time 
the governing body of Wyoming, and to which Wyoming 
sent a representative, discussed a bill to give women the 
vote and also to confer eligibility on them to hold office. 
CD. Bradley of Wyoming was in the chair on Decem- 
ber 23, 1868, when the suffrage bill was discussed, reported 
the Union and Dakotaian. The newspaper acknowledged the 
notoriety that would accrue to Dakota, along with becom- 
ing the mecca for the strong-minded. When the bill was 
defeated, the newspaper reprinted several articles from 
other papers to show what an opportunity had been lost. 
"We should have been known wherever newspapers are 
read,. . ." There were three ways for this word to get 
around in Wyoming; from Bradley, from the Dakota 

11. Woman's Journal, February 24, 1883. 

12. Cheyenne Daily Leader, March 12, 14, 1870. 

13. Woman's Journal, October 3, 1874. 

14. Woman's journal, April 10, 1886. 

15. Woman's Journal, March 23, 1872. 

16. Typescript of Western Christian Advocate, January, 1872. 

17. Hamilton Willcox, Wyoming: The True Cause and Splendid Fruits of 
Woman Suffrage There (New York: publisher not given, 1890), p. 14, 
American Heritage Center (AHC), University of Wyoming, Laramie. 

18. Horace Plunkett, "The Working of Woman Suffrage in Wyoming," 
Fortnightly Review (May 1890): 5. 

19. Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler, Woman Suffrage and 
Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969), p. 77. 

20. W. L. Kuykendall, frontier Days (J. M. and H. L. Kuykendall 
Publishers, 1917), p. 133. 

newspaper, and from the Cheyenne Leader's reports about 
the Dakota suffrage bill. 21 

As an explanation for the passage of woman suffrage, 
territorial advertisement falls short because it was a state- 
ment of the obvious. Nobody disputed the need for ter- 
ritorial advertisement. The newspapermen called for it, 
railroads paid lots of money to do it, twelve thousand 
dollars in the winter of 1869 and twenty thousand dollars 
in 1870, and it served as one rationale for more than one 
community issue or action. Women, as wives and 
daughters, were explicitly sought in the refrain of "attract 
settlers." While urging the needs for schools and churches 
to support, and implicitly attract, settlers, the Leader en- 
couraged "Families . . . homes, with mothers and children 
in them, to restrain, and give tone to our social fabric." 
Urging family men to believe in Cheyenne's future and 
to bring their families, the Leader said: "all may aid in 
elevating the moral status of the city by the presence of 
wives and daughters here among us." The need to attract 
the right kind of settler led Baker to report the positive, 
and diminish the negative. Banishing prostitution and 
gambling was another item on the Leader's territorial adver- 
tisement agenda so people would come, "instead of 
avoiding it for its wickedness," as he thought was the case 
at that time. Even geography was a matter of territorial 
advertisement. It is time for the public to know that 
Cheyenne is not surrounded by a desert. We need capital 
and people with broad skills who can rough it, said the 
Leader, to combat hard times and tight money. All that is 
needed, the Leader had earlier counseled, is for a state or 
territory to be known. 22 

Shortly after the first legislature of Wyoming Territory 
had begun, the Leader made explicit the needs of the ter- 
ritory for settlers. We are pioneers in the midst of advanced 
civilization, wrote the Leader. If we want the intelligent 
and hard-working to come to Wyoming, wrote Baker, then 
we need good schools, newspapers, churches, and libraries. 
"If we would attract an orderly and law abiding popula- 
tion we must first demonstrate that we have laws and can 
maintain order." A letter to the editor of the Wyoming 

Dale Gibson with Lee Gibson and Cameron Harvey, Enos Stutsman. 
Attorney for the Frontier (Canada: University of Manitoba Press 1983) 
pp. 74-75; Tlie Union and Dakotaian, December 26, 1868: February 
6, 1869; Cheyenne Leader, January 4. 1869. 

Robert G. Athearn, Union Pacific Country (Lincoln: University ol 
Nebraska Press, 1982), p. 156; Cheyenne Leader. October 24 1867; 
February L5, 1868; April 27; September 14, 20, 28, 1869; Larson, 
Historx/ of Wyoming, p. 43. 



SPRING 1990 

Tribune called for the legislature to pass an adequate im- 
migration law and send a commission to Europe; a parallel 
editorial called for money for two commissioners to recruit 
people to the territory, one in Europe and one to reside 
in New York. Campbell made the same call for immigrants, 
with some emphasis on Anglo-Saxon immigrants. The 
Leader had earlier reported that effective "bait" for the 
hungry of Europe to come west was the "bait of a home, 
plenty and passage to this country ..." Shortly after the 
close of the legislature, the Washington correspondent of 
the suffragist Tribune wrote a reassuring letter that the 
woman suffrage law was "the best advertisement your Ter- 
ritory could put forth . . ."in favor of winning settlers,— 
better than thousands of dollars through commissioners. 23 

This solid evidence that territorial advertisement 
reflected a practical and fundamental need, which ex- 
pressed itself in many dimensions and many issues, sug- 
gests the basis for its wide appeal as one reason for the 
passage of the suffrage act. It was as important and mun- 
dane as the explicit need for growing settlements, and men 
and women who labored, taught school, went to church, 
paid taxes, had babies and made the territory into a solid, 
stable community. To territorial America, it was as basic 
as the flag. 

This appeal to the public good probably had a personal 
dimension, rooted in a man's longing for a wife, the need 
of a man for a woman. Retrospectively, the Wyoming 
Tribune made this precise point in 1871. One of the most 
demoralizing influences here has been the absence of 
women; the influx of brides from the east was remedying 
matters. On the occasion of the debate in California about 
the passage of a married woman's property act, one 
California bachelor stated his desire to marry someday. He 
argued that such a law was "... the very best provision 
to get us wives that we can introduce into the Constitu- 
tion." The need for women in Wyoming came, not only 
in a merry call for women from bachelors, but in the ex- 

Cheyenne Leader , September 15; October 25, 1869; Wyoming Tribune, 
December 4, 1869; January 8, 1870; Council Journal, p. 15. 
Wyoming Tribune, April 29, 1871; Kay Ellen Thurman, "The Mar- 
ried Women's Property Acts" (Master of Laws Thesis, University 
of Wisconsin, 1978), fn 25; Vie Revolution, January 13, 1870; H. G. 
Nickerson Scrapbook, Historical Research and Publications Division, 
AMH; Diary of Reverend Henry Caly Waltz, November 11, 13, 1871, 
B-W179-hc, AHC; Charles H. Carey, General History of Oregon 
(Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, Publishers for the Peter Bin- 
ford Foundation, 1971), p. 482; Julia Cherry Spruill, Women's Life 
and Work in the Southern Colonies (New York: W. W. Norton and Com- 
pany, Inc., 1972), p. 9. 

pressions of pervasive and intense loneliness and longing 
of Waltz for his distant wife. One important aspect of ter- 
ritorial advertisement was inducement or reward to the 
man or woman who made the trek or took the risk. For 
instance, the Oregon donation law awarded land to those 
women and men who survived the long trail road. This 
trend can be identified as early as 1619 when a petition to 
the Virginia House of Burgesses asked for lots of land for 
women as well as men "because in a newe plantation it 
is not knowen whether man or woman be the most neces- 
sary." The point is that the notion that the passage of the 
woman suffrage law as territorial advertisement was an ap- 
peal to the public good, the private good deriving from a 
prosperous community, and private feelings of luring 
women into the territory. This long trend raises an impor- 
tant point; the last major inducement to women was the 
right to vote and hold office. Its appeal was indirect, and 
such terms as "advertising dodge," "notoriety," "raise 
a breeze and call attention to the territory," accurately 
reflected that the focus was broader than woman suffrage. 
It contained a genuine call to women, who were needed; 
it also had, so far as advocacy for woman suffrage went, 
a darker side. 24 

Sarah Wallace Pease sewed on the first Wyoming grand jury 
which included women. The inn/ met in Laramie during 
March, 1870. 



Baker of the Leader could stomach suffrage, sometimes, 
but when the experiment with lady jurors began in 
Laramie, he was ready to end the experiment. Bordering 
on apoplexy, Baker launched a vitriolic attack on the 
national suffragists for their foolish belief that the Wyom- 
ing woman suffrage bill was sincere. Baker said it was ter- 
ritorial advertisement, denigrating it in a variety of tones; 
it was a "shrewd advertising dodge," "cunning device to 
obtain . . . notoriety," "trick of those 'naughty, deceitful 
men.' " It had never occurred to Susan B. Anthony, the 
"great Untouched," in her "virgin dreams" that this was 
so; " . . . she thinks her hand is resting on the bible when 
it really lies upon a picture of a jackass." A showman 
recognized the value of a monstrosity, and the principle 
of the Wyoming inauguration of female voters was the 
same as Barnum and his "Feegee" mermaid; they were 
each a "monstrousity." It was a suffrage show: you paid 
your money and you took your choice. Two days later 
Baker followed this up with another virulent attack giving 
reasons why women were not fit as jurors, concluding 
about the woman's rights reforms, "the sooner it dies, (as 
die it must,) the earlier our people may congratulate 
themselves on having escaped. ..." Baker's assault, in 
stark contrast to his earlier call to ladies to come on to 
Wyoming, attacked one reason offered for the passage of 
the suffrage act, territorial advertisement, as empty and 
illusory at precisely a point in time when it was clear that 
a neighboring town, Laramie, was seriously testing one 
aspect of the suffrage law, women jurors, and it was cer- 
tain beyond question that the law was neither empty nor 
untested. 25 

The flexibility of the argument for territorial advertise- 
ment is clear: its self-serving and familiar refrain appealed 
to the people not yet enchanted with the idea of the justice 
theme of woman suffrage. It was, in brief, a unifying theme 
that lessened opposition. And, for passage of any woman 
suffrage bill, that was the first half of the battle. 

It is important to tease out and establish the fundamen- 
tal importance of territorial advertisement first, because 
that is the case, and second, because linked with other ex- 
planations for the passage of the bill, it superficially ap- 
pears vacuous. One whole set of arguments to vote for 
woman suffrage boiled down to the sales pitch that nothing 
would come of it. Bright, said Kingman, got the bill ap- 
proved by admitting that the governor would veto it, which 
meant nothing would come of it; Bright also argued that 
it would advertise the territory, which deflected notice from 
the revolutionary aspects to the fact everyone knew, which 

was that the territory needed people, including women. 
These arguments offered an escape hatch from the impact 
of a vote to pass because nothing would come of it; the 
other chamber would kill it or the governor would veto 
it. Lee advanced this serial astonishment explanation as 
early as 1872; the Council thought the House would kill 
it; the House thought the governor would kill it and all 
were amazed when it became law. Admittedly an enter- 
taining story, which was probably his purpose, it simply 
does not square with the record, as previously shown. 
After the governor did not veto the bill, rumors of yet other 
escape hatches took over: the president would remove the 
governor or the courts would kill it. In short, the escape 
hatch arguments meant somebody somewhere was going 
to keep the actuality of women at the polls from hap- 
pening. Coupled with territorial advertisement, these 
arguments meant that whatever happened while the 
brakes were being applied by somebody, the territory got 
publicity. A dead letter law, or a joke are equivalencies. 26 


A joke, said Kingman was one motivation for the 
passage of the bill. Numerous persons stated that the suf- 
frage bill was a joke as though the word standing alone 
was explanatory. Scrutiny of the various joke explanations 
reveals a range of rationales, a variety of tones, and more 
questions than answers. With the exception of the sugges- 
tion that the joke was causing the governor trouble, 
perhaps implicitly all the territorial officials, the person or 
persons who were the object of the joke are rarely 
specified. Was it a joke on the woman suffrage question? 
On the Blacks, Chinese? On the Republicans? On the 

Several distinctions and generalizations are apparent. 
The parameters are often vague. Tones differ— bitter spite, 
fun, whimsey. Intention and context shed light on the 
assertion, like political fodder to get votes. Bright on one 
of the few occasions on which he addressed the matter 
said, basically, the record speaks for itself and gave it: to 
ask the obvious— how much more serious can you get than 
to pass the legislation? Nor was the assertion of a joke 
unique to Wyoming. A San Francisco paper charged the 
Nevada legislature with a joke, and a Nevada paper re- 
plied: "Not altogether a joke." Accuratelv or not, the 
charge of joke recalls the charges asserted against Senator 

25. Cheyenne Leader, March 12, 14, 1870; December 11, 1869. 

26. Kingman in Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 pp. 3 
730; Lee, "The Woman Movement in Wyoming," Galaxy 13 (January- 
June 1872): 755-756; Cheyenne State Leader, July 24, L917. 



SPRING 1990 

Cowan in Congress when he first proposed woman suf- 
frage as an antidote to Black suffrage. A paraphrase 
obliterates the vagueness, and the differing tones and in- 
tentions. Here then are their words, excepting the motif 
of causing-the-governor trouble, which is a distinct and 
separate issue. 27 

Woman suffrage was passed to advertise the territory, 
and regarded as a joke said editor Hayford, an important 
distinction, telling how the people reacted, not address- 
ing what motivated the legislature. Likewise, Hayford said 
many considered the bill "a mere joke, as something which 
would remain as a dead letter on our statutes." The 
Democrats said they passed it as a joke and it was "looked 
upon as a great joke," said Lee; and "some said it was 
a joke," echoed U.S. Attorney Carey. But was this what 
the Democrats who opposed suffrage said, or was it the 
Democratic legislators who passed it? Wyoming suffragist 
Esther H. Morris said, ". . . a bitter joke . . ."and passed 
"in a moment of spite." Campbell's brother wrote, to 
"make some fun." Kingman said "others [voted for it] as 
a joke" in his testimony, but nothing about a joke in his 
suffrage history or autobiography; H.G. Nickerson said 
Bright told him "passed in a jocular manner as an experi- 
ment." Sheeks said the House passed it as a joke, which, 
as shown earlier, does not square with the record; Mrs. 
Pease said to relieve boredom, a light and whimsical 
motive. Plunkett whose salacious version of what "tickled 
Western humour" requires separate attention, also said "a 
joke." Reverend Strong also reported that some judged 
the passage "intended as a joke." Secretary Lee, who 
strongly and repeatedly advanced the idea that the legisla- 
tion was a joke, can be shown to have given different in- 
formation to different audiences; having put it in print as 
early as 1870, in 1890 he came full circle, and if Willcox ac- 
curately reflected Lee's version, which footnote 54, page 
14 of his pamphlet correcting historical errors seems to in- 
dicate, Lee recanted. 28 


Kingman noted that four reasons, advertising the ter- 
ritory, a joke, an expectation of a veto, and conviction, pro- 
duced the passage of the woman suffrage bill, which legis- 
lated universal suffrage. Of these four, only territorial adver- 
tisement and, to a more limited extent, the hassle-the- 
governor rationale can be treated separately because each 
category is linked to the others. 

One of the explanations offered by Kingman was in 
the expectation of a gubernatorial veto. There were three 
sets of reasons why the legislators and the governor were 

embroiled in tension. First, the legislature was unan- 
imously Democratic; the governor was Republican. Sec- 
ond, the legislators were all homefolk and homefolk 
generally felt misunderstood by the outsider federal ap- 
pointees, carpetbaggers. Third, the legislature had tangled 
with the governor over a whole variety of issues— from 
what constituted a crime, whether Blacks and Whites could 
intermarry, who exercised the appointing authority in 
county appointments to which judge should sit in which 
district. There were many variations of the same idea: the 
suffrage bill was passed to curry votes for the Democratic 
party by adopting a liberal pose on woman suffrage and let 
the governor carry the heat for killing it. Or, to annoy or 
confound him, to confront the governor and watch him 
squirm; to embarrass him by forcing him to adopt a posi- 
tion which favored Black suffrage but not woman suffrage, 
likely not appealing to some women. It had been reported 
that Campbell would veto the measure, so the risk of actu- 
ally having, as opposed to passing, the woman suffrage 
bill was, according to this version, nil. Also it had been 
reported that the governor would let the bill become law 
without signing it— a step short of bipartisan endorsement. 
The interrelationships between the issues are apparent. 29 
Even with the argument of conviction, there were dif- 
fering shades of motives. Bright wanted women to vote 
if the Blacks voted. Newspaper editor Hayford said he had 

27. W. H. Bright letter to Cheyenne Daily leader, January 23, 1876; Daily 
Territorial Enterprise, March 3, 1869; Cowan, Congressional Globe, 2nd 
session, 39th Congress, 1866-1867, pp. 57, 59. 

28. Rocky Mountain Neivs, January 15, 1876; Laramie Sentinel, May 5, 1883; 
Wyoming Tribune, March 19; December 24, 1870; Chexfenne State Leader, 
July 24, 1917; Woman's Journal, March 9, 1872; Youngstown Evening 
Register and Tribune, July 15, 1880; Kingman, "Woman Suffrage in 
Wyoming," p. 1; Kingman as quoted in Stanton, et al., Histon/ of 
Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, pp. 729-730; Kingman, "Honorable John W. 
Kingman," pp. 224-225; H. G. Nickerson to the editor, Wyoming 
State Jourrml, February 14, 1919; Letter from Judge Sheeks to Grace 
R. Hebard, August 2, 1920, AHC; Laramie Boomerang, October 17, 
1889; Plunkett, "Working," p. 5; Woman's Journal, March 23, 1872; 
Wyoming Tribune, October 8, 1870; Willcox, "Wyoming: The True 
Cause," pp. 11, 14, fn 54. 

29. Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 74-76; W. W. Corlett, "The Found- 
ing of Cheyenne, 1884," pp. 23-24, MSS PM-7, copy provided by 
the Bancroft Library; "John A. Campbell, Diary," pp. 68-69; 
Kingman in Stanton, etal., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 730; 
Justice E. A. Thomas, "Female Suffrage in Wyoming," Potter's 
American Monthly 18 (May 1882): 492-493; Letter from Mrs. Camp- 
bell to Grace R. Hebard, October 27, 1919, Hebard Collection, AHC; 
Cheyenne State Leader, July 24, 1917; Youngstown Evening Register and 
Tribune, July 15, 1880; Omaha Weekly Herald, December 15, 1869; 
Kingman, "Honorable John W. Kingman," p. 224. 



never favored suffrage for the same reasons as Anthony. 
The Tribune advanced the notion that women were morally 
superior and would purify the corrupt politics. Further, 
it was economic protection. Racism, political advantage, 
conviction, and justice swirled in the same chambers. 30 
The complexity of each of these issues is best seen in 
the assessment of three explanations of the joke thesis, and 
then several others which fall into the general genre of 
universal suffrage. A search for corroboration of the joke 
idea, as advanced by Lee, the tickle of western humor ex- 
plained by Plunkett, and the bitter spite motive asserted 
by Morris, each lead into entirely different aspects of the 
passage and experimentation phase and into the overall 
political matrix and individual motives. From it, however, 
comes a clearer picture of the intricate, labyrinthine interac- 
tions between issues, political machinations, and personal 


Lee suffered a substantial setback to his ambitions dur- 
ing his brief stint in Wyoming. As owner of a newspaper, 
Lee covered the news and that included the woman suf- 
frage story. His statements on the woman suffrage story 
changed throughout the years, both while he was in 
Wyoming and afterward. Whether his disappointments 
and ambitions colored his vision is important to consider. 
To do so requires going beyond the passage phase, and 
into the experiment phase and beyond to statehood to con- 
sider Lee's statements about suffrage in light of his per- 
sonal experiences, success, and lack of success. 

Lee was a complex person. He was politically am- 
bitious, aspiring to the slot of Delegate to Congress. He 
positioned himself for favorable publicity by acquiring a 
press and putting his brother-in-law at its helm. He in- 
tended to fill the coffers of his newspaper with printing 
patronage which, as territorial secretary, he controlled. 
After smearing the character of the pioneer Republican, 
Leader editor Baker, who wanted the work, Lee reported 
that he was awarding the printing to a new Republican in 
town who would do it for "reasonable rates." But he did 
not disclose it was his brother-in-law or that he owned the 
paper or the fact that it was not yet publishing. This latter 

30. Grace Raymond Hebard, "The First Woman Jury," Journal of 
American History VII (1913): 1296-1297; lammk Sentinel, July 21, 1875; 
Wyoming Tribune, December 18, 1869. 

31. "John A. Campbell, Diary," pp. 63, 69; The Revolution, March 3, 
1870; Edward M. Lee to R. W. Taylor, October 26, 1869, E. M. Lee 
Letterpress Book, Arcrtives and Records Management Division, 
AMH; Cheyenne Leader, November 23, 1869; Larson, History of Wyo- 
ming," pp. 120-123; Willcox, "Wyoming: The True Cause," p. 14. 

maneuver inspired editor Baker of the Leader to publicize 
Lee's deceit and hurl invective at Lee. Baker's insults in- 
spired the governor to feel sympathy for Lee when he 
wrote in his diary, "Leader abuses Lee." Baker hurled the 
first bricks on November 23, 1869, three days after Lee's 
newspaper, which did not yet show Lee's ownership on 
the masthead, appeared. Baker yelled that Lee had the 
"conduct of a drunkard and licentious libertine" and Baker 
called the new rival paper, the "Wyoming Abortion." 
Joined by yet another territorial officer who also had his 
eyes on the delegate slot, Baker used his post as a top 
Republican to hammer home the charges against Lee. 
Petitions, signed by men and women, charged Lee with 
drunkenness and publicly consorting with and paying the 
rent for a notorious prostitute, known as the Circassian 
Girl. The petitions asked for Lee's removal, and President 
U.S. Grant did appoint a successor on February 18, 1870, 
one day after Lee had appointed two women justices of 
the peace. Even though later petitions did support his posi- 
tion, Lee was not reinstated. Because Lee would claim later 
to be the chief strategic architect of women suffrage, this 
personal debacle, inspired by his own stiletto in the back 
of a pioneer, casts some doubt on his strategic effec- 
tiveness. It also gave him more than one ax to grind. 31 

Edward M. lee served as Wyoming's first 

an active proponent of woman suffrage. 

rctarv and wat 



SPRING 1990 

Lee's comments on suffrage changed over time. His 
comments at the time of the passage of the bill were 
exuberant about the bill's passage. At the time of its 
passage in December, 1869, Republican Lee praised the suf- 
frage bill, crediting the Democratic legislators for their 
action, saying some good could come from a political 
Nazareth. He stated, without elaboration, that the 
representatives had passed and the governor had signed 
the bill and trumpeted his own approval of woman suf- 
frage. On February 9, 1870, Lee wrote to the suffragist 
paper, The Revolution, and claimed credit for suggesting, 
along with unnamed others, the passage of the suffrage 
bill. Presenting his suffragist credentials from Connecticut, 
where he had introduced a suffrage bill, he characterized 
the governor, who signed the suffrage bill, as a lukewarm 
advocate, if not actually opposed: he wrote that the gover- 
nor initially had been "violently opposed" but "we," 
without crediting anyone else by name, had "ultimately 
induced" Campbell to sign it. On February 17, 1870, Lee 
appointed two women as justices of the peace, and, 
demonstrating a capacity to play loose with the truth, con- 
gratulated each on holding the first judicial position ever 
held by woman. 32 

On February 18, Grant sent the name of Lee's replace- 
ment to the Senate; the next day, Baker gloated over Lee's 
removal. Lee kept a solid suffragist stance during the ex- 
periments with women jurors in Laramie and women as 
justices of the peace. Commenting on the good results of 
the latter, he noted: "Woman suffrage by many, is looked 
upon as a great joke." His staunch and welcoming sup- 
port of suffrage continued to the arrival of his replacement 
and afterwards, to the conventions preceding the first elec- 
tion in which women voted. 33 

Shortly before the first election, on August 11, 1870, 
the Democrats added insult to Lee's injury of removal, and 
Baker publicized it front page, as did Lee, on August 13, 
1870. At the county Democratic convention, attended both 
by Democrats, thirty-seven men Baker said, and a few 
Republicans, fifteen to twenty men, Lee was invited to sit 
on stage. Reporting on the speeches, the usual party 
glorification, Lee noted that one speaker asserted "the 
ladies had failed to civilize politics . . .," since their 
presence at the Republican convention did not prevent 
"pandemonium." Lee, but not Baker, also reported that 

the Democratic secretary had told him that he had "made 
vigorous efforts to secure the attendance of ladies, but 
without success." Despite the fact that the Democrats had 
passed the suffrage bill, the ladies chose the Republican 
convention, not the Democratic one. 34 

One rejection led to another. After the men selected 
as delegates to the Territorial Democratic Convention were 
announced, alternates were nominated. The Tribune did 
not print the names of the women or men, but headlined 
in smaller type: "Nomination of the demi-monde as alter- 
nates." A minority of Democrats had chosen four, if the 
Leader's list was correct, leading prostitutes in Cheyenne 
and, according to the Tribune, "a few male names." The 
Leader reported only one: Lee. The man who had been 
removed as secretary, charged with keeping company with 
a prostitute, registered his outrage: "To say that this was 
an outrage on public decency and common self-respect is 
to say only half the truth." Only Baker printed the list of 
women nominated as alternates; Baker identified L[otta] 
Maxwell as "formerly of Circassia," and he listed I. Ham- 
ilton, E. Cleveland, and I. North, 35 without identifying 
them as demi-monde, though old-timers of Cheyenne 
must have known. The Leader said: "The policy of healing 
all divisions in their party by calling women to their aid, 
was warmly applauded." 

It is singularly unfortunate that no Democratic news- 
paper for this time exists, as relying on the word of one 
party about the actions of the other is fraught with peril, 
and this is compounded by the fact that Baker of the Leader 
and Lee of the Tribune were still at war with each other. 36 
But, on the eve of the election, some unnamed Democrats 
and, according to Lee, a minority, had seized the oppor- 
tunity to ridicule woman suffrage. It is not known whether 
any former legislators participated, though supporter 
T. D. Murrin and opponent Whitehead were present; the 
latter had been elected a delegate. The majority, reported 
Lee, "seemed shocked and disgusted." They also had 
ridiculed Lee, the women's effective advocate, in a very 
personal way by calling him less than a decent man, and 

32. Wyoming Tribune, December 18, 1869; The Revolution, March 3, 1870; 
Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 84. 

33. Cheyenne Daily Leader, February 19, 1870; Wyoming Tribune, 
March 19, 1870. 

34. Cheyenne Daily Leader, August 12, 1870; Wyoming Tribune, August 13, 

35. Cheyenne Police Dockets, Archives and Records Management Divi- 
sion, AMH (North, Hamilton, and Cleveland show up as fined). 

36. The Leader identified Mrs. Howe as the first woman to vote in 
Cheyenne, September 6, 1870; the Tribune, September 17, 1870, iden- 
tified Mrs. Swain of Laramie as the first voter, and charged Mrs. 
Howe with voting the Democratic ticket. Whether this was revenge 
for Mrs. Howe's signing a petition for Lee's removal is an open 



linking his name publicly to known prostitutes, and to the 
woman with whom he was accused of consorting, which 
charge led to his removal. It was something of the same 
spirit seen in Nebraska in 1855, when General Larimer was 
presented with a petticoat. 37 A price has often been exacted 
by their male opponents from men who solidly support 
the cause of women. But this action must not be laid to 
the foot of the legislators, who passed the law, unless 
evidence should appear. It is also important to note that 
the Democrats were themselves deeply divided in the 
selection of candidates, and Murrin, who voted yes on 
woman suffrage in the Council, later ran as an Indepen- 
dent. He asked for votes of "Democrats and Conservative 
Republicans of every color (Chinamen excepted)" and his 
advertisement called to men, but not women: "Men of 
Wyoming; Your manhood. . . ," 38 

The election was only a few weeks away, and Lee had 
been publicly smeared, as had the women of Wyoming 
who had never before, like most of their earthly sisters, 
been to a precinct and cast a ballot. One message was clear: 
politics was not for ladies. With the election looming, it 
is important to recall that the first territorial election was 
a scene of civil disorder. Kingman reported it: ". . . mad 
follies, and frightful scenes of that drunken election." 
And, these antics involving the demi-monde could be in- 
flammatory. The editor of the Laramie Daily Sentinel, 
Hayford, made no comments about affairs in Cheyenne. 
But on August 12, the same day the Leader was reporting 
Democratic nominations for alternates who were prosti- 
tutes, an action occurring during a deeply divided conven- 
tion, Hayford broke a self-imposed silence to make a strong 
statement favoring woman suffrage. The privilege had 
been extended to women, he wrote, and it is "not our 
prerogative to dictate, or even to advise them, as to 
whether or not they shall exercise them." But he did point 
out that "Wyoming having volunteered to be the first to 
try the experiment, if, with the privilege extended to them, 
the women decline to avail themselves of it ... it must 
and will be generally declared to be practically a failure." 
A few days later, Hayford alluded to political quarrels in 
Cheyenne, but gave no specifics. He would not be drawn 
into the fray. It is probably not a coincidence that one year 
later, Hayford publicly described Lee as lively as ever and 
one who had "learned how to take a joke." Lee kept a 
solid suffragist stance up to and through election day. 39 

37. Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 121. 

38. Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 729; Cheyenne Daily 
Leader, August 30, 31, 1870. 

39. Stanton, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 729; Laramie Daily 
Sentinel, August 12, 17, 1870; August 17, 1871. 

Lee's advocacy for suffrage has been demonstrated. 
Did he have motives other than conviction, particularly 
self-serving ones? Pioneer lawyer W.W. Corlett described 
Lee as a political animal, whose major focus was political 
oratory, to the exclusion of other pursuits. Lee was a lec- 
turer for the American Literary Bureau; his topic when he 
came to Wyoming was the Civil War. As a lecturer, he 
needed a political focus and hot, contemporary topics, 
especially one in which he played a part, were to his 
advantage. It is possible that he had more than one motive 
for publicizing his role in the woman suffrage experiment 
and getting himself firmly allied to the suffragists, ad- 
vancing himself as the strong suffragist. When he did leave 
the territory in 1871, he gave as his reason the press of 
engagements with the Lyceum. The Leader noted in 1874, 
that Lee had made twenty-five speeches during the month 
of April. 40 

When election day rolled around women and men 
voted and elected Jones as Wyoming's one Delegate to 
Congress. So it was that in September, 1870, Lee, the 
former secretary of Wyoming, sat on the sidelines, watch- 
ing a former Republican territorial colleague capture the 
slot he had wanted and made many exertions to achieve. 
He had been removed from the position of secretary by 
the requests of members of his own party. He had been 
incensed by the rough humor of men deeply embroiled 
in a political dispute who, in one of the typical functions 
of sexism, allying men in conflict in a laugh, came together, 
or some of them, in a laugh about women and the out- 
sider, ex-secretary Lee. 

Linking Lee to the demi-monde was testimony to the ef- 
fectiveness of the job the Republicans had done: women 
had attended the Republican caucus and women were 
selected as candidates. The Republicans even chose at least 
two women who had Democratic connections. The 
Democrats tried, reported the Tribune, to get women to 
come to the county convention, but no Blacks and no 
women came. The party that had passed the most pro- 
gressive legislation for women in the world, at that point 
in time, could not lure women to their caucus. It probably 
was not an accident that the convention made plain that 
not all voters would be ladies. For those who opposed 
women voting, this was a vehicle to ridicule woman suf- 
frage and to discourage women from voting, rather to 
shame them into staying home, safe, refined, modest and 

40. Corlett, "Founding of Cheyenne," p. 24; Notice from Office oi the 
American Literary Bureau, November, 1868, Record Croup 3° 
Microfilm, #968, #34, National Archives; Wyoming Tribune. Febru- 
ary 4, 1871; Cheyenne Daily Leader, May 13, 1874. 



SPRING 1990 

distant from prostitutes— a voluntary non-voter. As 
Hayford grasped, if the women who had the franchise did 
not vote, the experiment was dead. Although there were 
more voting for woman suffrage than against in the 
legislature, that did not mean, in a territory of 8,014 
people, there was no opposition. Opposition to woman 
suffrage had made itself known and the Republicans made 
it conspicuous. 41 

On election day, September 6, 1870, three days after 
Lee placed his name openly on the Tribune's masthead, the 
Leader reported "the ladies of all classes seem to favor the 
Republican nominees." The Leader also commented that 
"many ladies" had voted "without molestation or in- 
terference." The Tribune ran the law stating what would 
happen to anyone who interfered with the right of a 
qualified voter to vote, and inviting anyone with knowl- 
edge of violations to report them to Carey, U.S. Attorney. 
Campbell wrote in his diary: "Result uncertain," but the 
next day, he exulted: "Glorious news. Election of Jones." 
All Republican newspapermen signaled their contentment. 
Hayford reported ninety-three ladies voted, and sixty-four 
for Republicans. He credited women with the Republican 
victory and four to five hundred votes, not directly by 
women voting, but because, for a change, there was order 
at the polls and men who stayed away from drunken 
shoot-em-ups came to vote. "[W]e feel just now disposed 
to forgive them [the Democratic legislators] for what 
mischief they did in consideration of their passing the 
Female Suffrage Bill." Both the Leader and the Wyoming 
Tribune used the same headline: "WYOMING RE- 
DEEMED." 42 

"Carping fogies have alleged that women would be 
contaminated at the polls and ought not to mix with the 
common herd, but at our recent election whenever a 
woman no matter what her race, color or condition might 
be, was seen approaching with a ballot in her hand," men 
stood back, opening a pathway to the ballot box. In the 
same issue, the Tribune invited the women of Wyoming 
to take notice of a letter to the editor, passing along the 
rumor that the Democrats might appeal the election results 
because "women voted the Republican ticket." This same 
letter asserted that they passed the woman suffrage law 
as a "joke, thinking that the Governor would veto it." But, 

41. Wyoming Tribune, August 6, 13, 27; September 3; December 24, 1870; 
1869 Census of Wyoming Territory. 

42. Cheyenne Daily Leader, September 6, 7, 8, 1870; Wyoming Tribune, 
September 3, 10, 1870; "John A. Campbell, Diary," p. 121; Laramie 
Daily Sentinel, September 7, 1870. 

wrote the letter writer, he did not, and then, clearly dis- 
torting the facts to partisan advantage, asserted that 
members of the legislature got drunk and tried to make 
women do road work, military duty. It was entertaining 
advocacy, but wrong on the facts. The effort to make 
women voters do these things began in the House on 
December 7, the day after the suffrage bill passed the 
House in spite of opponents' efforts to block it, and before 
the governor had signed it. 43 

With the election safely behind, Lee talked about the 
code of laws made by the first legislature. If widely selling 
the law book, which first contained a woman suffrage law 
had been Lee's intention, he missed the mark, since he 
conceded that the sales had been exceedingly limited and 
he was reducing the cost. Lee spoke nicely about the 
legislators, characterizing them as "industrious, that they 
meant to serve the best interests of Wyoming, that they 
were a hearty, good-feeling set of fellows." But he had no 
use for what they did, and put into print his version of 
a joke backfiring. "Once, during the session, amid the 
greatest hilarity, and after the presentation of various 
funny amendments, and in full expectation of a guber- 
natorial veto, an act was passed Enfranchising the Women 
of Wyoming . . . How strange that a movement destined 
to purify the muddy pool of politics . . . should have 
originated in a joke." 44 And by putting it in print, Lee cast 
the stone, informing or misinforming, as the case proves, 
a large number of people, in and out of Wyoming; and the 
ripples would follow Wyoming all the way to statehood 
and beyond. 

This joke had a victim; the governor, who was ex- 
pected to veto. But, now, there was another joke, and a 
second victim. The Democrats had lost to a Republican 
because of the women's vote. The Democrats, headlined 
the Tribune, "Builded Wiser than They Knew." And so, 
at the expense of the women, Lee threw darts at the 
Democrats who passed the law. A wiser friend of women's 
rights might have recognized that to attribute the defeat 
of what was without question the stronger party in the ter- 
ritory was to invite just what occurred: an effort to repeal. 
Hayford, in fact, reported a "rumor" of a repeal sentiment 
among Democrats two days after the election. Hayford also 
gave women credit for the Republican victory. Both 
Republicans gave fodder to the antisuffragist camp since 
they could say it was a "joke or mischief." Possibly the 
Republicans had to show that woman suffrage was a sound 

43. Wyoming Tribune, September 17, 1870; House Journal, p. 213. 

44. Wyoming Tribune, October 8, 1870. 



political idea for Republicans, vindicating Campbell's 
signature, and entangling Jones in loyalty to and support 
of the women's right to vote since women had helped elect 
him. 45 

The Revolution noted that in Kansas, the Democrats had 
taken the position that since the Fifteenth Amendment 
gave all men, not respecting race and color, the right to 
vote that it was time for woman suffrage. The editors 
sourly gave some advice to the women of Wyoming, sug- 
gesting that they "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest." 
Lee waffled a defense of Wyoming women, a back-handed 
defense, and recounted the litany of the passage. "It has 
been said that the Legislature last winter, passed the female 
suffrage bill as a joke, or as an advertisement of the ter- 
ritory, thinking that there could be no question but that 
the next Legislature would repeal it." But the ladies liked 
it and it would get a fair trial. 46 

On Christmas Eve, the Tribune applauded the appoint- 
ment of a Democratic woman to a post, and pointed out 
she had run on the Republican ticket and lost. It was, 
charged the Tribune, an effort to win votes in the upcom- 
ing city elections." But, said the Tribune, repeating the 

When the ladies remember, however, that leading Democrats, 
those who passed the bill, have repeatedly said that it was done 
as a joke, as an advertising dodge, that it was supposed the 
Governor would interpose his veto, and that if he did not that 
there would be an opportunity to repeal it before women would 
have a chance to vote, and now expect to repeal it at the next 
session of the Legislature if they should have a majority, we 
fear the move will not be a great success. 47 

The joke passage is here used as anti-Democratic, political 
fodder and inducement for the ladies to vote Republican. 
However, Lee had other versions of the passage and 
he was not so nice to the Wyoming legislators outside 
Wyoming. In Galaxy, he gave them short shrift: "The first 
Legislature, composed of elements common in border com- 
munities. ..." The reason suffrage was conferred was 
". . . solely for advertising purposes." The Council 
thought the House would disagree, continued Lee, but 
they concurred in anticipation of the governor's veto. He 
told essentially the same story in Indianapolis, and it is a 
good story indeed, probably playing to the audience. But 
it still does not square with the legislative record. Some 
members of the House continued to try to restrict the right 
of suffrage after it had gone back to the Council for the 

approval of the House amendment which raised the age 
to twenty-one. The Council reaffirmed the amendment and 
sent it to the governor. It is possible that arguments such 
as these were used, but the concerted action of the bodies 
is clear. In the Galaxy article, Lee did not even mention 
Governor Campbell by name, saying only: "The bill, how- 
ever, was finally approved." Lee takes the spotlight with 
his appointment of Esther Morris; he did not mention 
Caroline Neil, his other simultaneous appointment as first 
woman justice of the peace. In his speech in Indianapolis, 
Lee gave a new twist: the governor, said Lee, "punished" 
the legislators by signing the bill. 48 

Just shy of two decades later, Lee had a new version. 
The joke was justice after all. A young suffragist, Willcox, 
wrote a pamphlet, partially titled, Wyoming: The True Cause 
and Splendid Fruits of Woman Suffrage There . . . and one 
which purported to correct the errors of most historians 
who had written about Wyoming. Once again Lee was the 
star, and a footnote stated that Lee agreed with Willcox. 
This version has Lee snookering a reluctant Bright into in- 
troducing the bill and telling Bright to tend the bill in the 
Council and Lee would take care of it in the House. 
Knowing his men, Mr. Lee did not waste breath in arguing on 
justice or public weal. He told each member of both houses that 
the law could do no harm, and would be a gigantic advertise- 
ment for the Territory, lifting it at once out of obscurity, and 
asked their votes as a favor to himself. Some of the few women 
then in the region supported it on higher grounds, but these 
arguments had no weight with men like the majority of the 
Legislature. Mr. Lee worked hard, and his reasons and influence 

Referring to another person (whose version is discussed 
below) who had judged "... woman's freedom in Wyo- 
ming 'a joke,' 'a political windfall!' when the truth is," 
Willcox asserted, "— as will be shown — no political 
legislation was ever more designedly achieved or main- 
tained." So in this version, Lee was the strategic master- 
mind, luring the Wyoming ruffians into a vote and all the 
arguments he attributed to the Democrats were his. There 
was no joke, there was justice, according to Willcox' report 
of Lee's assertions. 49 

The context of this assertion is important. It followed 
the entrance of Wyoming into the Union as the sole woman 
suffrage state, and as the suffrage struggle continued 
throughout the country, the spotlight again turned to 
Wyoming. A joke, a political windfall, detracted from the 

45. Wyoming Tribune, October 8, 1870; Laramie Daily Sentinel, September 
8, 1870. 

46. The Revolution, October 13, 1870; Wyoming Tribune, October 29, 1870. 

47. Wyoming Tribune, December 24, 1870. 

48. Lee, "The Woman Movement in Wyoming," pp. 755-756; House Jour- 
nal, p. 213; Council Journal, p. 158; Indianapolis Daily Sentinel. 
November 16, 1871. 

49. Willcox, "Wyoming: The True Cause," pp. 11. 14 



SPRING 1990 

arguments of justice. This version put it back in the serious 
category, at the expense of the men who passed it. But 
Lee's claim to popularity in the House cannot be docu- 
mented. Shortly after he had supplied a committee room 
for the House, a resolution of thanks to Mr. Lee was voted 
down and a motion to reconsider lost. The House would 
not even thank him for anything on November 9, 1869, 
even before the suffrage bill was introduced by Bright. 
Kuykendall said Lee "undertook to organize the house but 
failed." Nor does it square with the only known recorded 
reasons why individual legislators voted as they did. "One 
man told me that he thought it right and just to give 
women the right to vote. Another man said he thought 
it would be a good advertisement for the territory, still 
another said that he voted to please somebody else, and 
so on." Three reasons: one justice, one to please someone 
else, and territorial advertisement. Kingman also took 
pains to give Lee due credit, but to set limits to what he 
was due. Kingman credited Lee with being a genuine ad- 
vocate of woman suffrage, who worked for the passage 
of the bill, and was glad to appoint a woman. But, said 
Kingman pointedly, Morris' appointment was suggested 
by her neighbors, who sustained her manfully. Couple this 
with the fact that Lee was bounced from his post as sec- 
retary, and his claims, or Willcox' claims for him, again 
entertain, but fall short on facts. 50 

Neither Willcox nor Lee can credit himself with 
originating territorial advertisement as an argument for suf- 
frage. He may have joined the vast numbers who already 
knew of this— 1868 Dakota legislature and all the various 
newspapermen who wrote about it. Willcox' version of 
Wyoming history was, nevertheless, good fodder to refute 
the notion that Lee himself had put in ink and publicized, 
that it was a joke, not a serious matter. It was not the first 
time the joke motive had come back to haunt the suffrage 
movement. Such was asserted in the Constitutional Con- 
vention of Wyoming and offered as a rationale for submit- 
ting the female suffrage law as a separate provision for the 
vote of the people. Twenty-one years had not settled the 
matter for some. Challenging the old-timers to refute this 
story, if myth it be, the proposer sat. After a time, old-timer 
and pioneer M. C. Brown rose and said no; maybe some 
had voted as a joke, he could not say. The "rumor" was 
not well founded. Bright was serious and Morris had given 
him a bill to present, and it was passed seriously. It was 

no joke concluded Brown in response to the challenge, and 
no counterargument was advanced. 51 Nevertheless, the 
wedge that gave the opportunity was the idea that the 
original bill was a joke. 

Was woman suffrage a collective joke, or looked upon 
as a joke, or sold as a joke, or a partisan ploy, or simply 
a post hoc attack on the legislation? Other versions help 
with the answers, but true or not, the joke idea had its finer 

Particularly in the beginning in 1869 and in 1870, call- 
ing the woman suffrage bill a joke also had another effect, 
which was to defuse serious opposition. One might op- 
pose a cause, but why waste time arguing with a joke? The 
very argument that retarded taking the issue seriously also 
had the effect of deflecting the threat and opponents. On 
April 29, 1870, in Congress, a bill to repeal certain acts of 
the 1869 Wyoming legislature, was discussed. Mr. Trumbull 
wanted to know what acts were in question. So did Mr. 
Pomeroy. "Do they relate to voting out there?" Mr. Ramsey: 
"I imagine they relate to female suffrage [Laughter]." And 
with a laugh enough to make the record, the Congress of 
the United States passed on to dissect and repeal parts of 
the bill passed by the Wyoming legislature that pertained 
to the railroad. Congress, which could have, did not do 
anything to the suffrage bill; they knew about it, chuckled 
and passed on to serious business. 52 


Plunkett was the author of the version that holds that 
the Wyoming bill was "a political windfall," "a joke." 
Stating that he could not locate the legislator who intro- 
duced the bill, Plunkett advanced the general understand- 
ing: "It is generally supposed that he [Bright] was inspired 
by a lady of advanced views ..." which clearly implied 
he was not. Plunkett got his information from the legis- 
lators he had met, number unspecified; but, as only four 
remained in the territory in 1880, it could not have been 
from many. Lawyer Whitehead, present at the demi-monde 
demonstration and a first territorial legislator, was still in 
Cheyenne in 1890, and is a prime candidate as one Plunkett 
informant. Those few Plunkett met "fail to recall any 
discussion whatever on the general principles of the ques- 
tion. The commonest belief is that the whole thing was a 
joke," reported Plunkett, and told what it was: 

50. House Journal, p. 68; Kuykendall, Frontier Days, p. 132; Letter from 
C. G. Coutant to Frank W. Mondell, May 22, 1903, AMH; Stanton, 
et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 731; Larson, History of 
Wyoming, pp. 122-123. 

51. See Part II, "Anticipatory"; Journals and Debates of the Constitutional 
Convention of the State of Wyoming (Cheyenne: The Daily Sun, Book 
and Job Printing, 1893), pp. 346, 352. 

52. Congressional Globe, 2nd sess., 41st Congress, 1869-1870, p. 3087. 



. . . there was something that tickled Western humour and har- 
monised with the characteristic spirit of adventure in the idea 
of giving the women a vote. For few of the pioneers had brought 
their families with them, and it may well be imagined that the 
ladies who came out with the gamblers and saloon-keepers to 
seek their fortunes belonged, among the social strata, to a pretty 
hard formation. 53 

The foray of demi-monde alternates, a political offense 
when women were going to the Republican caucus and 
running as candidates, has been transformed, despite the 
general understanding, into a reason for passage. Even as 
the bill to allow Wyoming to be admitted into the Union 
waited for Senate action, Carey, lobbying for the bill, 
assured his audience: "When the legislators of twenty 
years ago have joined the majority, some history-maker will 
record the passing of this statute as the triumph of a great 
principle." To Plunkett's mind, it was no such triumph; 
it had turned out not well, but such as not to lead to 
"repentance." He was insistent. In his closing he said: 
"This much is certain. Never was a political experiment 
tried under less auspicious circumstances." The end was 
better than the beginning: "Yet not one of the predicted 
evils, and they were many, have marred its history." 
Without question, in the process of testing the experiment, 
the nomination of demi-monde as alternates was an 
event— a complex, but basically ridiculing offense. It was 
the last, but not the first, offensive salvo against woman 
suffrage— though it may have been as much intended for 
Lee as for the women. There is no evidence that the bill 
was passed deliberately to include a "hard formation" of 
women. However, the language of the bill clearly included 
all women: "every woman." In other words, universal suf- 
frage was universal suffrage; less than noble men and less 
than noble women were voters and that was the precise 
point. When woman suffrage finally came, it profited from 
the march of Jacksonian democracy the men had made. 
The evidence clearly shows that the inclusion of the demi- 
monde was a part of the barrage to slow women from par- 

53. Plunkett, "The Working of Woman Suffrage," pp. 5, 13; T. A. Lar- 
son, "Emancipating the West's Dolls, Vassals and Hopeless 
Drudges: The Origins of Woman Suffrage in the West," in Essays 
in Western History in Honor of T. A. Larson, ed. Roger Daniels, vol. 
XXXVII, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Laramie: University of Wyoming Publica- 
tions, 1971), p. 8; Wyoming Tribune, August 13, 1870; Cheyenne Daily 
Sun, May 6, 1890. 

54. Cheyenne Daily Sun, May 3, 1890; Plunkett, "The Working of Woman 
Suffrage," pp. 6, 16; General Laws, 1869, p. 371; Kirk H. Porter, A 
History of Suffrage in the United States (Westport: Greenwood Press, 
Publishers, 1977), pp. 137-138. 

55. Plunkett, "The Working of Woman Suffrage," pp. 5, 6, 10, 13; 
Telex, November 29, 1989, Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative 

ticipation in suffrage. To include it as a specific reason for 
passage awaits further data. This is an important distinc- 
tion; if it had been a reason, publicly known, the entire 
experimentation phase would take on a new dimension, 
and require a different analysis. 54 

Plunkett did include, however, the familiar argument, 
"and the only one which had any force, was that the pass- 
ing of the Bill would be a famous advertisement for the 
Territory." He gave the Wyoming legislators short shrift: 
"freaks of politicians." He gave the women equally short 
shrift. He credited the judges as the instigators of the jury 
experiment because of the "apathy of the fair sex as to their 
newly-gained honours ..." who apparently should have 
rushed out and voted even when there was not an elec- 
tion. Plunkett judged: "But from general observation and 
innumerable conversations, it was impossible to avoid the 
conclusion that the great obstacle to the adoption of woman 
suffrage in Wyoming [had it not been a political windfall], 
would have been the apathy of the great majority of the 
women themselves." His paper, unfortunately, did not 
report separately the data from the poll he conducted, so 
that, if present, it is not quantified or quantifiable. Regret- 
tably, the questionnaires, if extant, are not to be found now 
in the Plunkett papers. 55 

Plunkett came to Wyoming in October, 1879, and by 
1881 was a member of the Wyoming Stock Growers As- 
sociation. After ten years in the territory, while the ap- 
proval of the state constitution was pending, he became 
interested in how woman suffrage in Wyoming worked, 
and did not feel he had made adequate observations in that 

Tin; Working oi ' i m • ».r in Wyoming. 

That bo Eta 
oi twenty \> 


■i. ii 

w nli nun. both legal 81 

(in! n< have .i more <>i leu imp 
mi; Questions oJ the day. It M 
mult in Wyoming baa been ii 

recentii . .n'«-i ■< trial 
women in ■ position of absolute 
political, ia .i fat I *rhk li cannot 
in be ii inj,' on one i>( the ripen* 
mil, I know, tii.n tli*- exneri< 
I under conditioni winch bear 


little or no analogy to the circumstance* oi older Lommonw eaitha. 
Still. I may be shown to have been coincident with .i 
political development in which the broad (acta <>f human nature, 

so confidently appealed to b\ either side in the woman question, 
have had ample room for aetion. He this as it niav. the interest* 
inj; fact remains, that the first complete legislative emancipation 
of woman in the history of the world belongs to the territory of 

Wyoming, and to the year of grace t86e> A comparatively long 
and intimate acquaintance \\ith men ami things in the Territory 

of Wyoming enables the present writer to submit a truthful, if 
not a very readable account of how the battle of the women was 
(ought and won, and how for twenty years the victor] has beCfl 
used by them. It will be necessary to take a brief survey of the 
history ami circumstances of the territory in order to understand 
its political life. 

Sir Horace Plunkett's version of the passage of woman suffrage by Wyo- 
ming's first assembly was titled "The Working of Woman Suffrage in 
Wyoming. " 



SPRING 1990 

time to know. He conducted a poll, which received the 
support of people in Cheyenne and Laramie, though most 
were perplexed by his apparent need to study what was 
already settled. Just how poorly he understood the situa- 
tion in Wyoming when he collected data and wrote about 
it is exemplified by his letter to the Leader in early 
November, 1889. He was interested in fiscal issues, his 
pocketbook, and had no political aspirations. It would have 
been better, said Plunkett, if they had submitted the 
woman suffrage provision of the constitution to the peo- 
ple separately. All agreed, said Plunkett, that the ladies 
had not abused the privilege. If Congress should balk at 
woman suffrage, which he did not think it would, he was 
"... convinced the ladies will voluntarily retire, rather 
than allow us to groan under the burden of a system so 
hopelessly false." 56 

His article about the Wyoming woman as citizen ex- 
perience came out in May, 1890. The review in the Sun 
edited broadly, omitting the hard formation theory, killed 
him with kindness, and added editorial subtitles which 
did not entirely square with Plunkett' s assertions. The 
Leader challenged only one point directly, calling it a "gross 
libel upon the women of Wyoming." Plunkett was wrong 
that women had made political bargains with the "unfor- 
tunate class." Plunkett responded with a letter and tried 
to explain himself, backpedaling vigorously. The Leader 
graciously accepted: "It is gratifying to learn that the mean- 
ing Mr. Plunkett intended to convey by the sentences in 
question is not what an interpretation of the words them- 
selves would suggest." Though Plunkett grew to a 
creditable and informed suffragist, the content and tim- 
ing of his paper alone, and the charge in his Fortnightly 
Review article, "the fact is the experiment was not fairly 
tried," proclaimed what he had the gumption to announce 
in his letter: "When I entered upon the task, my own views 
were decidedly opposed to woman suffrage." He had, he 
said, been generously assisted by the leading citizens, men 
and women of the territory, and he had felt honor bound 
to deal impartially with the facts. He was pleased, he said, 
that the facts warranted a "high appreciation of the value 
of women in politics and hopefulness as to the further 
development of their influence in the political sphere." 
Aside from the frank concession of his opposition, which 

56. William W. Savage, Jr., "Plunkett of the EK," Annals of Wyoming 43 
(Fall 1971): 205-206; Diaries of Horace Plunkett, October 19, 26, 1889, 
MSS in the Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative Studies, Oxford- 
shire County, England, Microfilm #134, University of South 
Carolina; Laramie Weekly Sentinel, August 3, 1889; Daily Tribune, 
October 23, 1889; Cheyenne Daily Leader, October 23; November 5, 


I : . '. 

Hon, - . ReV. ;}. V. Cov/hick. 



i, "A Mc\V Statue" - 

Mrs. Thcscse A. Jenkins. 


daiion ol the State Flag, 

Mrs. Esther Morris. 


Gov. F. EI. Warren. 


"The Star Spangled Banner" 

- Miss Nellie iKVVcr, Vocalist. 


"A True Republic" 

Mrs. I. s. Bardleii. 

Pi •! 

tation of t lie Constitution, 

Hon. M. C. P.roWn. 

Mr-. Amahn H. Post. 

- "Anvil Chorus." 

K. . . !•'. ;]. Nugent. 

Those who participated in the official statehood celebration 
in Cheyenne on New July 23, 1890, heard Tlierese A. Jenkins' 
speech, "A New Statute," about woman suffrage, and 
witnessed Esther Hobart Morris present the state flag to 
Governor Francis E. Warren. 

shaped what he did, the most instructive aspect of this 
opinion is a window into the processes by which the 
leading citizens "Wyomingized" outsiders to the value of 
woman suffrage, which process contributed to the main- 
tenance and institutionalization of this reform at a time 
when no other state or territory had it in place. 57 

Esther Morris' brief comments about the passage of the 
suffrage bill add an important perspective. She was one 
of Wyoming's vigorous suffragists. When woman suffrage 
was safely in the constitution and it looked like Wyoming 
would be a state, the women of Cheyenne met and de- 
cided to contribute a flag to the new state. On April 3, 1890, 
the executive committee selected Morris to present the flag, 
the gift of the women of the territory of Wyoming. This 
was the gift, a deeply symbolic one, that the women chose 
for that unique statehood celebration. The orator chosen 
by the women, Mrs. Therese A. Jenkins, asked, in her 

57. Plunkett, "The Working of Woman Suffrage"; Cheyenne Daily Sun, 
May 24, 1890; Cheyenne Daily Leader, May 29; July 4, 1890. 



statehood speech, honors for two Wyoming women: 
Amalia Post and Esther Morris. 58 

In 1870, Morris told a group of California suffragists 
about the passage of the Wyoming woman suffrage bill, 
a forum which would be most likely to hear the full truth. 
Morris told what it was and was not. It was "the result 
of a bitter feud between the existing political parties, and 
it was done only in a moment of spite— not out of any 
regard for the movement, but rather as a bitter joke." 59 

Once again the object of the joke is left unspecified, 
but the key word is feud. There are only two logical 
possibilities: if the legislature passed it in spite, there are 
only two possible targets of the joke 1) Campbell, and, 
perhaps, the other territorial appointees, or 2) the women. 
Support for the first choice, as shown earlier, is over- 
whelming. Is there evidence for a bitter feud between the 
governor and the legislature? In profusion. 60 

Conflict with the legislature began as soon as Camp- 
bell's speech was done; the first issue hinged on who 
should make the laws; Chief Justice Howe and the men 
he chose, said the governor. We will, said the legislature, 
and did. Campbell vetoed several bills. He vetoed a pay 
raise for the legislators by the legislators; overridden. He 
axed a bill licensing gambling; overridden. He vetoed a bill 
to prevent intermarriage between Whites and Blacks or 
Orientals; overridden. He vetoed bills appointing county 
officers; overridden. Campbell had developed the ter- 
ritorial seal, featuring among other things, Grant's state- 
ment: "Let us have peace." The legislature adopted 
another seal, and another inscription: "Let arms yield to 
the gown, or let military authority yield to civil power." 
They considered but discarded the proposal to have as the 
inscription, "let us have war." There is strong evidence 
for early tension and conflict between the outsider 
Republican governor and the Democrats, the insiders. 
Campbell had expected trouble. In late October he had 
even written a letter that did not show up in his letterpress 

58. Cheyenne Daily Leader, March 26; April 4, 1890; Cheyenne Daily Sun, 
July 24, 1890. 

59. Woman's Journal, March 9, 1872. 

60. Larson, History of Wyoming, pp. 74-76; W. W. Corlett, "The Found- 
ing of Cheyenne, 1884," pp. 23-24, MSS PM-7, copy provided by 
the Bancroft Library; "John A. Campbell, Diary," pp. 68-69; 
Kingman in Stanton, etal., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 730; 
Justice E. A. Thomas, "Female Suffrage in Wyoming," Potter's 
American Monthly 18 (May 1882): 492-493; Letter from Mrs. Camp- 
bell to Grace R. Hebard, October 27, 1919, Hebard Collection, AHC; 
Cheyenne State Leader, July 24, 1917; Youngstown Evening Register and 
Tribune, July 15, 1880; Omaha Weekly Herald, December 15, 1869; 
Kingman, "Honorable John W. Kingman," p. 224. 

book soliciting help or strategy from Governor Ashley of 
Montana. He believed that the legislature would not send 
him bills until the last week of the session in order that 
he could not veto. If that were not enough, there also is 
the conflict between some citizens of Carter County and 
Kingman, enough to get the judge put out of the district 
and legislated out of the Supreme Court. Campbell tried 
to stop the redistricting, but failed. 61 

A second point of tension between the Republican 
governor and the Democratic legislature was the issue of 
Black suffrage. On April 28, 1870, shortly after the 
first jury including women met in Laramie and while Mor- 
ris was in office in South Pass City, Baker featured front 
page, without comment, an unidentified exchange news- 
paper's comments telling the "clincher" argument in the 
woman suffrage bill. Women who wanted to vote might 
like to know that a speech by a member had assured the 
passage of the suffrage bill. "A member arose and said; 
'Dammit, if you are going to let the niggers and the pigtails 
vote, we will ring in the women, too. And they were im- 
mediately 'rung in.' " 62 What other evidence supports op- 
position to Black suffrage as a motivation for the passage 
of the bill? Plenty. 

Bright's position on Black suffrage and woman suffrage 
is well documented. In 1868, Bright was one of seventeen 
men who signed a notice of a meeting "will be holden" 
in South Pass City. This notice of a Democratic mass 
meeting proclaimed that "all good and true men, who 

-. >l( ! V, 

be ;''>il<)Uii.j 

liveivd ii; 

..] thj> 

WQM {!:< 


pa?*age •• 

\<*t \\h\' !i 

. ■-,! f! 

lorn M 


. - 




, . 

..•' And 

;. \\ • ;'• 

The Cheyenne Daily Leader reported on April 28, 
1870, another argument for the passage of woman suf- 
frage in Wyoming. 

61. Council Journal, pp. 18, 39-43, 61, 163; Larson, Histon/ of Wyoming, 
pp. 75-76; Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol. 1, p. 628; House 
journal, pp. 85, 211; Letter from Governor Ashlev to Governor Camp- 
bell, November 5, 1869, Campbell Collection, Archives and Records 
Management Division, AMH; "John A. Campbell, Diary." p. bS; 
Session Laws, 1869, pp. 389-392. 

62. Cheyenne Daily Leader, April 28, 1870. 



SPRING 1990 

repudiate the Reconstruction policy of Congress, negro suf- 
frage, and the principles espoused by the Radical Re- 
publicans party, and who are in favor of equal and exact 
justice to all sections of the Union, are respectfully invited 
to participate." Bright was said to be intensely prejudiced 
against Black suffrage and to have introduced woman suf- 
frage because he believed women were more capable than 
Blacks of voting. Evidence of racial prejudice in the 
legislature can be identified in the following statutes passed 
by them. The alimony and divorce bill which became law 
without the governor's signature of endorsement specified 
that "marriages are void without any decree of divorce, 
that may hereafter be contracted in this territory . . . when 
one party is a white person, and the other is possessed 
of one-eight or more negro or Mongolian blood." The 
school law provided: "Where there are fifteen or more 
colored children within any school district, the board of 
directors thereof, with the approval of county superinten- 
dent of schools, may provide a separate school for the in- 
struction of such colored children." In the South it was 
called segregation. The voting qualification stated male, but 
that was not because the legislature wanted it that way. 
Refuting charges that Wyoming allowed White and Black 
women but not Black men to vote, the Tribune said: 
We beg to remind them that there is one small thing which they 
never succeeded in doing, although our last legislators [the 
Democrats] showed a zeal worthy of a better cause, in trying 
to do it. This one thing is to nullify an act of Congress. As the 
Organic Act of the Territory provides that no distinction shall 
be made on account of color, it was unnecessary for the 
Legislature to do any business in the way of enfranchising male 
negroes. 63 

The Republicans made clear their support for Black suf- 
frage in the 1869 campaign. The Black Cheyenne hotel 
owner, B. L. (Barney) Ford was elected to the Republican 
county central committee, and was appointed as chairman 
of the Black Republican meeting. During the campaign, at 
the Republican rally, folks abused the Black participants. 
When a city policeman tried to intervene, Marshal Howe 
stopped him. Finally, Howe, the sheriff, and deputies, 
hauled off one particularly offensive man, and kept him 
corraled until the rally ended. On election day, at South 
Pass, Howe, gun in hand, took Black men to the polls and 
made way for them to vote by threatening to shoot any 
man who got in the way. U.S. Attorney Carey gave an 
opinion that guaranteed Blacks the right to vote. His views 

were evidently known in Wyoming. Baker commented on 
September 7, 1869, that Carey had returned from the min- 
ing districts; those who hollered for southern rights had 
let him escape with his life. The Tribune made a similar 
comment. Carey, reported the Tribune, drew the immigra- 
tion bill. One House passed the immigration bill and the 
bureau of statistics bill. But, said the Tribune, since Carey 
was cagey, and a Radical Republican, some feared a Repub- 
lican trick, "a black Republican cat," and both bills were 
strangled. These were the bills that would have advertised 
the territory in the traditional way. But, Bright and his 
fellow legislators had something else in mind. 64 

Universal suffrage was one key argument for Black 
male suffrage; in Wyoming, universal suffrage was 
legislated to mean universal, including women, all women, 
with deference toward some. J. H. Triggs was in the ter- 
ritory in the early 1870s, which may not establish when 
he arrived. It can be demonstrated that he had contact with 
at least one first territorial legislator from Laramie, Louis 
Miller. More evidence of the anti-Black suffrage theme 
came from one of Triggs' history of Laramie, Wyoming. 
Giving the text of the woman suffrage law and some of 
the experience with the first women jurors in Laramie, 
Triggs went on to say that while the United States had seen 
fit to extend the right of the elective franchise to the "male 
portion of the poor and 'downtrodden' of all nations of 
the earth, regardless of intelligence, color, or race, who 
make known their allegiance to our government, THE TER- 
RITORY OF WYOMING, by an act of her legislature, has 
taken up the grand and noble principle that our wives, 
mothers, sisters and daughters, are at least entitled to the same 
rights and privileges; . . ." The Wyoming woman suffrage 
law was then partly rooted in opposition to the exercise 
of the franchise by Black and Chinese men, and intended 
to right the balance by adding White, Black, and Chinese 
women. While it was not a concession, by some, that 
woman suffrage was a proper course, it was relative to 
universal male suffrage, the very least due the female 
relatives of the Anglo-Saxon men. If Black and Oriental 
men could vote, anybody should be able to vote. Blood 
is thicker than ideology. And, in Wyoming, universal suf- 
frage meant precisely that, universal suffrage. Kingman, 
in his Massachusetts testimony, began with precisely the 
same point. 65 

63. Sweetwater Mines, May 5, 1868; Hebard, "First Woman Jury," pp. 
1296, 1301; Session Laws, 1869, pp. 228, 274; Wyoming Tribune, 
March 5, 1870. 

64. Cheyenne Leader, August 20, 23, 25; September 7, 1869; Kingman, 
in Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 729; Wyoming 
Tribune, January 1, 1870. 




Bright, when he introduced his bill, made no distinc- 
tion between kinds of women with regard to suffrage. His 
bill said "every woman." He made it clear he had not been 
influenced by The Revolution, or a woman speaking from 
the rostrum. Perhaps this blunt statement placed the burr 
under the saddle of some feminists, who may have had 
some reaction to seeing the first success come in a territory 
in which they could hardly lay a claim. It was to him 
"just," and he worked and was credited with getting it 
past. Edward Archibald Slack, Morris' editor son, made 
it plain enough: "... Bright who lobbied, who traded, 
who dickered and set 'em up for the boys that voted for 
the measure." Continued Slack, ". . .a more adroit wire 
puller and female suffragist never existed. He seemed to 
think that this was all the legislation Wyoming needed, 
and that if he got it through, the country would be saved." 
It was not necessary for anyone, including Bright, to show 
regard for the women's movement to have an idea of 
justice for women in mind. Robert Morris' letter to The 
Revolution told what did not influence Bright. Bright, wrote 
Grace R. Hebard, was prejudiced against Black suffrage 
and felt mothers and wives were better qualified to vote 
than Blacks and this clear racism and relative justice were 
at the root of his actions for woman suffrage. 66 

Bright never claimed to have been the sole suffragist. 
The most compelling reason for thinking that he was in- 
fluenced by his wife, Julia, and Morris is that he is reported 
to have said so. On the occasion of the National Suffrage 
Association of 1902, on Pioneer's Evening, Wednesday, 
February 12, Bright was seated in the audience among 
those "who had come to hear and not to speak." Anthony 
saw Bright and called on him. It is difficult to understand 
how Bright could have been relegated to the audience, 
since other men and even Mrs. John A. Campbell were on 
stage. At the time, Bright was in his seventies and life had 
been grinding hard for him and his wife. In 1898, Mrs. 
Bright wrote a Colorado congressman for help, and asked 
that he aid her by writing a letter to Senator Francis E. War- 
ren. She wanted a job with the Census Bureau, needed 
it: Mr. Bright's pay was the problem — ". . . indeed it is 
so small, it is with a great effort I can make both ends meet, 

65. Albany County District Court, Journal A, March Term, 1872, p. 187, 
Archives and Records Management Division, AMH; J. H. Triggs, 
History and Directory of Laramie City, Wyoming Territory (Laramie City: 
Daily Sentinel Print, 1875), p. 49; Kingman, "Woman Suffrage in 
Wyoming," p. 1. 

66. Session Laws, 1869, p. 371; The Revolution, January 13, 1870; Laramie 
Daily Sun, January 24, 1876; Hebard, "First Woman Jury," pp. 1296, 

you know $2.24 a day does not go far." Bright lived in 
Washington, D.C., a former elevator operator and em- 
ployee of the government printing office. 67 

The account of the suffrage convention in the 
Washington Post carried no mention of Bright's name. The 
Women's Tribune recounted his remarks. His bill was not 
introduced "in fun," he said; he said he believed "his wife 
was as good as any man and better than convicts and 
idiots." Either he did not say it, or the report omitted the 
word, "Black." "Mrs. Esther Morris," he said, "had 
brought her woman suffrage ideas to South Pass and con- 
verted them all." Bright told an artless or hyperbolic inci- 
dent of Morris' service as judge, saying she had sentenced 
a man to the "dungeon" on bread and water and that 
fellow was more respectful after that. The History of Woman 
Suffrage also recorded that he had attributed to Morris and 
his wife the powers of persuasion that led him to prepare 
the bill. But despite the brevity of the report, it contained 
several errors. It would be, given these errors, important 
to hold an open mind had Bright not given earlier testi- 
mony, of his own volition, to refute a claim that someone 
else had introduced the suffrage bill. 68 

Wyoming suffrage advocates, on the authority of 
Bright, boiled down to four people, including Bright. When 
another Wyoming man, Hayford, claimed credit for the 
passage of the Wyoming woman suffrage law, Bright wrote 
a letter stating that he had introduced the suffrage bill. 
Stating basically that the record speaks for itself, he quoted 
the record. Then he challenged Hayford's statement that 
at the time, there was not a woman or a man in the Territory 
who was known as a female suffragist. I respectfully differ with 
the gentleman, and name Mrs. Esther Morris, Mrs. M. E. Post, 
Mr. or Mrs. Seth Paine and myself, residents for more than 
a year in the Territory, and the three former names were pro- 
verbial for their earnestness in the matter, and they advocated 
the cause with great zeal. 69 


Morris arrived in Wyoming in the summer of 1869, 
months rather than years before Bright introduced his bill, 

67. Ida Husted Harper, History of Woman Suffrage, vols. 5, 31, 34 (New- 
York: Arno and the New York Times, 1969); Women's Tribune, 
February 15, 1902; State Appointments, Miscellaneous, Box #26697, 
Folder FF3, Colorado State Archives; Washington City Directory, 
1897; Washington Star, April 28, 1912. 

68. Washington Post, February 13, 1902; Women's Tribune. February 15, 
1902; Harper, Histon/ of Woman Suffrage, vols. 5, 34. 

69. Denver Tribune, January 21, 1876, as quoted in the Cheyenne Daily 
Leader, January 23, 1876; Laramie Daih/ Sun, January 24, 1876; A. T. 
Andreas, Histon/ of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884: reprinted 
by Arno Press, 1975), pp. 540-544, vol. II. p. 517. 



SPRING 1990 

though this error does not detract from Bright' s descrip- 
tion of their advocacy. Nickerson echoes Bright, though 
he supplies additional, and, remarkably, sworn and 
notarized testimony to his experience. Nickerson had an 
ax to grind and it was out in the open. He directly stated 
his disdain for Bright: a rum smelling barkeeper, not very 
smart, and a rebel storyteller is a fair translation. He fur- 
ther charged that "Colonel" Bright's title was bogus, and 
that he had no regard for the bill, calling it the "hen" bill 
and about the women, a crude expression, meaning let us 
see how they do. Eager to see that Bright not get undue 
credit, Nickerson, in justice to himself and the memory of 
the then deceased Morris, wanted the historical record set 
straight. Bright, a son of Virginia, born to impecunious 
Virginians, had no schooling, and was, as Nickerson said, 
a saloon-keeper. Crude as his actual expression is to 
modern eyes, though the inquiring attitude is not, a polite 
translation is what Bright said to Nickerson to explain the 
passage of the bill: "passed in a jocular manner as an 
experiment." 70 

Nickerson' s interest in history is easily demonstrated 
in such diverse areas as his enthusiasm for John C. Fre- 
mont's western trek, for the naming of Fremont Peak and 
Fremont County, and his leadership in the Fremont 
County Historical Association and Oregon Trail Associa- 
tion. Some awareness of the need for accuracy can also be 
demonstrated. His eruption into the scene of information 
about woman suffrage was inspired by a newspaper ac- 
count distinguished by the profusion of inaccuracies. (A 
swarthy man at a legislature in South Pass City supposedly 
proposed woman suffrage, offered to withdraw it and "ris- 
ing to their feet, to a man, his associates cried, 'No! No! 
No, ' " and so on . ) The account was so far off the mark that 
"An Historical Correction" which is what Nickerson titled 
his contribution, was genuinely in order, as was his 
characterization of that piece— "foreign to the facts and 
misleading." Hebard later claimed, in 1933, she had asked 
him to make this correction. This does not contradict his 
earlier statement, a Republican answer to a Democratic 
foray, which "claimed all the credit for the democratic 
party in securing Wyoming suffrage for women." In the 
latter instance, Nickerson cancelled his subscription to the 
Leader, charging "I find that it cannot tell the truth in any 
respect," and then gave a history which reflected well on 

the Republicans and asserted that the Democrats intro- 
duced the suffrage bill to help their party. This was a par- 
tisan Republican answer to a partisan Democratic 
overgrab. 71 

Nickerson wanted to deprive Bright of excess credit, 
and to see to it that Morris got her share of the credit, which 
was to acknowledge her advocacy. Nickerson took excep- 
tion to the gratitude thesis. This version held that Morris, 
since there were no doctors, helped Julia with a difficult 
childbirth. This apparently referred to Anna Howard 
Shaw's version that Morris earned Bright's gratitude dur- 
ing his wife's childbirth and this gratitude motivated him 
to honor her wishes to introduce a bill for woman suffrage. 
Nickerson had a judgment: a legend of drivel is a fair 
translation, and gave his reasons. Mrs. Bright was not 
pregnant and did not birth a child, and there were, Nicker- 
son said, twenty doctors and many midwives in South Pass 
at the time— an exaggeration in figures at any point in time, 
one suspects, though over the years it may be more ac- 
curate. Nickerson stood by the facts as he had published 
them. Nickerson is correct that there were doctors in South 
Pass, and that Julia Bright had no child during her time 
in South Pass. It is remotely conceivable that she had a 
pregnancy that did not make itself apparent to others 
before terminating. She did, in fact, have two other 
children, and by 1900, neither the young son, born 
previously in Utah Territory, nor the other two were liv- 
ing. But, Nickerson is consistent and insistent as to the facts 
of his personal knowledge, and such as can be directly 
checked, pan out. 72 

Nickerson got caught up in one of the very problems 
the suffrage movement was trying to solve, and the suf- 
fragists were afflicted with it also. Until Wyoming acted, 

70. 1869 Census of Wyoming Territory; H. G. Nickerson to Grace R. 
Hebard, November 18, 1920, Hebard Collection, AHC; The Revolu- 
tion, January 13, 1870; Wyoming State Journal, February 14, 1919. 

71. Unidentified and undated clipping, Hebard Collection, AHC; Wyo- 
ming State journal, November 23, 1983; Jules Farlow, "History of Fre- 
mont County Pioneer Association," Annals of Wyoming 26 (January 
1954): 31-32; Nickerson Scrapbook, letter from Wyoming and item, 
"We Were in Error: Early History of Fremont County," MSS 69C, 
letter appended to manuscript noting that Nickerson had corrected 
the typescript after its publication in Annals of Wyoming, Historical 
Research and Publications Division, AMH; Casper Daily Tribune, 
February 6, 1919; H. G. Nickerson to Editor, Wyoming State Journal, 
February 14, 1919; Unsigned letter from Grace R. Hebard to John 
Charles Thompson, September 8, 1933, Hebard Collection, AHC; 
Laramie Republican, October 10, 1914. 

72. H. G. Nickerson to Grace R. Hebard, September 7, 1921, Hebard 
Collection, AHC; Anna Howard Shaw, The Story of a Pioneer (New 
York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1915), pp. 243-244; 1869 Cen- 
sus of Wyoming Territory, Carter County; 1870 Census of Wyoming 
Territory, Sweetwater County; 1900 Wyoming Census. 



not a woman in the United States could go to the polls and 
express herself, directly. The crux of one suffrage argu- 
ment, pro and con, rested on whether woman could in fact 
represent herself (independence) or whether she was bet- 
ter served by influencing her man to vote her way, for her 
consideration (dependence). Proving that one has influ- 
enced another, or been influenced by another, is a very 
dubious matter under the best of circumstances. The suf- 
fragists always labored under the burden of showing they 
had contributed to processes from which they were ex- 
cluded. Further, it must be remembered that the suffragists 
were not laboring in the fields of neutral and accurate 
historical reconstruction; rather, they labored in the 
vineyards of controversy, confronting both trivial and 
mean-spirited notions of opposition, and tried to transform 
these and harvest support for woman suffrage and an im- 
provement in the status of women. Not surprisingly, in 
the account given by Catt and Shuler, Morris had a lec- 
ture from Anthony "ringing" in her ears. Catt asserted 
that the "determining" influence in Campbell's signing 
was his insistent memory from childhood, when he sneaked 
into a Woman's Rights Convention in Salem, Ohio, which 
was conducted entirely by women, and from which men 
were excluded. Evidently, they either did not know or did 
not believe the governor's direct statement on this point— 
of this more shortly. The national suffragists did not count 
Mr. Bright as a member of the suffrage movement, prob- 
ably because he was reported in The Revolution to have said 
he was not influenced by suffragist thought. However, the 
suffragists' version states that Anthony's convert, Morris, 
in turn, "converted" Bright. They further claimed Nicker- 
son's statement awarded "entire credit" to Morris. Mor- 
ris, to Nickerson's mind, should be "due the credit and 
honor of advocating and originating woman's suffrage in 
the United States." But, Nickerson did not award "entire 
credit" to Morris. To award entire credit would overlook 
the first territorial legislature as well as Bright. To award 
her credit for advocacy is to take the word of Bright, Nicker- 
son, Robert Morris, who wrote that he and Morris were 
the only two open advocates in South Pass, and Carey. 
Nickerson differed in offering specifics of her advocacy. 
Boiled down it was this: on a social occasion, where 
refreshments were served, she asked at least two can- 
didates to pledge to introduce a woman suffrage bill. And 
then Nickerson, a former probate judge, who had been one 
of the candidates, swore to his personal experience and 
had his testimony notarized. An open mind to further 
documentation, or refutation, is warranted. 73 

Carey added weight to the idea that Morris had an ef- 
fective part in persuading Bright to favor the suffrage bill. 

His version had Bright inquiring what he could do in the 
legislature, and Morris replied to introduce the suffrage 
bill. It was not written down, Carey said, but she often 
told the story and Bright, said Carey, never denied it. 74 

Morris was a woman of ideas. She expressed herself 
well and forcibly, and at least in writing succinctly. The 
San Francisco Call described her: "... courtly, self- 
possessed woman, full of natural dignity and ease, while 
her conversation clearly shows that she is possessed of 
more than an ordinary share of shrewdness and correct 
appreciation of human nature. Her manner of speaking is 
off-hand, ready, and at times brilliant. . . ."In answering 
questions about woman suffrage she gave both sides of 
the question, wanting both perspectives to be fairly stated, 
judged the reporter. 75 

Hayford added testimony about her persuasiveness in 
Laramie: "She has been quite active at times in political 
matters and her vote and labor has always been on the side 
of the right. She is a lady of very superior natural ability 
and with fair education. We have some times thought she 
manifested a 'zeal not unto knowledge' and have wished 
her a little more conservative and discreet, but she could 
never be accused of insincerity or duplicity." 76 

In 1870, Campbell gave the names of the friends of 
woman suffrage in Wyoming: he listed Morris along with 
Lee, Posey Wilson, Hayford, and Bright as advocates. Mor- 
ris contributed much to the experimental phase, in 1870 
and long after. It does not establish when she became an 
advocate, rather that she was, to the governor's mind, one 
of the key ones. 77 


Amalia Post was also one of Wyoming's distinguished 
suffragists. Bright credited Amalia, "Mrs. Morton E. Post," 
with zealous advocacy, though as with Morris and Seth 
Paine, he gave no details of what she did. In the statehood 
ceremonies Jenkins asked for honor for Post, as she did 
for Morris. Post has a long and distinguished history of 

73. Catt and Shuler, Woman Suffrage and Politics, pp. 75-79; The Revolu- 
tion, January 13, 1870; Wyoming State Journal, February 14. 1919; 
Cheyenne Daily Leader, January 23, 1876; Cheyenne State Leader. 
July 24, 1917; C. G. Coutant, Progressive Men of the State of Wyoming 
(Chicago: A. W. Bowen and Co., 1903), pp. 114-115; Sworn and 
notarized testimony of H. G. Nickerson, January 10, 1923, Historical 
Research and Publications Division, AMH. 

74. Cheyenne State Leader, July 24, 1917. 

75. Laramie Daily Sentinel, January 21, 1871; Woman's journal, March l) 

76. Laramie Daily Sentinel, June 25, 1874. 

77. |ohn A. Campbell Letterpress Book vol. 11. letter dated May 8, L870, 
Archives and Records Management Division, AMH. 



SPRING 1990 

support for woman suffrage. Her first action may have 
been to call on Campbell and ask him to sign the suffrage 
bill, in company with Mrs. Arnold. Not documented by 
the diary of the governor, who at this point may not have 
been writing in his diary about woman suffrage issues, 
nevertheless, Post had plenty of time to tell the national 
suffragists about their actions since Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton stayed with Post and Anthony with Mrs. Arnold when 
the women came to Cheyenne in 1871, just after the repeal 
effort. Yet Post did not record this action, either in the 
biography that appeared in Frances E. Willard's Woman of 
the Century or in the very similar one found in the Coutant 
Collection, which is on Post letterhead in the Women of 
Wyoming or the Collections of the Wyoming Historical Society. 
The muddle is a fine example of the problems the absence 
of newspaper coverage, coupled with absences of primary 
data, produces in the reconstruction of early events. An 
open mind is warranted to Post's advocacy reported by 
Stanton, as is the possibility that Post's well documented 
work against repeal has been transformed mistakenly into 
an earlier action. Post and Morris, said Bright, though he 
did not mention Mrs. Arnold, were avid advocates. In 
August, 1871, the Laramie Daily Sentinel called Post "one 
of the moving spirits in the female suffrage work in this 
country"; so it is interesting that Campbell did not include 
her name in his May, 1870, letter listing advocates. Never- 
theless, Bright's reference point is clear "at the time," 
when it passed, which is when Hayford charged there was 
"not a woman or a man in the Territory who was known 
as a female suffragist." This is the contention that Bright 
challenged, countering with Morris, Post, Paine, and 
himself. 78 


Universal Suffrage, said Judge L. D. Pease, was one 
of the significant accomplishments of the first legislature, 
echoing Kingman and Triggs. In the period when state- 
hood was anticipated but not yet a reality, in 1890, Judge 

78. Cheyenne Daily Leader, January 23, 1876; Excerpts from the Cheyenne 
Daily Sun taken from Annals of Wyoming 37 (April 1965): 55; Stan- 
ton, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, pp. 731, 734; "John A. 
Campbell, Diary," pp. 69-70; Susan B. Anthony Diary, June 21, 1871, 
Library of Congress; Frances E. Willard, A Woman of the Century (Buf- 
falo: C. W. Moulton, 1893), pp. 583-584; Mrs. Amalia Barney Simons 
Post," Coutant Collection, H74-9, Folder 28, Historical Research and 
Publications Division, AMH; Cora M. Beach, Women of Wyoming 
(Casper: no publisher, 1927), pp. 170-172; Robert C. Morris, Collec- 
tions of the Wyoming Historical Society, 1897, p. 333; Laramie Daily Sen- 
tinel, August 17, 1871; John A. Campbell Letterpress Book, vol. II, 
letter dated May 8, 1870. AMH. 

L. D. Pease, an old-timer who had been present during 
the passage and experimental days, looked back at the 
actions of the first territorial legislature. He singled out 
three laws that he judged deserved special mention, and 
two had to do with women: the law giving women the vote 
made "Wyoming the only commonwealth on the face of 
the globe where universal suffrage prevails;" the married 
women's property acts did away with the "old absurd 
common law. ..." The third act he cited gave some pro- 
tection to railroad employees injured on the job. The lat- 
ter act of protecting the underdog was also controversial. 
But taken together, the three laws Pease chose do show 
concern for those who required law for self-protection— 
women and railroad employees. Pease characterized the 
first legislators as well intentioned but inexperienced, 
creating statutory conflicts unintentionally. He recounted 
one legislator's earnest desire to repeal the Organic Act, 
and told of one Irishman Brady, who proclaimed he had 
fled to America to escape the common law of England, 
wanted nothing to do with English common law, and pro- 
posed the common law of Ireland. In these humorous anec- 
dotes, there is, beneath the humor, the suggestion that the 
law of Congress that organized the territory was not en- 
tirely satisfactory. Brady, who voted yes for suffrage, had 
his own reasons for favoring a departure from the English 
common law. The actions that produced the suffrage act 
had many roots. At least two were a concerted feeling that 
acted to give common man and common woman the power 
of law for self protection, and a feeling that advances over 
the common law were acceptable, if not desirable. 79 


A third motive advanced by Kingman was conviction, 
which approaches, but which he did not call justice. Bright 
and one other man, name unknown, declared their reason 
as just, or right. Since in this saga, one man's justice is 
another man's poison, there is only one independent 
parameter in which to study the motive of justice. Was the 
rest of the 1869 code just to women in part or whole? The 
Wyoming code is extraordinary for its comprehensive 
recognition of the various statuses of women: as depen- 
dent and in need of protection, and independent and in 
need of authority to act independently, and as wayward 
persons who needed punishment. Some, though not all 
of the sections, use the language of he and she, or "any 
person." Since it would require another paper to detail 

79. Laramie Weekly Sentinel, March 22, 1890. 



these and their interrelations, a few examples must suf- 
fice. 80 

The criminal code contemplated women who were 
drunk, thieves, accessories to crime, "he or she who 
stands by." But, a woman whose husband forced her to 
commit a crime was relieved and he was prosecuted as 
though he had committed the crime. 81 Only the pronoun 
"he" was used at times: only men were contemplated as 
office holders and jurors. 82 

Bigamy was prohibited, as was seduction under prom- 
ise of marriage. The legislators took a most practical ap- 
proach to adultery, "every such man and woman will be 
indicted," punishment was two hundred dollars each or 
six months in the county jail. A recidivist got trouble; twice 
the punishment for the second offense, thrice for the third 
and so on. Marriage would suspend the punishment. 83 

Married women were generously included; at the risk 
of oversimplifying, a few examples show the breadth. The 
father was a child's guardian, but in death, absence, or in- 
capacity, the mother could apply for guardianship. Letters 
of administration were to be issued to the surviving 
spouse, and distribution of estate the same for the surviv- 
ing spouse. Absolute property of the widow was defined 
and not liable to sale. However, a married woman was pro- 
hibited from serving as an executrix. The married women's 
property act clearly gave each married woman the full 
authority to conduct business, and she was, and her 
separate property was, independent from the action of her 
husband. A head of household could preempt a mining 
claim for "his lawfully wedded wife (if he have one)," and 
some male, but not female, children. The homestead ex- 
emption was for the head of a family, "his or her family." 84 
The practice of paying schoolteachers unequally on the 
basis of sex was prohibited. 85 

A wife could petition in her own name for divorce. 
Grounds for men and women were the same: adultery; 
alcoholism; physical incompetency; one year abandon- 
ment; a prison sentence of three years or more. A divorce 
because of the husband's misconduct, adultery or drunk- 
enness, or sentenced to prison for three or more years, en- 
titled the wife to her dower as if the husband were dead. 86 

80. General laws, 1869, p. 131. 

81. General Laws, pp. 99-100, 137. 

82. General Laws, pp. 152, 281. 

83. General Laws, pp. 130-132. 

84. General Laws, pp. 173, 177-178, 188, 303-306, 398-402, 425. 

85. General Laws, p. 234. 

86. General Laws, pp. 275-278. 

The record is unmistakable. Whatever transpired, the 
legislation for women was progressive and liberal. Judging 
by the code of laws formulated, the joke was not on the 
ladies of the territory. Kingman, whose legal credentials 
were impeccable— Harvard, practical training in Daniel 
Webster's law office— summarized some of these and con- 
cluded: "... and to a person who has grown up under 
the common law and the usages of English-speaking peo- 
ple, they undoubtedly appear extravagant, if not revolu- 
tionary, and well calculated to disturb or overthrow the 
very foundations of social order." 87 If there was nibbling 
away of the privileges given, if the equal pay laws were 
not enforced, to whatever extent ways were found to dilute 
these mostly clear laws, it reflects on others and not the 
first territorial legislators, who had authorized an extraor- 
dinary set of laws for women. The argument must be con- 
sidered that the justice demonstrable in these laws tips the 
weight of the larger suffrage, elector, and office holding 
law to the presumption of justice. 


Why did Campbell sign the bill? Was it an endorse- 
ment of the trial of woman suffrage? Or was it a political 
ploy, the lesser of two evils? Or both? Kingman noted that 
the law was passed in expectation of a gubernatorial veto. 
Campbell was a young man, ambitious, bright, conscien- 
tious, a partisan Republican, a young man who had the 
ear of the president of the United States. He had evidently 
done well in his post in the reconstruction administration 
of General Schofield. He had lots of acquaintances, maybe 
friends. Despite these assets, he had some vulnerabilities. 
He lacked a commanding presence. His short stature, "lit- 
tle Governor," coupled with his reserved and conscien- 
tious ways caused him to be described as "demure" and 
"one of the 'good boys' " of Sunday school fame, who 
would not do anything "naughty." He did not have a col- 
lege or law degree, and this opportunity of governing had 
come to him out of his Civil War service. He had every rea- 
son to want things to go well. Being the first governor of the 
first territory to grant to women the right of suffrage does 
not seem to predict a placid course, particularly' for a non- 
lawyer. Had he been a man who avidly favored suffrage, 
his entry into the fray with his approval would be com- 
prehensible. But he was not; and as a non-lawyer, he did 
not have the personal options open to the territorial ap- 
pointees who had a law degree. If trouble came, they could 
just glide into the practice of law, just as Lee did. Camp- 

87. Stanton, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, pp. 728-729. 



SPRING 1990 

bell could not. What then motivated him to sign this bill, 
which was bound to generate controversy and trouble? 88 

Campbell said: "I approved the bill giving suffrage to 
woman without looking favorably upon it, owing to my 
early prejudices. . . ." Mrs. John Campbell was not in the 
territory when the bill was passed, but she did arrive at 
the tail end of the intense period of experimentation, in 
March, 1872. She understood that the legislators were 
focused on irritating the governor. She had not heard that 
it was a joke; she also stated she had never heard anyone 
question the sincerity of the bill. Four years later she said 
the same thing gracefully again. She understood that the 
Democratic legislators intended to confound the governor, 
and anticipating his veto, intended to enjoy and profit from 
the prestige of a liberal posture, without suffering the prob- 
lems that likely would accompany actually implementing 
the reforms. In 1880, when Wyoming was one of the few 
territories with woman suffrage, Campbell's blind brother, 
who was in Wyoming with him, told why. "It may have 
been a great advance movement, and it may have been a 
blunder inconceivably great; but, whichever it is, it is right 
that the exact truth should be stated." The governor did 
not treat it as a joke, and whatever motivated the legislature 
to pass it, it was, when it got to the governor's desk, a mat- 
ter, to his mind, which was directed to his judgment. Con- 
tinued Walter: he could sign it, or keep it five days and 
do nothing, at which point it would become law without 
any action on his part. This latter course the governor 
regarded as cowardly and he felt he had to choose between 
signing or vetoing it. He saw two sides to the woman suf- 
frage question, and he judged some of the best men in the 
country to favor it; so while he was not sure it was right, 
he was not sure it was wrong. "He signed it, in other 
words, not because he was fully persuaded that it was 
right, but because he could not thoroughly persuade 
himself that it was wrong." He thought it was new, and 
in sparsely populated Wyoming, it could be tried better 
than most places. Two years later, when the repeal came, 
he stopped the repeal "of the law to which he had 
originally given his signature with so much trepidation." 89 

Carey pointed out that the governor took the full time 
to make up his mind. He also said Bright "finally forced 
its passage," but also said the legislators were not prepared 

88. Kingman, "Wyoming Suffrage in Wyoming"; "John A. Campbell, 
Diary," p. 6; Chicago Tribune, August 23, 1869; South Pass News, May 
31, 1871. 

89. Woman's journal, September 30, 1871; Letters from Isabella Camp- 
bell to Grace R. Hebard, April 12, 1914, October 27, 1919, Hebard 
Collection, AHC; Youngstown Evening Register and Tribune, July 15, 

to see Campbell approve it. Lee told that the governor was 
"violently opposed" and was "induced" to sign. Two 
reasons may have influenced him to sign it. One is that 
had he opposed it, he would have run head first into the 
fact that his own U.S. Attorney, Carey, had issued the opin- 
ion that the legislature could extend the right of suffrage. 
The second is he may have needed whatever cooperation 
he could get from the legislature. 90 

Three facts demonstrated earlier are pertinent here. 
The governor had written to Governor Ashley on October 
25, 1869, and, judging by the answer, it was a request for 
help. Second, the governor was not a suffragist. Third, at 
least one motivation of the legislature was to hassle the 
governor (antagonize, perplex, embarrass, make some fun). 
Now comes the next piece of the puzzle. After the legis- 
lature had been in session more than a month, Campbell 
wrote a cryptic but clearly wary note in his diary: on 
November 19, 1869, "Find that Legislature intends not to 
send me any bills until last week of sessions in order that 
I cannot veto." He was, then, expecting trouble. He was 
not referring to his veto power, since nothing the legis- 
lature could do could stop Campbell from vetoing, or sign- 
ing his approval for that matter. A quick consultation with 
the organic law, which defined Campbell's choices, shows, 
however, that there was a wrinkle that could muddle up 
his use of his option to stand aside and not sign the bill, 
letting it become law. After laying down what the gover- 
nor should do to approve a bill, what the legislature had 
to do if he vetoed a bill, the organic law turned to the 
results of his inaction: "If any bill shall not be returned 
by the governor within five days (Sunday excepted) after 
it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a 
law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the 
assembly, by adjournment, prevent its return, in which 
case it shall not be a law." The key phrase is UNLESS 
LAW. Could the legislature deprive Campbell of his veto 
power or power to sign the bill? No, it could not. But it 
could and did deprive him of his option to defer to the 
legislature and permit the woman suffrage bill to become 
law without his approval. 91 

Though it is not conclusive, the record is compatible 
with parliamentary maneuvering. Since there is no 
evidence outside the record to support this hypothesis, it 

90. Cheyenne State Leader, July 24, 1917; The Revolution, March 3, 1870; 
Cheyenne Leader, August 25, 1869. 

91. "John A. Campbell, Diary," p. 68; Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue 
Book, vol. 1, p. 79. 



is advanced as speculation, an hypothesis for further 

Even though Campbell still retained his full veto 
power, what he could lose by a sudden decision to adjourn 
one day early was significant. He lost that five day wait, 
his chance to dissociate himself, sidestep responsibility for 
the issue by denying his endorsement of the bill, and let 
the bill become law on the action of the legislature. What 
did they have to do to do this? Adjourn. In order to have 
this duck-the-issue opportunity, the governor had to hold 
a bill for five days and if he did not return it, it became law. 

During the final week of the session, if Campbell was 
thinking about smiling at the legislators and sidestepping 
the issue by using this five day wait and let-it-become-law 
option, the governor would have reason to believe that 
option was open. George Wilson reported that the bill was 
handed to Campbell at 8:20 p.m. on Monday, December 
6. At any point after 8:20 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, 
1869, Lee, if the governor just sat still and did nothing, 
could announce, as he did with the divorces and alimony 
bill, that the measure had become law without the gover- 
nor's endorsement. On Thursday, December 9, in the 
morning session, Dr. Douglas of the house, who was pro- 
suffrage, introduced a joint resolution calling for adjourn- 
ment on Saturday, December 11, at midnight and it was 
adopted. There was at that point every indication of clear 
sailing for Campbell to duck making a choice and let the 
legislature carry the heat, or the glory, as the case might 
prove. 92 

Well into the afternoon session on Friday, December 
10, 1869, the House took up an act to provide for holding 
elections, passed it and then Douglas introduced a resolu- 
tion to reconsider its action of the previous day and ad- 
journ at midnight on Friday, December 10. The speaker 
signed the bill to collect taxes, and then heard a message 
from the Council indicating that Wilson, Laycock, and 
Wardman of the Council had already been appointed from 
the Council and had been instructed to meet with a similar 
committee from the House and "jointly wait upon the 
governor and inform him that the legislature adjourns sine 
die, at 12 o'clock to night." House committee appointed. 
So during the afternoon of Friday, December 10, it became 
clear that Campbell's opportunity to sit still and do nothing 
had just evaporated. At 5:05 p.m., the House took a recess. 
The trouble he had expected on November 19, had in fact 
arrived. 93 

Whenever Campbell heard the news, the pressure was 
on. Assuming he gave it logical consideration, the first 
question was whether to act while they were in session 
or after the adjournment. If he acted after they adjourned, 
whatever he did, Campbell had to carry the full heat or 
glory. It then became his sole responsibility to decide 
because he had to sign it to make it law. Doing nothing 
would kill the law the legislators had passed, opening him 
to the charge that the gallant Democrats had tried to get 
the vote for their wives and daughters, and that Camp- 
bell thought Black men were better suited than White 
women. If he acted while the legislature was in session, 
he at least shared the responsibility with the men who 
passed it, whatever their motives. 94 

So Campbell's choices narrowed. He knew very well 
what did not show in the newspapers. The legislature was 
happy to negotiate with him for what they wanted, and 
they would not settle readily for half a hog. They called 
on him to appoint the auditor and treasurer from a list of 
four Democrats: Campbell met them half way, appointing 
one of their men as auditor. Still, the legislators held up 
his Republican appointment, a man who, among other 
things, had commanded Black troops in the Civil War. 
Having applied the stick, they next offered the carrot; they 
countered that nominee by suggesting the appointment of 
the governor's brother Walter, for whom the governor had 
a deep affection. The governor declined. 95 

Up to this point, Campbell had not had a single veto 
sustained; both houses simply joined forces, took a vote 
and made it a law despite his veto. If he vetoed the woman 
suffrage bill, and they overrode him, he would have the 
same situation and troubles, without the political advan- 
tage of having approved it. If he killed it by not signing 
the bill after the adjournment, he took all the heat, and 
more importantly, he forfeited whatever last minute co- 
operation he could get on pending legislation. If he signed 
it, he got the troubles and political advantage. And he may 
have gotten cooperation with other bills he wanted, like 
a memorial asking for an increase in the judges' salaries, 
appropriation bills, the election bill, to name a few still in 
the legislative pipeline. The sole veto that was sustained 
came after he signed the woman suffrage bill. The gover- 
nor needed changes in the Cheyenne trustee bill, and 
threw his hands up, hoping the legislature would find 
some way to fix the mess they had created. This is purely 
speculative, but it is possible. It is also possible that the 

92. Council Journal, p. 160; House journal, pp. 234, 241. 

93. House journal, pp. 256-258. 

94. Omaha Weekly Herald, December 15, 18b 1 -'. 

95. "John A. Campbell, Diary," pp. 68-69; Trenholm. ed., IVt/em;^ Blue 
Book, vol. 1, p. 105. 



SPRING 1990 

press of business was such that it could be finished, or that 
the legislators decided they would like the weekend free. 96 

Campbell chose to sign the bill while the legislature 
was in session, not after they adjourned. Early in the 
evening session, on December 10, 1869, Campbell sent 
word to the Council that he had signed the woman suf- 
frage bill. 97 

If he consulted with anyone, and his diary does not 
reflect it, it had to be Lee, whose office he stated he was 
in all evening signing bills. Kingman wrote years later, that 
he and Judge Howe urged him, "labored with him until 
after midnight . . ."to sign the bill, but that recollection 
seems faulty. Howe was in Illinois and had been there since 
about October 18, 1869. Kingman, embroiled in a bitter 
dispute, was in Cheyenne but left for South Pass on 
November 23. He filled in for Judge Jones in early 
December, but if he was in Cheyenne on December 10, it 
is difficult to understand why Campbell noted in his diary 
on December 19 that Kingman arrived. This is not to say 
that the judges did not advise Campbell sometime during 
the process as the bill passed through the two houses, but 
Howe definitely was not, and Kingman likely was not, 
present on December 10, 1869. 98 


About 4 o'clock on December 10, 1869, some citizens 
decided to get up a party for the legislators and governor. 
Preparations were hastily made, and the festivities began. 
Baker recorded some changes that began in the relations 
between the sexes at that party of which he did not ap- 
prove. Some of the men smoked cigars in the presence of 
women, something rarely done before. Change began that 
fast, and from that moment until the repeal effort was 
defeated in 1871, there was continual experimentation of 
one sort or another. What Bright had begun would be sus- 
tained in part and finally celebrated in one of the most 
eloquent celebrations ever conceived. Nobody would say 
this one was a joke. The record was carefully laid and sup- 
port on the highest principles began in the constitutional 
convention. 99 

96. Council Journal, pp. 187-189, 191-193. 

97. Council Journal, p. 188. 

98. "John A. Campbell, Diary," pp. 67, 69-70; Kingman, "Honorable 
John W. Kingman," pp. 224-225; Wyoming Tribune, December 4, 1869. 

99. Cheyenne Leader, December 11, 1869; Journals and Debates of the Con- 
stitutional Convention, pp. 365-366. 

Part V: Authorship, Conclusions and the Aftermath 

The first territorial legislators, despite their unparalleled 
decision to make women voters and citizens, have been 
overall covered individually in a shroud of anonymity. As 
their deficiencies as legislators have been addressed in 
mostly unfavorable publicity, a word about them is in 
order. They were mainly young, all Democratic, and ap- 
proached their task with some seriousness and some 
patriotic regard. The House adopted a no smoking rule, 
let ladies sit behind the bar, a treat usually reserved for 
visiting dignitaries. They tried to make the rules a little 
fairer for men, their wives, and widows, when men who 
worked for the railroad were injured, disabled, or killed 
in a job related accident. The House did approve a plan 
to encourage beauty and produce by planting fruit and 
shade trees, but the Council, after tangling with cost, de- 
cided against it. They provided for the education of 
children, Black and White, in which provision they were 
ahead at least of some communities. They were racist, but 
then who would believe that the quiet at Appomattox 
brought a resolution to problems of race that the South had 

proven its readiness to die rather than confront. There was, 
though, a meager limit even to them. The kidnapping law 
made it clear that a Black person in Wyoming was safe at 
least physically: Kidnapping was "stealing away" a man, 
woman or child, and "every person who shall forcibly 
steal, take or arrest any man, woman or child, whether 
white, black or colored, ..." was a kidnapper. They were 
partisan, but then, Campbell had thrown down the 
gauntlet more than once in his speech, his vetoes and veto 
messages. They were men who knew how on a daily basis 
to maintain their equilibrium in a part of the world where 
often law was not handy, by wit and speed and strength, 
rounding out the words self-reliant to their fullest mean- 
ing. Even the dry-bones procedural journals and the legal 
prose of the 1869 code did not obliterate their humor, their 
practicality or independent thinking. The legislators of the 
youngest American territory, who convened the year iron 
rails linked the nation coast to coast, in fifty-one days 
created a functioning democracy. Wyoming rebels began 
in merriment, added woman to the roll call of American 



citizens, and ended in merriment at a ball. 1 

Women knew very well, as did anybody who had eyes 
to see and ears to hear, that there were all kinds of women 
in Wyoming. There were mothers, daughters, and a few 
business women and professionals, mainly teachers, 
sisters, dance hall girls, gambling girls, and women who 
sold themselves and had plenty of business. They made 
laws for all of them. Woman suffrage, all things con- 
sidered, in the heat of it all, was just not a big enough issue 
and, perhaps, was worth the risk to have the fun of has- 
sling the governor. Maybe some did, when the heat of bat- 
tle was over, when the eyes of the world were looking 
straight at them, as Pease reported, maybe they did want 
to turn and run and change their names so they would not 
be known as having had a hand in the Wyoming woman 
suffrage law. Additional data will come when it is possi- 
ble to reconstruct the lives they lived after that wintry eve- 
ning in December when they played a legislative poker 
hand with the governor. 2 


Given Bright's declaration that he had never attended 
school and did not know where he learned to read and 
write, much less had legal training, there seems to be 
reason to question who wrote the bill he introduced. Bright 
never claimed to have drafted it. The practice in later years 
was for legislators to ask lawyers to draft the legislation, 
which drafting was done for a client and as he wished it, 
whatever view the lawyer might hold. 3 

In one of the very few letters written by Esther Morris 
telling about the Wyoming experience, for the national 
woman suffrage association, she awarded the credit "en- 
tirely ... to men," and indeed since by law the of- 
ficeholders were men, it could hardly have been otherwise. 
She also wrote: "To William H. Knight [sic] belongs the 
honor of presenting the . . . bill." 4 If this was intended to 

signal that he did not draft it, that it came from elsewhere, 
the signal is too weak without other evidence. Never- 
theless, during the constitutional convention, M.C. Brown 
said Esther Morris had given Bright the bill. 5 Morris could 
have gotten a bill; her kinswoman, Mrs. Chatfield, was 
Susan B. Anthony's secretary at the newspaper, The 
Revolution* Perhaps it is just coincidence that her letter uses 
the same word "presenting" the bill, as the private letter 
to The Revolution did when it said the president had 
presented the bill and predicted passage. It is possible, but 
possible is not the same as demonstrating that she did. 

Lee claimed he wrote the bill. The archaic phrase "to 
be holden" has been suggested as circumstantial evidence 
that he did. The word "holden" is found in the preamble 
to the constitutional amendment offered by Lee in the Con- 
necticut legislature. But, Lee did not write the bill; he 
changed only two words in the bill introduced earlier by 
Doig. The text of the bill does not contain the word 
"holden." The word holden is a frequent but not in- 
variably used word in the preamble of that state's proposed 
constitutional amendments. 7 

"Holden," while archaic, was apparently used in other 
circumstances in Wyoming. One other bill, the jury bill, 
introduced by Lawyer Ben Sheeks, presumably drawn by 
him, uses "to be holden." Sheeks chaired the special com- 
mittee dealing with Council Bill #77, salaries of judges of 
the Supreme Court; Howard Sebree and J. H. Douglas, 
were also appointed. Reporting a do pass with amend- 
ments, Sheeks presented the new amendment which in- 
cluded the phrase, "... law terms to be holden . . ."— 
though the word did not appear in the final code. 8 

The use of the word "holden," is found closer to home 
than Connecticut. In the Laramie County Commissioners 
minutes, the phrase "to be holden" is used twelve times. 
The county commissioners present were J. R. Whitehead, 
lawyer and chairman, S. M. Preshaw, William Morris, clerk 

1. House journal, First legislature Assembly, Territory of Wyoming, p. 30; 
T. A. Larson, History of Wyoming, 2nd ed., rev. (Lincoln: University 
of Nebraska Press, 1978), p. 77; House Journal , pp. 190, 259; Council 
Journal, First Legislative Assembly, Territon/ of Wyoming, 1869, pp. 
188-189; General Laws, Memorials, and Resolutions of the Territory of 
Wyoming Passed at the First Session of the Legislative Assembly (Cheyenne: 
S. Allan Bristol, Public Printer, Tribune Office, 1870), pp. 219-234; At- 
lanta Constitution, December 1, 1870; General Laws, p. 106; Larson, Jfz's- 
tory of Wyoming, p. 73; Cheyenne Leader, October 12; December 11, 1869. 

2. Cheyenne Leader, September 13, 1869; Laramie Weekly Sentinel, 
March 22, 1890; also see Part II. 

3. Answer of E. P. Johnson, U.S. Attorney for Wyoming Territory, to 
charges preferred by Alf Lee and J. W. Kingman, RG 60, DJ Source 
Chronological Files, Box 714, National Archives. 

4. Laramie Daily Sentinel, January 21, 1871. 

5. Journals and Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State oj Wyo- 
ming (Cheyenne: The Daily Sun, Book and Job Printing, 1893), p. 352. 

6. The Revolution, December 2, 1869. 

7. Larson, History of Wyoming, p. 93; T. A. Larson, Wyoming: A Bicenten- 
nial Histon/ (New York: VV. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1977), 
p. 80; journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Connecticut. 
May Session, 1866 (New Haven: T. J. Stafford, 1886), p. 81; Journal 
of the House of the State of Connecticut, May Session, IS67 (Hartford: 
Case, Lockwood and Company, Printers, 1867), p. 620; Journal of the 
Senate of the State of Connecticut, May Session 1867 (Hartford: Case, 1 ock 
wood and Company, Printers, 1867), pp. 114-117. 

8. General Uiws, 1869, pp. 282, 415; House journal LW. pp. 151. 233-234. 



SPRING 1990 

and guests W. W. Corlett, lawyer, Colonel Gibson, and 
A. T. Drake. 9 

The closely related phrase "will be holden" is found 
in the call to a Democratic mass meeting in South Pass City 
signed by Bright and others. It is found in the Sweetwater 
County Sweetwater Commissioners minutes referring to 
a term of court "to be holden," John O'Donnell, clerk. 10 
The point is simply that it is difficult, if not impossible, 
to establish authorship by reference to a term of common 
use, even if outmoded. 

Sheeks, when he wrote to Grace Hebard, described 
Julia Bright in positive terms, a feminine suffragist. At the 
time he wrote, he was a prestigious judge, and while he 
gave first hand, solid testimony to Bright's seriousness of 
purpose, he credited Mrs. Bright, whom Bright did not 
even mention as an advocate until 1902, with being the 
power behind the throne. Sheeks believed in 1869 that Mrs. 
Bright wrote the bill. But in that time, when women 
struggled to get professional training of any kind, and Mrs. 
Bright is not known to have had such, Sheek's belief seems 
to be at odds with probability. 11 

Edward Archibald Slack credited Bright with writing 
the bill in an editorial focused on that point precisely: "It 
was he who drew up the bill." Kingman said Bright was 
the "author" of the bill, and recounted Bright's sincerity 
and effectiveness in getting it passed. 12 There is not yet 
a definitive answer, but then again, the key point, the 
sponsor, is and always has been known. 

In 1876, Kingman told the Massachusetts legislators 
that the law came about "without much discussion, and 
without any general movement of men or women in its 
favor." Hayford referred to the absence of suffragists "by 
profession" and the point is worth noticing. Citizens talked 
to citizens, listened to the legislators, read a short recita- 
tion of events in their newspapers. There were no suf- 
fragists in Wyoming who devoted their entire effort to the 

9. Laramie County Commissioners Journals, Volume A, September 12, 
1868, pp. 36-41, Archives and Records Management Division, Wyo- 
ming State Archives, Museums and Historical Department (AMH), 

10. Sweetwater Mines, May 30, 1868; Board of County Commissioners, 
Sweetwater County, pp. 25, 54, Archives and Records Management 
Division, AMH. 

11. Ben Sheeks to Grace R. Hebard, August 20, 1920, Hebard Collection, 
American Heritage Center (AHC), University of Wyoming, Laramie; 
see Part IV, footnote 52. 

12. Laramie Daily Sun, January 24, 1876; "John W. Kingman," in Elizabeth 
Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds., 
History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3 (New York: Arno and the New York 
Times, 1969), pp. 729-730. 

suffrage cause, in the sense that Anthony and Elizabeth 
Cady Stanton did. And when it got to public credit, Mor- 
ris paid tribute to Bright and Bright paid tribute to Morris, 
Post, and Paine. Bright was not alone in his distance from 
the national suffrage movement. Hayford said he had 
never favored the suffrage for women for the same reasons 
as Miss Anthony. The point is that there were a diversity 
of perspectives, even among those favoring suffrage. And 
when it was a fait accompli, the reaction, said Kingman 
was "indifference by some, with dislike by others, and 
with warm regard by many," though he did concede that 
the opposition was initially "bitter." Opposition appeared 
and was worked out during the experiment phase, as op- 
ponents could not block the passage of the bill. Kingman 
wrote that women wrote to ask support for the bill. The 
absence of a political movement means that the social 
matrix in which these ideas developed were private pro- 
cesses: conversations, newspapers, magazines. Baker's 
steady coverage of the national suffrage movement offered 
at least the opportunity and the information for an in- 
formed and reactive citizenry. 13 


What other conclusions can be reached? What trends 
can be identified? Final conclusions must await a 
chronological analysis of the experimental phase, which 
when integrated with the facts from the passage phase will 
offer definitive insights into the processes that initiated and 
then shaped the territory of Wyoming into one bedrock 
of the woman-as-citizen American tradition. Preliminary 
trends are apparent. There was significant opportunity for 
people in Wyoming to be aware of the emerging and broad 
issues of woman as citizen from 1867, thanks to young 
Nathan Baker's promise to cover the woman suffrage story. 
Whatever happened on Willow Creek remains so far a 
mainly blank canvas; but Bright and Morris sprang from 
that base as suffrage supporters in Wyoming (Paine was 
nearby in Hamilton). Amos Steck did the same in Col- 
orado. 14 

It has also been shown that there was ample time for 
the emergence of opposition during the passage of the 

13. "Judge John W. Kingman, Woman Suffrage in Wyoming: Six Years 
Practical Workings, Testimony Delivered January 18, 1876, Before the 
Massachusetts Legislature," p. 1, Historical Research and Publica- 
tions Division, AMH; Woman's journal, February 24, 1883; Laramie Daily 
Sentinel, January 21, 1871; July 21, 1875; Laramie Daily Sun, January 
24, 1876; Kingman in Stanton, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 
3, p. 730. 

14. Wyoming Tribune, January 29, 1870. 



legislation. The fact that it did not, speaks to an accepting 
base of sentiment for the expansion of the rights and role 
of women. Granting that this may be an artifact of all the 
missing newspapers, the fact remains that the opposition 
did not make its way into the columns of the extant 
Republican papers. Further, no matter how well under- 
stood it was that the governor would veto the woman suf- 
frage bill, at the point Baker wrote in the Leader that the 
governor likely would sign the bill, there was reason and 
opportunity for opposition to erupt as pressure on the 
governor and the legislators. The silence surrounding the 
entire passage phase was one of the salient features of the 

Evidence of bitter racism is solid. Likewise, a bitter par- 
tisan struggle with the governor has been shown. King- 
man's five motives, justice, territorial advertisement, 
harass the governor, a joke, and a Democratic plan to get 
votes by a liberal posture have been demonstrated to 
operate in combination with personalities and politics. 
The fact that women's names were not reported in the few 
extant newspapers obstructs reconstruction of many 
events. Opposition did emerge. After the bill passed, what 
were the legislators to say to their constituents? How could 
they explain particularly to complaining constituents? What 
would they say? The letter to the Tribune, January 15, 1870, 
suggests that the prospect of women coming to Wyoming 
softened some complaints. Likely they tried to minimize, 
to diminish the impact of the passage, a post facto necessity 
for those who voted yes. Despite all the efforts to minimize, 
and the joke motif was a natural argument for this, virulent 
opposition did emerge to impede or prevent women from 
participating. The evidence clearly shows that the joke 
motif was a broad one, and that considerable numbers 
understood this to be a motive, though with differing ob- 
jects. It is especially interesting then that Isabella Camp- 
bell did not understand this to be a motive. Either the talk 
died out before she came to the territory as the governor's 
bride or it was spoken about circumspectly. Or the joke 
and the hassle the governor motifs were equivalences. The 
joke was not on the women. The code of 1869, if it shows 
anything, shows a clear effort to account for the depen- 
dent and independent statuses of women, and the begin- 
ning remedy for economic discrimination focused on the 
occupation most held by women, teaching. The fact that 
Wyoming men chose to test the experiment per se shows 
that more were willing to try it than to nip it in the bud, 
to defeat it without a trial. This is not necessarily the same 
as supporting it. Men had chosen women for the role of 
citizen and they would see how it worked. Faithful ad- 

vocates, like J. H. Hayford, whose part in this phase has 
not survived in any detail, come on stage when the ex- 
perimental phase begins. How they chose to test it, who 
did what and when, belongs to a future study. 


When Wyoming entered the Union, the men and the 
women, who had proposed planning a part of the program 
independently, and did, planned a celebration. No longer 
a resident of Wyoming, Bright did not stand on the stage 
that celebrated the event nor share the glory for his original 
decision. The women of Cheyenne chose four women for 
public honors, two of whom Bright had credited with 
energetic advocacy many years before: Morris was to give 
the flag, the gift of the women of Wyoming, and Post was 
to accept the constitution that provided for woman suf- 
frage and included a declaration of political equality. 
Bright's contribution was one, a stellar and key one, but 
only one, of many contributions by Wyoming men and 
women, whose ideas and actions brought Wyoming to try 
a new order of things and to wear the name, Equality 
State. 15 

Always hampered by his lack of formal schooling, 
Bright, whose character was questioned by more than one 
person, nevertheless by all accounts loved his wife and 
worked hard all his life. The man who put full suffrage 
on the lawbooks, a first, all things considered, in the 
history of women, reaped no reward, other than a line in 
his obituaries, one wrong at that, for his generosity. 
Perhaps it came as his wife hoped, looking down from 
heaven at the ever widening popularity and success of 
woman suffrage. He died in a rented house and he was 
laid to rest in an unmarked grave in his father-in-law's plot. 
In time, the wife for whom he labored to give the vote, 
went to a home supported by his Masonic brethren. 16 

When Hebard wrote for his picture, Julia Bright replied 
that Bright would have been glad because he had always 
maintained his interest in the suffrage question. Mrs. 
Bright did not give Hebard information in 1913 about 
Bright's experience in the legislature, but directed her to 
the legislative proceedings, saying she still had a copy 

15. Cheyenne Daily leader, April 1, 3, 4; March 2b, 1890. 

16. C. G. Coutant to Frank W. Mondell, May 22, 1903, Historical Research 
and Publications Division, AMH; Kingman in Stanton, et al., Hi>ton/ 
of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, p. 729; Evening Star [Washington, D.C.], 
April 28, 1912; Mrs. William H. Bright to Grace R. Hebard 
March 28, 1913, Hebard Collection, AHC; 1900 Wyoming Census; 
1850 Census; Mrs. William H. Bright to Grace R. Hebard, March 28, 
1913, Hebard Collection, AHC. 



SPRING 1990 

Wyoming's state seal was placed on a three cents stamp in 1940 
to honor the state's fiftieth anniversary . The draped figure in the 
center symbolizes the political status women have always enjoyed 
in Wyoming. 

which she valued above all her possessions. 17 The man 
who offered his personal solution to a problem the Civil 
War did not solve gave the opportunity for the women of 
Wyoming to walk upon the stage of public endeavor and 
walk into the Union as citizens. 

When Wyoming entered the Union, from coast to coast 
the suffragists joyously celebrated: with speeches, songs, 
poems, telegrams, letters, and flags. Some women who 
happily celebrated the event touched the heart of a senator. 
They had celebrated victories before, but this was different, 
he judged. Some of the suffragists were seventy or eighty 
years old, and he thought the time was close for them to 
get on their "chariot[s]" for heaven. It was Wyoming, not 
heaven, that was on their minds. He labored to explain 
that they seemed to feel that this time they had "got 

something for themselves." They were, he explained, peo- 
ple who had passed their lives doing something for others, 
and being happy only when they made somebody else 
happy— "smiling, as it were, only at second hand." With 
Wyoming, the chance came for personal experience and 
personal expression and a first rate smile of self- 
satisfaction, and so Wyoming became a symbol of what 
was for some and could be for every woman, and a new 
set of feelings, dreams, and psychology, was born. But, 
that gets ahead of this story. 18 

When the legislature adjourned, and the party began, 
Bright 's part in what was to be a saga was over. When men 
are what they ought to be, women will not be compelled 
to petition or protest. 19 It was Therese Jenkins who said, 
about Wyoming, "We have never been compelled to peti- 
tion and protest." 20 What Wyoming legislators, a major- 
ity, did was to accept women as voting citizens without 
imposition of those other duties of citizenship men met, 
militia duty and yes, jury duty, because serving on juries 
died along the way. In an age when life span and reproduc- 
tive years were close indeed, to authorize women to func- 
tion as citizens, without tyrannical harshness, required 
such concessions and few men were willing to concede 
them and to welcome women as women in all the diverse 
roles and conditions of womanhood. 

And then, when the party was over, the outcome of the 
"jocular experiment" was, in a major part, up to the 
women of Wyoming. Every woman of and over the age 
of twenty-one years. 

17. Mrs. William H. Bright to Grace R. Hebard, April 17, 1913, Hebard 
Collection, AHC. 

18. Woman's Tribune, July 19; August 16; September 13; October 25, 1890; 
July 25, 1891. 

19. Though I agree with this concept, I would like to acknowledge that 
this thought is not original with me, even though I am unable to pro- 
vide the citation. Many years before I began this Wyoming work, I 
read minutes and reports of various local, state, national, and inter- 
national suffrage meetings. Buried in one of these, a woman expressed 
such a sentiment. Though I have not retained her expression of it 
with precision, the essence is accurate. 

20. Therese A. Jenkins quote may be found in the Cheyenne Daily Sun, 
July 24, 1890. 

Sidney Howell Fleming, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the 
Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Her primary area of 
interest is the psychology of gender. A secondary area is the history of women 
in medicine. Complete biographical information can be found in Who's Who 
of American Women. 


Speech given by Therese A. Jenkins at statehood celebra- 
tion, July 23, 1890, Cheyenne 

Mrs. President, Governor Warren and gentlemen of 
the state of Wyoming: 

In behalf of the ladies present and in the name of many 
who are not with us today, I am requested to make this 
expression of our appreciation of the great benefit con- 
ferred upon us at your hands, and confirmed by the con- 
gress of these United States. Happy are our hearts today, 
and our lips but sound a faint echo of the gratitude within 
our bosoms. While we rejoice with you that our young 
commonwealth has been permitted to place upon this 
beautiful banner her bright prophetic star, how much more 
reason have we for enthusiastic demonstration. 

The republican spirit of 1890, with a generosity un- 
rivaled in all the annals of political economy, has admitted 
into the national jurisprudence, the voice of woman. We 
have been placed upon the very summit of freedom and 
the broad plain of universal equality. Think ye that our 
tongues are silent or that we have no need to sing our 
anthems of praise? History chronicles no such an event on 
all its pages, and the bells of the past ring out no such 

We have never been compelled to petition or protest; we 
have ever been treated with a patient hearing and our prac- 
tical suggestions have been most courteously received and 
in the future we but desire a continuance of these favors. 
We ask of our law makers just laws for the enlargement and 
perpetuity of our educational facilities; we ask of our 
legislators wise and magnanimous measures for the erec- 
tion and maintainance of our benevolent institution; we 
ask of you laws for the better protection of the moral as 
well as physical natures of our boys and girls, even though 
the maverick be neglected, and, taxpayers and burden 
bearers that we are, may we not expect the proper enforce- 
ment of these laws as well as the framing of them. We 
have, it is true, many lessons to learn and possibly many 
mistakes to make, but shall we not choose for our instruc- 
tors those who have our best interests at heart, who see- 
ing the need may plan for the result. We, no doubt, will 
be advised by many factions, some declaring we are behind 
in our social and moral reforms, others that we outspeed 
public sentiment, but the experiment is ours, and with us 
it will either succeed or fail. . . . 

Bartholdi's statue of liberty enlightening the world is 
fashioned in the form of a woman and placed upon a 
pedestal carved from the everlasting granite of the New 
England hills, but the women of Wyoming have been 
placed upon a firmer foundation and hold a more brilliant 

In the days of the past there came to this region a 
woman who had been reared among the hardy minds of 
the east. She brought with her, her family, her garden 
seeds, her doctrine of woman's equality before the law. 
Her sons live to do her honor, her garden seeds have been 
planted and she has proven to the world that this desolate 
plain can be made to blossom as the rose, and to day she 
sits with us at the age of 77 a free citizen equal with her 
sons. Esther Morris, like Queen Esther of old, has dared 
to brave the anger of man rather than her own people 
should perish. 

We ask no trophies at our feet, no laurel on our brows, 
but we do ask for these two, Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Post, 
a wreath of immortelles fashioned in the motto of 'Faith- 
fulness,' and hung on the walls of 'Endurance,' and this 
young girl guard of honor, picked from the flowers of the 
state, who today have walked through the dusty streets 
that they might be beside this beloved flag, may well 
emulate these examples, preferring ever to sacrifice per- 
sonal comfort to duty and pride to patriotism. 

These words of thankfulness would be incomplete 
were we to neglect to utter the sentiments of our hearts 
in enumerating among our noble friends thenames_of the 
framers of our constitution. In the list, cherished in the 
hearts of us all, stands out that of M.C. Brown, president 
of the convention; George W. Baxter, who introduced our 
clause in the constitution; J.K. Jeffrey, chairman of the com- 
mittee, and J.W. Hoyt; who without malice, trickery or 
subterfuge granted us our wishes, and we claim the right 
to day to do these heroes reverence, and in this galaxy of 
stars which every woman wears to day a diadem of gems 
shines out, the fairest and rarest of them all, F.E. Warren 
and J.M. Carey, and ye who applaud say never again a 
prophet has honor save in his own country. 

May these salty surges carry this reflection on their 
swelling tide even to the mines of Siberia, where exiled 
woman, groaning in degredation and slavery, may catch 
some glimmer of hope, and, listening, hear some note of 
a glad hosanna that rings out tonight from this, our inland 
plain, not, perhaps, from the lips of angels, but from the 
hearts of women as we proclaim aloud our glad tidings of 
great joy, the political redemption of our sex. 

And may that beautiful bow of color which spanned 
our eastern boundary at the golden sunset hour of July 10, 
1890, be but a faint promise of the prosperity, the stabil- 
ity, the harmony of our magnificent domain, guided (not 
governed) by the hand of man clasped in the hand oi 

Taken from the Cheyenne Daily Sun, fuly 24, 1890, and the Cheyenne Daily 
Leader, [uly 24, L890. 


! NTI.K SAM Maw l»cen Hailing lor you. Miss Wyoming. Welcome to my lion* 
•Mss VYH)MJN<« I brimr with mp a constitution giving equal rights to ALL. 

The Cheyenne Daily Sun printed this cartoon in its June 28, 1890, issue, a day after the U.S. Senate approved Wyo- 
ming's statehood bill. The House had approved the bill in March, 1890. President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill 
on July 10, 1890. 

.NNALS of 

Volume 62, No. 2 Summer 1990 

HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT (AMH) was established in 
1895 to collect and preserve materials which interpret the his- 
tory of Wyoming. It maintains the State Historical Library and 
Research Center, the State Archives, the Wyoming State Muse- 
um, the State Art Gallery, State Historic Sites, and the State 
Historic Preservation Office. The Department solicits original 
records such as diaries, letters, books, early newspapers, maps, 
photographs and records of early businesses and organizations 
as well as artwork and artifacts for museum exhibit. The 
Department asks for the assistance of all Wyoming citizens to 
secure these documents and artifacts. 


Mike Sullivan 


David Kathka 

Bill Bruce Hines, Chairman, Gillette 
Orval Meier, Sundance 
Juan "Abe" DeHerrera, Rawlins 
Richard Cornia, Cokeville 
Mary Ellen McWilliams, Sheridan 
Gladys Hill, Douglas 
Gretel Ehrlich, Shell 
George Zeimens, Lingle 
Mary Guthrie, Attorney General's 
Office, Ex-officio 


OFFICERS, 1989-1990 

Lucille Clarke Dumbrill, President, Newcastle 

Scott Handley, First Vice-President, Pine Haven 

Dale J. Morris, Second Vice-President, Green Rivei 

Mary Nystrom, Secretary, Cheyenne 

Gladys Hill, Treasurer, Douglas 

David Kathka, Executive-Secretary 

Judy West, State Coordinator 

ABOUT THE COVER — Devil's Gate is one of the most famous landmarks along the Oregon Trail. Cyrinnus Hall painted this view of the well 
known Wyoming site. Hall painted actively from 1852 to 1894. His paintings of the Rocky Mountains cover the areas of the Black Hills, the 
Platte River, and the Green River. His sketches are located in the Wyoming State Art Gallery in the Wyoming State Archives, Museums and Historical 
Department. Tor a description of travel along Wyoming's portion of the Oregon Trail see "Wyoming's Trails: A Centennial Appreciation " by 
Robert L. Munkres in this issue of Annals of Wyoming. 



Volume 62, No. 2 
Summer, 1990 


Rick Ewig, Editor 

Jean Brainerd, Assistant Editor 

Roger Joyce, Assistant Editor 

Ann Nelson, Assistant Editor 

Paula West Chavoya, Photographic Editor 


Roy Jordan 

David Kathka 

William H. Moore 

Robert L. Munkres 

Philip J. Roberts 

ANNALS OF WYOMING was established 
in 1923 to disseminate historical information 
about Wyoming and the West through the 
publication of articles and documents. The 
editors of ANNALS OF WYOMING wel- 
come manuscripts on every aspect of Wyo- 
ming and Western history. 

Authors should submit two typed, double- 
spaced copies of their manuscripts with foot- 
notes placed at the end. Manuscripts submit- 
ted should conform to A MANUAL OF 
STYLE (University of Chicago Press). The 
Editor reserves the right to submit all 
manuscripts to members of the Editorial Ad- 
visory Board or to authorities in the field of 
study for recommendations. Published arti- 
cles represent the view of the authors and are 
not necessarily those of the Wyoming State 
Archives, Museums and Historical Depart- 
ment or the Wyoming State Historical 


"* 1990 

WYOMING'S TRAILS: A Centennial Celebration 74 

by Robert L. Munkres 


of the Life of a City 90 

by Dennis Frobish 



Gardner and Flores, Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming 

Coal Mining; Long, Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of 

America's Bloody Coal Industry, reviewed by David Wolff. 
Kittredge and Smith, The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, 

reviewed by Keith Edgerton. 
Bell, Vanguard of the Valley: A History of the Ten Sleep Country, 

reviewed by Robert A. Campbell. 
West, Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far Western 

Frontier, reviewed by Andrew Gulliford. 
Heidepreim, A Fair Chance for a Free People: Karl E. Mundt, 

United States Senator, reviewed by William Howard Moore. 



1 1 1 

ANNALS OF WYOMING is published 

quarterly by 

the Wvomn 

g Si. it, 

Museums and Historical Department. It is in 

embers of tl 

e Wy< 

Historical Society as the official publication ol'th. 

it organizatio 

l. Membersh 


$5; Joint $7; Institutional $10; Life $100; Join 

Life $150. ( 

lopies of pre 

issues of ANNALS may be purchased from the 

Editor. Corre 


ould b 

to the Editor. ANNALS OF WYOMING articl 


ted in Histoi 

ical Al 

America: History and Life. 

© Copyright 

the \M\ 

ig State Arch 


A Centennial Appreciation 

by Robert L. Munkres 



For half a century, the road to America's future passed 
through Wyoming. And all associated with that road — 
the people and the places, the sites and the scenes — 
contributed to that kaleidoscopic series of events that con- 
stituted the frontier. 

Together with its near neighbors in the Rocky Moun- 
tain West, Wyoming was a principal contributor to a 
uniquely American version of a universal phenomenon — 
the growth and development of the frontier. And a major 
part of that contribution reflected geography/topography, 
for Wyoming was the location of the most important ways 
of passage. The road west followed the trails to Utah and 
on to the Pacific Coast — the Oregon-California Trail, the 
Overland Trail, and the first transcontinental railroad. 

Histories in near staggering numbers have been writ- 
ten about these trails, their many offshoots and about the 
principal groups of people who used them. A centennial 
year is, perhaps, a time for bold projections into the fu- 
ture based on all-encompassing explanations of the past. 
But it is also a time for remembering and for celebrating 

famous events, places and people — for recalling with 
nostalgic fondness not only the famous but also "the rest 
of us," the tens of thousands of emigrants and soldiers, 
missionaries, and mountain men who passed this way be- 
fore us and in so passing engraved upon the American 
spirit the mark of quiet courage, unapologetic faith and 
joy, and perhaps above all, steady determination. And 
remember, too, these qualities also marked those proud, 
dignified, hard-riding nomads who were here first — the 
Plains Indians. 

It is impossible to take detailed note of all the people 
and places associated with the history we here honor by 
remembering. A short "appreciation" such as this can 
only call back the memory of a representative few, hop- 
ing that the following vignettes and descriptions will, for 
each reader, stimulate a deeper appreciation and refreshed 
memories of all the events and individuals who played 
parts on that stage which became Wyoming. 

The people who frequented/traveled it have long since 
departed, but much of the trail itself is still here, and it 



SUMMER 1990 

constitutes one of the true historic treasures of Wyo- 
ming — a treasure which sprang from a dream which, in 
the nineteenth century, had stimulated speculation since 
the days of Robert Rogers and his Rangers — for this was 
the road to Oregon. From Fort Laramie (now a National 
Historic Site) to Fort Bridger (now a State Historic Site), 
both residents and visitors can retrace the road west in 
an authentic topographical setting matched by few other 
states, and surpassed by none. 

The history of Wyoming before statehood, then, is 
the history of mass emigration and migration — a continu- 
ous coming together of people and places. Let us briefly 
revisit some of these sites and remember some of the peo- 
ple who, by traveling the road west, became forever part 
of Wyoming. 

The first migrants who roamed Wyoming have been 
called by a variety of names — First Americans, Native 
Americans, American Indians. In historic times, however, 
they called themselves by other names, names then strange 
to European ears — Arapahoe, Shoshoni, Cheyenne, 
Crow, Dakota. Many of these people, whose ancestors 
likely wandered across a frozen Bering Strait from Asia 
some ten to twenty thousand years ago, migrated from 
the region of the Great Lakes and along the Missouri from 
whose bottom land they wrested a grubbing existence — 
before they acquired the horse! For a fleeting moment of 
history, from perhaps 1775 to 1875, former berry-pickers 
and root-diggers in these and perhaps two dozen other 
tribes were transformed into aristocrats of the wilder- 
ness — Lords of a Grassland Empire! 1 For one hundred 
years their names blazed like a shooting star across the 
pages of western history. 

The "Opening of the West" provided a new life for 
many White men and women. For the original inhabi- 
tants of the high plains, however, it marked the begin- 
ning of the end of the free days as they had known them. 
"In recounting the story of the development of frontier 
America, it is well to remember that the total costs have 
not yet been tallied and that some debts remain still 
unpaid." 2 

1. Mildred Mayhall, The Kiowas (Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1962), p. 95. The Civilizations of the American Indians 
series which is published by this press is one of the best sources 
available to the general reader in the field of Indian tribal history. 

2. Robert L. Munkres, "The Road West: Ash Hollow to Fort 
Bridger," The Westerners BrandBook [Chicago] (February 1971): 

By the second decade of the nineteenth century, 
Whites had begun to penetrate this region. Though at first 
very few in number, those numbers steadily increased as 
a new set of "actors" strode across the stage. Rough, fre- 
quently uneducated in the formal sense, generally una- 
ble (for a variety of reasons) to live in more closely set- 
tled areas — the mountain men roamed the high country 
in search of beaver for only a bit more than twenty years, 
but they left a cultural and folk memory of life lived with 
a surpassing freedom unlike anything we today will ever 

Although the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the 
ventures of Manuel Lisa led the way, the real era of the 
mountain man began with an advertisement in several 
St. Louis newspapers. William Ashley, the lieutenant 
governor of the state of Missouri, wished "to engage ONE 
HUNDRED MEN, to ascend the river Missouri to its 
source, there to be employed for one, two or three years." 3 
According to contemporary accounts, their advertisement 
brought forth a response from a random selection of the 
bottom of the St. Louis social order! But habitues of grog 
shops and other iniquitous establishments were by no 
means the only ones who applied for positions as "Ash- 
ley Men"; although in the minority, a group of tough, 
strong, smart, and ambitious young men also applied. 

To a man unknown at the time, through the next 
twenty years they would dominate the exploration and 
development of the American West. The roster of "Ash- 
ley Men" in 1822 and 1823 reads like a "Who's Who" 
of the fur trade. Individually and collectively, they added 
a new title to American history, for these were the first 
of the "Mountain Men." A simple listing of some of those 
who became paladins of the high country is sufficient to 
show that the claims of the preceding sentences are not 
idly advanced: Jedediah Smith, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Wil- 
liam and Milton Sublette, James Bridger, James Clyman, 
Robert Campbell, David Jackson, Etienne Provost, James 
Beckwourth, Edward Rose, Hugh Glass, and Mike Fink! 

The accomplishments and adventures associated with 
these names are sufficient to fill at least a small library! 
Though they came to the mountains for trapping, not 
mapping, they memorized a quarter of a continent — and 
flung open a treasure chest of national expansion and 
development! Between them, for example, Jedediah Smith 
in a tragically short career and Thomas Fitzpatrick in a 

[). Cited in Dale L. Morgan, Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West 
(New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1953), pp. 19-20. 



, ..-■ 

■*%:, -»»„-*:jfr:. *y ' «/ 

W. H. Jackson painted this scene of emigrants along the Oregon Trail approaching Chimney Rock in what is today Nebraska. 

multifaceted one covered most of the territory bounded 
by the Missouri River on the east, the Three Forks country 
of Montana and the Columbia Basin on the north, the 
Arkansas River on the south, and the Pacific Coast on 
the west. They were entrepreneurs as well as explorers, 
managers, and leaders as well as trappers; the firm of 
Smith, Jackson, and Sublette (William) and the partner- 
ship of Fitzpatrick, Bridger, and Sublette (Milton) [called 
the Rocky Mountain Fur Company] illustrate the point. 
In education and literacy they ranged from the elo- 
quent expression of Fitzpatrick to the complete illiteracy 
of Bridger, and in personality from the grave God-fearing 
integrity of Jedediah Smith to the murderous savagery 
of Mike Fink. Some, like Robert Campbell, ended up rich, 
most others did not; but all were as tough and enduring 
as the mountains they roamed. Jedediah Smith and Hugh 
Glass each survived direct combat with the undisputed 
monarch of the high country — a grizzly bear; Bridget had 

a Blackfoot arrowhead dug out of his back at rendezvous 
by Marcus Whitman; Thomas Fitzpatrick and William 
Sublette acquired Indian-bestowed sobriquets that 
reflected an existence something less than tame and 
gentle — "Broken Hand" and "Cut Face." 

They have all been gone for more than a century. But 
Fort Laramie, Fort Bridger, Fort Vasquez, Jackson Hole, 
Bridger Pass, Fitzpatrick Wilderness — these names, and 
a dozen more, still serve as reminders that the mountain 
men passed this way. 4 

With the decline of the fur trade, the mountain men 
faded away, to be replaced bv tens o! thousands o( 
emigrants. And these thousands did what Americans have 
done since the beginning of the Republic — call upon their 

The I) 


of brief biographies oi a number ol the par 
ticipants in the fur trade is Leroy K. Hafen, ed., The Mountain 
Man and the Fw Trade of the Far West, 10 vols. (Glendale, Califor- 
nia: Aiihui II. Clark Company, 1965-1972). 



SUMMER 1990 

government for protection! The result was the creation, 
after the Civil War, of the Frontier Army. Prior to the 
Civil War, a several month "patrol" of the Rocky Moun- 
tain West by a regiment of dragoons or mounted rifles 
was deemed sufficient for protective purposes; but the 
beginnings of a mass migration quickly demonstrated the 
need for the establishment of regular posts and the enlist- 
ment of regular troops. 

Where did the troops come from? The answer — they 
were all volunteers and they came from widely varied 
backgrounds. Some were immigrants attempting to get 
a start in the New World by saving part of their army 
pay and by learning a new language. Others were farmers 
who had been defeated by climate, soil, or recession in 
the calling of their choice. Some were men whose careers 
had run afoul of the law; others were ex-soldiers of the 
Confederacy and the Union doing the only job for which 
they were trained. 

Enlistments ran three to five years in the frontier 
army. Boredom was endemic, discipline harsh, food not 
very exciting to poor, and drunkenness, as a result, almost 
inevitable on payday. With discipline not infrequently bor- 
dering on the cruel, it is hardly surprising that desertion 
was a problem common to all frontier posts. 5 

Some of the officers became famous — Crook, Miles, 
Sheridan, and Custer, to name a few. But "across the 
face of the frontier also passed the nameless ones — the 
thousands of tired and dirty troopers and foot soldiers who 
patrolled the high plains for 13 dollars a month and who 
traveled, in the words of a contemporary song, 'Forty 
Miles a Day on Beans and Hay in the Regular Army Ho! ' 
They filled the air with frequent curses and occasional 
prayers as they moved to hundreds of skirmish lines at 
places little known then and mostly forgotten now — 
watering the buffalo grass with their sweat and blood as 
they went." 6 

The major group associated with Wyoming's trails 
was, however, none of these just mentioned. The sig- 
nificance of Wyoming's trails is to be measured not by 

5. Don Rickey, Jr. , Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay: The Enlisted 
Soldier Fighting the Indian Wars (Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1963), p. 19. Dr. Rickey also notes that army pay for 
unskilled labor was, in many instances, better than that which 
could be earned through civilian employment. For example, 
"First Cavalryman William Husteds said he 'was working in 
a grocery store for $2.00 per week — the army paid $13.00 per 

6. Robert L. Munkres, "The Road West: Ash Hollow to Fort 

the number of beaver "plew" taken or regiments enlisted 
and deployed, but rather by the number of emigrants seek- 
ing a better life that followed such trails, and the number 
who did was in the tens of thousands. 

What they encountered was a terrain unlike anything 
they had ever previously experienced. From the first view 
of Laramie Peak perhaps forty miles east of Fort Laramie 
to the lovely valley where Jim Bridger built his trading 
post, emigrants were filled with awe and wonder at the 
natural sites and scenes to which their travel exposed them. 
But they were also exposed to the full range of difficulties 
associated with trail travel. Thus, their association with 
what became Wyoming was from the beginning a con- 
tinuing combination of good and bad, joy and sorrow, 
the beautiful and the ugly — like most of life itself. 

Emigrant trains pointed into present-day Wyoming 
from the time they passed the great bluff on the North 
Platte bearing the name of ill-fated Hiram Scott. By way 
of Roubidoux Pass (before 1849) or Mitchell Pass, wagons 
passed "through a sort of gap . . . into the Valley of 
Goshen which is some 20 miles broad." 7 Thus wrote 
Theodore Talbot in August, 1843; he went on to note that 
his party's entrance into this "valley" was not marked 
by particularly good weather. "We were caught out on 
the prairie in the evg. by a great rain and hail-storm. We 
were obliged to stop and just bide its merciless pelting, 
which from the first hailstone that hits you on the nose, 
to the last creek meandering down your unfortunate back 
is any and everything but pleasant." 8 

Weather and climate were continuing problems as 
"pilgrims" moved on toward one of the principal stops 
on the high plains portion of the Oregon-California 
Trail — Fort Laramie. Virgil Pringle (1846) camped a mile 
from the fort on Monday, June 22, having traveled 15 
miles on "a disagreeable day, the wind blowing a tornado 
and the sand filling the air which continued to increase 
till midnight, when it abated." 9 This difficulty was not 
all that unusual. The same spring J. Quinn Thornton 
(1846) offered this advice: "The emigrant should not fail 
to prepare for this intolerable dust, by procuring several 
pairs of goggles for the eyes of each member of his family 

7. Theodore Talbot , Journals (Portland, 1931), Newberry microfilm 
2-11, entry for August 2, 1843. 

8. Ibid. Unless otherwise indicated, the research materials upon 
which this article is based were located in the files of the late 
Paul Henderson of Bridgeport, Nebraska. 

9. "Diary of Virgil K. Pringle," as copied from the Transactions 
of the Forty-eighth Annual Reunion of the Oregon Pioneer Association, 
Portland, July 1, 1920, entry for June 22, 1846. 



. . . The want of these goggles ... is often attended with 
effects, amounting to much more than a simple incon- 
venience. The blindness of Mr. McKissick, whom we had 
met ten miles east of Ft. Laramie, is a example in point." 10 

Most emigrants looked upon Fort Laramie as the last 
outpost of civilization on the way west. Established in 1834 
by William Sublette and Robert Campbell as a fur trad- 
ing post, the establishment was purchased by the govern- 
ment in 1849 and turned into Fort Laramie. Today one 
of the National Park Service's "Crown Jewels" of historic 
preservation and restoration, during the days of trail travel 
it was a much-anticipated stopping point because of the 
availability of supplies it afforded, as well as the possibil- 
ity of sending and receiving communications from those 
"back home." During its more than Fifty years of ser- 
vice, the fort was never the scene of a battle, major or 
otherwise. The Grattan affair, which took place perhaps 
fifteen miles east of the post, was the establishment's closest 
approach to open combat. Even the negotiations for the 
first treaty with the plains tribes, the Fort Laramie Treaty 
of 1851, were actually carried out on Horse Creek east 
of the fort. Indian ponies had thoroughly scavenged all 
available forage around the fort itself by the time the parlay 
actually began! Nonetheless, the name "Fort Laramie" 
came to be synonymous with the frontier itself, largely 
because of the role it played in the great multi-year mass 
migration on the Oregon-California Trail. The state of 
Wyoming can take pride in the role it played in securing 
this site, thus making possible its preservation for future 
generations. 11 

Beyond Fort Laramie, trains frequently stopped at 
Warm Springs so the ladies could take care of laundry. 
During such stopovers, large numbers of emigrants also 
availed themselves of the opportunity to record their names 
on Register Cliff. 

Between Register Cliff and the Upper Platte Cross- 
ing, wagon train members found the scenery to be excep- 
tionally attractive. William A. Carter (1857), subsequently 
a long-time resident of Fort Bridger, breakfasted on 

10. J. Quinn Thornton, Oregon and California in 1848 (New York: 
Harper and Brothers, 1864), entry for July 7, 1846. Hereafter 
refer red to as J. Quinn Thornton. 

11. Perhaps the classic history of the post is Leroy R. Nairn and 
Francis Marion Young, Fori Laramie and the Pageant <>/ the We\l, 
1834-1890 (Glendale, California: Arthur 11. Clark Company, 
1938; reprint ed., Lincoln: University ol Nebraska Press, 1984). 
See also Merrill Mattes, "The ( ausaclc to Save fort Laramie," 
Annals of Wyoming 50 (Spring 1978): 5-57. 

"Horse Shoe, a little creek which flows through a beau- 
tiful circular Valey . . . the scene picturesque — Larimie 
Peak is in full view to the south west and Hills covered 
with pine & cedar almost surround it." 12 Not much far- 
ther along the way, the trail left the river because of a 
natural obstacle, a barrier which was quite impressive to 
those who were willing to make the effort to view it. Joel 
Palmer (1845) described it as "the Dalles of the Platte, 
where the river bursts through a mountain spur. Perpen- 
dicular cliffs rising directly from the edge of the water, 
500 or 600 feet high from the left bank of the river. . . . 
The most interesting feature of these magnificent masses, 
is the variety of colors that are presented: yellow, red, black 
and white, and all the shades between as they blend and 
are lost in each other." 13 "The scenery surpasses, for gran- 
deur, sublimity and peculiarity, anything we have yet seen 
on the road" wrote Celinda Hines in late June, 1853. 14 
And it was not just the Canyon of the Platte (by which 
name it was also known) that impressed her. "We went 
to the top of the bluff," where she observed "several miles 
of the road with teams and camps. The river and its var- 
ious windings with its valley and bluffs on either side. 
Laramie Peak in the distance with its snow-capped crest 
was before us in all the grandeur of which a landscape 
can be possessed . . . " 15 It is no wonder that Miss Hines 
was moved to exclaim "How grand, how magnificent." 16 
Emigrants continued to be captivated by the scenery 
at least until they reached the point at which they left the 
North Platte River for good. La Bonte, La Prele, Box 
Elder, and Deer creeks all generated their share of com- 
ments from the westering wayfarers, as the following diary 
excerpts illustrate. 

WILLIAM G. JOHNSTON (1849): The scenery was 
grand along the line of march; the mountain chain with its 
succession of peaks was very picturesque, but barrenness and 
desolation were striking characteristics . . . Our camp was 
on LaBonte River, a small mountain stream. 1 

12. "Diary ol Judge William A. Carter: Describes Life on the Trail 
in 1857," Annals of Wyoming 11 (April 1939): 98. Hereafter 
referred to as W. A. Carter. 

13. Joel Palmer, Journal of Travels Over the Rocky Mountains (Cine in 
nati: J. A.James, 1847; reprint ed.. Fairfield, Washington: Ye 
Galleon Press, 1983), p. 27. Hereafter referred to as Joel Palme.. 

14. "Celinda Hines: Lite and Death on the Oregon Trail," in Ken 
neth L. 1 tolmes, ed.. Covered Wagon Women: Planes & from 
the Western Trails 1840-1890, vol. VI (Glendale, California: The 
Arthur II. Clark Company, 1986), p. 96. 

15. Ibid. 
1<>. Ibid. 



SUMMER 1990 

PHOEBE G. JUDSON (1853): We reached La Bonta 
Creek on Saturday, a little before sundown, and made our 
encampment on its banks, among the cottonwood trees, one 
of the most charming spots of the whole route, where we 
found good water, grass and wood — which was greatly 
appreciated. 18 

RICHARD M. MAY (1848): (Passing La Prele 
Creek) Today decidedly the richest scenery surrounded us 
that we had the pleasure of seeing on the journey. 19 

ORSON PRATT (1847): We encamped to-night on 
the right bank of a creek about 24 feet wide, called "A la 
Parele.". The grass on the bottoms of this stream is very 
good . . . Just above the camp this stream runs through a 
mountain, which forms a natural bridge. 20 

JOHN R. McGLASHAN (1850): Kept on till we 
came to Deer Creek, a beautiful stream, well wooded and 
abounding with mountain or speckled trout. 21 

Of course, many things happened (and had hap- 
pened) beside and near these attractive mountain streams. 
Deer Creek, for instance, eventually became, for a time, 
the western most location for the Upper Platte Indian 
Agency. It was also the location of the telegraph station 
from which John "Portugee" Phillips first notified the 
commander at Fort Laramie of the Fetterman "Mas- 
sacre" at Fort Phil Kearny on December 21, 1866. 22 And 
not infrequently tragedies or near tragedies befell the 
emigrants themselves. Two examples, both events occur- 
ring near Box Elder Creek, will suffice for illustrative 

On June 22, 1853, the party to which Mrs. Belshaw 
belonged left their camp at Box Elder. Being unable to 
find grass for the team, they stopped at noon for dinner. 

17. Wm. G. Johnston, Experiences of a Forty Niner (Pittsburgh: 1892), 
p. 128. Microfilmed by Library of Congress. Hereafter referred 
to as Wm. G. Johnston. The name of the stream is accounted 
for by George Keller: "This stream is so called, from a hunter 
and trapper of the same name, whose companions were killed, 
and his wife Yute-chil-co-the (the reed that bends), carried away 
captive by the Arapahoes. " George Keller, A Trip Across the Plains 
(Massilon: 1851), entry for Monday, May 6, 1850, Newberry 
microfilm 2-13. Hereafter referred to as George Keller. 

18. Phoebe G. Judson, A Pioneer's Search (Bellingham, Washington: 
1925), p. 4, Newberry microfilm 2-30. Mrs. Judson's reaction 
to her surroundings was greatly influenced by the fact that "The 
Sabbath dawned most serenely upon us, a bright, lovely morn- 
ing, the twenty-sixth of June. I am certain of the date, for the 
day was made memorable to me by the birth of a son." 
Richard M. May, "A Sketch of a Migrating Family to Califor- 
nia," entry for July 1, 1848. Hereafter referred to as Richard 
M. May. 

"Interesting Items Concerning the Journeying of the Latter Day 
Saints from the City of Nauvoo, Until Their Location in the Val- 
ley of the Great Salt Lake," entry for June 9, 1847, extracted 
from the "Private Journal of Orson Pratt," in The Latter-Day 
Saints' Millenial Star, April 15; May 1; June 1, 1850. Hereafter 
referred to as Orson Pratt. 

21 . "Overland Journal of John M. McGlashan," entry for May 19, 
1850. Hereafter referred to as John M. McGlashen. 

22. The best analytical description of this famous ride is Robert A. 
Murray, "The John 'Portugee' Phillips Legend, A Study in 
Wyoming Folklore," Annals of Wyoming 40 (April 1968): 41-56. 



A N 

in - 

nro'.u . 

\ ~ -\ \ 


A. H. Unthank 
carved his name 
in Register Cliff 
in eastern Wyo- 
ming in 1850. 
He had left Fort 
Wayne, Indiana, 
hoping to travel 
to California 
along the Oregon 



While the adults were eating, two seven-year-old boys, 
William Belshaw and Charles, "started to get a horse. 
William left Charles to return to the wagon. Charles could 
not see the wagon, he took the wrong road and got lost. 
We missed him in about 1/2 hour, made inquiry but could 
hear nothing of him. Between 30 and 40 people were out 
hunting him, but no Charles to be found. Continued the 
search till sunset." 23 Fortunately for all concerned, "a man 
came to our wagon at sunset with the news that the child 
was safe in a camp nine miles from us . . . They took 
him in and treated him kindly while we were searching 
the rocks and ravines thoroughly." 24 

Captain Albert Tracy provides the second example, 
this one a genuine tragedy. 

It was at Box Elder . . . that a party found by a jury 
of his fellow-citizens to be guilty of mule-stealing, had been 
summarily executed, by hanging — a couple of wagon 

tongues, elevated from their front wheels, and lashed at top, 
forming the neat and sufficient derick, or gallows, whereon 
to do the judgment — the culprit depending at the end of a 
lariat, as a species of central figure, between the two outer 
lines of an isosceles triangle. 25 

It was for a very good reason that Merrill Mattes titled 
his seminal work on the trails The Great Platte River Road. 
A glance at a map shows how faithfully the trail followed 
a series of rivers. The first reason for this relationship was, 
of course, the simple topographic fact that rivers will find 
the easiest (and sometimes the only) pathway through par- 
ticular terrain. Secondly, of course, rivers provide a ready 
supply of water; perhaps the water was not always the most 
palatable, but it was life-giving nonetheless. The coun- 
try beyond the 100th meridian, roughly the forks of the 
Platte, was marked by a decided drop in annual rainfall; 
river water, thus, became even more important. Further- 
more, what little timber was available (except in the moun- 
tains) was on river banks. 26 Except for occasional drift- 
wood, this source of wood was, of course, almost com- 
pletely appropriated by those traveling early in the season. 

Rivers were a boon, but there was a price to be paid 
for following them — eventually some of them had to be 
crossed! Most emigrants had already had some experience 
with the difficulties and dangers associated with river cross- 
ing. Many had forded the South Platte in western 
Nebraska before joining the North Platte at Ash Hollow. 
Some forded at or near Fort Laramie, and most either 
forded or ferried across the North Platte at the Upper 
Platte Crossing. 

A wed after he passed Register Cliff, A. II Unthank died from cholera. I In 
grave is a few miles east of Clenrock 

23. "Diary Kept by Mrs. Maria A. (Parsons) Belshaw, 1853," entry 
for June 22, 1853, copied from "New Spain and the Anglo- 
American West," pp. 219-243. Hereafter referred to as Mrs. 

24. Ibid. 

25. "The Utah War: Journal of Capt. Albert Tracy. 1858-1860," 
Utah Historical Quarterly 13 (January, April, July, October 1945): 
109. Of course, not all events, even though accidents, had such 
drastic results. Win. G.Johnston, for example, thought to do 
his laundry at Deer Creek. 1 [aving forgotten his soap, lie pi. mil 
"the garments in the stream, . . . [securing] them with care by 
putting on lop some boulders of goodly size and (hen wenl up 
io the ..imp for soap. On my return I discovered what might 
be thought to he a hole in the wash till., for a ( onsiilerahle part 
of the clothes was none. It was loss not easily to he borne, hut 
there remained, nevertheless, some consolation; disliking laun- 
dry work, I had less ol it to perform." \\ Hi. G.Johnston, p. 132. 

26. The "timber" was frequently cottonwood, an ex, use lor tim- 

has a sense of humor! 



SUMMER 1990 

In the absence of ferries, earlier travelers had some 
times constructed their own means of getting equipment 
and property across rivers. Two years before Campbell 
and Sublette established their post on the banks of the 
Laramie, John Ball's party (1832) got themselves and their 
goods across that stream through the use of rafts and "bull 
boats." The composition and structure of the latter was 
the subject of the following entry in Mr. Ball's journal. 

A 'bull boat' is made of willow branches twelve or four- 
teen feet long, each about one and one half inches at the butt 
end. These ends were fixed in the ground in converging rows 
at proper distances from each other, and as they approached 
nearer the ends the branches were brought nearer together 
and bound firmly together like ribs of a great basket; and 
then they took other twigs of willow and wove them into those 
stuck in the ground so as to make a sort of firm, long, huge 
basket. After this was completed they sewed together a num- 
ber of buffalo skins and with them covered the whole; and 
after the different parts had been trimmed off smooth, a slow 
fire was made under the 'bull boat', taking care to dry the 
skins moderately; and as they gradually dried and acquired 
a due degree of heat they rubbed buffalo tallow all over the 
outside of it so as to allow it to enter into all the seams of 
the concern, now no longer a willow basket. As the melted 
tallow ran down into every seam, hole, and crevice, it cooled 
into a firm body, capable of resisting the water and bearing 
a considerable blow without damage. Then the willow- ribbed 
buffalo skin tallowed vehicle was carefully pulled from the 
ground — behold! a boat, capable of transporting men, 
horses, and goods over a pretty strong current. 27 

Few subsequent travelers gave the details of boat- 
building as recorded by Ball. Asahel Munger (1839), for 
example, noted simply that "We are now at the point 
where we cross the Piatt, arrived here at 12 o'clock — 
commenced building two boats. These boats are made of 
poles tied together, and covered with Buffalo skins." 28 

Crossing rivers frequently involved a combination of 
ferrying (where such a service was available) and ford- 
ing. Wagons and people usually crossed by boat, but 
animals normally were required to ford the river under 
their own power because of the expense involved in using 
the ferry. "Fare is 5 dollars a wagon and one for a horse 
or an ox. There has been a number of men drowned this 
season by fording to save cost," wrote Robert Chalmers 
in June, 1850. 29 Mr. Chalmers also provides us with a suc- 
cinct description of the manner in which the ferry worked. 

"The scows are sent to and fro by the current. They have 
a rope stretched across the river and a rope from it to each 
end of the scow, the slack of the stern and the current 
drives it across. We swim the oxen and ferry the 
wagons." 30 Crossing the North Platte a year earlier, Wm. 
G. Johnston observed another facet of ferry boat opera- 
tion. "The ferry-boat, constructed of logs covered with 
slabs of wood, was propelled with long poles" he wrote, 
adding "It was only of sufficient size to accommodate one 
wagon at a time, with as many men as it was thought safe 
to carry in addition. The mules and horses swam 
across." 31 

The ferry over the upper North Platte was operated 
by Mormons during many of the principal years of trail 
travel. In view of the difficulties experienced by members 
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in their 
relationships with "Gentiles" in such places as Carthage 
and Navauoo, perhaps the reaction of Oregon Trail 
emigrants is worth mentioning. The Wm. G. Johnston 
(1849) whose description of the ferry was noted above 
prefaced that description with the following observation: 
"Contrary to expectation, based upon the common repu- 
tation of these Latter-Day Saints, we found those in charge 
of the ferry men of respectable appearance, well informed, 
polite, and in every way agreeable." 32 Richard May's 
remarks were much briefer, but to much the same point. 
Writing on July 6, 1848, he noted simply that "The Mor- 
mons who are stationed here (4 in number) are quite intel- 
ligent and manly." 33 

Shortly after fording or ferrying the North Platte, 
wagon trains left the river for good. "At the Red Buttes," 
wrote David R. Leeper (1849), "we took final leave of 
the Platte which had so long borne us company. It was 
still a considerable stream, being several hundred yards 
wide, with a deep and rapid current." 34 Red Buttes as 
a landmark evoked varying levels of reaction. In June, 
1849, for instance, Wm. G. Johnston (1849) described 

27. "Across the Continent Seventy Years Ago: Extracts from the 
Journal of John Ball of His Trip Across the Rocky Mountains, 
and His Life in Oregon, Compiled by His Daughter," copied 
from the (>ii"n/i I Inimical Quarterly III (February 27, 1949): entry 
lor June 12, 1832. Hereafter referred to as John Ball. 

28. Diary of Asahel Munger and wile, entry for June 20, 1839. 

29. Charles Kelly, ed., "The Journal of Robert Chalmers April 
17-September 1, 1850," Utah Historical Quarterly XX (January 
1952): 43. Hereafter referred to as Robert Chalmers. 

30. Robert Chalmers, pp. 42-43. 

31. Wm. G.Johnston, p. 135. 

32. Wm. G.Johnston, p. 134. 

33. Richard M. May, entry for July 7, 1848. 

34. David R. Leeper, Argonauts of 'Forty-Nine (South Bend: 1894), 
Newberry microfilm 2-1 . No date or page number given. Here- 
after referred to as David R. Leeper. 



Red Buttes as "distinguishing landmarks, composed of 
great piles of red sandstone . . ." 35 Two years earlier, 
however, Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) dismissed the 
topographic feature as being "nothing more than a red 
side hill. The earth is red." 36 

As trains headed for the Sweetwater River, part of 
the way of passage was as rough as the name bestowed 
upon one portion of terrain. Rock Avenue "was a curi- 
osity," wrote Amelia Hadley (1851), "one which I can- 
not describe any more than for you to look at some 
quarry." 37 "here are ledges," she continued, "which look 
as though some one had cut the stone square and layed 
them up in a wall." 38 Whence came the designation 
"Rock Avenue"? Mrs. Hadley had at least a tongue in 
cheek answer: "I can tell you how it came, here is where 
the Free Massons done their first work (now you know)." 39 

After passing Rock Avenue, where "the rocks form 
a gateway through which the road passes . . . (and) High 
rock ridges present themselves on the right; those on the 
left are not so high," trains such as that of Mrs. Velina 
A. Williams (1853) frequently camped at Willow 
Springs. 40 In the early part of the travel season, parties 
such as that of Wm. G. Johnston (1849) found the water 
of the springs to be "delightfully cool and refreshing, while 
around we found excellent grass for the animals." 41 
"Wood was wanting," he admitted, "but as a substitute 
we used wild sage, the dead limbs of which afford an 
admirable fuel, burning briskly." 42 Richard May (1848) 
concurred, noted he believed that the water Willow 
Springs provided "is good water as I have seen on the 
road." 43 

35. Wm. G. Johnston, p. 136. 

36. "The Diary of Elizabeth Dixon Smith," in Holmes, Covered 
Wagon Women, vol. I, p. 126. Hereafter referred to as Elizabeth 
Dixon Smith. 

37. "Amelia Hadley: Journal of Travails to Oregon," in Holmes, 
Covered Wagon Women, vol. Ill, p. 76. Hereafter referred to as 
Amelia Hadley. 

38. Ibid. 

39. Ibid. 

40. Mrs. Velina A. Williams, "Diary of a Trip Across the Plains 
in 1853," copied from the Transactions of the Forty-Seventh Annual 
Reunion of the Oregon Pioneer Association (Portland, Oregon: 
Chausse-Prudhomme Co., Printers, 1922), entry for July II, 

41. Wm. (;. Johnston, p. 137. 

42. Wm. G. Johnston, p. 137. Johnston goes on to note, however, 
(hat "A drawback to their use is thai they send forth great 
volumes of blinding smoke, particularly damaging to the eyes 
of the cook." 

43. Richard M. May, entry for 10th. 

Of course, not everyone had such a positive reaction; 
C. W. Smith (1850) was among them: "At sundown we 
came from a stream which comes from what are called 
Willow Springs . . . This being a general stopping place, 
the grass is poor. The stream is small and the valley nar- 
row. On the upland there is no vegetation worth men- 
tioning, except wild sage, which grows in stunted clumps 
all over the country." 44 Sarah Sutton (1854) had even less 
reason to be impressed, at least with the people in the 
immediate vicinity, "here was a thief," she recorded, 
"shot in the back, dead, while on a stolen horse, by the 
owner in pursuit of him." 45 

William Marshall Anderson left Red Buttes on June 
4, 1834, and started toward the Sweetwater Valley. 46 By 
the time he had moved well into the valley, his reaction 
to the terrain was matched time and time again by those 
who followed him. "The fact of the country from the Red 
Buttes on the Platte to the Sweetwater, and from thence 
to the main Colorado, is barren in the extreme; it is sand 
and nothing but sand. In fact, except the bottoms, mar- 
gining the streams up which we traveled from the Kaw 
west there is no soil visible. It is one immense desert; a 

true American 'Sah; 

A day later, remember- 

ing country much farther east, he mused, "How I long 
for a timbered country. In a thousand miles I have not 
seen a hundred acres of wood. All that comes near to 
aborification is a fringe of cottonwood and willows along 
the banks of creeks and rivers. These everlasting hills have 
an everlasting curse of barrenness." 48 Sixteen years later, 
Orson Pratt's (1847) reaction was perhaps a bit less poetic, 
but he was, nonetheless, not particularly impressed. 

The river seems to hug the base of the hills on the north, 
and although its general course is to the east, its short and 
frequent meanderings give it a serpentine appearance; its 
average breadth is about 60 feet, its average depth about 4 
feet, with a rapid current; its bottom consists of fine sand 

44. C. W. Smith , Journal of a Trip to California in the Summer of 1850, 
R.W.G. Vail, ed. (Manchester, New Hampshire: Standard Rook 
Company), entry for June 6, 1850. Hereafter referred to as C. 
W. Smith. 

45. "Sarah Sutton: A Travel Diary in 1851." in Holmes. Coined 
Wagon Women, vol. VIII, p. 49. Hereafter re ferret I to as Sarah 

46. Albert J. Partoll, ed., "Anderson's Narrative of a Rule to the 
Rocky Mountains in 1834," Frontier and Midland. 19 (Autumn 
1938): 57. Marshall described the "long-wished -foi -[Red] Buttes 
[as] two isolated hills, covered with a lake-colored earth or paint." 
Hereafter referred to as William Marshall Anderson. 

17. William Marshall Anderson, p. 59. 

48. William Marshall Anderson, entry for lune 12, 1834. 



SUMMER 1990 

and gravel, while the bottom land for a few rods upon each 
bank generally affords sufficient grass for the emigrants; but 
the rest of the plain, for several miles in width, is of a sandy, 
barren, sterile aspect, with scarcely any vegetation but 
artemesia or wild sage, which seems here to flourish in great 
abundance, growing in places to the enormous size of 8 or 
10 inches in diameter, and 8 or 10 feet in height. There is 
no timber upon the Sweet Water, and we are dependent 
altogether upon the drift wood, buffalo excrement, and 
artemesia, the latter burns extremely well, with a clear bright 
flame. 49 

Everything considered, however, travel "along the 
valley of the Sweetwater for about one hundred miles to 
the South Pass" was described by David Leeper (1849) 
in terms acceptable to most emigrants: "The valley or 
gateway is from ten to twenty miles wide. The surface 
is undulating, occasionally mounting into hills, and the 
ascent so gradual that we were scarcely aware when the 
culmination was reached and passed. The bottoms were 
fairly supplied with grasses; but the uplands were domi- 
nated by the now well-nigh ever-present sage-brush." 50 
Another facet of travel almost universally experienced by 
wayfarers was duly noted by Edwin Bryant in 1846. "The 
atmosphere is filled with swarms of mosquitos," he wrote, 
then added the warning that they "bite with a fierceness 
far greater than there civilized brethren of the 'settle- 
ments'." 51 

About sixty miles into the Sweetwater Valley emi- 
grants encountered two of the most famous landmarks on 
the Oregon-California Trail — Independence Rock and 
Devil's Gate. "Christened" by William Sublette on July 
4, 1830, Independence Rock was and is a huge chunk of 
granite sitting by itself on the plain next to the Sweetwater 
River — 6,029 feet above sea level; 136 feet above terrain; 
circumference of 5,900 feet; mass covers 24.81 acres. 52 

1 lslOB.Ot.NCiB, IMCt- R.OC*. 

The route of the Oregon Trail through western Nebraska and Wyoming. 

49. Orson Pratt, entry for June 22, 1847. Pratt also noted, however, 
that the "mountainous aspect of the country is certainly very 
picturesque and beautiful." 

50. David R. Leeper. 

5 1 . Edwin Bryant, What I Saw in California: Being the Journal of a Tour, 
by the Emigrant Route and South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, Across 
the Continent of North America, the Great Desert Basin, and Through 
California, in the Years 1846, 1847 (Minneapolis: Ross & Haines, 
Inc., 1967), p. 128. Hereafter referred to as Edwin Bryant. 
J. Cecil Alter, Jim Bridger (Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1962), p. 111. The dale of the naming ol Independent c 
Rock is still controverted, though most scholars agree the year 
of naming was either 1829 or 1830. The late Paul Henderson 
provided the data on Independence Rock's physical dimensions. 


John Ball (1832) likened it to "a big bowl turned upside 
down, in size about equal to two meeting houses of the 
old New England style," 53 while to John Boardman (1843) 
it seemed "long and oval, and appears as if cemented 
together with cast iron." 5 * 

Independence Rock was not simply a huge landmark, 
however. To mountain men and emigrants alike it served 
another purpose. Here, according to William Marshall 
Anderson (1834), "they look for and obtain information 
of intense interest to them. On the side of the rock names, 
dates, and messages, written in buffalo-grease and pow- 
der, are read and re-read with as much eagerness as if 
they were letters in detail from long absent friends." 55 



The great stone formation was thus "a place of adver- 
tisement, or kind of trapper's post office," possessing in 
addition "a reputation and a fame peculiar to itself." 56 

It was here that Lansford Hastings, later the 
"founder" of the cut-off bearing his name that contributed 
so heavily to the tragedy which befell the Donner Party, 
and a companion named Lovejoy were trapped by a war- 
party of Sioux when they stayed behind to finish carving 
their names. Things were very tense until the guide/pilot 
of the group, Thomas Fitzpatrick, talked the Sioux into 
releasing the men. 57 

Lydia Milner Waters (1855) experienced other 
difficulties here — and little Frankie Shedd (1864) came 
to the end of his western trek on what, for his family, was 
a tragic July 4. Mrs. Waters was driving her wagon when 
one of the men "took a heavily loaded gun . . . out of 
the wagon," but was unable to get a shot at an antelope 
so he "put the gun back in the bow of the wagon, and 
left it cocked." 58 "In moving, the skirt of my dress caught 
the hammer of the gun," continued Mrs. Waters, "off 
it went . . . luckily the whole charge raked only one side 
of the horses. They broke loose and ran away." 59 The 
wagon cover caught fire, and no water was immediately 
available. While someone else ran forward to get water, 
Mrs. Waters, thinking fast, remembered "the leaves in 
the teapot, and filling my hands with them patted on the 
fire. The wind was very strong, but I almost had it out 
when the water came." 60 The horse "we called Sam was 
well peppered, and the slugs did not all work out until 
five months afterward. My hands were so scorched that 
they did not get well for two months." 61 

53. .John Ball, p. 5. 

54. "The Journal of John Boardman: An Overland Journey from 
Kansas to Oregon in 1843," Utah Historical Quarterly, 2 (October 
1929): 104-105. Boardman also gives the lie to the notion that 
emigrants traveled largely isolated from contact with any humans 
other than members of their own party. From the top of Indepen- 
dence Rock, he saw "an extended plain with a small stream 
meandering through it; while in view, at 3 encampments, con- 
sisting of 120 wagons, with their 700 or 800 animals feeding, 
and in the distance the wild buffalo feeding at their leisure." 

55. William Marshall Anderson, p. 58. 

56. William Marshall Anderson, p. 58. 

57. A.J. Allen, Thrilling Adventures of Dr. Elijah White {New York: 
1859), Newberry microfilm 3-25, letter dated fori Hall, August 
15, 1842. 

58. Lydia Milner Waters, "Account of a Trip," Quarterly of Society 
o/ California I'ioiners, Newbcrr\ microfilm "> II 

59. Waters, "Account of a Trip." 

60. Waters, "Accounl oi a Trip." 

61. Waters, "Accounl of a Trip." 

Two-year-old Frankie Shedd (1864) took sick at about 
the time his train left the Platte. He died the night they 
camped at Independence Rock. "The next morning his 
father made a very neat coffin as he was a good carpenter 
and in the after noon they had the funeral, which was on 
Independence Day. On the fifth we resumed our jour- 
ney . . ," 62 

Fifteen years earlier, David Leeper's party (1849) 
celebrated July 4 at Independence Rock, using "the river 
water for camp purposes during our stopover for the patri- 
otic exercises." 63 "Imagine our chagrin and disgust," he 
went on, "when soon after breaking camp the next morn- 
ing, we discovered the putrid carcass of an ox steeping 
in a brook that discharged into the river a short distance 
above where we had been using the water." 64 

Approximately five miles beyond Independence Rock, 
wagon trains went around a mountain spur, while the 
Sweetwater River itself had carved a way of passage 
through a gorge which had come to be known as Devil's 
Gate. "At this point, the walls are four hundred feet in 
perpendicular height," noted George Keller (1850). 65 He 
went on to add, however, that "The scenery is fearfully 
grand — the water roaring at your feet — the naked walls 
of rock apparently almost meeting, above you, while large 
pieces seem ready, from the slightest cause, to be detached 
from the parent mass, and crush you in their descent." 66 
Seven years later, O. H. O'Neill (1857) concurred. "It 
is difficult to imagine a more sublime scene than is here 
presented," he wrote, with "The stream foaming through 
the chasm and over beneath the numerous fragments of 
granite. The towering cliffs and the surrounding solitude 
are all calculated to produce a feeling of awe." 67 

Sarah Sutton (1854) thought a Biblical reference 
appropriate as ". . .we came to what is called the Devil's 
gate. The high mountains, like the Red Sea, had fled back, 
not to let the Israelites pass through, but to let sweet water 
run through." 68 There were trader's here to serve the liv- 
ing, and graves to mark the departure of loved ones, and 

62. Emaline F. Hobart, "An Account of the Fletcher's Crossing of 
ihe Plains," copied from the typed copy belonging to Miss 1 ,or- 
rainc Fletcher. Ki.'i.'i S.W. Furadcl Avenue. Portland l9.0re-on. 

63. David R. Peeper, entry for July 1. 1849. 

64. David R. Leeper, entry for July 4, 1849. 

65. George Keller, p. 18. 
()(>. George Keller, p. 18. 

67. "A Portion of the Travel Journal Kept byO. IP O'Neill of the 
Fort Kearney, South Pass & 1 [oney 1 ,ake Wagon Road Expedi- 
tion, Under W. P. McGraw 1857," entry for "Sept. 17. 1857. 
Camp. No. 59." 

68. Sarah Sutton, p. 50. 



SUMMER 1990 

some perhaps not so loved. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Ann 
McAuley (1852), for example, "saw the graves of Mrs. 
Cole's and Mrs. Dart's babies, two sisters, acquaintances 
of our, on their way to Oregon" between Independence 
Rock and Devil's Gate. 69 By way of comparison, eight 
days earlier a man named Prouty "was seized with the 
cholera and died and was buried at Devil's Gate." 70 
Prouty, it seems, "had been the cause of a husband and 
wife separating . . . but through the persuasion of some 
of our company they were made to drop it and live 
together again." 71 It is apparent that the diarist, Richard 
Owen Hickman (1852), felt that a rough sort of justice 
had been served by Prouty's demise and burial at a place 
named after the Prince of Darkness! 

As wagon trains moved farther up the Sweetwater, 
their next major goal was the Continental Divide at South 
Pass. Split Rock, the ice springs (or slough), Rocky Ridge 
and the Aspen Grove were approached, observed and 
passed by, each in their turn. Split Rock was already in 
full view as wagons came abreast Devil's Gate. Described 
by W. A. Carter (1857) as "a remarkable cleft in the top 
of the mountain which can be seen at a great distance from 
either direction," it was the only landmark other than 
Laramie Peak that stayed in view for days on end. 72 

The Sweetwater was a winding river to say the least, 
its topographical configuration requiring emigrant par- 
ties to cross it nine times all told! And the crossings were 
not evenly spaced. "June 27 . . . Went 18 miles . . . 
Crossed 1 creek and forded the river three times" wrote 
Robert Chalmers in 1850. 73 It is not surprising that this 
stretch of the journey quickly came to bear the title "Three 

The Ice Springs usually provided a welcome respite 
if the late spring, early summer or late summer was 
uncomfortably warm, or perhaps downright hot! "Thurs- 
day June 19 . . . passed ice springs today about 2 yards 
to the right of the road," reported Amelia Hadley (1851), 
"here you can obtain pure ice by diging down to the depth 
of 4 to 6 inches dug down and got some there is a solid 
cake of ice as clear as any I ever saw and more so cut 
a piece as large as a pail and took and rapt it in a blanket, 
to take along . . ," 74 Two years later, on July 4, a mem- 
ber of Mrs. Belshaw's party "only dug eight inches, and 

found ice as clear and beautiful as ever was seen." 75 She 
went on to note how odd it was that "A short distance 
from the ice is water warm enough to wash dishes in." 76 
If the immediate juxtaposition of ice and warm water was 
not unusual enough, Major Osborne Cross (1850) added 
the further item of information that the bog where ice 
could be found "is in a plain or small sandy valley, and 
exposed to the direct rays of the sun." 77 As with Rock 
Avenue and Willow Springs, now miles behind them, 
travelers once again found difficult terrain and desirable 
camp sites in close proximity. Rocky Ridge, according 
to the Reverend Edward Evans Parrish (1844), "is said 
to be the very worse we shall meet, with long, winding, 
steep hills, one after another, over worst rocks and loose 
stones . . . . " 78 By noon, however, Parrish and his party 
had arrived "at the quaking asp grove," where they found 
"the first of this kind of timber that I have met with since 
I left Ohio, and it is the first grove of timber of any kind 
except willows we have met with since we left the Platte, 
a distance of between one and two hundred miles." 79 
Now the Continental Divide was close at hand. South 
Pass was named in reference to the pass far to the north 
used by Lewis and Clark. A viable route for wheeled vehi- 
cles across the Continental Divide, it had been effectively 
discovered in 1824 by Jedediah Smith and Thomas Fitz- 
patrick. 80 Without it there would have been no Oregon- 
California Trail, not, at least, as we know it today. 

69. "Eliza Ann McAuley: Iowa to the 'Land of Gold,' " in Holmes, 
Covered Wagon Women, vol. IV, p. 59. 

70. Richard Owen Hickman, p. 11. 

71. Richard Owen Hickman, p. 11. 

72. W. A. Carter, p. 103. 

73. Robert Chalmers, pp. 4:5-44. 

74. Amelia Hadley, p. 7'). 

75. Mrs. Belshaw, entry for July 4, 1853. 

76. Mrs. Belshaw, entry for July 4, 1853. 

77. Raymond W. Settle, ed., The March of the Mounted Rifleman: First 
United States Military Expedition to Travel the Full Length of the Ore- 
gon Trail from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Vancouver May to October 1849 
as Recorded in the Journals of Major Osborne Cross and George Gibbs 
and the Official Report of Colonel Loring (Glendale, California: The 
Arthur H. Clark Company, 1940), entry for July 14, 1850. Here- 
after referred to as Major Osborne Cross. 

78. "Crossing the Plains in 1844, Diary of Rev. Edward Evans Par- 
rish," copied from Transactions of the Oregon Pioneer Association Six- 
teenth Annual Reunion (Portland, Oregon: Hines Printer, 1888), 
entry for August 22, 1844. Hereafter referred to as E. E. Parrish. 

79. Ibid. Thomas Flint (1853) instructs us on the origin of the name: 
"Camped on Quaking Asp Creek, so called from the species of 
poplars on its banks, the leaves of which move in the slightest 
breeze." Thomas Flint, Diary (Los Angeles: 1923), Newberry 
microfilm 2-25, entry for August 11, 1853. 

80. Robert Stuart and his party, returning from Astoria in the winter 
of 1812-1813 were the first White men to cross South Pass. Their 
circumstances were such, however, that they were not truly aware 
of where it was or what significance attached to it. For further 
information about the Astorians, see Alexander Ross, Adventures 
of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River, 1810-1813 
(Cleveland, Ohio: A. H. Clark, 1904; reprint ed., Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1986). 











.• *w 

Many Wyoming communities erected memorials to those who journeyed along 
the Oregon Trail. 

The appearance of South Pass hardly matched its 
historical significance. "A person looking round him 
here," observed John Carr (1850), "would hardly think 
that he was standing on the backbone of a continent." 81 
Seven years later, W. A. Carter (1857) went into greater 
descriptive detail. "What is called the Pass in the Rocky 
Mountains is not as most persons suppose, a narrow pass- 
way through frightful overhanging mountains with wild 
streams dashing down their acclivities, but on the con- 
trary it is a scarcely perceptible ascent, and when the sum- 
mit is reached the traveller is not aware of it and frequently 
asks where is the pass?" 82 "The general supposition is," 
concurred Edwin Bryant (1846) "that it is difficult and 
narrow passage by steep ascent and descent, between 
elevated mountain peaks." 83 

the elevation of the Pass above the sea is, according to some 
observations, between seven and eight, and others, nine and 
ten thousand feet, yet from the surface we have travelled 
over, we have been scarcely conscious of rising to the sum- 
mit of a high ridge of mountains. 84 

Among the more accurate estimates of "The distance 
of this Pass from Fort Laramie" was that of Orson Pratt 
(1847), who reported it as being "measured by our mile 
machine . . . 275 1/2 miles." 85 With some frequency, par- 
ties camped or "nooned" at the first water available on 
the western slope. It is hardly surprising that the site was, 
according to John M. McGlashan (1850), named "Pacific 
Springs, the water of which form a small tributary of the 
Colorado flowing into the gulf of California. " 8b 

Now there were a series of rivers to cross — Little 
Sandy, Big Sandy, and then Green River, "encamped 
on the little Sandy river," Elizabeth Dixon Smith (1847) 
noted that her party was "2 days journey in the Terri- 
tory of Oregon." 87 Most emigrants felt they had gained 
at least the outer reaches of Oregon when they crossed 
South Pass. 

The characteristics of Little Sandy were, apparently, 
quite changeable or were very different from one part of 
the river to another. The assessments of Edwin Bryant 
(1846) and J. Quinn Thornton (1846) illustrate the point. 
On July 13, Mr. Bryant described Little Sandy as hav- 
ing "a shallow, limpid current, running over a bed of yel- 
lowish sand and gravel, through a channel about fifteen 
or twenty feet in breadth." 88 Not quite a full week later, 
on July 19, Mr. Thornton "encamped on Little Sandy, 
which is a small stream of clear water, about three feet 
deep, and forty or fifty feet wide, running with a swift 
current over a sandy bottom, and finally discharging itself 
into the Colorado, or Green River." 89 

Big Sandy was described by Orson Pratt (1847) as 
being "about 80 yards broad, with nearly 3 feet of water 
in the channel at the ford." 90 Two years later, on "Tues- 
day, June 12," Wm. G.Johnston (1849) "forded another 


the PL 

horn the l; 
breadth, an 
as been so gi 

The gt 
. . the i 
al. that 

til. John Carr, Pioneer Days m California (Eureka, California: 1891). 
Newberry microfilm 3-28. 

82. W. A. Carter, p. 107. 

83. Edwin Bryant, p. 132. 

84. Edwin Bryant, pp. 132-133. 

85. Orson Pratt, p. 150. 

86. John M. McGlashan, entry lor May 27, 1850. 

87. Elizabeth Dixon Smith, p. 127. 

88. Edwin Bryant, p. 134. Mosquitos were still very much a problem! 
According to Bryant, they "manifest an almost invincible courage 
and ferocity. We were obliged to pi< kel our mules and light tires. 

made of the wild sage, around and anion- them, lor then pro- 
tection against the attacks of these inserts." 



SUMMER 1990 

tributary of Green River, called the Big Sandy — appar- 
ently not bigger than the one called 'Little'." 91 

Near Big Sandy, emigrants had a choice to make, for 
here, according to the same Wm. Johnston, "the trail 
forks, one branch going northwest via Sublette's cut-off, 
and the other to Fort Bridger and Salt Lake, and from 
thence northwest until it strikes the trail leading westward 
from Fort Hall." 92 Also known as "Greenwood's cut-off" 
after old Caleb who had, in fact, been the first to mark 
it, this route "is said to shorten the distance on the Fort 
Hall route to Oregon and California some fifty or sixty 
miles," according to Edwin Bryant (1846), but the "objec- 
tion to the route is that from Big Sandy to Green River, 
a distance of forty-five or fifty miles, there is no water. " 93 

At flood tide, Green River appeared to Wm. G. John- 
ston (1849) to be "a noble stream, with a mighty rush- 
ing current; from ten to twenty feet deep, and from three 
to four hundred feet wide. It is by far the most formida- 
ble stream to be met with on this entire journey, espe- 
cially when swollen as now." 94 Nonetheless, many were 
taken with the river's beauty. Elizabeth Dixon Smith 
(1847), for instance, described it as "a large and beauti- 
ful stream, bordered with considerable timber — quaking 
asp," 95 and the Reverend E. E. Parrish (1844) called it 
"one of the prettiest little rivers I ever saw." 96 

As at earlier river crossings such as the Upper Platte, 
a ferry was available for those willing and able to pay the 
price. For those either unwilling or unable to pay, the only 
alternative was to swim the stock across and float the 
wagons on some sort of a raft. On July 12, 1853, Mrs. 
Belshaw reported there were "Ten ferry boats" whose 
operators charged "$8 for a wagon crossing, 50 cents per 
head for cattle and horses"; she further noted that "A 
man drowned the 10th of July trying to swim his stock 
across the river." 97 

89. J. Quinn Thornton, entry for July 19, 1846. He went on to note 
the presence on the banks of the river of "dense groups of tall 
willows, and an undergrowth so thick as to make it almost impos- 
sible to pass through. The idea of hiding among the close and 
thick-leaved willows, here got into the heads of Star and Golden, 
the two greatest rogues in my team; and they in consequence 
gave my driver, Albert, some trouble to find them." 

90. Orson Pratt, entry for June 29, 1847. 

91. Wm. G.Johnston, p. 151. 

92. Wm. G. Johnston, p. 152. 

93. Edwin Bryant, p. 135. 

94. Wm. G. Johnston, p. 152. 

95. Elizabeth Dixon Smith, p. 128. 

96. E. E. Parrish, entry for August 27, 1844. 

"The river being too deep to ford," according to 
Marion Battey (1852), either wagons must be ferried 
across or "a raft must be built before we can cross it." 98 
Although plenty of Cottonwood trees were available, raft- 
building was hard work and "A few of the boys as usual 
are sick, or pretend to be to get rid of work." 99 The solu- 
tion? A bit of "gold dust or gold foil" obtained from "a 
dentist among our number" was planted, then "disco- 
vered." 100 The shirkers, of course, immediately wanted 
to start panning for gold, but were told by "Captain Yale 
. . . (that) they are able to build rafts if they are to dig 
gold." 101 

For those who did not opt for Sublette's cut-off, the 
last principal way station on the road west through Wyo- 
ming was Fort Bridger. Located in a valley drained by 
tributaries of Green River, the post was established in 1843 
by Jim Bridger and his partner Louis Vasquez. 102 Ham's 
Fork and Black's Fork were cold, fast-flowing mountain 
streams traversing country marked by spectacular bluffs 
and rock formations whose appearance had a decided 
impact on viewers. Theodore Talbot (1843), for instance, 
noted that "Many of these bluffs have assumed very fan- 
tastic shapes, but on the whole their antique, venerable 
appearance cannot fail to impress the beholder with a sort 
of reverential awe." 103 In the same year, on Monday, 
August 12, John Boardman "Crossed Black's Fork and 
passed Solomon's Temple (Church Butte); a singular 
mound of clay and stone of the shape of a large temple, 
and decorated with all kinds of images; gods and god- 
desses, everything that has ever been the subject of the 
sculptor; all kinds of animals and creeping things, and 

97. Mrs. Belshaw, entry for July 12, 1853. Mrs. Belshaw also found 
the behavior of those associated with the ferry to be quite objec- 
tionable: "I thought there was wickedness carried on at the Mis- 
souri Ferry-but it was nothing compared to this. I've heard noth- 
ing scarcely, but peal after peal of oaths. It chills my blood to 
hear them." 

98. Marion W. Battey, Scenes and Adventures of an Overland Journey to 
California, Beginning April 10, 1852 (San Jose, California: Histor- 
ical Landmarks Commission), entry for July 6, 1852. 

99. Ibid. 

100. Ibid. 

101. Ibid. 

102. Paul Henderson, "Fort Bridger," unpublished manuscript in 
the possession of the author. In fact, though some building was 
accomplished in 1842, the first merchandise stock was not 
brought west until the summer of 1843, at which time, not sur- 
prisingly, the trading post was formally opened. 

103. Theodore Talbot, entry for August 28, 1843. 



everything that art has manufactured or brought into 
notice. A magnificent and striking sight." 104 

Then they came to the Fort Bridger Valley itself. No 
one has described this "oasis in the barren wilderness" 
more perceptively than Elizabeth Dixon Smith in August, 
1847, when she wrote "this is a pretty place to see in such 
a barren country perhaps there is a thousand acres of 
level land covered with grass interspersed with beauti- 
ful stony brooks and plenty of timber, such as it is quak- 
ing asp." 105 

Fort Bridger itself was not a particularly imposing 
sight. In August, 1843, Theodore Talbot passed "under 
the bluff on which Vasquez (and) Bridger' s houses are 
built. We found them deserted and dismantled. They are 
built of logs, plastered with mud." 106 Two years later, 
on July 25, 1845, Joel Palmer described Fort Bridger as 
a "trading fort . . . built of poles and daubed with mud; 
it is a shabby concern." 107 Edwin Bryant was similarly 
unimpressed, as is made clear in his diary entry for July 
17, 1846: " 'Fort Bridger', as it is called, is a small 
trading-post, established and now occupied by Messrs. 
Bridger and Vasquez. The buildings are two or three mis- 
erable log-cabins, rudely constructed, and bearing but a 
faint resemblance to habitable houses." 108 

Generally unimpressive though it may have been for 
much of its institutional life, Fort Bridger' s existence, first 
as a trading post then as a military establishment, spanned 
roughly half a century. In the words of the eminent Ore- 
gon Trail historian and cartographer, the late Paul Hen- 
derson: "For nearly half a century . . . (Fort Bridger) 
had an illustrious and checkered career, as a trading post 
for trappers, Indians and emigrants, a Mormon outpost, 
a key United States military post, an Indian Agency, a 

station on the famous Pony Express, Overland Stage lines 
and the first transcontinental telegraph." 109 

In the year of statehood, 1890, Frederick Jackson 
Turner proclaimed the closing of the frontier. But, in a 
very real sense, the frontier will never close for a state 
like Wyoming, for that experience is still a vital part of 
its socio-historical fabric. What Wyoming is today, and 
will become tomorrow, will always reflect the profound 
impact of the frontier, of which her historic trails were 
so vital a part. As with all history, we should learn from 
the mistakes which were made. But we should also remem- 
ber, cherish, and emulate the positive — the hard work, 
the deep faith, the loyalty, and the courage of those who 
traveled Wyoming's historic trails on their way west. 

104. "The Journal of John Boardman," Utah Historical Quarterly, 2 
(October 1929): 106-107. 

105. Elizabeth Dixon Smith, p. 128. 

106. Theodore Talbot, entry for August 30, 1843. 

107. Joel Palmer, p. 32. 

108. "West From Fort Bridger: the Bryant Journal," Utah Historical 
Quarterly, XIX (January, April, July, October 1951): 51. 

109. Paul Henderson, "Fort Bridger." In 1890, the year commonly 
associated with the end of the frontier, both Fort Bridger and 
Fort Laramie were abandoned by the military. Fortunately, today 
many of the buildings on both areas still survive, the former area 
as a State Historic Site and the latter as a National Historic Site. 

ROBER T L. MUNKRES has served for many years as Profes- 
sor of Political Science at Muskingum College, Ohio. He was born 
in Nebraska, attended school there and received his M. A . and Ph.D. 
degrees from the University of Nebraska. He has been frequently 
published in Annals and is the author of the publication, Saler- 
atus & Sagebrush: The Oregon Trail Through Wyoming. 


Reflections of the Life of a City 

i mniiiito'i 


J. E. Stimson 

photographed the 
Cheyenne Cemetery 
in 1911. 

Since the 1860s Cheyenne has evolved from a rough 
and tumble frontier town to a modern city. During this 
evolution, much of the city's past has been forgotten, mis- 
placed, torn down, or ignored. Buildings that once were 
important landmarks are gone. Parks and open areas 
familiar to early settlers house businesses, industry, and 
residences. Much has changed and much has been lost. 

But for more than one hundred years the city cemetery 
complex (currently Lakeview, Beth El, Olivet, Odd Fel- 
lows, and the Jewish cemeteries) has served the city not 
only as the final resting place for many of its residents 
but, largely unconsciously, as a repository for the city's 
social and cultural history. By examining carefully and 
sensitively the cemetery's grounds and records, we can 
discover not only how people died, but how they lived 
as well. What kind of people came here to work, raise 
families, and settle this area? Were they young? Old? 
Rich? Poor? Was there a racial mixture representative 
of the times? What cultural, social, and aesthetic values 
did they hold? What kind of society did they live in? Was 
it violent? Healthy or unhealthy? Was there an equal or 
unequal distribution of the sexes? Were men's and 
women's lives substantially different? Were the "Good 
Old Days" as good as we think they were? Answers to 
these questions and many more may be found on the silent 
stones and in the dusty record books maintained by the 
cemetery. 1 

The majority of information contained in this paper came from 
the Burial Registers maintained by the cemetery sextons. A year 
by year survey was made of these books from 1875 to 1960 and 
the data were recorded in the following categories: male/female; 
age at death in ten year intervals; and cause of death. Cause of 
death included the following: stillborn/premature birth, heart dis- 
ease, tuberculosis, cancer, respiratory infection (pneumonia); 
infectious disease (e.g. typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, influenza). 
accident (including homicide), suicide, stroke, and other (e.g. 
peritonitis, uremia, alcoholism, ulcers, syphilis, complications of 
childbirth or pregnancy, or "unknown"). The records were sur- 
veyed by an historian with limited medical background, but the 
research was supplemented by discussions with a registered nurse 
(Marilyn Frobish) and a retired physician (George Phelps). One 
caveat must be offered: the researcher depended upon records kept 
by a series of sextons who sometim< 
dines. Whenever possible, the data i 
report included only those persons 
.1 in Cheyenne. Those wh 

were hi 
elsewhere t 

statistical d 

and Publici 
and II 

io died 


ns Dr 

sewhere bul 
the I 
deposited wi 
.. Wyoming 
nt, Cheyeni 

uiged reporting 
for the purposes 
died m Cheyen 
A here but were 
re buried here 

raw data sheets 

he Historical R< 

te Archives, M. 


ie ami 


re not 
Of the 




SUMMER 1990 

1875-1900: Frontier Community 

Several significant trends and patterns emerge from 
the data of these early years. Cheyenne was heavily popu- 
lated by men whose lives were constantly in danger from 
the elements, from occupational hazards, and from each 
other. During this twenty-five year period, 108 men and 
boys (14.7 percent of total male deaths) died as a result 
of railroad accidents, lightning, murder, accidental gun- 
shot wounds, snake bite, or freezing, and an additional 
twenty-nine (4.0 percent) took their own lives. In 1883 
a lynch mob killed a man accused of murder, and in 1892 
a seventeen-year old boy was legally executed. Recorded 
male deaths outnumbered known female deaths 732 to 
450, largely because men in Cheyenne (and in the West 
in general) substantially outnumbered women. Pneumo- 
nia and other infectious diseases struck down a large num- 
ber of people (25.5 percent of all burials), the overwhelm- 
ing majority of which were infants and children below the 
age of twenty. The mortality rate for tuberculosis was high 
(approximately 10 percent of the total) and usually struck 
between the ages of twenty-one and forty. 

Because of the nature of the records available, deter- 
mining the cause of death for men and women in 
Cheyenne's early years was often difficult. The largest sin- 
gle recorded cause of death was "other" or "unknown" 
and this was particularly acute for female deaths. One 
might expect to discover that a significant number of 
women died in childbirth or as a result of a complicated 
delivery, but the available data suggest that this was not 
a major cause of death among women in Cheyenne dur- 
ing this period. Of the 141 women who died between the 
ages of twenty and forty, twenty (14.2 percent) were 
clearly identified as dying during or as a result of child- 
birth. (By comparison, 26.4 percent of men in the same 
age group died of accidental causes). 

Probably the most heart rending statistic shows that 
nearly 40 percent of those buried in the Cheyenne 
cemetery during this period were under the age of ten 
(including stillbirths). In fact, the first recorded burial was 
that of a two-year old boy. Cheyenne in the late nineteenth 
century proved to be an unhealthy place in which to be 
born and try to grow up. Diseases which are almost 
unheard of today and normal childhood illnesses which 
are now treatable with commonly prescribed medicines 
took a dreadful toll on Cheyenne's young people. Cholera, 
typhoid, pneumonia, and "brain fever" (encephalitis), 
plagued children across the country because communi- 
ties had not yet developed safe water supplies and ade- 
quate sewage disposal, and Cheyenne was clearly no 

exception. Interestingly, many children and infants buried 
at this time were simply listed as "infant son of . . ."or 
"infant daughter of . . ."or "child of . . ." and were 
not indentified with a first name. 

The overall picture of Cheyenne at the end of the last 
century which emerges from these records is of a young 
community (both in a political sense and a demographic 
sense) where death was a way of life. At work or at home, 
sudden and tragic death could and did strike frequently. 
Less than 10 percent of those buried at the cemetery had 
lived longer than sixty years, a reflection of the youthful- 
ness of those who migrated here and the early age at which 
many of them died. City sanitation efforts were limited 
(though probably not much different from other commu- 
nities around the country and probably better than many) 
and medical care was often inadequate for the task at hand. 
Conversations with George Phelps, a retired Cheyenne 
physician, revealed that many men who called themselves 
physicians during that period had not attended a medi- 
cal school, receiving their training instead from other phy- 
sicians with questionable credentials. 2 Those who gradu- 
ated from accredited schools often remained in the East 
where the equipment, support services, and financial 
remuneration were much better. Cheyenne was a western 
cowtown and a railroad town which required a prepon- 
derance of men who were frequently at risk in their work. 
As the town matured and grew in the early twentieth cen- 
tury, however, social, cultural, and epidemiological 
changes would be reflected in the cemetery records. 

1901-1925: Years of Transition 

As Cheyenne entered the twentieth century, the young 
town, like other nascent communities, began to exhibit 
both the positive and negative effects of modern life. 
Improved city sanitation and water services, better med- 
ical facilities and personnel, and advances in medical 
science resulted in declines in tuberculosis deaths in adults 
and in infectious diseases, particularly among children. 
Yet at the same time, there was an increase in the inci- 
dence of heart disease, strokes, and cancer which in time 
would become the leading causes of death. 

Deaths as a result of infectious diseases declined 
markedly during this period (from 13.9 percent to 8.5 per- 
cent) and would have been even lower except for the 
influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 that swept the country. 
This epidemic killed 550,000 people in the United States, 

2. Personal intervi 

with George Phelps, Cheyenne, June 15, 22, 



Cheyenne's business district in 1890. 


five times the number of American soldiers killed in bat- 
tle in World War I. Between October, 1918, and March, 
1919, seventy-one flu-related deaths were recorded in 
Cheyenne, a figure that represents 35 percent of all infec- 
tious disease deaths for this entire twenty-five year period. 
Recalling his experiences with the epidemic while serv- 
ing as a young sailor on the east coast, George Phelps 
noted that most physicians could do little to save those 
who were infected. 

The rate of death as a result of heart disease, strokes, 
and cancer for men and women doubled in the first quarter 
of the twentieth century compared to the last quarter of 
the nineteenth century. However, these significant changes 
in cause of death resulted in part from the increased aver- 
age age of Cheyenne residents. While precise statistics on 
average age were not used for this study, we can predict 
a growing aged population by noting that the percentage 

of people who died at age sixty years or older increased 
from approximately 10 percent of all deaths to nearly 25 

At the other end of the age scale, the number and 
percentage of stillborns and deaths of infants less than a 
week old also increased significantly during this period. 
This was not a result of worsening prenatal care, but rather 
was an indication that the community was shifting from 
a predominantly male population to a more gender- 
balanced population which included more women of child- 
bearing age. In short, Cheyenne was ceasing to be a 
"frontier" town and was increasingly becoming a place 
where men and women sought to raise families. As more 
women of child-bearing age moved west, western com- 
munities had higher birthrates and concomitantly higher 
infant deathrates as well, [f stillbirths and early infanl 
deaths are excluded from the statistics, then childhood (one 



SUMMER 1990 

week to twenty years) actually becomes far more surviv- 
able during this period than in the preceding twenty-five 

Perhaps the clearest indicator of the increase in early 
infant deaths was the creation in 1908 of the cemetery's 
"stillborn plot" located in the southeast portion of the 
cemetery. Prior to that time, most stillborns were buried 
in potter's field. Interestingly, the stillborn plot was used 
not only for babies born dead, but for many infants who 
lived several weeks or even months. (The oldest infant 
recorded in the stillborn plot was two years old). For rea- 
sons which were not clear from the records, many infants 
buried in this plot in the early years were not named, 
although this practice was largely abandoned by the 1930s. 
The shift from not naming stillborns to naming them sug- 
gests an interesting change in people's perception of infants 
and children. 

Potter's field, located in the southeast section of 
Lakeview Cemetery, was an integral part of the cemetery 
from the beginning. Here, the bodies of hundreds of men, 
women, and children with no family or no funds were laid 
side by side in unmarked graves. Although we often think 
of potter's field as the space set aside for derelicts and 
drifters, the (admittedly incomplete) records from the 
cemetery suggest that many of those who were buried here 
were productive members of the community who did not 
have family members nearby to arrange for burial in a 
specific plot. Many of the men buried here, for example, 
were killed while working in the railroad yards. Moreover, 
most of those buried here in the early years were identi- 
fied by name, indicating that they were familiar residents 
of the town. But the fact that such a large number were 
buried at county or city expense suggests that poverty was 
fairly widespread, for a regular plot could have been pur- 
chased for only five dollars. Another fact that stands out 
in relation to potter's field is the disproportionate num- 
ber of Hispanics and Japanese buried there. Based on the 
records examined, there is no way to determine for sure 
whether this was a function of racial attitudes or income, 
but it is likely it was a combination of the two. 

Traumatic deaths and work-related accidents, espe- 
cially on the railroad, continued to take a high toll as the 
percentage of accidental deaths for men increased from 
14 percent during 1875-1900 to 17 percent during 
1901-1925. Well into the twentieth century, Cheyenne 
continued to be a violent town. In 1917, for example, at 
least half a dozen people died of stab wounds or inten- 
tional gun shot wounds and another dozen more died from 
othei traumatic causes. Despite what some promoters 
would have- us believe today, the legend of Cheyenne 

includes far more crimes of passion than it does roman- 
tic gunfights. 

Indicators of technological change also appear in the 
cemetery's records. In 1903, Cheyenne recorded its first 
streetcar death and in 1915 a forty-five year-old man 
became the town's first victim of the automobile. Eight 
years later, the sexton noted the cause of death of another 
man as an "aeroplane" crash. The technology of war also 
intruded into the lives of Cheyenne's citizens as several 
casualties of World War I were re-interred from the fields 
of France. 

Near the turn of the century, the term "melting pot" 
described the assimilation of large numbers of immigrants 
from Europe and Asia into American society. Once again, 
the Cheyenne city cemetery reflected the national 
experience as ethnic names from Greece, Italy, Scandina- 
via, Ireland, China, Japan, and other countries appear 
in the records. The significant numbers of Hispanics, 
Europeans, and Asians who lived in Cheyenne must have 
made the growing town seem cosmopolitan indeed. Cul- 
tural pluralism probably had a greater impact on Chey- 
enne in the first two decades of this century than at any 
time before or since. 

The most noticeable change in the names of those 
buried at the cemetery during these years was the addi- 
tion of scores of Asian names, primarily Japanese. 
Although the reasons are not clear, a "Japanese plot" was 
established in 1924 in the northwest corner of potter's field. 
Because so many of the graves in this area are marked 
with engraved stones, it may well be that the Japanese 
community in Cheyenne requested this special area. It 
must be noted however, that the 1920s witnessed a time 
of intense anti-foreign attitudes throughout the United 
States and much of this xenophobia was directed at Asians 
and others who were racially different from the majority. 
Additional research on this subject needs to be conducted 
to determine if the "Jap plot" resulted from White racial 
attitudes or from the Japanese efforts to maintain a sense 
of cultural identity. 

Cheyenne, like other cities then and now, had its 
share of unfortunate incidents which attest to the bad 
habits of its population and the struggles of everyday life. 
References to drug overdoses (usually morphine) and alco- 
holism were not unusual during this period. Men and 
women alike were vulnerable to these tragedies as well 
as to syphilis and suicide. Despite the relatively small 
population of Cheyenne at this time (11,320 in 1910), 
more than fifty persons died of these causes in the first 
two and a half decades of this century. Yet we should 
remember that Cheyenne simply reflected trends in 



Percent Male & Female Deaths 1875 - 1959 










■ Heart Disease - Male 
□ Heart Disease - Female 




m n 







■ Stroke - Male 
~1 Stroke - Female 







1 n 





■ Cancer - Male 
□ Cancer - Female 







| Respiratory Infection - Male 
|~| Respiratory Infection - Female 

10.00% — 




■ n 







■ Infectious Diseases - Male 
[~1 Infectious Diseases - Female 



■ n 





| Tuberculosis - Male 
[~1 Tuberculosis - Female 

A comparison between the male and female deaths during the four time periods. (I corresponds to the period 1875-1900, 2 to 1901-1925. 3 to l i >2<< 1940, and 
4 to 1941-1959). 



SUMMER 1990 

American cities which included severe drug addiction 
problems, rampant venereal disease, and a high rate of 
suicide caused in part by the disruptive shift from an agrar- 
ian to an urban culture. Cheyenne, like its larger coun- 
terparts in the East and Midwest, suffered the growing 
pains brought on by modern life. 

1926-1940: Hard Times 

From the middle of the Roaring Twenties to the onset 
of World War II, the burial records continue to indicate 
Cheyenne's maturation. The impact of technological 
change and the vicissitudes of economic forces left their 
imprint on the city and are visible in the commonplace 
notations of the cemetery sextons. Each new burial added 
to the growing evidence of Cheyenne's emergence as a 
modern urban center with the attendant benefits and 

As Cheyenne and its citizens grew older, heart dis- 
ease, stroke, and cancer continued to claim a larger share 
of the population. Among women, deaths from heart dis- 
ease increased from 1 1 percent of all deaths between 1900 
and 1925 to 18 percent between 1926 and 1940. For men, 
the increase was even more dramatic as the rate jumped 
from 10 percent to 24 percent. While such an increase 
may be attributed in part to factors such as diet, smok- 

ing, and stress, the primary cause of that change was 
largely a result of a significantly older population more 
prone to heart disease. Among males, for example, the 
percentage of those dying after age sixty increased from 
25 percent between 1901 and 1925 to 43 percent between 
1926 and 1940. 

In many ways, Cheyenne was becoming a safer place 
to live. The mortality rate for tuberculosis and other infec- 
tious diseases declined substantially from a combined total 
of nearly 15 percent of all deaths to less than 5 percent 
of all deaths. While the decrease in tuberculosis deaths 
had its greatest impact on young and middle aged adults, 
the primary beneficiaries of medical advances and laws 
related to sanitation were clearly the infants and children 
of Cheyenne. In the fifteen year period under considera- 
tion, only twenty-two children died of infectious diseases 
(excluding pneumonia) while sixty-three had succumbed 
in the preceding twenty-five years. 

It is likely, however, that the decline in childhood 
deaths resulted in part from a decline in births during this 
period. In the worst years of the Depression, many women 
chose to forego children and many couples were separated 
for long periods as men moved around the country look- 
ing for work. This study was based on death records not 
on birth records, but the ratio of stillborn infants rela- 

Percent Male & Female Deaths 1875 - 1959 

4.00% - 
2.00% -_ 


I n 



■ - 





■ Suicide - Male 
□ Suicide - Female 




= ■ 







1 n 


| Accidents - Male 
[~1 Accidents - Female 

■ Other - Male 
□ Other - Female 



tive to all recorded deaths suggests that the birthrate in 
Cheyenne declined remarkably. Between 1933 and 1937, 
the percentage of stillborn deaths were approximately hall 
of what it was in the five years before and after that period. 
If we assume that the mortality rate for newborns was 
roughly constant during this period, we can only conclude 
that the birthrate dropped significantly. 

Although the accidental death rate for men remained 
high at nearly 11 percent, that figure nevertheless marks 
a decline of nearly one-third from the rate during 
1901-1925. At first glance, one might assume that this 
decline resulted from fewer men at work during the Great 
Depression, but the highest rate between 1926 and 1940 
occurred during the peak years of the Depression. One 
reason for the reduction in accidental deaths was the 
increased quality of medical care as medical school gradu- 
ates replaced ill-trained physicians. Injuries that would 
have resulted in death a generation earlier were now being 
treated with greater understanding and more sophisticated 

The national suicide rate during the Great Depres- 
sion has been vastly overstated in the common lore of that 
period and never amounted to more than a small frac- 
tion of the deaths in any community. Nevertheless, the 
rate did increase slightly in Cheyenne (and other cities) 
as the depressed sought final escape from the Depression. 
Between 1930 and 1940 at least twenty-four men and 
twelve women took their own lives, with a gunshot being 
the method of choice for men and carbolic acid or lysol 
poisoning the most likely alternative for women. 3 The num- 
ber of suicides in that decade was twice as high as any 
decade before or since, but the percentage of male deaths 
represented by suicide was actually higher in the last 
quarter of the nineteenth century (4.0 percent) than dur- 
ing the 1930s (3.0 percent). 

Although one must always be careful speculating 
about social mores and the behavior of past generations, 
it would be historically unfair to ignore the available evi- 
dence which suggests that actions did not always follow 
stated beliefs. During this fifteen-year period, at least three 

3. Determining the preeise number of suit ides during any period 
from the available records is difficult. In some instances, the entry 
in the Burial Register clearly indicated "suicide" or "self-inflicted 
wound." In other ( ases, particularly when poison was involved, 
the distinction was nol always made. As a rule, when the data 
for this survey was collected, if an entry did nol clearly i m lie ate 
suicide, it was considered as an accidental death. 

Cheyenne mothers abandoned their infants at birth. These 
babies were simply recorded as "unknown babe" and 
buried in the stillborn plot. Moreover, at least three 
women died as a result of abortions. It is possible that 
other women who died as a result of abortions were listed 
simply as "complications of childbirth" or "septicemia." 
Although these numbers are not particularly large, they 
do indicate the presence of social conditions and pressures 
which led women to make very difficult choices. 

The Great Depression no doubt created "hard times" 
for many people and the impact of those times is reflected 
in the pages of the Burial Register. Yet the cemetery 
records also indicate that more infants became children, 
that more children became young adults, and that more 
young adults lived to old age than they had in Cheyenne's 
earlier days. Longevity does not guarantee an increase 
in the quality of life, of course, but it does allow one to 
survive to see better times. 

1941-1959: Urbanization and Modernity 

By the end of the period analyzed for this study, the 
statistical data available from the cemetery records reflect 
Cheyenne's development as a modern city. The disrup- 
tions of the war years and to a lesser degree of the post- 
war years mark an aberration in the trends which had 
begun to emerge in the early part of the century, but by 
the end of the 1950s the community had resumed its move- 
ment toward a healthier environment and an aging popu- 

The percentage of deaths at age sixty or more had 
reached 50 percent for men and women by 1941 and in 
1960 had risen to more than 60 percent for men and to 
a remarkable 85 percent for women. The primary differ- 
ence between male and female mortality in the 1950s was 
that a much larger proportion of men died between the 
ages of forty and sixty (due largely to heart disease) than 

Children between one week and ten years had 
represented nearly 40 percent of the burials before the turn 
of the century but now accounted for less than 5 percent 
of the recorded deaths. The percentage of stillborns and 
neonatal deaths remained high, however, probably 
attributable to the fact that neonatal medicine was in its 
infancy and that pediatric and OB-GYN specialists were 
in short supply immediately after the war when many con- 
pies began families which had been postponed "for tin- 
duration." Dining these years the percentage of stillborns 
and neonatal deaths relative to all deaths averaged approx- 
imately 15 percent, peaking at 21 percent in the post-war 
baby boom year of 1948. 



SUMMER 1990 

By the 1950s the morbidity and mortality rates for 
tuberculosis and infectious diseases were reduced to a small 
fraction of what they had once been. In the last decades 
of the nineteenth century those diseases had accounted 
for nearly 20 percent of all deaths; by the middle of the 
twentieth century they made up a combined total of less 
than 1 percent. Respiratory infections continued to cause 
a significant number of deaths, but the age of those affected 
had shifted from the very young to the very old. 4 

Cheyenne's progress as a modern city was reflected 
in the changing nature of the causes of death. One obvi- 
ous change which occurred here and elsewhere was the 
decline in the number of deaths from appendicitis. The 
records indicate that death from a ruptured appendix was 
not uncommon in the 1920s and 1930s. However, as more 
physicians became better trained, the chances of surviv- 
ing an appendicitis attack and the requisite surgery 
increased markedly, and by the 1950s this cause of death 
was becoming a thing of the past. 

Accidental deaths declined after World War II as 
Cheyenne moved from an economy based primarily on 
physical labor to one increasingly based on providing ser- 
vices. The railroad had once been a primary source of 
accidental deaths (e.g. thirty-three deaths between 1901 
and 1910), but between 1951 and 1960 no railroad- 
associated deaths were recorded. Automation, safety regu- 
lations, and accident prevention programs, all a part of 
modern American society, decreased the likelihood of fatal 
work-related injuries, a development clearly reflected in 
these statistics. The largest single cause of traumatic death 
in the 1950s was not, as one might expect, automobile 
accidents, but rather accidental shootings (including homi- 
cides). According to the records, twenty persons lost their 
lives due to gunshot wounds while nineteen were killed 
in traffic accidents. 

The suicide rate seemed to have dropped considera- 
bly during this period. For the first time the rate of sui- 
cides in a decade was less that 1 percent of all deaths. Yet 
the statistics may be somewhat misleading, for there may 
have been a reluctance to record some deaths as suicide. 
Several deaths attributed to poison or carbon monoxide 

In this study, all respiratory ailments were tallied under the rubric 
"respiratory infections" and included both viral pneumonia which 
affected infants and children and hypostatic pneumonia which 
was frequently listed as the cause of death of elderly persons. Thus, 
as the population grew older the incidence of hypostatic pneu- 
monia increased. At the same time, better medical care and 
modern medicines were reducing the number of infants and chil- 
dren who died ol respiratory infections. 

Si 8 fi i± t 

"k dm 



,0, ,<&>, 

~„ [W V ^wa' 


& m L^y L' 

m^m^^mMw^m w ^M 


In 1930 Cheyenne's cemetery complex included Lakeview, Mt. Olivet, Beth El, 
1. 0. 0. F. , and Jewish cemeteries. 

may have been self-induced, but because the records did 
not specifically indicate this, they were categorized as 
accidental deaths. Nevertheless, even if some suicides were 
not counted as such, the overall rate was lower than it 
had been, perhaps indicating a greater satisfaction with 
life in general. One interesting sidelight from the statis- 
tics on suicide is that the cemetery recorded its first death 
on the grounds when a man shot himself at the graveside 
of his brother during June, 1942. 

Although the figures used for this study of Cheyenne 
do not reflect the deaths of young men killed in action 
during World War II and Korea, they deserve mention. 
At least forty WWII and Korean War casualties were 
returned to Cheyenne after those wars for reburial and 
represent approximately 50 percent of those who died 
between the ages of eighteen and forty during the war 
years. The Cheyenne city cemeteries hold the remains of 
casualties of every war America fought in the twentieth 
century plus the Spanish-American War at the end of the 
nineteenth century. As Cheyenne pursued its own course, 



Percent of Female Deaths by Age Category 1875-1900 


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 iTi 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 



I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 
00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.C » 

■ 1 1 


- 20 Yrs 

ID 21 

Yrs - 

40 Yrs 


Yrs - 

60 Yrs 

□ 60 Yrs + 

Percent of Female Deaths by Age Category 1941-1959 



i — i — r 

i — i — r 

t — i — i — r 

0.00% 20.00% 40.00% 60.00% 80.00% 


1 Week 

- 20 Yrs 


21 Yrs - 

40 Yrs 

41 Yrs - 

60 Yrs 

D 60 Yrs + 

its people did not forego their dedication to the ideals of 
the United States. 


The records which the law has required cemetery sex- 
tons to maintain for more than one hundred years pro- 
vide an invaluable portrait of Cheyenne. But perhaps por- 
trait is the wrong word here, for "portrait" suggests 
something static and unchanging and the image one is 
left with after examining these documents is clearly one 
of a dynamic, changing community which reflects the evo- 
lution of most towns and of the course of America. 

We sometimes look hack to the "Good Old Days" 
with undeserved nostalgia. No doubt there are elements 
of one hundred years ago which we would like to 
recapture — community spirit, neighborliness, a slower 
pace of life. Yet there are also elements reflected in the 
burial records which no one 
cholera, typhoid, and flu epicle 
rate-, unsafe working conditic 
eal and sanitation facilities. 

In many ways ( Iheyenne 
new communities in the West 

would want to 
lies, a high mate 
is, and inadequ 

•peat — 
il death 
■ medi- 

:flected theexpen 
nd of established 

the East. Those who lived and died here witnessed the 
economic, social, and technological upheavals which have 
marked much of the last century. But their lives demon- 
strated the spirit of humankind which perseveres and oxer- 
comes the obstacles encountered by all generations. 

Statistics taken from public records tell much about 
the life of a community. Too often, however, those statis- 
tics are presented in such a way that the people — the men, 
women, and children — behind those numbers lose their 
identity and the essence of their humanity. We must 
remember that when a person died and was recorded in 
the Burial Register that a mother lost a son or a husband 
a wife or a child a parent . There is a human story behind 
each entry and, while no attempt has been made to tell 
specific stories of individuals, the intent of this study has 
been to suggest that the stories of all the people listed in 
the cemetery records come together to create the legacy 
ol Cheyenne. 

DENNIS FROBISH historian who has taught at universities in North 
Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming, Much of his recent research has involved 
local history projects, including this project with the City of Cheyenne and Lakeview 




After an apprenticeship of twenty-one years as a ter- 
ritory, Wyoming is admitted into the sisterhood of states 
where she now proudly takes her place with a constitu- 
tion as broad as her great plains and as bountified as her 
generous valleys. Under its liberal provisions the rights 
of every citizen are guaranteed. The eyes of the world will 
be upon us because of its special features and it therefore 
behooves us all, both men and women, to act well our 
part with a due regard to the circumstance that a free state, 
such as this, conferring equal political privileges upon both 
sexes, is an experiment in government that has never been 

The advent of Wyoming as a state of the great Ameri- 
can Republic, is an occasion worthy to be celebrated by 
our people with loud huzzas, the flying of the national 
colors, the thunder of cannons, a grand parade, pagean- 
try and show, bonfires and illuminations, oratory and 
music, with joyous greetings, glad faces and the cordial 
welcome of all visitors. Our people can but rejoice on this 
occasion and they extend the right hand of good fellow- 
ship to all who may be with us from abroad. 

Their presence is more than welcome and we trust 
that their visit to the capitol of the new state will be one 
of mutual enjoyment. May it leave a favorable impres- 
sion upon the minds of all who favor us with their 

Cheyenne Daily Sun, July 23, 1890 


Why Stock Raising Is So Successful in Wyoming 

Climatic Conditions Unequaled 

Smaller Herds and More Owners Will Use the Free Lands 

The most essential element to the success of stock rais- 
ing in any country must necessarily be cheap food. Other 
conditions, of course, enter largely into the question as 
to whether the industry can be made a paying one which 
shall prove inviting to the investment of conservative cap- 
ital. If, however, these other conditions are about equal, 
then the country that furnishes the cheapest food offers 
the greatest inducement to the stock raiser. 

Wyoming's modest claim to being one of the greatest 
and best stock countries in the world rests primarily upon 
the fact that a majority of her stock food is free to any 
one who will utilize it: for millions of acres of land within 
her borders, owned by no one and incapable of produc- 
ing anything else profitably, are covered with the richest 
of nutritious grasses which have the well earned reputa- 
tion of making unsurpassed beef. Rich as are her valleys 
in possibilities to the husbandman, the truth is they form 
but a small portion of her vast domain. Better care means 
that Wyoming shall have more and better cattle and horses 
in the future than in the past, and since better care means 
smaller losses, it also insures larger profits. 

But free grass is not the only inducement which 
Wyoming offers to the stock raiser. She tenders that which 
is not less valuable than cheap food yet more difficult to 
find, an unsurpassed climate. Strange as it may seem to 
the man who toils and sweats through the hot summer 
days and shivers through the long winters of the great 
agricultural country to the east of us, the fact remains that 
the summers of Wyoming are cooler and the winters 
warmer than those experienced in the same altitude of 
the Eastern, Middle and Western states. Summing up our 
advantages of cheap food, her table lands and rolling 
prairies, lying at an altitude which precludes a sufficient 
rain fall for the raising of crops without irrigation, makes 
it more than probably that the stock interest of Wyoming 
will ever outweigh in importance, all other agricultural 

Cultivation of our valleys will of necessity increase 
with the growth of our population: for our home markets 
must be largely supplied by home products, and as a con- 
sequence the farmer is as essential to our growth as is the 
mechanic, the artisan, the stockman or the common 
laborer. But the advent of the tiller of the soil by no means 
presages the downfall of the stock industry. It is no doubt 
true that the time has come when large herds of cattle can 
no longer be held with profits equal to those reaped from 
the cattle business of a few years ago; but smaller herds 
with more owners, pure water, fresh unadulterated moun- 
tain air, mild winters, clear skies, bright sunshine and per- 
fect health, we challenge the world to offer greater induce- 
ments for the profitable investment of capital in the raising 
of livestock than Wyoming holds out to every man today. 

Romantic as is the history of the cattle business of 
the past, which in a day raised men from poverty to 



affluence and wealth, and later on through depressed 
values, high rates of interest and extravagant expenditures 
reduced many to penury, it is true that this business, run 
on an economical basis, insures as certain and profitable 
returns as any other industry. The condition and methods 
are changing but the profits are more certain than before. 

A. A. Holcombe 

Cheyenne Daily Leader, July 23, 1890 


The most important subject to the citizens of the state 
has not received the consideration or notice it deserves 
at the hands of the press of the state or nation, and a brief 

description of oil fields of Wyoming may cause public 
attention to be directed to one of the heretofore least under- 
stood and least appreciated of the many wonderful 
resources of the great new state. 

The first discovery of natural oil springs in Wyoming 
dates back at least 25 years. In 1863 oil was collected from 
a spring near Poison Spider Creek, and sold along the 
Mormon Trail, for axle grease, and a few years later it 
was collected from springs near Hilliard, in southern Uinta 
County and sold as a lubricant to the newly opened Wyo- 
ming coal mines. 

But it has only been during the past decade that the 
oil fields have attracted any considerable attention; dur- 
ing the past five years that any borings have been made 
for oil. It is only now that they are deservedly exciting 
the interest of eastern capital and that wells are being 

Wyoming as it appeared in 1890. Map is taken from the July 24, 1890, edition of the Cheyenne Daily Sun. 



SUMMER 1990 

drilled in various places. Petroleum is found in numer- 
ous escapes in Uinta County, near Hilliard and Fossil; 
in Fremont County, near Lander, in Water River; in Car- 
bon County along the base of the Rattlesnake Mountains, 
in Salt Creek and the South Powder; in Johnson County, 
on the South Powder and No Wood Rivers; in Crook 
County, at various points bordering the foothills of the 
Black Hills range and Bear Lodge mountains. 

In all but one of the localities mentioned no intelli- 
gent prospecting has been carried on, and it has not been 
proven whether the oil exists in large quantities or not. 
A number of wells have been drilled and much money 
expended, but with the important exceptions to be men- 
tioned below, the prospecting companies have been too 
ambitious or too careless or both, and instead of sinking 
shallow wells at first and venturing deeper as the find- 
ings would warrant, they have selected points where the 
"oil sands" are so far beneath the surface that they have 
been unable to reach them. 

The most important oil field, and the only one at all 
developed, lies near Lander in Fremont County. 

The three wells sunk on the Popoagie all struck oil. 
At this place there is a small oval valley surrounded by 
abrupt, often precipitous hills, over which at various points 
he found both oil and gas escaping. A good flow of live 
oil was encountered in each. Three wells, which varied 
in depths from 350 to nearly 600 feet, were cased and 
applied with valves to prevent the oil from escaping, but 
owing to the great gas pressure a large leakage cannot be 
prevented — a pressure so great that upon suddenly open- 
ing the valves the oil spurts up like some black-watered 
geyser for 55 feet into the air. After the pipe thus clears 
itself the steady flow of oil is resumed, which it is vari- 
ously estimated, will aggregate from 600 to 1 ,000 barrels 
per twenty-four hours. 

As these wells are about 100 miles from the nearest 
railroad, no oil has been shipped on account of the expense 
of transportation, and that oil which escapes in spite of 
the valves is wasted and drains into several large ponds, 
where there are always thousands of barrels of oil collected. 
Its presence is indicated long before the ponds are reached 
by the strong but not disagreeable smell of escaping gas. 

In color this oil is black. When fresh it contains a very 
large amount of absorbed gas. It will yield both illuminat- 
ing and lubricating oil of excellent quality when distilled, 
and a residue which will be used as fuel for steam-making 
just as the residuum from the Colorado refineries is used 
under the boilers at the Leadville shafts. 

The Shoshone wells yield oil from the top of the car- 
boniferous formation. The rocks dip steeply into the 

ground, both toward and away from the mountains respec- 
tively on either side of the river, but lie flat along a nar- 
row belt, parallel to the range and situated where the dips 
change. This belt passes from Beaver Creek to the Big 
Wind River, a distance of about sixty miles, of which over 
forty miles lie within the Shoshone Indian Reservation. 
The oil horizon lies at various distances beneath the sur- 
face along this strip. It is never less than 500 feet beneath 
the ground, and never exceeds 2,000. Oil springs are 
found on it in a number of places. 

The Wyoming Commonwealth, July 20, 1890 


Thus far Wyoming has produced few mines either 
of the precious or base metals which have become actual 
producers. Rich placers were discovered in the fifties at 
South Pass and a great deal of gold was taken from them. 
A few quartz mines also produced remarkably rich ore 
for a time. Gold washing and quartz mining has been car- 
ried on in a desultory manner ever since with only slight 
production. During the past few years Mr. Emile Granier 
has been constructing large ditches, dams and flumes, and 
is nearly ready to hydraulic large areas of ground that are 
too poor to wash by other methods. His tests on the rich- 
ness of the ground were very satisfactory and he starts 
into the extensive enterprise with confidence of success. 
Gold was also found on Sand Creek in the Black Hills 
and rich placer claims were worked out and no longer yield 
large returns. 

Immense amounts of gravel along the base of the 
Medicine Bow mountains yield gold in smaller quantity 
and attempts will be made to hydraulic this spring. Should 
the experiment prove successful it will give a great and 
much needed impetus to mining. Quartz mining is also 
prosecuted in the Seminoe mountains, where there are 
several promising prospects. Thus far the efforts have been 
of a desultory character. All of these localities are situ- 
ated in places of easy access and universally near some 
place of settlement. 

Practically no prospecting has been attempted in por- 
tions of the state where one would naturally expect to find 
gold and silver. The great ranges forming the Continen- 
tal Divide and spurs from it in the northwestern part of 
Wyoming presents the best of fields to the prospector and 
the same may be said of the Big Horn Mountains. Yet 
neither of these fields are known to the miner. It is for 



this reason that the writer believes that Wyoming offers 
one of the most promising fields to the trained prospector. 

Copper is found in many places, especially near Hart- 
ville, where much copper ore has been mined. Tin occurs 
in many gulches in the Black Hills as stream in and also 
in large belts of granite rock in the slates of the same 

Hartville and a large belt of country to the north is 
also remarkable for its large deposits of iron ore. The slight 
development made proves the deposits to be enormous 
in extent and homeogenous in character. The ore is 
phenomenally high in its iron contents (from 64 to 68 per 
cent metallic iron) and is very low both in sulphur and 
phosphorous — far below the "Bessemer limit' ' — in the lat- 
ter element. 

This brief article is only intended to show the actual 
mineral wealth of Wyoming; that the large enterprises like 
coal mining, sodium salt manufacture, iron smelting, etc., 
here have an unsurpassed field for action; that the prospec- 
tor with only his pack and tools may have a splendid field 
for work. 

That these resources will be developed is only a ques- 
tion. The development is now taking place. And the army 
of workman and miners that will obtain employment will 
greatly stimulate the agricultural interests by affording 
a large market for supplies. 

L. D. Ricketts 

Territorial Geologist 

The Wyoming Commonwealth, July 20, 1890 


During the present season there will be more miles 
of railroad constructed in Wyoming than in any other 
western state. This is certainly a very desirable state of 
affairs and will insure a vigorous growth all over the state. 
With the opening up of these roads will commence the 
settling up of vast territories and the building of new cities 
and towns, all of which will contribute largely to the 
prosperity of the state. The one great thing that Wyoming 
possesses over all other new states is the fact that its indus- 
tries are diversified. Commencing with stock it has become 
justly celebrated for fine cattle, horse and sheep. In general 
agriculture it is noted for producing the finest of cereals 
and root crops. In coal it has made a reputation which 
sells its product in a dozen different states. In iron it ranks 
in quality with Pennsylvania. In copper with the Lake 
Superior region. In soil its product is known as the best. 

In gold and silver it is taking the front rank, and these 
two precious metals promise in the near future to add 
greatly to the wealth of the new state. Its soda deposits 
are more extensive than those of any other part of the 
world. Taken altogether Wyoming has resources enough 
to employ and support millions, and it will only take a 
few years to place us in a condition that will attract the 
attention of the world. 

The Wyoming Commonwealth, July 20, 1890 


Wyoming, with its 100,000 square miles of territory, 
occupies an area as large as the six New England States 
and Indiana combined. 

In point of size Wyoming will be the eighth State in 
the Union. 

Sixteen million acres of this Territory are capable of 

There are two million head of stock now on the graz- 
ing lands of this magnificent domain. 

There is abundance of lumber for mining and domes- 
tic purposes. 

There is coal in every county of the Territory. An 
eminent authority estimates the coal area of Wyoming to 
cover more than 19,000,000 acres; the mines produce at 
this time about 3,000,000 tons annually. 

A vast belt of petroleum covers much of the Territory. 

There are immense deposits of iron; and gold, sil- 
ver, copper, marble, granite, sandstone, salt, sulphur, 
gypsum, bismuth, graphite, asbestos, and fire clay are 
found in various portions of the Territory. 

There are 2,490 miles of mail route, and 900 miles 
of railway in the Territory. 

The Union Pacific traverses Wyoming its entire 
length from east to west. 

There are nine national and ten private banks. No 
national bank in the Territory has ever suspended or gone 
into liquidation. 

The school property of the Territory cost over 
$800, 000. 

Seven cities are provided with water-works and 
lighted by electricity. 

There are live daily and twenty-four weekly 

The Territory contains over 123.000 people. 

The Resources and Attractions of Wyoming for the Home 
Seeker, Capitalist and Tourist, 1890 



Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming Coal Mining. By A. 
Dudley Gardner and Verla R. Flores. Boulder, 
Colorado: Westview Press, 1989. Illustrated. Index. 
Notes. Bibliography, xii and 243 pp. Cloth $34.95. 
Paper $12.95. 

Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America 's Bloody Coal 
Industry. By Priscilla Long. New York: Paragon 
House, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Notes. Bibliography. 
Maps, xxv and 420 pp. Cloth $24.95. 

Wyoming currently produces more coal than any 
other state in the nation — a fact of no little significance 
for Wyoming's economy. Coal mining, of course, is not 
just a modern day phenomenon; vast deposits of coal lured 
the Union Pacific Railroad through Wyoming in the 
1860s. Coal's impact, however, was not limited to 
southern Wyoming. It brought growth to nearly all sec- 
tions of the state, and it can be argued, that by the early 
twentieth century, half of Wyoming's population was 
involved with coal production in some way. 

Unfortunately, the story of western coal mining has 
long been ignored by historians. Several possible reasons 
exist for this neglect. Coal does not have a romantic past 
associated with it as does gold and silver mining, and con- 
sequently has not sparked the interest that these indus- 
tries have. Also, coal mining was essentially an auxiliary 
to other business endeavors; in Wyoming coal produc- 
tion always seemed secondary to the railroads it served, 
and hence less worthy of study. 

Perhaps sparked by the large demand for Wyoming 
and western coal, historians have produced several new 
studies that highlight the history of coal development, two 
of which deal with coal in Wyoming and the West. A. 
Dudley Gardner and Verla R. Flores' Forgotten Frontier: 
A History of Wyoming Coal Mining traces the past and present 
of coal mining in Wyoming, and Priscilla Long's Where 
the Sun Never Shines: A History of America 's Bloody Coal Industry 
explores the history of coal mining on a national scale with 
special emphasis on the West. 

Appropriately named Forgotten Frontier, Gardner and 
Flores' book offers the first general history of coal min- 
ing in Wyoming. Their work starts before the Union 
Pacific Railroad arrived in 1867-68, and follows coal 
development along a basic time line to the present. The 
book points out the many and varied aspects of coal min- 

ing, including early mining methods, company towns, coal 
company philosophies, labor relations, labor strife, mine 
disasters, mine mechanization, and the life of the miner 
and his family. Several important facets of Wyoming's 
past are brought out in the discussion - points that are 
of importance to anyone concerned with Wyoming's his- 
tory. Contrary to our cowboy image and the predominant 
idea of a cattleman's heritage, Wyoming had significant 
industrial development in the form of coal mines, and this 
activity brought elements of the industrial revolution to 
Wyoming. These characteristics included a vast degree 
of ethnic diversity and a setting often necessary for indus- 
trialization, that of the company town - a setting where 
the company could and often did dominate the life of the 
miner and his family. Wyomingites who perceive Wyo- 
ming to have been the home of the cowboy alone, should 
read Gardner and Flores to understand another reality 
about life in Wyoming. 

Much is crammed into this relatively small book. The 
authors attempt to synthesize all material relating to 
Wyoming coal mining. Unfortunately for Flores and 
Gardner, few in depth studies exist on the individual 
aspects of coal mining in Wyoming. Consequently, they 
could not fall back on previous works to aid in their syn- 
thesis. They had to delve through much primary research 
material, as well as rely on materials written about other 
regions, such as Iowa, to put their story together. This 
synthetic approach and the number of topics covered 
makes the work a little superficial, and at times masks 
the true complexity of such topics as labor relations and 
mine mechanization. But, there is no other way to write 
such a book. Hopefully, those reading the book will be 
inspired to do the detailed studies on the many aspects 
of Wyoming coal mining that Flores and Gardner bring 
to the surface. Overall, this book helps fill a vast hole in 
the story of Wyoming's past, and should be read by all 
interested either in Wyoming or the coal industry. 

Priscilla Long's book is much more sweeping in scope 
than Forgotten Frontier, covering coal mining nationally and 
then in the West. Long covers ground that has been 
explored before in several scattered sources. She, however, 
attempts to bring all of the elements of coal mining 
together - the work methods and procedures, the social 
and physical conditions in mining, the growth of indus- 
trial capitalism, the changes in the workplace, and the 
workers' collective response to their lives in the mines. 



Long also delves into the significance of women in the 
mining communities, a subject often ignored. The main 
point of the book, however, is the "emergence of a new 
system of classes, and the conflict, accommodation, out- 
right war, and ongoing struggle between working people 
and their employers" (p. xxiv). 

All of what Long tries to do here, she does well, but 
of particular interest to us in Wyoming is the second sec- 
tion of the book which deals with coal mining in the West. 
She uses the situations in the western coal fields much as 
case studies, reflecting national and international trends. 
Her study of the West features Colorado, a condition that 
afflicts many books about the Rocky Mountain mineral 
industries. But, Wyoming defensiveness aside, we must 
admit that Colorado was by far the largest coal producer 
in the West, and within that state bitter struggles between 
labor and capital flared to violence in 1903-4 and again 
in 1913-14. Also, Colorado housed the epitome of evil 
capitalism in the form of Colorado Fuel and Iron Com- 
pany. Long does mention the Union Pacific Coal Com- 
pany and Wyoming mining several times, which is 
perhaps all Wyoming deserves in a general study of 
western coal mining, but I would have liked to seen a com- 
parison of the reasons for violence in Colorado and the 
apparent labor harmony in Wyoming. Nevertheless, 
Long's work is impressive. She effectively explains much 
of the coal industry, and for those interested in one text 
to learn more about coal or the tales of terror of Colorado's 
coal labor wars this book is highly recommended. 

Forgotten Frontiers and Where the Sun Never Shines (for 
those not familiar with coal songs, this title comes from 
a Merle Travis song "Dark as a Dungeon,") make an 
excellent combination to read together. Read Long's book 
first to gain an understanding of the national and regional 
aspects, followed by Gardner and Flores for a Wyoming 
slant. Some material will be duplicated, but by the end 
of the second volume, the reader should have a thorough 
grasp of western coal mining. It is exciting that the his- 
tory of coal mining is finally emerging from its neglected 
status, and now the people of Wyoming have ample oppor- 
tunities to learn more about the past of this vital industry. 

David Wolff 
University of Wyoming 

The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology. Edited by Wil- 
liam Kittredge and Annick Smith. Helena: The Mon- 
tana Historical Society Press, 1988. Illustrated. Bib- 
liography, xviii and 1,160 pp. Cloth $39.95. 

In a 1947 essay the eminent literary critic and novelist 
Leslie Fiedler characterized Montanans as "simply inar- 
ticulate" (p. 747). The typical Montanan, he complained, 
was "incapable of coming to terms with his own real past" 
and "of making the adjustment between myth and real- 
ity upon which a successful culture depends" (p. 752). 
For Montanans, thus, the twin "possibilities of tragedy 
and poetry" remained to be grasped (p. 752). 

In the short span of four decades, Montanans have 
made the adjustments Fiedler believed were so far from 
their range and have captured the possibilities of tragedy, 
poetry, and nearly every other literary genre. To prove 
the point, The Last Best Place, published under the auspices 
of the Montana Historical Society, is a masterful testa- 
ment to the state's new literary eminence and has pro- 
voked effusive responses from critics who generally ignore 
the backwaters of Montana and the inter-mountain west. 
In March, 1989, the Los Angeles Times, in a feature story 
about modern Montana writers, announced unabashedly 
that "Montana's the Literary Capital of the Country." 

The work is a massive anthology of a variety of histor- 
ical and contemporary Montana writing (1,160 pages 
weighing in at a hefty five pounds plus), produced in com- 
memoration of the state's centennial in 1989. The edi- 
tors have consciously chosen not to include historical 
essays, feeling that direct sources would better illuminate 
Montana's rich multi-cultural history. Contained within 
its covers are pieces from 149 different authors arranged 
in eight chapters covering and excerpting "Native Ameri- 
can Stories and Myths"; "Journals of Exploration"; "Sto- 
ries of Early Pioneers and Indians"; "Writings About 
Butte"; "Remembering the Agricultural Frontier"; 
"Literature of Modern Montana"; "Contemporary Fic- 
tion"; and "Contemporary Poetry." A pantheon of the 
state's most prominent writers and historians offer 
introductory essays to each chapter, while dozens of wood- 
cuts from four artists beautifully adorn the pages. The 
first printing sold out within a few weeks in Montana as 
booksellers from as far away as Seattle, Portland, and I ,os 
Angeles clamored lor topics. A second printing o( five 
thousand disappeared in ten days. Yet most observers are 
at a loss for precise answers to the work's overwhelming 
popularity; Other Montana anthologies have, in fact, 
appeared at various times in the last half century, with 
little or no fanfare. Even the project's associate editor. 



SUMMER 1990 

Marianne Keddington, admits the book's success "is 
unbelievable" though she gropes for an explanation, stat- 
ing "It's simply inexplicable." 

Less puzzling, however, is the history of writing in 
modern Montana — a history which reveals how Montana 
writers have transcended Fiedler's bleak forecast and 
which perhaps holds answers to the new reputability of 
Montana writing. Modern Montana literature's rise to 
distinction began in 1964 with the arrival of poet Richard 
Hugo at the University of Montana in Missoula. Hugo 
inherited a creative writing program that historically had 
been of high caliber and had produced the likes of A. B. 
Guthrie and Dorothy Johnson, among others in its forty 
odd-year existence. But Hugo emphasized to his students 
that their focus should not be on perpetuating eastern 
stereotypes and western myths — hitherto a common defect 
of western-based writers. Instead their writing should be 
no-nonsense, realistic, tough, emphasizing the place, this 
"land of few people and a great deal of space," as 
newspaper editor Joseph Kinsey Howard once described 
Montana. Writers should convey their own perceptions, 
experiences, and expectations, and not concern themselves 
with conforming to any inherited — usually European — 
literary tradition. Moreover, contemporary Montana 
writers, Hugo stressed, had to come to grips with their 
past — a past pockmarked by a boom-and-bust economy, 
of failed dreams, and of more tough times than good. The 
result was the emergence of a dissenting group of young 
and extremely talented writers — writers who, by carving 
out their own niche, have provided a variant voice to tradi- 
tional western American literature. 

Hugo's penumbra extends to many of the writers 
excerpted in The Last Best Place. Writers who have distin- 
guished themselves by charting the new course western 
literature has taken in the last quarter century: people such 
as James Welch, a native Blackfeet, whose stories of his 
own past and the travails and possibilities of the Native 
American in a now lost world have gained widespread crit- 
ical acclaim; the detective novelist James Crumley; author 
and screenwriter Tom McGuane; novelists and essayists 
Rick DeMarinis, Richard Ford, Cyra McFadden; and 
William Kittredge; plus a dozen or more prominent poets. 
Toss in other prolific and much-lauded Montana writers 
such as Norman McLean, Ivan Doig, and A. B. Guthrie, 
and the Los Angeles Times is easily justified in its intoxica- 
tion over Montana literature. The Last Best Place is a valu- 
able introduction to the skills of these notable authors and 
is worth the price merely for the inclusion of their 
excerpted pieces. 

Yet this work provides much more than the genesis 

and evolution of a modern revolt — conscious or uncon- 
scious — of a few upstarts within a literary tradition; it is 
also a study in how, over time, many different peoples 
have responded to Montana's seemingly limitless space 
and natural resources, its sublime landscape, and the 
relentless, unforgiving climate. The early chapters which 
contain Native American myths — some written down for 
the first time — and accounts by the first Whites to gaze 
upon the land, and then attempt, with mixed results, to 
tame it, are particularly captivating. 

William Kittredge, one of the two editors of this 
anthology, states in summation of one of his introductory 
essays that, "[w]hat we find in these stories, over and over 
again, is talk of home, lost or sought after, or in some 
conditional way discovered or rediscovered — the possibil- 
ity of a coherent life in a last best place" (p. 765). For 
those still searching for this much coveted though elusive 
possibility, they need go no further than The Last Best Place. 


University of Montana 

Vanguard of the Valley: A History of the Ten Sleep Country. By 
Faye V. Bell. Published by Author, 1987. Illustrated. 
Bibliography. 530 pp. Paper. 

As the author indicates in the preface, this volume 
is the culmination of some twenty years of collecting, 
researching, and writing. The sheer amassing of histori- 
cal details has resulted in what the author calls a "com- 
prehensive history" covering "one hundred sixty-five 
biographies of prominent men and women" represent- 
ing "trailblazers, the pioneers, the settlers, and the 

While the book contains numerous biographical 
sketches of the significant and even the historically less 
significant, it is considerably more than a biographical 
reference. However, the concept of each generation and 
each individual as a "vanguard" is pivotal to Faye V. 
Bell's intent: reminding her readers that today's genera- 
tion is the "spearhead" and "forerunner of tomorrow." 

The organizational scheme for this work is essentially 
chronological, beginning with a chapter written by the 
author's brother, Justin B. Moses, on the area's "Geo- 
logical Formations." To begin with the land and its for- 
mation certainly makes sense; however, the lengthy and 
largely technical chapter may deter some readers, espe- 
cially considering the absence of photographs. To his 
credit, Mr. Moses attempts to circumvent this problem 



by providing readers with a travel narrative, complete with 
references to mile markers on highways in the area. 

For readers considerably less familiar with the Ten 
Sleep Country than the author, a legitimate question 
occurs: "What is meant by Ten Sleep Country?" Of 
course, the author does not attempt to provide bound- 
aries for this country, but she does provide a helpful map 
(p. 69). 

From the geological chapter, the author proceeds 
through obvious historical periods: "Indian Nations," 
"Territorial Connections," "Settlement," and subse- 
quent eras, such as the twenties and thirties, down to the 

This chronological treatment provides a valuable 
frame of reference, especially when seen in contrastive 
focus with events in U. S. history which impacted Wyo- 
ming. Occasionally, it is not clear, as in the section deal- 
ing with "Indian Nations," which is dealt with in five 
pages, why some topics are given relatively sparse atten- 

Counterbalancing this occasional unevenness in treat- 
ment is one of the author's strengths: riveting our atten- 
tion to the ebb and flow of social history in the Ten Sleep 
Country. Included are such topics as territorial life style, 
the cabin, entertainment, women's fashions, changing 
technology, churches, etc. Concurrent with the social his- 
tory are interesting accounts of well known personalities, 
such as the Wild Bunch, and incidents, such as the Spring 
Creek Raid. Narratives of lesser known figures, such as 
Tuck Keaton who supposedly rode with Quant rell's 
raiders, enhance the book. 

Other features which enhance the book include: a var- 
iety of photographs drawn from local families; U. S. 
Census reports; maps of the Ten Sleep community over 
a period of years; lists of legal documents, ranches, busi- 
nesses, and veterans; biographical appendixes that chroni- 
cle numerous families and individuals who have lived in 
the Ten Sleep area. 

While one might wish for an index and a more com- 
plete bibliography, the book's comprehensive nature has 
led the author and the reader down many more trails than 
might have been expected. For readers interested specif- 
ically in the Ten Sleep Country, Faye V. Bell's book will 
provide an illuminating and interesting source. 


University of Wyoming 

Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far Western 
Frontier. By Elliot West. Albuquerque: University of 
New Mexico Press, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Notes. 
Bibliography, xxiv and 343 pages. Cloth $32.50. 
Paper $16.95. 

With his new book about children on the Western 
frontier, Elliot West single-handedly sets out to create 
another genre for Western historians who may be weary 
of researching mining camps, Indian treaties, town- 
building, wagon trains, and outlaws. Growing Up With the 
Country is the First book-length study of children, defined 
as persons under the age of fifteen, who pioneered the 
Western landscape. The author's research focuses on chil- 
dren's impressions of a challenging world utterly foreign 
to their parents. The book is broad in scope and relatively 
comprehensive with ten chapters and short personal vig- 
nettes of children as famous as Mari Sandoz and as 
unknown as Caesar Brock. The most innovative chap- 
ters focus on perceptions of the frontier, family and com- 
munity, children's health, and the impact of this first 
generation of youthful Westerners who "would live 
through the country's pioneer stage to find themselves in 
a different West, a region of narrowing limits, where dwin- 
dling resources were pulled beyond their reach or kept 
firmly in the grasp of others" (p. 259). 

Unfortunately, in direct contrast to recent historiog- 
raphy that describes minorities and their assimilation on 
the frontier, West writes nothing about Native American 
and Hispanic children already living in the West nor does 
he write about immigrant children. He purposely con- 
centrates "almost entirely on white families who came into 
the West from elsewhere in the United States" (xix). In 
the hands of a less skillful historian, such a blatant omis- 
sion of significant material would seem parochial. West 
explains his selectivity based on the availability of primary 
source material for White children and the difficulties in 
finding first hand accounts for minority youngsters. 
Despite the book's lack of attention to ethnicity, West 
writes in a highly readable fashion that will make this work 
endure as a reference book and as a point of departure 
for In (ure scholarship. 

Because many children died along the overland trails. 
or they died of disease when California and Oregon had 
been reached. West eloquently describes the passion and 
pain of mothers and fathers who bitterly questioned their 
own motivations for uprooting their families. The chap- 
ter "Suffer the Children" is a poignant synopsis of chil- 
dren's diseases and deaths with useful statistieal charts. 
He persuasively argues, "Until its children are heard, the 



SUMMER 1990 

frontier's history cannot be truly written" (p. 245). In 
countless phrases and descriptions, West allows the chil- 
dren to speak for themselves in vernacular language that 
is both brief and descriptive as in the chapter on family 
and community which explains the evolution of power- 
ful pioneer bonds meaningful relationship of children to 
their landscape. Children's racist attitudes towards minori- 
ties and immigrants, however, are not described. Nor does 
the author fully explain how boys and girls allowed to 
wander freely and perform a multitude of difficult tasks 
and chores could grow into adults with such rigidly defined 
occupational and sex roles. 

The author's notes are extensive, and he draws intrig- 
ing conclusions about the relationship between pioneer 
children seeing a new world with few boundaries, and their 
parents' passion to replicate the gentility and culture they 
had left behind. West explains, "Out of this mingling 
came . . . the most distinguishing characteristic of Western 
childhood — its ambiguity" (p. 253). The author has tried 
to "recapture some sense of what the frontier looked and 
felt like from two or three feet off the ground" (xviii). 
Because of his careful research and excellent integration 
of child psychology and family dynamics with historical 
narratives, Growing Up With the Country is an important 
book. West sheds new light on the pioneer experience and 
the evolution of our national character. He proves 
unmistakably that the true settlers of the West came as 
families whose children played a crucial role in the suc- 
cess or failure of the family enterprise. 


Middle Tennessee State University 

A Fair Chance for a Free People: Karl E. Mundt, United States 
Senator. By Scott Heidepreim. Madison, South 
Dakota: Karl E. Mundt Historical and Educational 
Foundation, 1988. Index. Notes. Appendices. Illus- 
trated, x and 253 pp. Cloth. 

Best known for his staunch anti-communism, South 
Dakota's Karl Mundt served in the Congress for more 
than three decades. Along with Congressman Richard 
Nixon, a fellow member of the House Un-American 
Activities Committee, Mundt pursued the celebrated 
investigation of Alger Hiss and sponsored legislation that 
culminated in the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950. 
In 1954, while chairing the Army-McCarthy hearings, 
Mundt permitted the Wisconsin senator ample oppor- 

tunity to disrupt and prolong the proceedings. In his vari- 
ous investigations, Mundt benefited from close contacts 
with J. Edgar Hoover, and in 1955-56 even tried to 
organize a presidential boomlet for the F.B.I. Director. 

In this political biography, lawyer-historian Scott N. 
Heidepreim reminds us that there was more to Mundt 
than anti-communist zealotry. The only son of a small 
town hardware dealer/banker, Mundt inherited his 
father's self-confidence, his interest in national issues, and 
his flair for speech and debate. After graduating from 
Carleton College, he became a highly successful speech 
and debate coach. Mundt helped found the National 
Forensic League, promoted himself regionally as a speech 
maker, and ultimately moved into elective politics. His 
gifts for debate and sloganeering would bring him both 
applause and condemnation at the national level. Mundt 
coined the phrase "truth squad" for the select group of 
Republicans (such as himself) who followed Harry Tru- 
man on the campaign trail in 1952, correcting the Presi- 
dent's misstatements about the GOP. He, too, first encap- 
sulated the Republican attack themes of that year — Korea, 
communism, corruption — under the chemical formula- 
tion of KiC 2 . 

A self-described "insulationist" and supporter of the 
America First campaign before Pearl Harbor, Mundt 
emerged as an ardent internationalist after World War 
II. Possibly inspired by his boyhood idol, William Borah 
of Idaho, he proposed a United Nations Air Force that 
could effectively enforce the peace. At the same time, he 
sponsored the Smith-Mundt Act promoting the Voice of 
America and student exchange programs. Hoping to 
encourage agriculture and tourism in his home state, 
Mundt advocated an expanded Food for Peace program 
and the locating of the permanent UN headquarters in 
the Black Hills areas of South Dakota, Nebraska, and 

Although normally identified with the Republican 
Right, Heidepreim 's Mundt was in fact a closet political 
pragmatist. When he pioneered the "southern strategy" 
for the GOP by appealing to southern Democrats on the 
civil rights issue, he was more interested in winning elec- 
tions than in establishing ideological purity. On farm ques- 
tions, so vital to South Dakota, a "liberal" Mundt drew 
upon a tradition of agrarian discontent dating back to the 
late 19th century. In 1952, he supported Dwight Eisen- 
hower rather than Robert Taft for his party's presiden- 
tial nomination, both because he saw Ike as the more likely 
winner and also as the better "salesman" for the GOP. 
Taft's reservations to high agricultural price supports espe- 
cially troubled the South Dakota senator. When Eisen- 



hower's Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, tried 
to place American farming on a free market footing, 
Munclt emerged as perhaps his most vehement intraparty 
critic. Indeed, the South Dakotan's closest political call 
came in 1960, when Democrat George McGovern (aided 
by Wyoming's freshman Senator Gale McGee) mounted 
a stiff challenge based largely on the unpopular farm pro- 
gram of the outgoing Eisenhower Administration. 

Heidepreim fleshes out our understanding of an 
intriguing regional and national politician. While A Fair 
Chance for a Free People is not the definitive biography, it 
is a good start. With the sponsorship of the Mundt Histori- 

cal and Educational Foundation, Heidepreim mined the 
rich, well-organized Mundt Archives at Dakota State Col- 
lege. One might wish that he had ventured into other 
archival holdings and that he had made some more sys- 
tematic attempt to place Mundt in the context of the 
broader postwar conservative movement. For several years 
to come, however, A Fair Chance for a Free People is likely 
to remain an invaluable source for students of Karl Mundt 
and recent South Dakota politics. 


University of Wyoming 


Wyoming: A Centennial Bibliography. By Roy Jordan. Powell, 
Wyoming: Northwest Community College, 1988. ii 
and 77 pp. Paper. 

Roy Jordan has compiled a bibliography of Wyoming 
sources along with materials which help us place Wyo- 
ming into the larger context of the American West. 
Included are state and federal documents, as well as 
unpublished dissertations and theses, oral history inter- 
views, manuscript collections, pamphlets, and a general 
bibliography of books and articles. 

From Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains: Major Stephen Long 's 
Expedition 1819-1820. Edited by Maxine Benson. 
Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum, Inc., 1988. Illustrated. 
Index. Bibliography. Maps, xxvii and 410 pp. Cloth 


Major Stephen Long in 1819 and 1820 led an expe- 
dition of the American West sponsored by the United 
States government. Accompanying Long were naturalists, 
topographers, and artists. Resulting from the expedition 
were the first view of the Rocky Mountains and the label- 
ing of the area as The Great American Desert. The 1823 
report is published in this abridged one volume edition. 

Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury. By John F. Sears. New York: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Notes, viii and 
43 pp. Cloth $24.95. 

According to Sacred Places, tourism established itself 
in America during the 1820s and 1830s. A revolution in 

transportation at that time made tourism possible. The 
new steamboats, canals, and railroads, enabled the coun- 
try's urban, commercial, and industrial center to develop, 
which created a prosperous middle class — potential 
tourists. Once established, tourism then helped define 
America as a special place and Americans could take 
pride in the special features of their country. Tourist 
attractions covered in this book include Niagara Falls, 
Mammoth Cave, American cities, and Yellowstone 
National Park. 

Nebraska Folklore. By Louise Pound. Lincoln: University 
of Nebraska Press, 1989. Appendix, x and 243 pp. 
Paper $7.99. 

Louise Pound was an authority in the field of folk- 
lore. Nebraska Folklore, first published in 1959, is a collec- 
tion of lore about such topics as caves, snakes, rain mak- 
ing, cowboy songs, and Nebraska strong men. In the 
appendix, the author examines folklore and dialect and 
the scholarly study of folklore. 

Buffalo Bill and IBs Wild West: A Pictorial Biography. By 
Joseph G. Rosa and Robin Maw Laurence: Univer- 
sity Press of Kansas, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Bib- 
liography, x and 243 pp. Paper $14.95. Cloth $27.50. 

This pictorial biography of Buffalo Bill Codv contains 
more than 150 photographs, main' never before published. 
It also includes a narrative which documents his life from 
his boyhood days to the years of the Wild West show. 
According to die authors, their purpose is to reveal the 
man behind die myth. 



SUMMER 1990 

The UY Ranch: Reminiscences of a Montana Stockman's Wife, 
1912-1921. By Helen Addison Howard. Manhattan, 
Kansas: Sunflower University Press, 1989. Illustrated. 
Index, xv and 197 pp. Paper $17.95. 

In 1934 Helen Addison Howard interviewed Carrie 
Cather about her life on the UY Ranch in Montana 
between 1912 and 1921. She put the manuscript aside, 
not getting back to it until 1980. The author then broad- 
ened the scope of the work from that of one woman's 
experiences, to include a study of the settlement, stock- 
raising, and agricultural development of Montana dur- 
ing the years Cather lived at the UY Ranch. The book 
presents a realistic look at life in the West as well as 
women's influence in shaping the history of the area. 

Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged. By Richard A. Bartlett. 
Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989. Originally 
published 1985. Illustrated. Maps. Index. Notes. Bib- 
liography, xiv and 437 pp. Paper $16.95. 

preserve it. Both of the volumes provide a "study of eco- 
logical, geographical, and political factors that have shaped 
Yellowstone over the years." 

Kathleen 's Book: An Album of Early Pioneer Wyoming in Word 
and Picture, Centennial Edition. Compiled by Kathleen 
Hemry. Casper, Wyoming: Mountain States Litho- 
graphing, 1989. Illustrated. Index. 131 pp. Paper 

Kathleen Hemry, in this volume, has compiled many 
articles and poems written by herself and others from 1925 
to 1988. Such topics as dry farming, Hemry' s teaching 
experiences in Casper, the Fort Caspar Museum, the 1949 
blizzard, the World War II years, and the Hemry family 
are included. The book is filled with an extensive array 
of photographs, many taken by Hemry's father, Charles 
D. Hemry, which provide an interesting look at the early 
history of Natrona County. 

Nature's Yellowstone. By Richard A. Bartlett. Tucson: 
University of Arizona Press, 1989. Originally pub- 
lished: Albuquerque: University of New Mexico 
Press, 1974. Illustrated. Maps. Index. Notes. Essay 
on Sources, xiii and 250 pp. Paper $10.95. 

The University of Arizona Press has published two 
books by Richard A. Bartlett about Yellowstone Park. In 
Nature's Yellowstone, the author, professor emeritus of his- 
tory of Florida State University, Tallahassee, looks at the 
formation of the area, the flora and fauna, the first inhabi- 
tants, the first White men to enter the park, the early 
explorations, and finally the creation of Yellowstone 
National Park. Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged continues 
where the first book ended. It is a story of people, those 
who wanted to exploit the park, and those who fought to 

Historical Atlas of the American West. By Warren A. Beck 
and Ynez D. Haase. Norman: University of Okla- 
homa Press, 1989. Illustrated. Maps. Index. Refer- 
ences. Appendix, xlii and 78 pp. Cloth $29.95. 

The two authors in this atlas present a geographical 
look at the West's unique characteristics from 1536 to 
1980. They define the West as consisting of the seven- 
teen states west of the 100th Meridian. Seventy-eight maps 
are included detailing such items as the West's physical 
qualities, the explorations of the area, the overland routes, 
Indian lands, railroads, agriculture and military instal- 
lations, among others. The main goal of the authors has 
been "to produce an atlas of the American West for the 
student, the scholar and the many people who have a 
general interest in the subject." 



This letter is submitted with the desire to rectify cer- 
tain information included in "Y'all Call Me Nigger Jim 
Now, But Someday You'll Call Me Mr. James Edwards: 
Black Success on the Plains of the Equality State" [Fall 
1989]. Prior to the writing of this article and, also, a the- 
sis document of similar subject, the author, Todd Guen- 
ther, did not interview any member of the Willson family, 
though several reside in Niobrara County, where he inter- 
viewed other more recent acquaintances of James 
Edwards, and others living elsewhere in Wyoming. This 
omission is germane to the fact that the earlier members 
of the Willson family referred to by the author in his arti- 
cle and, presumably, thesis document, were the first 
employers, as was their understanding, of James Edwards 
when he initially came to what is now Niobrara County. 
This association of James Edwards with the Willson 
brothers' Running Water Ranch continued for thirteen 
years and nine months. 

The subject of the referenced article, James Edwards, 
was employed March 31, 1903, by Eugene Bigelow Will- 
son and George Luther Willson, brothers and principals 
in the firm of Willson Brothers, a ranching business estab- 
lished in 1880 in then Laramie County (now Niobrara 
County), Territory of Wyoming, and continued his associ- 
ation and employment with the Willson brothers' Run- 
ning Water Ranch until January 1, 1917. James Edwards' 
first job was considered standard work on the ranch at 
that time, being at the Harney sheep camp to herd the 
woolies if they lived or skin them if they died. The pay 
was the going wage then, $35.00 a month with food and 
shelter, such as a sheep camp provided. This informa- 
tion was recorded in the Journal and Ledger books of the 
Running Water Ranch for those years. 

My father, who knew James Edwards from when he 
first came to the Running Water Ranch, recalled that his 
family soon came to regard Jim as trustworthy, a good 
worker, a hard worker and an excellent sheepman. Also, 
a superb trainer, not a "breaker," of horses. It was never 
known where he learned these skills with animals, but 
recognizing those and his leadership qualities, the Will- 
sons eventually entrusted him with the day-to-day oper- 
ations of the ranch's sheep business. 

As the years of their association went along the time 
came when Jim wanted stock of his own, so the Willson 
brothers arranged that he run some sheep he bought with 
their bands. This eventually resulted in a misunderstand- 

ing among them, the "embers" of which were "fanned" 
by an opportunistic lawyer, and Jim eventually brought 
a lawsuit against Willson Brothers. This legal entangle- 
ment dragged on for about six years, and finally was set- 
tled in favor of the plaintiff. This lawsuit was not initiated 
as a quotation by the author of the referenced article infers 
because "... the Willsons refused to pay him a decent 
wage and threatened to report him to the military authori- 
ties if he quit, but that he [James Edwards] finally took 
them to court and won the case." As cited earlier, the 
fact is that according to Running Water Ranch records 
James Edwards was always paid the standard wage paid 
the equivalent work at that time to any other of the ranch's 
employees (43 other men were on the Willson Brothers' 
regular payroll during the time Jim Edwards was). 

Another inference in this same quotation by Mr. 
Guenther has no foundation in fact, that being the threat 
by the Willson brothers to "report him [James Edwards] 
to the military authorities . . . ." My father, Eugene 
Bigelow, Willson's son, recalls that his family never really 
knew anything about Jim Edwards' background. They 
were, quite naturally, interested to know something about 
anyone who eventually remained in their employ for such 
a long time and who was entrusted with a considerable 
part of their business. But Jim never volunteered any 
information to them as to where he had come from and 
what he had done and they respected his reserve. Jim 
Edwards was regarded by the Willson family as an honor- 
able, trustworthy, skilled and hardworking man, and the 
regard was apparently mutual. My Dad recalls that they 
all ultimately considered the lawsuit they became entan- 
gled in as something they would much rather have 

Further, when Jim Edwards wanted to acquire a place 
of his own, Gene and George Willson encouraged him 
to take a homestead and surveyed the land for him, as 
that was one of their earliest trades when they first came 
to Wyoming in 1870. They did not intend, as Mr. Guen- 
ther implied elsewhere in this article, to eventually buy 
this homestead from Jim Edwards. In fact, by 1916 Will- 
son Brothers had completely sold out their sheep business, 
having in the meantime built up a registered Hereford 
herd, and had no further need for land in the 1 laincv area. 
which was ideal sheep country in those early o 
days but a considerable distance from the honu 
Water Ranch. 

mine - 



SUMMER 1990 

Space here has been limited, understandably, for a 
point-by-point response to Todd Guenther's inclusions 
in the article regarding the Willson brothers and their 
ranching operation known as Willson Brothers. Perhaps 
if Mr. Guenther had taken the care to interview in per- 
son or by correspondence a member of the Willson family 
who had early acquaintance with James Edwards he might 
have been able to include more accurate and pertinent 
information with the consideration of his subject. 

Thank you for this opportunity to rectify and clarify 
what I and other members of the Willson family as well 
as family acquaintances in Wyoming and elsewhere con- 
sidered erroneous and inadequate information as pub- 
lished in the article. As a grand niece of George Luther 
Willson I am concerned that, at the least, this informa- 
tion from and about the Willson family as regards their 
association with James Edwards be included in Annals of 

Anne Willson Whitehead 
Lakewood, Colorado 

It strikes me as being a curious turn of events that 
Anne Willson Whitehead denigrates my research for 
neglecting to interview any of her family. In fact, recog- 
nizing the value of their information, I requested inter- 
views with Ms. Whitehead (the family historian) and her 
father in June, 1988, and again in July, 1989, but was 
never granted an audience. Why does she not mention 
those requests, or her written response, in the above letter? 

That her family's point of view was not included in 
the article is solely her responsibility and her umbrage 
unjustified. She refused two opportunities to talk with me. 
Furthermore, she was familiar with the article prior to 
publication, knew that it was to be published, and took 
exception with some of its contents long ago, but would 
not tell me what she disagreed with, let alone anything 
else. If she was so concerned, why was she so uncom- 
municative? If her family is upset regarding the contents 
of my article they should question Ms. Whitehead's 
motives and antagonism which are counter-productive. 

In the absence of information from the Willsons, I 
was forced to base the article on several oral interviews, 
letters, census manuscripts, archaeological information, 
sheriffs documents, Justice of the Peace dockets and court 
transcripts, records of the District Court, General Land 
Office records, and other sources which are commonly 
used in historical research. Nevertheless, I was and still 
am eager to learn more about what the Willsons can add 
to my ongoing research on black settlers in Wyoming. 

Therefore, I will now publically tender yet a third request 
to Ms. Whitehead. If she is sincere in her desire to help 
create an accurate historical record, which evidence sug- 
gests is not the case, will she please share with me all the 
detailed information she possesses about the Willson- 
Edwards relationship for use in a more constructive and 
enduring format than letters to the editor? 

Fortunately, the information she provides in the 
preceding letter does not alter the conclusions of my arti- 
cle and really only refines a few details. Indeed, much 
of her letter repeats bits of information from the article 
as though they are new revelations that I overlooked. 

In addition to her misleading redundancy, she also 
quotes one passage out of context. Regarding Edward's 
lawsuit against his former employers, the Willsons, the 
information she finds so offensive is immediately followed 
in the article by a sentence containing the phrase, "if this 
account is accurate." Doubt is implicit in this statement; 
clearly, the information in question was not offered as a 
divine truth. Ms. Whitehead should have recognized this 
after even a spurious reading of the article. Although the 
evidence was admittedly tenuous, to ignore any shred of 
information would have been negligent on my part. I am 
pleased that Whitehead verified to some degree the 
accuracy of the lawsuit issue by supporting the evidence 
that Edwards successfully took the Willsons to court to 
settle a financial dispute (whether over pay, pasture rent, 
livestock sales profits, or whatever, remains unclear). 

Much of doing history consists of grasping at straws 
and trying to fill in gaps between facts. A better under- 
standing of the details and events surrounding the lawsuit, 
which seems to be a sensitive subject for the Willsons 
today, could have been gained for the article with White- 
head's information had she been willing to divulge it at 
an earlier date. But, as the late UW History Department 
chair and member of my thesis committee, Larry Cardoso, 
advised me after he met with Whitehead in his office and 
futilely attempted to convince her to meet with me, "You 
can't force her to cooperate with you. Eventually, you 
need to take the information you have and publish it with 
or without gaps, and recognize them as an unavoidable 
part of doing history." 

If Anne Willson Whitehead really wanted her family's 
information to be used, she should have shared it as 
requested over two years ago. It is not, however, too late 
for that information to be included in future publications 
if she would only agree to communicate with me. For her 
benefit, my address is Rt. 62, Box 164, South Pass City, 
Wyoming 82520. 

Todd R. Guenther 


Wyoming Statehood 

-At Cheyenne, Wyoming, 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 1890. 


One fare for round trip tor all points in Wyoming, Ne- 
braska and Colorado. 
Three Dollars for a round trip from Denver 

The Greatest Exhibition of 


ever witnessed in the West. 

The finest array of Military and Civic bodies that ever 
". in a line of march. 

The Grandest Public Ball ever Enjoyed by an Ap- 
preciative public. 


Free Admittance to the Statehood Ball and every- 
thing else. 

The Great State of Wyoming will be proud for all 
ages to come, when she reviews the events that 
will transpire on the 23rd day or July, IS90, at 
Cheyenne, her Great Capitol City. 

Do nol miss the opportunity to enjoy a day so 



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CiLx.ct,. to- t-fLe. f£>ttx£&. (Lot t$CZ- Oiuo-oK,t-*-c- a~t W ^o-en-^-i-^- ; o~cL~ 
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:^t-C-cC O-X. 



^e. e-o- 


(Jommtttee on Invitation-, 

R. H. REFfiTH, SecrEtary, 



•^ gT§ §>cctcl'aiie. , > of aU orgciniz.-ittou^ tvfio tutetic to partici- 
pate in tft« ccfc tuition ccrcntonic.i iviff pfcaM notify 3©&n 3f. 
.\jcfftctj. £ntat*fiafof tl'.c bay. 

C^ttio ono, come all and remain all night, 
ana w,tnesa uue of the greatest Free Exhi- 
bitions over offered on earth. 

Wyoming's official statehood celebration took place in Cheyenne on July 2 >. 1890. On the left 
is a poster promoting the man)' events scheduled for the big day. Above is an official invitation 
to the celebration 

.NNALS of 

Volume 62, No. 3 Fall 1990 


In 1895 the state of Wyoming established a department to col- 
lect and preserve materials which interpret the history of 
Wyoming. Today those duties are performed by the Division 
of Parks and Cultural Resources in the Department of Com- 
merce. Located in the department are the State Historical 
Research Library, the State Archives, the State Museum, the 
State Art Gallery, the State Historic Sites, and the State Historic 
Preservation Office. The Department solicits original records 
such as diaries, letters, books, early newspapers, maps, pho- 
tographs and records of early businesses and organizations as 
well as artwork and artifacts for museum exhibit. The Depart- 
ment asks for the assistance of all Wyoming citizens to secure 
these documents and artifacts. 

Mike Sullivan 


Max Maxfield 

David Kathka 

Bill Bruce Hines, Chairman, Gillette 
Orval Meier, Sundance 
Juan "Abe" DeHerrera, Rawlins 
Richard Cornia, Cokeville 
Mary Ellen McWilliams, Sheridan 
Gladys Hill, Douglas 
Gretel Ehrlich, Shell 
George Zeimens, Lingle 
Mary Guthrie, Attorney General's 
Office, Ex-officio 


OFFICERS, 1989-1990 

Scott Handley, President, Pine Haven 

Dale J. Morris, First Vice-President, Green River 

Walter Edens, Second Vice-President, Laramie 

Sherry Taylor, Secretary, Casper 

Gladys Hill, Treasurer, Douglas 

David Kathka, Executive-Secretary 

Judy West, State Coordinator 

ABOl T THE COVER— "Going to Town" is the title of this work painted in 1977, by Nick Eggenhofer, German-born artist (1897-1989). 

Inspired by the American West and Buffalo Hill's Wild lies/ Shines, Eggenhofer came lo the United States in the 1920s, and studied at Cooper 
I 'num. \'eu Yiiil City. During bis career it is estimated be produced mine /ban 30,090 Western illustrations. He spent the last years of bis life 
in Cody. Wyoming. Courtesy Wyoming State Museum ( WSM). 



Volume 62, No. 3 
Fall, 1990 


Rick Ewig, Editor 

Jean Brainerd, Assistant Editor 

Roger Joyce, Assistant Editor 

Ann Nelson, Assistant Editor 

Paula West Chavoya, Photographic Editor 


Roy Jordan 

David Kathka 

William H. Moore 

Robert L. Munkres 

Philip J. Roberts 

ANNALS OF WYOMING was established 
in 1923 to disseminate historical information 
about Wyoming and the West through the 
publication of articles and documents. The 
editors of ANNALS OF WYOMING wel- 
come manuscripts on every aspect of Wyo- 
ming and Western history. 

Authors should submit two typed, double- 
spaced copies of their manuscripts with foot- 
notes placed at the end. Manuscripts submit- 
ted should conform to A MANUAL OF 
STYLE (University of Chicago Press). The 
Editor reserves the right to submit all 
manuscripts to members of the Editorial Ad- 
visory Board or to authorities in the field of 
study for recommendations. Published arti- 
cles represent the view of the authors and are 
not necessarily those of the Division of Parks 
and Cultural Resources, Department of Com- 
merce or the Wyoming State Historical 


WYOMING: A New Centennial Reflection 114 

by Roy A. Jordan 

The Air Corps, Air Mail, and Cheyenne in 1934 131 

by Gerald M. Adams 


Wyoming Women as Jurors 
by Rick Ewig 

Recollections of One of the Grand Jurors of Albany County 143 

by Sarah Wallace Pease 


Smith, The View from Officers' Row: Perceptions of Western 

Indians, reviewed by John D. McDermott. 
Calloway, New Directions in American Indian History, 

reviewed by Steven C. Schulte. 
Benjamin, Adventures in Old Wyoming, 1879-1884, 

reviewed by Jean Brainerd. 
Adams, The Post Near Cheyenne: A History of Fort 

D.A. Russell, 1867-1930, reviewed by Paul L. Hedren. 
Dickinson, A Wyoming Mosaic: People and Places, 

reviewed by Robert A. Campbell. 



ANNALS OF WYOMING is published quarterly by the Division of Parks and Cul- 
tural Resources, Depart men I of Commerce. 1 1 is received by all members of the Wyoming 
Stale Historical Society as the official publication of thai organization. Membership dues 
arc: Single $a; joint $7; Institutional $10; Life $100; Joint Life $150. Current membership 
is 1,853. Copies of previous and current issues of ANNALS may be purchased from the 
Fdiior. Correspondence should be addressed to the Editor. ANNALS OF WYOMING ar- 
ticles arc abstracted in Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life, 

(c) Copyright 1990 by the Division of Parks and Cultural Resources, Department of Commerce 

WYOMING: A New Centennial Reflection 


by RoyATToMsn — r 

The Cheyenne Gunslingers and the Stealth Fighter crossed paths in Cheyenne during July, 1990. 


One hundred years of active life deserves a celebra- 
tion, but it also needs something more. The risk is allow- 
ing this celebration of ourselves to become only a confir- 
mation. For Wyoming, 1990 is another of those crossroads 
in history when the path to the future has a chance to be 
seen a little more clearly. 

Our path most often has been that of our past. We 
have defined ourselves by taking our values from our tra- 
dition; we confirm our own history. When a culture 
amounts to a collective popular memory there is the 
danger of becoming identified with your own ancestors. 

This crossroads can be the occasion to realize that we 
are not our past, that we are not only a state of mind, 
and that we have more to do. Wyoming history has 
become almost a contradiction in terms. Wyoming's his- 
tory is a timeless world of the West "as it ought to have 
been." It creates a culture that informs us that little can 
be changed because it never has changed. Romantic his- 
tory is dangerous history. 

The myth of an innocent pioneering has left a false 
impression of the uniqueness of our history; that "front- 
ier" myth has been stressed so long as to make the state 
colorful, but it also causes it to be irrelevant at the same 
time. Convinced quaintness has a difficult time dealing 
with modern world problems. We have driven ourselves 
into something of a cultural cul-de-sac. 

Our own inner certainties have not yet opened to an 
assessment of the real human loss shown to us by Wyom- 
ing ghost towns, abandoned school houses, lonely 
homesteads, and faded false front businesses. Fragile man- 
made architecture that has gone with the wind is not pic- 
turesque so much as it is part of our other unacknowledged 
and tragic history. 

This centennial year also can be a time of recogni- 
tion. We can fully acknowledge the steady contradiction 
of a male-dominated culture which at the same time has 
championed the myth of female rights. This culture has 
not been in touch with the idea of the female as an active 
participant in society. 

We also can give Indian people a voice. They have 
been seen as props in the Wyoming stage play; they are 
not props nor are they artifacts and relics. Indians have 
their own sovereignty and rights, their own history and 
culture. The reservation will do more for its people and 
it will become more powerful; Indian people in Wyoming 
are not going away. 



FALL 1990 

Hispanic braceros, Chinese laborers, Blacks, and eth- 
nic immigrants have not had a clean, tolerant time of it 
in Wyoming. Wyoming proudly points to its common cul- 
ture, but the homogeneity that made it possible has not 
always been benevolent. 

Our past culture has told us that we have been depen- 
dent on the federal government and on outside, "foreign" 
industries. So we were. From the very beginning we have 
made positive use of the source with the most money to 
pay for what we did not have. We have been well served, 
in this sense, by our own politicians, crafty enough to use 
their consummate talents to get others to invest their 
money. The reality of this "colonialism" is that we have 
benefitted from our relations with the federal government. 
And, if it were not for those "outside" extractive indus- 
tries we would not have that huge stockpile of severance 
money that has allowed Wyoming to have the ninth larg- 
est investment portfolio in the nation. And, we can con- 
cede the fact that if the federal government did not own 
half of the land within Wyoming's borders (another 
favorite lament) we would not be eligible to receive those 
large royalty payments. When looked at from this posi- 
tive perspective, perceptions begin to change drastically. 

Another reality we can admit is the set of dismal social 
statistics with which a romanticized history is not prepared 
to deal: a tremendously high suicide rate, a traditionally 
high infant mortality rate, extraordinarily high teenage 
pregnancy rate, exceptionally low expenditures for pub- 
lic welfare, grossly inadequate care for the mentally ill, 
high divorce rate (40% higher than the U.S. average), 
one of the highest mileage death rates in the nation, high 
death rate in almost every category, and the highest overall 
drinking rate in the nation. These are not small problems, 
they are big problems. They are not new nor unique nor 
quaint. Our culture, and not our geography, created 
them. It can be fashioned to solve them. 

Borders are peculiar things. Wyoming and all the 
straight-lined states in the West are creations of politics 
and the immediate needs of federal politicians. A terri- 
tory became a territory and a state a state when and where 
it did because someone needed it done that way, and not 
because it was the result of some popular desire of the peo- 
ple living there or that it conformed naturally to the phys- 
ical topography of the region. 

Wyoming held its state constitutional convention in 
1889, at about the same time as Montana and Idaho. 
Actually, the tier of six states in the Northwest, the 
Dakotas, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming 
all had conventions and statehood in 1889 or 1890. All 
had significant amounts of straight borders. 

None of them listened to John Wesley Powell, the man 
who created the U.S. Geological Survey and directed it 
for thirteen years. He urged them to lay out their bound- 
aries along natural water drainage divides so that the tim- 
berlands, grazing lands, watersheds, and irrigated water 
right lands could be managed effectively and with a mini- 
mum of contention either between states or within a state. 
Such a solution made too much sense; it could not be right. 
It was right. 

Wyoming, for one, could have been spared grief if 
someone would have harkened to him. But, Wyoming was 
admitted to the Union on July 10, 1890, because Presi- 
dent Benjamin Harrison wanted more Republican sup- 
port and so that he could make more federal appointments. 
Idaho had been admitted seven days earlier for the same 
reasons. The open West was, as much as anything, a 
Manifest Destiny battleground for federal politicians to 
attain political party strength. That was, indeed, much 
of the purpose of the West as seen by eastern politicians. 

All political leaders felt free to use their power to cre- 
ate territories and states when they felt the need of their 
votes; Nevada's new state constitution was hurriedly 
telegraphed to Abraham Lincoln when he thought he 
needed their Republican votes. He was probably right. 
Nevada was admitted October 31, 1864. 

Colorado had come into the Union of States in 1876 
as part of the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Actu- 
ally it was as part of the political "deal" to end northern 
reconstruction of the South and to return the White South, 
and the Black man, to their previous positions and social 
relationships as before the war. 

There was a long dry spell for new states, and then 
the omnibus creation of six states in 1889-1890. Among 
those six, North and South Dakota could well have been 
one state, but as two states the national Republican party 
got four senators instead of two. Those were the kinds 
of considerations that decided state size and boundaries. 

In Congress they feared for a while during the 1890s, 
in light of Wyoming's Johnson County War in 1892, the 
poor state economy, and its low population, that they had 
made a mistake granting Wyoming statehood. The 
nation's depression in 1893 and Congress' own preoccu- 
pations allowed them to forget Wyoming. 

Utah was finally admitted in January, 1896, after they 
had disavowed the practice of polygamy. They came in 
without a section of land which had earlier been used to 
"square" Wyoming. Wyoming's political borders did 
have a little religious prejudice sprinkled in; Congress' 
dislike for Mormonism was the reason for detaching what 
was to become Uinta County and the Green River coun- 



try. Wyoming's later oil, gas, and trona industries were 
just barely Wyoming's and the fossil fish beds were nearly 
part of someone else's West. That small segment of land 
also had already come under Mormon irrigation from the 
Bear River, so Wyoming was to benefit in several ways 
because of a federal religious and political bias. 

The "Indian Territory" of Oklahoma was allowed 
statehood in 1907, only after its Indian population had 
been pushed onto small reservations of supposedly worth- 
less land. Arizona and New Mexico were not brought in 
as states until 1912. There earlier had been attempts to 
bring them in as one state, but "Anglo" Arizona did not 
want to share political power with "Chicano" New Mex- 
ico. The wrangling perturbed Congress enough to let the 
territories wait. 

If Wyoming as a new state caused the U.S. Congress 
to have fleeting second thoughts, Wyoming as an official 
territory — a place on track to statehood — bothered them 

even more. Even though the "Organic Act" creating ter- 
ritorial status was signed by President Andrew Johnson 
on July 25, 1868, Wyoming was not truly organized as 
a Territory until April 17, 1869, nine months later. That 
too, was due to politics. 

In the first place, Wyoming Territory was established 
to accommodate a private enterprise, a railroad — the 
Union Pacific. Actually, of course, it was not too "pri- 
vate," for it was massively subsidized by the federal 
government with loans, land grants, and outright cash 
subsidies. Wyoming was built on federal "intervention" 
and financial support and that fact has been a lasting 
legacy. In any event, the first non-Indian pioneers in 
Wyoming were not homesteaders on their quarter section 
of bottom land, but the gandy-dancers, head spikers, and 
tie hacks pounding their way across the barrens of southern 
Wyoming. The railroad preceded population; it created 
the first towns, drew up the first town charters, and was 




- , J f" w 

..,:<> ■ 


The coming of the Union Pacific Railroad to Wyoming was one of the most significant events in our history. The railroad brought the first permanent Euro-. 1 merit . 
settlers, who formed the towns which were the basis for the establishment of Wyoming Territory. Above is the first engine on the Union Pacific. 



FALL 1990 

the first police force. The Union Pacific has always been 
a major industry and employer in the state; in 1990 it is 
still the largest single private employer in the state. 

The pure and simple of national politics at Wyoming's 
creation was that President Andrew Johnson, who had 
succeeded to the office upon Abraham Lincoln's assassi- 
nation, could not get his territorial appointees confirmed 
in the U.S. Senate. He had been impeached by the House 
only two months before the passage of the Organic Act, 
and the Senate had fallen just one vote short of convict- 
ing him and sending him home to Tennessee. Wyoming 
was not to be organized until a new president, Ulysses 
S. Grant, offered a new list of federal appointees. It was 
not that Johnson's list of appointments were wrong or bad 
or even from the wrong political party, it was just that 
they were from the wrong man at the wrong time. 

This political maneuvering in Washington, D.C. that 
was going to affect the history and attitudes of Wyoming 
took place in the midst of other events important to the 
nation as well as to Wyoming. States of the old Confeder- 
acy were being readmitted to the Union: Arkansas on June 
22, 1868 (over Johnson's veto); North and South Caro- 
lina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida on June 
25, 1868 (over Johnson's veto); the fourteenth amend- 
ment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted by the vote 
of twenty-nine states (including those newly admitted 
Southern states) on July 20, 1868; the Freedman's Bureau, 
set up to provide education and social services to the freed 
slaves, was discontinued on the very same day that Wyo- 
ming was carved out of parts of Dakota, Utah, and Idaho, 
July 25, 1868 (Wyoming came close to acquiring the title 
"Cheyenne" in the midst of congressional debate). 

Gold was discovered at South Pass City in October, 
1867, Wyoming's biggest gold strike ever; almost on the 
same day, Alaska was formally transferred by Russia to 
the U.S. at a service in Sitka; a public dinner was given 
in New York City on April 18, 1868, for Charles Dickens 
on his second visit to the United States; campaigns for 
woman suffrage were being conducted in Kansas in Sep- 
tember and October, 1867, by the famous and durable 
trio of Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady 
Stanton. Using celebrities then just as special interest 
causes do today, George Francis Train, the model for 
Around the World in 80 Days, was presented to the crowds, 
along with the Hutchinson Family Singers. 

Even though those indomitable ladies came to Wyo- 
ming years after woman suffrage was recognized here, 
there were no suffragette meetings in Wyoming, no cam- 
paigns for the right to vote, no demonstrations. It has been 
well documented by a number of scholars that woman 

suffrage was recognized in Wyoming by men for male rea- 
sons. Granting women the right to vote here was little 
more than a public relations gimmick by the all male ter- 
ritorial legislature in the atavistic hope of luring a few more 
settlers to an almost depopulated Wyoming. When the 
Union Pacific railroad left the western border of Wyo- 
ming bound for that ever moveable rendezvous with the 
Central Pacific, it took most of Wyoming's people with 
it. That first territorial legislature in Cheyenne was all 
male and there was never a woman legislator in all the 
territorial years of 1869-1890. The legislators were also 
all Democrats, and that was to be the last time such a thing 
ever happened; a defining characteristic of Wyoming has 
been its reflexive Republicanism. 

Just as important as knowing that Wyoming achieved 
female suffrage is to know that it was almost lost. Again, 
hard politics was the cause, not just the mechanics, by 
which a reform came about. In the second session of the 
territorial legislature in 1871, the Democrat majority 
decided that the experiment had not worked — the move 
had not attracted population (the census for 1869 showed 
8,014 people in the territory; 1870 census figures were 
9,118 and only 17% female), and what was worse the 
women were voting Republican (the "Australian" secret 
ballot was not in effect in Wyoming until 1890). On top 
of that, they wanted to embarrass politically the appointed 
Republican governor, John A. Campbell. They ended by 
embarrassing themselves. The bill to rescind woman 
suffrage was passed, Campbell vetoed it (due more to his 
own political rivalry with the legislature than a convic- 
tion of social reform) and the legislature fell just one vote 
shy of overriding his veto. Suffrage was saved in a process 
that had little to do with women's rights. 

In the process, the Democratic party got one of several 
black marks from which they have never recovered. They 
were perceived in Wyoming as the party opposed to 
women — at least in politics. The Democrats deepened 
their problems at the next crucial turning point in Wyo- 
ming history, they went on record as opposing Wyoming 
statehood. They were doing it, of course, because Wyo- 
ming would surely come in as a Republican state and 
therefore benefit both the national and state Republicans. 
Even their state Republican opponents were amazed at 
their lack of political foresight. At one stroke, the 
Democrats made themselves appear disloyal to the new 
order being formed; they appeared to be irrelevant. And 
so, mostly, they have become. Republicans established 
their leadership and positive Wyoming attitude at the same 
time that the Democratic party declined. The Republi- 
cans have never lost that ascendancy. 



The election of 1986 was only the fourth time since 
statehood that Democrats have had more than two of the 
five statewide offices elected at once. In presidential elec- 
tions from 1892 to 1988, Wyoming has voted Democratic 
only eight times. The Democratic party has controlled the 
Wyoming legislature only twice (1934 and 1936) since 
1890; other than that, it has never had a majority in the 
state House and only once in the state Senate (1958). The 
most lopsided Republican legislative term was in 1920 
when the Senate was twenty-two to three and the House 
was fifty-three to one member. 

In politics, as in the culture, it is not what you in fact 
favor or hinder, it is what you appear to champion or 
obstruct. That is how mythologies and lifestyles are created 
and sustained. Wyoming Democrats appeared to be less 
than loyal to the state's orthodoxies. Even to people who 
have lost the distant memory of who favored what on 
woman suffrage and statehood, Democrats in this state 
have never quite been able to shake the stigma of being 
something less than "patriotic." 

Politics and the perceived posture of its parties and 
leaders formed the social culture of this state and not the 
other way around. Politics preceded the culture and deve- 
loped the part of Wyoming that is a state of mind. This 
centennial year is a good time to recognize that cultures 
are created — organic, living, and changeable — and this 
state's culture, its expression of itself, came early and has 
changed little. Wyoming has always tended to see itself 
as a new land, and while that self-evaluation is superfi- 
cial, in a sense it is right. History came late to Wyoming 
and left early. 

If we are facing the reality of old myths in this cen- 
tennial year, then we should, as a state, finally recognize 
that the heritage of the earliest woman suffrage which we 
have pointed to so proudly rests on a flimsy foundation 
of less than distinguished politics. We need to forsake much 
of the "sunbonnet" myth of women's primary place in 
the forming history of Wyoming. The reality of the Equal- 
ity State is that in 1990 women still earn fifty-four cents 
for every dollar a man earns; until recently Wyoming did 
not approach the ratio in other states of women to men 
in politics and women are still not even close to their per- 
centage of the population. Esther Morris, the "first 
woman judge" in the nation was appointed to her job, 
not popularly elected; she held the position of justice of 
the peace for eight and one-half months and she did not 
get reappointed. Nellie Tayloe Ross, "the first female 
governor in the nation," was elected to fill out the term 
of her popular husband. She performed well, but lost in 
her bid for a full four-year term. Wyoming has had no 

women elected to national office, and it was not until 1910 
that the first woman was elected to the Wyoming Legis- 
lature. There has never been a woman on the State 
Supreme Court and it was not until 1982 that a woman 
was first appointed as a district judge. Two women have 
been elected secretary of state, two as state treasurer, and 
one as state auditor since statehood in 1890. There were 
no women delegates to the state constitutional conven- 
tion in 1889. In a recent survey taken by the National 
Organization of Women, Wyoming ranked thirty-ninth 
in women's rights. 

Woman suffrage may have slightly delayed statehood. 
Some U.S. senators, such as John Morgan of Alabama, 
were reluctant to take women off their pedestals as the 
Madonna of the Plains, saying that the ballot was an 
"immoral influence" and that he did not "want to see 
her drawn into contact with the rude things of this world 
where the delicacy of her senses and sensitivities would 
be constantly wounded." Involvement in the issues of the 
day would "degrade her from that high station that God 
has placed her." Those phrases have always had the ring 
of code language for not allowing women access to equal 
authority, rights, and power. It would be convenient and 
even patriotic to say that Wyoming was more enlightened 
than that. But, that would be an exaggeration. By 1890, 
woman suffrage had become a habit, a habit of politics 
if not of the heart. We were firm that we should enter 
the union with female voting rights intact, but the state's 
defense of the institution was passive, it had not done any 
harm. Anyway, more territories and states were allow- 
ing it (Colorado in 1894), and we saw no reason to 
eliminate something that had little practical state sig- 
nificance, and since most Wyoming women voted Repub- 
lican anyway it made political sense to the state's party 
of choice. 

Wyoming's low population did not hurt the state 
much as we made the move for statehood in the Congress; 
Joseph M. Carey, the territory's delegate to Congress in 
1889-90, made enough believable but stretched mis- 
representations about the population, climate, and re- 
sources here that Congress took his word. Who would 
come to Wyoming in the middle of a hot summer's debate 
to check his figures? 

However, low population, harsh climate, lew avail- 
able resources, and a collection of overly rowdy people 
(nearly all male) did almost bring an end to Wyoming 
Territory as an official place in 1871. President Grant was 
so dissatisfied with the unruliness of the White people, 
the worrisome Indian tribes, and the apparent nselcss- 
ness of the huge quadrangle of land, that he gave serious 



FALL 1990 

consideration to dismantling Wyoming completely and 
giving the land parcels back to the original territories of 
Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Luckily for Wyoming's 
future, cattle herds began to come and they would estab- 
lish a sense of stability and order. But, these two events 
were going to leave a lasting impression here. Wyoming's 
politics and culture were going to be defensive and angry 
toward the federal government for so cavalierly consider- 
ing our demise; fear of the political and economic fragil- 
ity of Wyoming has remained to the present day. 

Cattle, ranching, and the cowboy earned a special 
place in Wyoming's collective consciousness, but perhaps 
for political reasons. Taken together they were seen as 
something of a "sagebrush savior" because they had 
helped to ensure that Wyoming would be Wyoming. That 
implicit, unarticulated cultural judgment still has an 
immensely strong polar pull for people in Wyoming. 

The bald reality says that we may as well deal with 
the fact that Wyoming always has had a low human count. 
The state ranks last in numbers and has continuously lin- 
gered in that vicinity. It very likely always will, and the 
state can save itself turmoil and wasted money on settle- 
ment enticement schemes. Geography has certain imper- 

When the fifty-five delegates to Wyoming's constitu- 
tional convention met September 2, 1889, they were not 
completely taking their fate into their own hands. About 
half of the document was taken from other, newly- 
admitted western states; the reasoning being that if their 
language had unlocked the door of statehood for them, 
it should work for us as well. Much of the state constitu- 
tion was also a direct carry-over from the federal consti- 
tution and that also made good sense. This kind of help 
is why the convention could complete its work in only 
twenty-five working days. 

The document itself, in the first sentence of Article 
One, boldly asserts a "right" that even the U.S. Consti- 
tution framers did not include, the "right to alter, reform 
or abolish the government." Of course, the state of 
Wyoming does not have this power, nor does any other 
single state. Only the federal government can abolish the 
government, and actually there is no provision for them 
to abolish a state nor alter its boundaries (those bound- 
ary lines again). 

When the state's constitution was written it carried 
several concepts that are essential to the very fabric of this 
nation. Federalism, for instance, is the principle of the 
sharing of powers between the central government and 
the individual states, and, we should note, the various 
Indian tribes. It was the biggest single governmental 

invention in the U.S. Constitution. It was the contribu- 
tions of James Madison of Virginia, and it has ruled the 
relations between Washington D.C. and the states, as well 
as that of the states to each other, to this day. 

Wyoming needed to acknowledge federalism and its 
controlling aspects just as it had to demonstrate to Con- 
gress that the new constitution contained a "republican 
form of government." But, several of the provisions 
Wyoming wrote into its basic law were not so necessary. 
Bicameralism, the principle behind having two chambers 
of representatives, a House of Representatives and a 
Senate, is one example. Forty-nine states today have such 
a structure and it was the normal United States model 
to follow. But Nebraska altered their system long ago to 
a unicameral or one-house legislature and it has served 
them well and it is fully constitutional and "republican." 
We could even have had a parliamentary system, if Con- 
gress would have approved it. Many states have called 
new state constitutional conventions over the years, which 
is their right under the principle of federalism, and several 
have nearly embraced a unicameral system. Wyoming has 
never called another constitutional convention since 1889, 
but when and if it does, representation will surely be a 
major item of business. 

The initial incentive for any state to hold to the idea 
of two chambers for legislators is now gone anyway. The 
U.S. Supreme Court decreed in 1964 in Reynolds v. Sims 
that "little federal plans" by the states which duplicated 
the U.S. Congress were no longer tolerated. The ration- 
ale in Congress had been that the House of Representa- 
tives existed to represent the people, the U.S. Senate gave 
each state equal representation. The U.S. Supreme Court 
case of Wesberry v. Sanders in 1964 made it clear that 
the "one man, one vote" principle of equal representa 
tion should be the rule in both houses of state legislatures 

That decision calls into question the need for Wyo 
ming to keep its two chambers based on those old ideas 
It calls into question the role of counties within a state 
do they have the same rights as states do within a nationa 
framework? The effect of these decisions is to require that 
Wyoming continually reapportion itself — realign its voter 
districts so that they reflect, as closely as possible, an equal 
number of people in each district. This, despite the fact 
that article three, section three of Wyoming's constitu- 
tion expressly says that "each county shall constitute a 
senatorial and representative district . . . each county shall 
have at least one senator and one representative." That 
is one way the federal government retains its supremacy 
over state governments, through a battle of the constitu- 
tions. That section of ours has been rendered null and 




— OF— 


We, the IVopli- of Hi*- State of Wyoming, grat. mi to Uocl tor our c.v.t. 
,litical .,,.,1 n-lijiious liberties, and desiring to secure them lo ourselves and 
rpctuate them lo our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution. 


IN I Ml power is inherent in the people, and all free govern 

SECTION 3. Since equality in the enjoyment of natural and civil rights 
is made sure only through political equality, the laws of this Stale affecting 
the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of 
rare color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than indi- 
vidual incompetency, or unworthincss duly ascertained In a curt of com- 
petent jurisdiction 

SECTION 4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, 
houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not 
be violated, and no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause, supported 
by affidavit, particular!} describing the place to be searched or the person oi 
thing to be seized. 

.CTION 6. No person shall 
t due process of law. 

| SECTION 7. Absolute, arbitrary p 

5 erty of freemen exists nowhere in a rein 

Article Number 1 of Wyoming's constitution contains the "Declaration of 
Rights, " which includes thirty-seven separate sections. 

void. That is a fact of federalism. Democracy is a process 
by which government works its structures to meet the peo- 
ple; it is not a definition, not a mountain peak that we 
try to climb and then live blissfully once we have reached 
the plateau. 

Questions of federalism and the relationships of ter- 
ritories and states might be these: Could the President, 
for instance, replace a territorial governor even though 
he was the people's choice? Yes. Could he "fire" him 
because of the laws passed by the territorial legislature? 
Sure. Did a territory have the right to sell property within 
their boundaries? No. Wyoming wanted to, but was not 
allowed to go ahead. Can a territory tax federal land? No. 
Wyoming as a territory was always wanting to do this, 
and after 1890 the state has tried to get "back" its fed- 
eral lands, forgetting that those public lands never were 
the state's property. 

Wyoming has been reluctant to comply with the rul- 
ing to realign itself even in spite of a special session of 
the legislature called by Governor Clifford P. Hansen 
in 1964 for this very purpose. Finally the courts them- 

selves had to devise a plan to equalize — make more 
democratic — the voting districts within the state. In 1990, 
the states legislators are still trying to find a way to do 
their own job before the courts again impose a system upon 
the state. The leaders of Wyoming are trying to devise 
a system which retains identification for counties, and 
does not obliterate them into amorphous voting "dis- 

There are no "sovereign," independent states in 
the nation, just as there are no sovereign, independent 
counties within states — that is the way federalism works. 
Can Wyoming create, eliminate or change the borders 
of counties? Yes. It has done so before and probably will 

Wyoming always had trouble getting this apportion- 
ment business right. In the first session of the territorial 
legislature in 1869, the U.S. Congress struck down the 
proposed law for the very first Wyoming apportion- 
ment — Congress could and still does do that with terri- 
tories; it requires the supreme court to strike down a bill 
of a state. 

The U.S. Congress in 1871 directed the appointed 
Republican governor to proceed and apportion the legis- 
lature. Wyoming's first legislature became the only one 
of the eleven territories to have its laws overturned by Con- 
gress. Territorial governors are federally appointed; so 
that was another of the early experiences in Wyoming by 
which the people considered themselves subject to out- 
side, "colonial" intervention. 

The same 1869 legislature that extended the voting 
privilege to women made it a crime for a White man to 
marry a Black woman. The anti-miscegenation law made 
it a felony for Caucasians to intermarry with "Negroes, 
Asiatics and Mongolians," and provided a three to seven 
year prison term as penalty. Marriage of a White with 
another who was more than one-eighth Negro or Mon- 
golian was simply declared null and void. When the bill 
was sent to the governor, Campbell vetoed it, but not 
because it was a bad bill or that they should not have been 
legislating morality, but because it did not include Indian 
women as illegal marriage partners as well. But, no mind, 
the all Democratic legislature overrode his veto in any 

That first legislature was composed oi twentv-one men 
who literally sat in two houses — separate buildings about 
a block apart. Only one of them had any previous politi- 
cal experience (he had been a legislator in Nebraska) and 
after fifty-one days and one hundred separate laws, they 
adjourned, and only one- of them ever got elected again. 
That initial anti-miscegenation or inter-racial law was later 



FALL 1990 

repealed, but another soon took its place and remained 
in effect until 1965! 

That first legislative session also authorized separate 
schools for Black people. These racial actions should also 
be put in the historical context of the nation having come 
out of the Civil War just four years before. In 1870 the 
census shows that there were 183 Black people in Wyo- 
ming, ninety-four of them in Cheyenne. William J. 
Hardin, a mixed-blood Black man, was elected to the 
Wyoming Territorial legislature in 1878 and 1880, the 
only Black man ever to be elected to a Wyoming legis- 

Wyoming in 1870 had a ratio of four men to every 
one Caucasian woman. That may have had something 
to do with the law, but that could not possibly be used 
as an excuse for the prejudice of the 1913 bill which passed 
unanimously, and was signed into law by Governor Joseph 
M. Carey, who had been elected in a Progressive/ 
Democrat reform movement. 

The 1913 miscegenation law also outlawed White 
marriage with "Malays" and "Mulattoes" even though 
there were no Malayans in the state. The fact that the 
state could do these things is another example of federal- 
ism; the fact that finally, in 1964, the federal courts began 
overturning these state laws is the other side of federalism. 

The section of the constitution on jails and prisons 
say that "no person arrested and confined in jail shall be 
treated with unnecessary rigor." Nobody has yet defined 
how much rigor that is. It also holds that prisons should 
be "safe and comfortable." That section is as debatable 
as the section that directs the University of Wyoming to 
hold its tuition costs to the student "as nearly free as 

The state's right of "peaceable assembly" is quali- 
fied; it has to be "to consult for the common good." The 
U.S. Constitution's provision is absolute and without con- 
dition. The section on "treason" is copied directly from 
the U.S. Constitution and since treason is a federal and 
not a state crime, it applies only to the national govern- 
ment and need not be included. 

The section on "taxation" has it that "all taxation 
shall be equal and uniform. " Wyoming taxes are definitely 
not equal and uniform; various county sales tax rates, the 
confusion over property tax rates, different school district 
and mill levy rates are examples of non-uniformity. 

Section ten of article four on the executive branch is 
something to consider — it is 223 words long and all one 
sentence. It is the section dealing with "bribery or coer- 
cion of or by the governor," and in the midst of other 
admonitions it says thai any Wyoming governor "who 

menaces any member by the threatened use of his veto 
power . . . shall be punished in the manner now or that 
may hereafter be provided by law." Well, not only have 
we not decided what that "manner" should be, but the 
whole idea of having veto power is to let somebody know 
that you might use it. 

The state constitution gives the governor an "item" 
veto on "any bill making appropriations of money or 
property," which has been used on various occasions to 
eliminate parts of bills which do not apply to the main 
purpose. Legislators sometimes throw these in hoping the 
executive will not veto the entire bill. The president, 
however, does not have this "item" power. In 1990, North 
Carolina is the only state whose governor has no veto 
power over legislation at all, nor does he have any appoin- 
tive power. Wisconsin's governor has even a "word veto" 
and the current governor has used that partial veto 290 
times to sometimes change the intent of the legislation 

Sometimes we come up against constitutional lan- 
guage that reminds us that the document was written in 
a less sensitive age: "All idiots, insane persons, and per- 
sons convicted of infamous crimes" are refused the right 
to vote. Or, "no person shall be imprisoned for debt," 
which reminds us that in America, being poor has some- 
times been a crime. When the document says the "Purity 
of elections (is) to be provided for ' ' they must have meant 

There are sections that should be repealed: "No per- 
son shall have the right to vote who shall not be able to 
read the constitution of this state." The U.S. Supreme 
Court has declared these kinds of registration tests uncon- 

Wyoming has had no constitutional convention since 
its original in 1889, but there have been 230 state con- 
stitutional conventions across the country. New Hamp- 
shire, for instance, has had seventeen (the most); Rhode 
Island, twelve; Louisiana, eleven; Virginia, six. An 
increasing number of states, although not Wyoming, 
require periodically submitting to the voters the question 
of whether to call a new, updating constitutional con- 

As of 1990, Wyoming has submitted ninety-seven pro- 
posed amendments to its constitution to the voters for 
ratification, fifty-seven of them have been adopted. 
Wyoming has one of the most difficult procedures for 
adoption of amendments in the United States. There are 
seventeen states who have submitted fewer amendments 
than Wyoming. Delaware is the only state which does not 
submit proposed amendments to the voters at all; feder- 



alism's looseness allows them this procedure. In the time 
period of their own statehood, however, Alabama has sub- 
mitted 656, while adopting 452; California submitted 756, 
adopting 449; South Dakota submitted 347, and adopted 
174; Montana, meanwhile has submitted only seventeen 
and adopted ten. 

Wyoming's constitution is 31,800 words long, and that 
is usually considered to be too long and wordy. Alabama's, 
however, is 174,000 words long (the longest); Colorado's 
is 45,679; Oklahoma, which has done much legislating 
by constitution, has 68,800 words in theirs; meanwhile, 
the shortest are Vermont's with 6,600 and New Hamp- 
shire's with 9,200 words. 

A few examples of 1986-87 state constitutional amend- 
ments: California adopted a declaration making English 
the official state language; Utah abolished the office of 
Superintendent of Public Instruction — this is predictable 
from a state which spends the least amount per pupil in 
the nation; Oklahoma finally abolished their poll tax; Mis- 
sissippi finally required the legislature to provide for the 
support of public schools and to set up a trust fund for 

Wyoming began its political and cultural life as a ter- 
ritory organized in 1869 and by then it had already, tech- 
nically, been governed by Great Britain, France, Spain, 
Mexico, and the Texas Republic as well as the United 
States. It had also been answerable to ten different terri- 
tories of the United States. A large part in the north of 
the territory was subject to federal treaties with Indian 
tribes (which is why northern settlement was always slower 
than the rest of the state). The federal government had 
army forts and installations within its borders that were 
not under state control. Well over half of the land was 
still owned by the federal government and was not avail- 
able for state taxation or control. The only governments 
that had directly dealt with Wyoming were their last ter- 
ritory overlords, Utah and Dakota. Utah's law as it 
applied to Wyoming was now finally, expressly forbid- 
den by the U.S. Government and Dakota had been try- 
ing hard to rid themselves of Wyoming because it was 
on its way to becoming the loudest, most politically power- 
ful part of the old territory. All of this did not add up to 
a light hearted beginning. There was animosity with the 
federal government and distrust of about everything else. 

Wyoming began as U.S. territory in 1868 under Presi- 
dent Andrew Johnson who had lost any national man- 
date he might have inherited and who had no popular sup- 
port. Wyoming's entry into the U.S. even had to In- 
postponed, and then two years later it was almost post- 
poned indefinitely. Wyoming became a state in 1890 

under President Benjamin Harrison who had not even 
won the popular vote of the American people (47.8%) and 
who was not reelected for a second term. Wyoming began 
with an 1889 state constitution which was "extra legal," 
that is, it had no official federal sanction because the con- 
vention had not been requested by the U.S. government; 
Territorial Governor Francis E. Warren had simply called 
it into being, betting that the Congress would consider 
it in any event and earn an early admission into the Union 
— he was right. Wyoming had served a long apprentice- 
ship as a dependent territory with second-class citizenship. 

Another disturbing phenomena with which to start 
statehood was that although our political leaders might 
be rushing to statehood, the people's ratification in 1889 
of the constitution was a show of voter apathy; the total 
turnout was 8,195. The state's constitution went forward 
with only 6,272 people having voted for it. The last ter- 
ritorial election had shown twice that number of voters, 
but, generally, there was low participation throughout the 
territorial period. That is contrasted with the compara- 
tively high voting percentages in the recent twentieth 

Then there was the comic farce played out in 1892 
with the state's second elected governor. Francis E. War- 
ren, who won the first election for governor, only kept 
the job for forty-five days, October 1 1, 1890, to Novem- 
ber 24, 1890. He resigned and accepted the election by 
the state legislature for U.S. senator (U.S. senators were 
not yet elected by the people). The secretary of the state, 
Amos Barber, replaced Warren as governor since Wyo- 
ming has never had a lieutenant-governor position. In any 
event, we had the first elected governor resigning, leav- 
ing the people unsure of just where the power was, and 
in the process, beginning an unfortunate pattern of gover- 
nors resigning and taking appointment or election to the 
U.S. Senate (this process has happened live separate 
times). But this move by Warren was not nearly so dis- 
tasteful nor destructive to the state's image as the trans- 
fer of the governor's chair from Barber to John E. 
Osborne. Actually, it was the physical occupation of the 
office that was in contention. Once again, the Democrats 
were seen to be the party of disruption, disorganization, 
and general shabbiness; they seemed determined not to 
make themselves the state's political party of choice. 

Osborne, the Democrat, seemed to have- won the 1892 
election even though the results took a month to canvass 
and tabulate. Osborne, anxious to assert his authority, 
marched into the governor's office on the morning of 
December 2, 1892, after having a boy crawl on an out- 
side ledge, climb in the window, and open the door; 



FALL 1990 

Barber also showed up for work. They both began to issue 
proclamations and, like Martin Luther and the Pope, the 
two governors excommunicated one another. Osborne's 
friends carried in dinner and candles (no electricity yet) 
and the police were on guard. The next morning, a Satur- 
day, he accused the state's county clerks of a conspiracy. 
Finally, the state supreme court ruled that Barber was still 
governor until January 2, 1893, so on that day Osborne 
took the oath again and finally took full possession of the 
office . 

Osborne was a doctor in Rawlins who had been mayor 
and had served one term in the territorial legislature. He 
also had acted as coroner in 1881 when a mob of vigilantes 
hanged killer "Big Nose George" Parrott; he had the men 
hang him twice to make sure he was dead and then made 
shoes and a pouch from George's skin. 

Osborne declined nomination in 1896 and was elected 
to the U.S. House of Representatives. For decorum, style, 
taste, and what appeared to most of the state as weird and 
alien "populist" politics, his term was not an auspicious 
beginning for the new state. 

Continuities would include the fact that Wyoming 
began as the least populous territory in 1869-70; people 
were still the scarcest in 1880 and we are still the state 
with the lowest population in the nation. The population 
today is less than at least twenty-five individual cities in 
America, and is a little less than Helsinki, Finland. The 
territory began with agriculture not being very important 
to the area's economy and, even though there has been 
large changes through the years, agriculture only amounts 
to 3% of the state's valuation in 1990. However, show- 
ing continuity ever since 1871 when cattle first became 
important to the state, agriculture's political representa- 
tion in the legislature is still disproportionately high. In 
the 1990 state Senate, ranchers are chairman of four of 
the ten standing committees; in the House, ranchers chair 
seven of the ten committees; rancher and farmer over- 
representation in the Cowboy State has not changed much 
over one hundred years. 

Mining was important then (gold in South Pass and 
coal along the route of the Union Pacific) and industrial 
mining is still prominent today. Mining and minerals 
make up 75% of the states's valuation; Wyoming is the 
nation's largest coal producer, sixth largest in oil; the state 
has more trona (soda ash) and bentonite than any state 
or nation on earth. 

The railroad was key to Wyoming then and it still 
is. The Union Pacific as well as interstate highways both 
enable us and force us into the transportation role Wyo- 

ming has assumed since the days of the Oregon Trail, 
the thoroughfare and mainstreet of America. 

The military and its large federal expenditures on 
forts, materials, payrolls, and public work projects were 
an indispensable part of the early Wyoming economy, and 
it still is; Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and its mis- 
sile silos are essential to Cheyenne's economy. Federal 
construction across the state, from post offices to "Fed- 
eral Buildings" have provided much needed employment. 
The massive amount of federal funds for highways, dam 
projects, and irrigation systems are absolutely crucial to 
the way the state has developed. The cheap grazing fees 
ranchers still pay for the use of federal lands amounts to 
a direct subsidy. Wyoming began its grazing history by 
being able to use these lands free, and without that great 
subsidy many of our large ranches would never have got- 
ten a start. Wyoming owes a great historical debt to the 
federal government and its purposeful development of the 
area's people and resources. In this year of celebration 
and acknowledgment that partnership should be recog- 

There were no official "urban" settlements in 1869-70 
and right now Cheyenne and Casper are busily trying to 
find ways to manipulate the census in order to demon- 
strate that one of them is the state's only urban center 
and therefore eligible for more federal funds. 

Politically, we began with a legislatively-elected "dele- 
gate" to the U.S. Congress who had no vote in its proceed- 
ings. In 1890 we got one congressman (Clarence D. Clark) 
even though, by virtue of real population, we did not even 
meet the formula for one representative. Today, with 
Craig Thomas, that is still the case. The foresight of the 
U.S. Constitution said each state gets at least one 
representative — federalism in action once again. 

The Organic Act of 1868 was specifically written so 
as to encourage immigration and business development 
in the new area; in 1990, Wyoming just amended its laws 
and its constitution (amendments passed in 1988 and 1986) 
to make the climate more attractive, and as the secretary 
of state said, "make Wyoming more business-friendly." 

Wyoming has no income tax on businesses (only four 
states in the nation have no corporate income tax), no 
inventory tax, no tax on goods in transit or those made 
for out-of-state sales, the lowest per capita taxes in the 
nation (except for Alaska), and there are only three states 
which have a lower property tax than Wyoming. This 
state's taxes on beer are the lowest in the U.S.; the tax 
on "hard liquor" is also the lowest in the nation (ninety- 
five cents per gallon whereas the U.S. average is $2.67 
per gallon); Wyoming has the second lowest gasoline tax 



(after Georgia). All this is meant to have the effect of 
preserving a high profile tourist industry. Both the fed- 
eral government and a state can enforce these kinds of 
taxes, and that is another aspect of federalism. 

A low percentage of native-born (especially Wyo- 
ming-born) people inhabited Wyoming in territorial days, 
and that is still true. In 1870, the American-born popu- 
lation was 61% of Wyoming's total; 3% were born in 
Wyoming. The foreign-born in the 1870 census were 
3,513 with Ireland the leading country of human export. 
Native American Indians were ignored in the 1870 census. 

Wyoming has been a high migrant state throughout 
its history — residents from other states — and low in native 
Wyomingites. In 1988, natives of the state were only 
38.4% of the state's population, the fifth lowest percen- 
tage in the U.S. In 1900, for instance, only 21% of the 
population was born here. There was a tremendous turn- 
over of population in early territorial history. Of the men 

John E. Osborne served as Wyoming's governor from 1893 until l('i') r >. 

who were here in 1870, only one in thirteen was still here 
in 1880. In 1985 there were 33,019 people who moved 
out of the state, but 25,127 moved in, for a net "out- 
migration" of 7,892. Overall out-migration from 1980-87 
was 42,387 persons. Wyoming is now first in the nation 
with the largest decline in population. 

The state's current investigation into whether to have 
another men's prison has turned into a debate in many 
communities. The wrangling and jousting between towns 
for even such a dubious development as this was there 
from the start. The Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary was 
built in Laramie in 1872 (eleven of the prison's forty-four 
convicts escaped in the first sixteen months of operation). 
The 1879 session of the legislature decided to continue 
a practice begun a few years earlier of using the Nebraska 
prison rather than pay the federal government at Laramie. 
In 1888, the prison was moved to Rawlins as part of a 
compromise to keep the university at Laramie. From that 
time to 1978, when a constitutional amendment was 
passed, it was not even legal to build a state penitentiary 
"outside the corporate limits of the City of Rawlins." 

The Native American Indian population was not large 
in early days and it is not now. At statehood, for exam- 
ple, there were 1,850 Indian people by official count (prob- 
ably low), with a few more Arapaho than Shoshone. 
Today, there are about 7,125 or about 1.5% of the state's 
population. The state ranks thirty-ninth (after Alabama) 
among all the states who have an Indian population. There 
are about one and a half million Indian people in America, 
and the highest number is in California with 201 ,31 1 ; the 
lowest is in Vermont with 984. There are still more 
Arapaho than Shoshone on the Wind River Reservation, 
even though the reservation was initially established as 
a Shoshone reservation by treaty in 1868. 

A celebration of Wyoming's history and legacy would 
be incomplete and unfinished without a recognition of the 
Indian people living within its borders. As non-Indians 
ponder their one hundred years here Indians ponder their 
more than one hundred years in the same area. Their 
celebration of Wyoming's Centennial cannot be the same 
as for non-Indians. Theirs is a celebration of survival! 
They have endured, and after a fashion, prospered when 
odds were against them. 

Wyoming should be able to empathize with this over- 
arching truth. Wyoming has a long cultural memory of 
its own fragility, as in 1871 when its very existence was 
almost extinguished and even 1890, when Congress 
thought they might have made a mistake. Wyoming's 
defensivencss and its touchiness to outside- "interference" 
is usually symbolized be the federal government and it 



FALL 1990 

The old— McDonalds Coal 
Mine in Big Horn County. 

strip mining at 

the Arch Mineral coal 

operation in Hanna. 



is historically understandable. The irony is that the 
Indian's preoccupations, past and present, are exactly the 
same. They know just as surely that Congress can take 
their land away. Indian and non-Indian concerns in 
Wyoming are parallel but still their relations are conten- 
tious and their problems are seen to be of different sorts. 
They are not. 

The most successful and durable of Wyoming's states- 
men have been those who could best "fetch" — could bring 
federal subsidies, grants, royalties, and favorable policies 
home to the state; Indian people are trying to do precisely 
the same thing. This is federalism at its most painful. The 
Indians on their reservation in Wyoming do not trust the 
state nor the federal government and we can hardly blame 
them. The state in the past continually demanded that 
the size of the reservation be reduced; it was, three differ- 
ent times! They asked that land within the reservation be 
made available for non-Indian settlement; it was. A recog- 
nition of Indian struggles for their own existence, 

sovereignty, and self-government can be a positive step 
for both cultures. If we have the wisdom to listen, the com- 
panion solutions of both goverment's problems can bring 
Wyoming into the new age of the twenty-first century. 

We are talking about the preservation of cultures; per- 
sistent cultures, Indian and non-Indian alike, have their 
own identity systems — their own symbols of themselves, 
and that is not the romantic image of the eaglefeathered 
war bonnet or the tipi, the painted horse, and coup stick. 
Ironically, it is the reservation that is emblematic; they 
did not want it at first but it is now all they have left of 
a homeland — their state, if you will. They will not relin- 
quish the borders of the reservation, water rights, legal 
jurisdiction on the reservation, oil and gas royalties, the 
sovereignty of their land. That is the new reality of 1990. 

States such as Wyoming have not quite got used to 
the fact that Indians on a reservation have separate legal 
status under the U.S. Constitution. They are truly nations 
within a nation. They were not "given" a reservation, 

This photograph, taken on the Wind River Reservation ca. 1935, was tilled "Evidence of Prosperity. " 



FALL 1990 

the reservation is what remained after the rest of their land 
was taken — it was federally "reserved" for them. They 
were freely given only diseases, alcoholism, poverty, and 

The reservation in Wyoming, for instance, is not 
Wyoming land and it does not fall under Wyoming 
authority nor jurisdiction. Indians living there are not 
"Wyoming Indians." At the time of the U.S. Constitu- 
tion, before Wyoming was Wyoming, the states gave up 
sovereignty over Indian tribes. Just as with a contract, 
Wyoming's leaders might well have read the small print. 
There is no inherent power in any one of the states to deal 
with Indians at all. Indians have "nation-to-nation" status 
with the federal government and the states. When 1990 
state officials are wrangling with the tribes over water 
rights given to Indians in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme 
Court, they are not speaking to a body with less authority 
and power, but to a co-equal, separate "nation." And 
when the state asks them to "cooperate" and "com- 
promise," they are really asking for a compact, just as 
they would have to do with other states. That realization 
of status has not yet penetrated. Their sovereignty does 
not give them immunity, however. They are still subject 
to federal, state, and local taxes. They are subject to the 
same laws and have the same rights as other U.S. citizens. 
Congress does not act as guardian of individual Indians 
any differently than it does for any other citizen. Full 
citizenship in the nation and the state for the Indians was 
confirmed as long ago as 1924; the act of Congress also 
provided for "dual citizenship" — citizens of a tribe. Indian 
people are still dependent on the federal government for 
operating funds, but those funds are so minimal as to leave 
more than 50% of all American Indians in absolute 
poverty; Indians have the highest percentage of poverty 
of any group in the United States. 

There is still a popular misunderstanding that Indian 
tribes receive handouts from the government; they do not. 
There is no truck which rolls up to the reservation and 
dumps off money and trade blankets. Most Indians in 
Wyoming and elsewhere are unemployed, poor, sick, and 
old. The 1989 monthly tribal per capita payment for the 
sale of oil on their reservation was one hundred dollars. 

The Indians on the Wind River Reservation in 
Wyoming experience: 71% unemployment; 75% of the 
people earn less than $10,000 per year, 46% earn noth- 
ing. Average family income as of October, 1988, was 
$6,277. Indian people on reservations throughout the U.S. 
have the lowest life expectancy, highest suicide rate, 
highest infant mortality rate, and highest rate of diabetes 
(about 50% of the population at Wind River suffer from 

diabetes) of any racial group in the U.S. They also have 
the highest rates of heart disease, liver disease, pneumo- 
nia, tuberculosis, chickenpox, and alcoholism. 

The 1990 controversy over the Medicine Wheel in the 
Big Horn Mountains is rather a synecdoche for Indian- 
White relations, it represents all the questions of Indian 
rights, religion and sacred geography, the interlaced cob- 
web of federal government agencies and non-Indian com- 
munity boosters. The small road sign by the Wheel that 
points toward "Indian Relics" is an emblem of the times. 
Indian people do not see themselves as relics nor do they 
view their prehistoric artifacts as curiosities. 

The dream of the future for American Indians is not 
the same as the American Dream. That is going to be 
the trick of the federal system and of Wyoming culture, 
to see if two separate dreams within the same framework 
can be accommodated. The mainstream American Dream 
is still one of individual achievement and success. The 
Indian dream is a collectivist one, and not even neces- 
sarily economic. That is a difficult concept to grasp for 
a nation which defines itself by its commerce. Ethnic 
groups have tested American tolerance before, and Wyom- 
ing has a long troubled history with minorities. Now the 
state is facing a group with their own source of power. 
In 1990, after one hundred years of bristling distrust, it 
is a time for mutual cultural awareness. 

Roy A. Jordan has co-authored a textbook,. Discovering Wyoming, 1989; 
published Wyoming: Centennial Bibliography (1988); "Wyoming's His- 
tory and Its Common Culture" in Centennial West, Montana Historical Soci- 
ety, 1989; "Myth and the American West, " in American Renaissance and 
American West (1982); "The Politics of a Cowboy Culture" in Annals 
of Wyoming (1980); his book reviews have been published in The Historian, 
Journal of the West, Journal of the Southwest, and the Annals of Wyo- 
ming. Jordan is now completing A Wyoming Atlas. He is a native of Wyo- 
ming, born on a ranch near Ten Sleep. 




Brosz, Donald J., Christopulos, George L., and Jacobs, James J. 
"Wyoming Water Law: A Summary." Agricultural Extension 
Service, B-849, August 1985. 

Wyoming Population and Employment Forecast Report. Prepared by Steve 
Furtney. Cheyenne: Department of Administration and Fiscal 
Control, Research and Statistics Division, 10th ed., January 1988. 

Christopulos, George L. (compiler). Compacts, Treaties, and Court Decrees: 
. Documents on the Use of Wyoming's Interstate Streams. Cheyenne: State 
Engineer, 1957, 1982. 

Wyoming Sales and Use Tax Revenue Report. Cheyenne: Department of 
Administration and Fiscal Control, Research and Statistics Divi- 
sion, 1989. 

Journal and Debates of the Wyoming Constitutional Convention of the State of 
Wyoming: Begun at the City of Cheyenne on September 2, 1889, and Con- 
cluded September 30, 1889. Cheyenne: Daily Sun, Book and Job 
Printing, 1893. 

Proposed Amendments to the Wyoming State Constitution, 1890-1984. 
Cheyenne: Secretary of State, 1984. (As updated: 1890-1988, 
Kathy Karpan, Secretary of State). 

United States. Census Office. 9th Census, 1870. Wyoming Territory. 
Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1925. 

The Book of States, 1988-1989 edition, vol. 27. The Council of State 
Governments, Lexington, Kentucky, 1988. 

Trenholm, Virginia Cole, ed. Wyoming Blue Book: Reprint of part one 
and two of the Wyoming Historical Blue Book by Marie Erwin. 
Cheyenne: Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department, 

1974, 3 vols. 

Wyoming Official Directory 1989. Compiled by Kathy Karpan, Secre- 
tary of State. 

Neil, William MacFarlane. "The Territorial Governor in the Rocky 
Mountain West, 1861-1889." Ph.D. dissertation. University of 
Chicago, 1951. 

Woods, Lawrence Milton. "The Evolution of Wyoming Territorial 
Legislation, 1869-1890." Ph.D. dissertation, New York Univer- 
sity, 1975. 

Bartlett, I.S. History of Wyoming. 3 vols. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1918. 

Adolescent Health in Wyoming 1988. The Governor's Teenage Pregnancy 
Task Force. 

"Teen Pregnancy — Some Information." Compiled by Charlotte 
Patrick, Northwest Community College, for the Wyoming Com- 
mission for Women. Cheyenne, 1987. 

Wyoming Compiled Statutes Annotated 1910 (Compiled by William E. 
Mullen, Attorney General). 

"Fiscal Facts and Figures, #4." Prepared by the Wyoming Legisla- 
tive Service Office. Cheyenne, March 6, 1986. 

Profile: State of Wyoming. Cheyenne: Economic Development and Stabili- 
zation Board, September 1986. 

State Auditor. Annual Financial Report. Cheyenne: Office of Wyoming 
State Auditor, 1989. 

Bakken, Gordon Morris. The Development of Law on the Rocky Mountain 
Frontier, Civil Law and Society, 1850-1912. Westport: Greenwood 
Press, 1983. 

Bakken, Gordon Morris. "Voting Patterns in the Wyoming Constitu- 
tional Convention, 1889." Annals of Wyoming, 42 (October 1970): 

Baldwin, Andrew. "New Tribal Code: Change Will Affect Broad 
Range of Laws." The Wyoming Lawyer. 10 (December 1987): 

State Engineer. Annual Report. Cheyenne: Office of Wyoming State 
Engineer, 1989 (for the fiscal year July 1, 1988 through June 30 

>rown, Robert Harold. "Political Party Preferences in the Rockv 
Mountain Region." Rocky Mountain Geographical Journal. 7 (April 
1978): 154-11)1. 

State ul Wyoming. Annual Report. Cheyenne: Department of Admin- 
istration and Fiscal Control, Research and Statistics Division, 

Campbell, John A. "Governor John A. Campbell's Diarv. 
1869-1875." Annals of Wyoming. 10 (January 1938): 5-11; ( ^pril 

1938): 59-78; (July 1938): 120-143: (October 1938): 155-185. 

United States Solicitor for the Department of the Interior. Federal Indian 
Law. Washington, D.C., 1958. (Reprinted New York, 1966). 

( lardoso, Lawrence A. Mexican Emigration to the I 'nited States, 189 19 U 
Socio- Economic Patterns. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. [980. 

Unites States Commission on ( livil Rights. American Indian Civil Rights 
Handbook. March 1972. 

Collins. Richard B. "Indian Allotment Water Rights." Land and Wate 
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FALL 1990 

Gressley, Gene M. "Colonialism: A Western Complaint." Pacific 
Northwest Quarterly. 54 (1963): 1-8. 

Hardaway, Roger D. "Prohibiting Interracial Marriage: Miscegen- 
ation Laws in Wyoming." Annals of Wyoming. 52 (Spring 1980): 

Gerking, Shelby D., and Yost, Steven K. Economic Development and 
Diversification Strategies for Wyoming. Laramie: Department of Eco- 
nomics, University of Wyoming, July 1987. 

Larson, T.A. History of Wyoming. 2nd ed. Lincoln: University of 
Nebraska Press, 1978. 

Gould, Lewis L. Wyoming: A Political History, 1868-1896. New Haven: 
Yale University Press, 1968. 

Larson, T.A. "Woman Suffrage in Wyoming." Pacific Northwest Quart- 
erly. 56 (1965): 57-66. 

Hendrickson, Gordon Olaf, ed. Peopling the High Plains: Wyoming's Euro- 
pean Heritage. Cheyenne: Wyoming State Archives and Histori- 
cal Department, 1977. 

Jordan, Roy A. and Miller, Tim R. "The Politics of a Cowboy Cul- 
ture." Annals of Wyoming. 52 (Spring 1980): 40-45. 

Larson, T.A. "Petticoats at the Polls: Woman Suffrage in Territorial 
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Co., 1987. 


The Air Corps, Air Mail 
and Cheyenne in 1934 

by Gerald M. Adams 


Peo/>fc gathered at the Cheyenne airport on April I 1 ), /')'>4, to inspect the Army Air Corps airplanes used to carry air mail Jot several months 
during J 934. The main attraction was the Martin B-10 bomber which had just been christened "Wyoming. " The aircraft in the upper left is 
a Douglas B-7 twin-engine bomber and lower right is a Boeing P-12 pursuit plane 



FALL 1990 

Air mail service across the nation seemed to be doing 
just fine in early 1934. United Air Lines had the east-west 
air mail contract with eight modern Boeing 247 twin 
engine transport planes arriving and departing Cheyenne 
daily, carrying air mail and up to ten passengers in com- 
fort. A six cent air mail stamp would send a letter from 
New York City to San Francisco in twenty-four hours. 
A three cent stamp would deliver a letter by rail over the 
same route in four days. 

Earlier, when the Post Office Department's transcon- 
tinental Air Mail Service commenced operation from the 
newly established Cheyenne Airport on September 8, 
1920, single engine wood and fabric DH-4 aircraft, left 
over from World War I, flew the air mail by day and gave 
it to the railroad to travel by night. The collection and 
movement of mail had long been mostly a nighttime func- 
tion, and by 1924 the Air Mail Service had started flying 
the air mail by day and night. 

To provide financial support and encouragement to 
civil aviation, the Post Office Department opted in 1926 
to have civilian airlines carry the air mail. A contract with 
Boeing Air Transport put that newly-formed branch of 
Boeing Aircraft in Seattle to carrying air mail over the 
Chicago-to-San Francisco leg of the transcontinental route. 
Other emerging airlines received contracts to fly air mail 
for other parts of the national air mail route network. 
Wyoming expected to see more airports in the state as 
a result of the Post Office Department's move, as well 
as a significant increase in air travel. 

Boeing Air Transport flew the new Boeing single 
engine B-40, a plane developed and manufactured by the 
Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle, capable of carrying 
air mail and four paying passengers. Boeing soon devel- 
oped larger and faster planes for their air transport sister 
company starting with the tri-engine B-80 and the twin- 
engine B-247. In the early 1930s several airlines, includ- 
ing Boeing, formed a holding company named United Air 
Lines. 1 This grouping permitted a more centralized oper- 
ation of a larger segment of the airline business to include 
air mail contracts. In 1934 Boeing Air Transport still had 
their name in many places at the Cheyenne Municipal 
Airport, but the United name would soon stand alone. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce Aeronautical 
Branch listed in early 1934 twenty-eight landing fields in 

Wyoming with Cheyenne's being the biggest and best. 2 
The people of Cheyenne were very proud of their city's 
important role as an aviation center and had established 
a first class airport equipped with all the aids and ameni- 
ties. The Department of Commerce, supervisor of all civil 
aviation activities, approved a plan submitted by the 
Cheyenne mayor and council to oil the three long and 
wide municipal airport runways. 3 Wyoming Air Service, 
headquartered in Casper, had the Billings-to-Cheyenne 
air mail route contract as well as the Cheyenne-to-Pueblo 
route. Then on February 9, 1934, and without warn- 
ing, this headline appeared: "ALL AIRMAIL CON- 
THE PRESIDENT." President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
announced at his regular afternoon press conference that 
he had sufficient evidence of collusion or fraud and had, 
therefore, canceled all domestic air mail contracts and 
given Postmaster General James Farley authority to use 
army planes to haul the air mail. The president also 
directed the secretaries of War and Commerce to put all 
their facilities at the disposal of the Post Office Depart- 
ment to expedite the array's flying of the air mail. 4 

Earlier Farley had recommended to the president that 
air mail contract cancellation be effective June 1, thereby 
avoiding an air mail takeover by the government and 
allowing the postmaster general time to advertise for bids 
and negotiate new contracts with the airlines. Roosevelt 
would have none of that and made the cancellation 
announcement that afternoon to be effective in ten days, 
February 19. 5 

Major General Benjamin Foulois, Chief of the Army 
Air Corps, had assured an administration official on the 
morning of February 9, that the air corps could carry out 
the mission of flying the nation's air mail. Without a clear 
understanding of the enormity of the task or an opportu- 
nity to study it, and expecting adequate time to plan and 
prepare, Foulois had committed the air corps. Factors 
influencing the general's quick reply included organiza- 
tional pride and a desire to further the interests of the air 
corps. 6 

Frank J. Taylor, High Horizons: The United Air Lines Story 
(New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1962), p. 83. 
The lour companies forming United Air Lines were National Air 
Transport, Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, and Var- 
ney Air Lines. 

2. Wyoming State Tribune-Chcycnnc State Leader, January 12, 1934, 
]>. 10. Hereafter referred to as Tribune-Leader. 

3. Tribune-Leader, February 8, 1934, p. 1. 

4. Tribune-Leader, February 9, 1934, p. 1. 

5. John F. Shiner, Foulois and the U.S. Army Air Corps, 1931-1935 
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983), 
pp. 125-128. 

(>. Ibid. Also see Page Shamburger, Tracks Across the Sky: The Story 
of Ihr Pioneers of the U.S. Air Mail (New York: J.B. Lippincott 



The day following, General Douglas MacArthur, 
Chief of Staff of the Army, held his own press conference 
after being advised by Foulois what had taken place the 
day before. MacArthur said "We will start flying the air 
mail a week from today and there will be no delay, no 
difficulty and no interruption." About seventeen hundred 
planes were available, according to MacArthur, and some 
nine hundred observation and cargo planes would be used 
initially with one hundred of the nation's speediest bomb- 
ing planes held in instant readiness. He also suggested 
that flying the air mail would not be a permanent army 
task. Air mail contracts provided half of the revenue for 
all the nation's airlines, and more in the case of special 
contractors. 7 

In Cheyenne many agreed the air corps would not 
fly the air mail for long. However, the feeling persisted 
that Roosevelt had acted too hastily and the airlines might 
be back carrying the air mail soon. The manager of the 
Boeing Division of United Airlines Operations in 
Cheyenne, Frank G. Caldwell, announced on February 
12, that passenger service would be maintained through 
Cheyenne even though revenue would be significantly 
reduced without the air mail contract. 8 

The air corps also announced that day that Lt. Colonel 
Henry H. "Hap" Arnold would command western air 
mail operations with headquarters in Salt Lake City. With 
just seven days to go to the start date of February 19, the 
air corps feverishly hurried to get ready for the biggest 
challenge it had faced. Air corps planners divided the 
nation into three zones for purposes of operating the air 
mail system with eastern, central, and western zones. 9 The 
Cheyenne Airport would serve as a key point in the west- 
ern zone. Initially service would be restricted to the main 
route coast-to-coast, plus principal north-south routes. 
Feeder and spur lines would not be started until later. 

On February 14 a Cheyenne newspaper headline 
Captain Bernard T. Castor had arrived in Cheyenne from 
March Field, California, and taken charge of the grow- 
ing air corps contingent at the Cheyenne Airport. Soon 
after arrival, Castor announced that single-engine Cur- 
tis A- 12 attack planes would be used to carry the air mail 
east and west from Cheyenne. The plane had two cock- 
pits for the pilot and gunner, and air mail would be car- 
ried in the gunner's cockpit. The smaller single-cockpit 
pursuit planes, capable of carrying two hundred pounds 

Company, 1964), p. 153. Shamburger wrote that Foulois was 
called to the White House on the morning of February 9 and asked 
by Roosevelt if the Army Air Corps could do the job. Shiner, and 
others, maintain that Foulois did not talk to Roosevelt, but to 
an assistant to Farley, Harllee Branch. 
Tribune-Leader, February 10, 1934, p. 1. 
Tribune-Leader, February 12, 1934, p. 1. 

H.H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: Harper & Row Pub- 
lishers Inc., 1949), p. 143. Arnold rose to five star rank during 
World War II as Chief of the Army Air Forces and as a member 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Combined Chiefs of Staff. The 
Army Air Corps became the Army Air Forces in 1942 and then 
the U.S. Air Force in 1947. 
Tribune-Leader, February 14, 1934, p. 1. 

The Curtis A- 12 attack plane served as 
an early work horse from Cheyenne cast 
and west in the first few weeks of the air 
corps carrying the air mail during Febru- 
ary, 1934. The rear open cockpit held the 
mail bags. . Ifter the Martin B-10 bomb- 
ers were introduced on the Cheyenne-to- 
Oakland route in April 1934, the A- 1 2s 
were relegated to the safer Chcycnnc-to- 
Omnha route. 



FALL 1990 

This Douglas B-7 twin-engine bomber 
had engine trouble and had to make an 
emergency landing while carrying air mail 
during 1934 between Salt Lake City and 
Cheyenne. Air corps mechanics are seen 
repairing the bomber so it could take off 
from its desert location and continue carry- 
ing the mail. 

of mail, although for only short distances, would be used 
on the north-south routes from Cheyenne. None of the 
United equipment, personnel, or servicing facilities would 
be used by the air corps, according to Castor. 

Another article in the February 14 edition of the 
Cheyenne newspaper echoed the sentiments of many vet- 
eran military and civil aviation pilots with this heading: 
"Doubt Army Ships Can Do Mail Job." 11 A group of 
air corps pilots at Crissy Field, California, had told a 
reporter "unofficially" that army planes were not 
equipped for night and all-weather flying, an important 
requisite for carrying the air mail. The pilots also told the 
reporter that the most troublesome part of the entire route 
would be the one from Cheyenne to the West Coast. 

Three days before the scheduled February 19 air corps 
takeover of the air mail routes, planes were in place at 
the Cheyenne Airport with pilots and mechanics ready 
to go. Support equipment such as refueling trucks, tow- 
ing tractors, and aircraft-mechanic tools were still arriv- 
ing. The schedule called for twelve east-west planes per 
day, six Curtis A- 12 attack planes to go east from 
Cheyenne and six west, and one round trip flight from 
Cheyenne to Pueblo in a Boeing single-engine P-12 
biplane fighter. This amounted to six more A- 12 planes 
on the air corps schedule than United had flown Boeing 
247s on the Chicago-to-San Francisco route. Pilot changes 
would be made at Cheyenne and Salt Lake City. 12 

Two days before entering the air corps takeover of 
the air mail, this headline reported the first of several dis- 
asters which would plague the air corps for years: 
WEST OF CHEYENNE." 13 Actually, the accidents were 
quite a ways west of Cheyenne. Lieutenants Jean D. 
Grenier and E.D. White crashed in their Curtis A- 12 near 
Oakley, Utah, on a flight to Cheyenne, and Lieutenant 
J.V. Eastham crashed a twin engine Douglas B-7 bomb- 
er near Jerome, Utah. Both aircraft were from March 
Field. Bad weather contributed to the cause of the acci- 
dents, as did the absence of proper instruments in the 
planes and lack of all-weather flying experience on the 
part of the pilots. America's most famous pilot, Eddie 
Rickenbacker, then a vice president of Eastern Air Lines, 
called the accidents "legalized murder," a phrase the press 
would use often. Rickenbacker added: "They [air corps 
pilots] have been thrown into service without proper 
knowledge or instruction, without proper equipment in 
planes, and without the knowledge of blind flying, and 
without knowledge of the routes they are to fly." 14 

11. Tribune-Leader, February 14, 1934, p. 8. 

12. Tribune-Leader, February 15, p. 1; February 16, 1934, p. 1. 

13. Tribune-Leader, February 17, 1934, p. 1. Also see DeWitt Copp, 
A Few Great Captains.- 'The Men and Events that Shaped the Development 
of U.S. Air Power (New York: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1980), 
p. 184. 

14. Tribune-Leader, February 19, 1934, p. 1. 



On the evening of February 18, the last day of civilian 
airlines flying the air mail, Rickenbacker and Jack Frye, 
a vice president of Trans World Airlines (TWA), per- 
formed a record-setting event and public relations sur- 
prise of some magnitude. They piloted a new Douglas 
twin-engine DC-2 transport cross-country from Los 
Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, carrying air mail and 
a party of newsmen. Making only four refueling stops, 
the new DC-2 transport covered the distance in a record 
shattering thirteen hours and five minutes flying time. 15 
The army air corps would still assume responsibility for 
flying the air mail on schedule, February 19, but Rick- 
enbacker and Frye had made a point and demonstrated 
to the country the superiority of civilian air mail opera- 
tions over what would follow. 

Bad weather grounded most of the air corps air mail 
flights that first day. Snow, sleet, fog, and just plain poor 
visibility grounded everything in the eastern zone. 
Southern and western zone planes were only able to fly 
in spots. Rock Springs, Wyoming, was the western 
extremity of service. Only two westbound air corps planes 
that had taken off from Omaha arrived at Cheyenne with 
air mail. 16 The first plane to arrive, piloted by Lieutenant 
Edward N. Backus, had left Omaha the night of Febru- 
ary 19, and arrived in Cheyenne early dawn Tuesday, 
February 20. 17 Backus was one of nineteen pilots and eigh- 
teen enlisted men stationed at the Cheyenne Airport at 
that time. The bulk of the air mail on the transcontinen- 

tal air mail route that first day also found more air mail 
than usual. Thousands of philatelists, anxious to have 
stamped envelopes from the first air corps air mail flight, 
had stuffed the boxes that day. 

It had been assumed in Cheyenne that there would 
be significant layoffs when United lost the air mail con- 
tract, not a heartening prospect in any community in the 
middle of the worst winter in memory. It was indeed good 
news to the readers of the announcement on February 20 
that, despite loss of the air mail contract, United intended 
to maintain a full passenger plane schedule to the forty- 
four cities and twenty states they served. The company 
also intended to keep their 1 ,450 employees at work, 220 
of which were located in Cheyenne. 18 United was the only 
major airline to keep their schedule intact and not lay off 
employees, a costly but wise move as it worked out. 

Severe winter flying weather continued to plague the 
air corps and the air mail schedule for the remainder of 
February and early March, contributing to delays and air- 
craft accidents. Only four days into the program, a head- 
line on February 23 read: "FIVE DEAD IN U.S. AIR 
MAIL EXCURSION." 19 There were additionally three 
pilots injured and a dozen cracked-up planes. 

The death of the two pilots who crashed taking off 
from the Cheyenne Airport on the night of March 9, in 
a Douglas 0-38E single-engine biplane, was followed by 
this headline: "ARMY AIR MAIL SERVICE IS 
REDUCED AFTER CRASH HERE." 20 Roosevelt cur- 

15. Copp, A Few Great Captains, p. 188. 

16. Tribune-Leader, February 20, 1934, pp. 1, 5. 

17. Tribune-Leader, February 22, 1934, p. 1. 

18. Tribune- Leader, February 20, 1934, p. 1. 

19. Tribune-Leader, February 23, 1934, p. 1. 

20. Tribune-Leader, March 10, 1934, p. 1. 

Lt. Arthur R. Kerwin, Jr. (below) 
graduated from West Point in 1931, and 
was a member of the first class to go 
through the air corps flying school. He was 
assigned to fly the air mail between 
Cheyenne and Salt Lake and died in the 
crash of a Douglas 0-38E near the 
Cheyenne airport during March, 1934. 
The Douglas 0-38E (right) enjoyed an 
excellent reputation, but two crashes that 
month grounded the plane. 



FALL 1990 

tailed air mail service and appointed a board to probe the 
cause of so many air corps aircraft accidents. He also 
advised Farley to open negotiations with the airlines for 
new air mail contracts. 

The pilots in the March 9 fatal crash at the Cheyenne 
Airport, Lieutenants Frank R. Howard, 27, and Arthur 
R. Kerwin, Jr., 28, were among the first February arrivals 
in Cheyenne. Coming from March Field, they had flown 
regular air mail runs to Salt Lake City in the Curtis A- 12. 
The twin cockpit Douglas 0-38E observation plane had 
been recently added to the air mail fleet at Cheyenne. 
Scheduled as a night familiarization flight to Salt Lake 
City with no air mail on board (no room for mail with 
a pilot in each cockpit), Howard in the front seat had the 
controls for the initial part of the flight. 21 Lieutenant Ber- 
nard A. Schriever, a good friend of Howard and Kerwin 
who had shared a taxi with them from the hotel to the 
airport, waited in his plane on the taxiway with the engine 
running for his friends to take off. He would follow them 
to Salt Lake City with a load of air mail. Schriever noted 
that Howard taxied directly from the air corps parking 
area in front of the hangars on Central Avenue to the half- 
way point of the runway and started his takeoff run to 
the northwest. Schriever planned to taxi to the end of the 
southeast-northwest runway and use the full length for 
takeoff. He expected Howard to do the same thing. 
Unable to gain sufficient flying speed, and with Schriever 
watching in horror, Howard and Kerwin crashed and 
burned five hundred feet from the Oscar Lamm farm 
home, and seven hundred feet from the northwest corner 
of the airport. Lamm was the first person on the scene, 
but the intensity of the fire prevented rescue. Schriever 
estimated that the 0-38E did not have enough power or 
runway to get safely airborne at Cheyenne's high altitude. 
Instead of flying to Salt Lake City that night as sched- 
uled, Schriever taxied back to the parking area, shut his 
plane down, returned to the hotel, and had a stiff drink. 22 

Colonel Arthur R. Kerwin, Sr., USA (Ret), Kerwin's 
father, had arrived in Cheyenne in 1919 as the first head 
of Cheyenne High School's newly established ROTC pro- 
gram. The senior Kerwin's poor health caused the Ker- 
wins to move to California in the mid 1920s and young 
Kerwin finished high school in Los Angeles. Both he and 
fellow pilot Howard, who hailed from Big Timber, Mon- 
tana, had graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, 
classes 1931 and 1932. Young Kerwin had been very happy 

to be back in Cheyenne seeing old friends and renewing 
acquaintances. 23 

Air mail operations remained at a standstill in 
Cheyenne for more than a week after the president's cur- 
tailing order of March 10. Another fatal crash occurred 
near Cheyenne on March 17 when Lieutenant H.G. 
Richardson, 25, hit the ground and burned in a Douglas 
0-38E three miles west of Cheyenne Airport and five 
hundred yards north of Happy Jack Road on Fort F.E. 
Warren. 24 A reserve officer, married and living in 
Cheyenne at 3420 Bent, Richardson had been called to 
active duty two days before to fly the air mail. This flight 
had been scheduled to familiarize him with the plane and 
bring him up to date with air corps procedures. He had 
previously been a United co-pilot until being laid-off in 
September. Since that time he had worked at the Crown 
Oil station at 18th and Capitol Avenue. 

On March 19 the air corps announced the resump- 
tion of air mail flights, but some changes had been 
introduced. There were some twenty-four air corps planes 
at the Cheyenne Airport in late March to fly the air mail. 
Safety first would now be the motto for all flights, and 
no night flights would be scheduled on the Cheyenne to 
Salt Lake City run until further notice. The air corps also 
planned to use the new twin-engine all-metal Martin B-10 
bomber on the Cheyenne-to-Salt Lake City run divert- 
ing the fleet of Curtis single engine A- 12 planes to the 
safer Cheyenne-to-Omaha run. The Martin B-10 could 
carry a much bigger load of air mail well above the highest 
mountains in Wyoming and Utah. The air corps had 
grounded all Douglas 0-38E planes after the March 17 
crash at Cheyenne until a thorough investigation could 
be conducted. 25 

A month after their arrival in mid-February, air corps 
officers and enlisted men at the Cheyenne Airport were 
still waiting for their per diem, or expense money. The 
fifteen pilots and thirty-nine enlisted men were due about 
nine thousand dollars. The air corps members at the 
Cheyenne Airport were more fortunate than most other 
contingents on temporary air mail duty in various parts 
of the country because they could draw on nearby Fort 
Warren for food, quarters, and other items if things got 
desperate. Still, a lot of credit had been extended by 
Cheyenne businesses to these temporary duty air corps 
members. The bill in Congress approving an expenditure 
of five dollars per diem for officers and enlisted men for 

21. Tribune-Leader, March 10, 1934, p. 1. 

T.L Copp, A /'hi: dral Captains, pp. 208-20'). 

23. Tribune-Leader, March 10, 1934, p. 1. 

24. Tribune-Leader, March 17, 1934, p. 1. 

25. Tribune-Leader, March 19, 1934, p. 1. 



every day away from home stations had been delayed. 
A newspaper article on March 29 announced that checks 
would arrive in a few days and members of the air corps 
would release about eighty-eight hundred dollars to local 
businessmen. 26 So creditors could relax, credit lines again 
would be reaffirmed, and faith in the U.S. Congress re- 
established. Still things had come a long way during the 
past forty years — then Congress paid the troops only three 
or four times per year. 

The formal introduction of the Martin B-10 bomber 
to the Cheyenne-to-Salt Lake City air mail run did not 
happen until April 19, but it happened in a big way. A 
christening ceremony at the Cheyenne Airport occurred 
that day with Vivian Plummer, the small daughter of Mr. 
and Mrs. Charles P. Plummer, dousing with champagne 
the nose of a B-10 bomber named "Wyoming." This 
plane would be based at Cheyenne. Participants in the 
ceremony included Wyoming Governor Leslie A. Miller 
in his American Legion hat, Fort Warren commandant 

Brigadier General Casper H. Conrad, and Cheyenne 
Mayor Archie Allison. The 20th Infantry Band from the 
fort, directed by Warrant Officer George Zeph, provided 
the music. A crowd of some five thousand were there to 
witness the event and to examine the bomber plus all the 
other twenty some air corps planes in Cheyenne carry- 
ing air mail. Stairs and ramps were placed at each type 
plane with air corps personnel there to explain the details. 
The christening arrangements and ceremony were under 
the auspices of the American Legion Francis E. Self 
Post #6. 27 

At the same time in Salt Lake City a similar ceremony 
christened a Martin B-10 bomber with the name "Utah," 
which also would fly the Cheyenne run. Both B-lOs, 
"Wyoming" and "Utah," would take off following the 
ceremonies with air mail loads. A total of six B-lOs would 
be in service carrying mail between Cheyenne and Oak- 
land, California. The B-10 could carry a ton of air mail 
at speeds up to two hundred miles per hour with the pilots 

26. Tribune-Leader, March 27, p. 2; March 29, 1934, p. 2. 

27. Tribune-Leader, April 16, p. 1; April 19, 1934, p. 1. 

A Martin B-10 bomber being 
serviced and refueled at the 
Cheyenne airport on April 19, 
1934. The B-10 usually car- 
ried a three man crew to 
include pilot, naviga- 
tor/bombardier in front bubble, 
and gunner in back cockpit. 
When carrying the air mail, 
the B-10 usually had one or 
two crew members with the 
mail loaded in the bomb bay 
and crew compartments. Note 
the heavy flying clothes worn 
by the crew members. 





FALL 1990 

When the Martin B-10 bombers were 
introduced to the Cheyenne-to-Oakland air 
mail route, the plane based at the Cheyenne 
airport was christened "Wyoming' ' in an 
April 19, 1934, ceremony. Participating 
were (I to r) Fort F. E. Warren comman- 
dant Brigadier General Casper H. Con- 
rad, Governor Leslie A. Miller in Ameri- 
can Legion hat, Miss Vivian Plummer 
who christened the plane with champagne, 
Captain Bernard T. Castor commanding 
the air corps air mail contingent at 
Cheyenne airport, and Cheyenne Mayor 
Archie Allison. A crowd estimated at five 
thousand attended the ceremony. 

warm and dry in a plexiglass enclosed cockpit. Lieutenant 
Signa A. Gilkey, pilot of the "Wyoming," formerly from 
Buffalo, Wyoming, took off for Salt Lake City shortly after 
the ceremony with seven hundred pounds of air mail. 28 
For every major crash taking place with the air corps 
flying the air mail, there occurred at least ten minor 
crashes. A Curtis A- 12 plane, flown by Lieutenant Wil- 
liam J. McCray, suffered an engine failure on April 2, 
but landed safely on the Plains Dairy Farm pasture near 
Cheyenne. Then on April 24, the "Wyoming" landed 
at the Cheyenne Airport without extending the landing 
gear. The article reporting the incident started out: 
"Bomber Landed Minus Wheels: Army Pilot Put Ship 
Down Here Without Use of Landing Gears. ' ' The pilot, 
western zone operations supervisor Major Charles B. 
"Barney" Oldfield from Brooks Field, Texas, had flown 
a load of air mail from Salt Lake City and failed/forgot 
to extend the landing gear before landing at Cheyenne. 
Retractable landing gears were very new in 1934 and 
warning devices alerting the pilot that the landing gear 
had not been extended were primitive and often did not 
work. The plane slid to a stop on the oil surface runway 
with engine cowling bent and the tips of the two three 
bladed propellers curled back, but no structural damage 
to the plane. Castor, Cheyenne operations officer, 

announced that the B-10 would soon be repaired and in 
the air. 29 

The air corps was ready on May 4 to give the air mail 
back to the airlines. The collusion and fraud suspected 
by Roosevelt as being prevalent among the airlines, and 
mentioned in his February 9 press conference, had not 
been proven. Criticism of air corps aircraft accidents 
poured from Congress, but no appropriations that would 
help correct the equipment and training deficiencies. Pilots 
and ground crewman had worked hard to prove the air 
corps could do the job. And the air corps had done a much 
better job after the standdown in March with only one 
more fatality, but most people agreed that flying the air 
mail belonged to the civilian airlines. The nation stood 
ready for the Post Office Department to announce that 
United Air Lines had contracts for three routes that 
included the Newark-Cheyenne-Oakland run. They were 
ready to start as soon as schedules could be worked out 
by the Post Office. "Great glee" permeated the Cheyenne 
Airport where more than two hundred United employees 
had sat on "anxious seat" for weeks, even though there 

28. Tribune-Leader, April 16, p. 1; April 19, 1934, p. 1, 

29. Tribune-Leader. April 23, p. 2; April 24, 1934, p. 2. 



had been no layoffs. 30 The air corps contingent at 
Cheyenne was ready to return to home stations. 

The time for United to take over the air mail opera- 
tion from the air corps at Cheyenne was set for Tuesday, 
May 8, at 12:01 a.m. Castor and United Operations 
Manager Frank Caldwell coordinated all the details. These 
two organizations at Cheyenne had enjoyed the friendli- 
est of relations throughout this operation and Caldwell 
and Castor worked together well. The Cheyenne Cham- 
ber of Commerce urged Cheyenneites to use the air mail 
more and give United some much needed business. The 
chamber also reminded Cheyenne that United had con- 
tinued their regular service after losing the air mail con- 
tracts and had no layoffs anywhere in their system even 
though they were losing money. 31 

The last day of air corps mail service proved to be 
as spectacular as the last day of the Rickenbacker-Frye 
transcontinental record setting air mail flight on Febru- 
ary 18. B-10 bombers made the coast-to-coast flight in 
a record setting fourteen hours and eight minutes flight 
time. This amounted to an hour and three minutes more 
than the flight of Rickenbacker and Frye, but the air corps 
flew a 250 mile longer route, Newark-to San Francisco, 
and made several more mail stops. The "Wyoming" flew 
the Cheyenne-to-Salt Lake City part of the route in an 
hour and fifty-two minutes. 32 Until the Boeing B-17 came 
along several years later, the B-10 was the "Air Power" 
wonder of the day. It was the first all metal bomber, and 
the first of the two hundred mile per hour bombers. It 
had a nine hundred mile range. 

Flying the air mail had not been a rewarding experi- 
ence for the air corps. Twelve pilots had been killed, 
twenty-five more injured, and sixty-six airplanes damaged 
or destroyed. Air corps Chief of Staff Foulois had been 
bitterly criticized for assuring the administration in early 
February that the air corps could do the job. Foulois ever 
after accepted responsibility for the decision, but felt that 
it had been an excellent and much needed test of air corps 
abilities and shortcomings. Years later, General H.H. 
Arnold said that he thought any other air leader in Foulois' 
place would have done the same thing. 33 

In view of the extreme turbulence that both military 
and civil aviation had experienced in the first half of 1934, 
Roosevelt felt compelled to appoint a special committee 

headed by former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker to 
investigate the air mail fiasco and the general condition 
of the air corps. The air mail experience vividly highlighted 
the deficiencies of air corps instrument and night train- 
ing programs, and produced a change in attitude for need 
of an all-weather capability in air corps planes. It also led 
to more supervision and control of civil aviation. 

As the air corps closed down in Cheyenne and per- 
sonnel moved back to their home stations, United Air 
Lines announced an expansion plan on May 1 7 that would 
make Cheyenne a major aviation center. United would 
close their shops at Chicago and Oakland and centralize 
repair and maintenance in Cheyenne. Soon some sixty 
additional employees, plus their families, arrived in 
Cheyenne with new maintenance equipment being 
installed in the brick hangars on Central Avenue. With 
United solidly back in the air mail hauling business, 
Wyoming Air Service also regained a former route, the 
north-south Cheyenne-to-Billings route as well as the 
Cheyenne-to-Pueblo run. 34 

Since established in 1920, the Cheyenne Airport had 
served as a leading aviation facility in the West, but after 
1934 it rose to major national aviation center status until 
well after World War II. Then aircraft technology and 
demographic changes caused the airlines to look for stra- 
tegically located "hub" airports near big cities. Denver's 
Stapleton Airport replaced the Cheyenne Airport. 

Wyoming celebrates its Centennial Year in 1990 and 
the Cheyenne Airport observes its seventieth anniversary, 
an excellent occasion for Wyomingites to review the past. 
The state was only thirty years old when Air Mail Ser- 
vice pilot Jimmie Murray carried the first air mail from 
Omaha in September, 1920, flying a DeHavilland DH-4. 
The Cheyenne Airport has been a part of many notable 
aviation events in those seventy years since, and there will 
be more. The air corps' seventy-five day tenure in 1934 
at the Cheyenne Airport flying the air mail is yet another 
significant aviation event in the history of that excellent 
aviation facility. Cheyenne has a rich aviation heritage 
that deserves to be preserved. 


30. Tribune-Leader, May 1, 1934, p. 1. 

31. Tribune-Leader, May 5, p. 2; May 7, 
.'•52. Tribune-Leader, May 8, 19:51, p. 1. 
33. Arnold, Global Missions, p. 113. 

31. Tribune-Leader, May 17, p. 1; May 25, p. 2; Ji 

GERALD M. ADAMS (US AF Col. retired) now of Cheyenne, retired 
from the . \ir Force in 1 { >7!>. after a long career as a pilot, staff officer and unit 
commander, lie holds MA. degrees from Long Is/and University in Interna- 
tional Alfurs and History from the University of Wyoming. His articles about 
early aviation in 1 1 'yomin^. western military history and ranching hare been pub- 
lished previously in Annals of Wyoming and Cheyenne newspapt 
the author of the recently published book, The Post Near Cheyenne: \. His 
lory of Fort D.A. Russell, 1867-1930. 



by Rick Ewig 


The Cheyenne Daily Sun-Leader in 1895 provided an 
opportunity to Wyoming's women rarely seen at the time 
in the Equality State. The male editorial staff allowed the 
state's women to publish a "Women's Edition" on 
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1895. 1 Edited by Mrs. 
J.O. Churchill and Gertrude W. Dobbins, the newspaper 
contained articles written by women concerning higher 
education for women, the "new woman," the newly 
founded Wyoming Historical Society, along with articles 
written by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stan- 
ton. Sarah Wallace Pease wrote another interesting arti- 
cle about her experiences as one of the first woman jurors. 2 

The historical record of women serving on juries in 
Wyoming is mixed. The territory received national atten- 
tion when, in 1870 and 1871, women served on grand 
and petit juries in Laramie. Women also served on juries 
in Cheyenne in 1871. However, it was not until the mid- 
twentieth century that Wyoming's legislature passed a law 
granting this right to women permanently. 

The right for women to serve as jurors was seen as 
a right granted by the woman suffrage bill signed into law 
by Governor John A. Campbell on December 10, 1869. 
It is interesting to note, however, that just three days 
earlier, Campbell signed a bill concerning Wyoming juries 
which stated "all male citizens" could serve. 3 Women 
were not included. 

The Albany County Commissioners began the process 
when they selected women and men to serve on juries and 
submitted the list to the county clerk. When the regular 
March term of the District Court of the First Judicial Dis- 
trict of the Territory of Wyoming began on March 7, 
1870, women were included in the pool of potential jurors. 

John H. Howe presided at this term of the district 
court. Howe, originally from New York state, had risen 
to the rank of brigadier general in the Union Army dur- 
ing the Civil War. On April 6, 1869, President Ulysses 

1 C/icyennt Drill) Sun I in, hi Novcmbei 28, l!',')i 

2. "Woman as Jurors, Recollections of One of the Grand Jurors 
of Albany County," by Sarah Wallace Pease, Cheyenne Daily Sun- 
Leader, November 28, 1895, p. 11. 

'.'>. "An Act to Provide for Selecting, Summoning and Impanelling 
Jurors," General Laws, Memorials and Resolutions of the Territory of 
Wyoming, 1869, pp. 281-288. 

S. Grant appointed him Chief Justice of Wyoming's Ter- 
ritorial Supreme Court. At the time the three justices of 
the Supreme Court also served as district judges, allow- 
ing them the opportunity to rule on appeals of their dis- 
trict decisions. Also present at the opening of the term 
was Associate Justice John W. Kingman, a civil war vet- 
eran from New Hampshire. Grant appointed him to the 
court the same day as Howe. 4 

It is difficult to determine precisely why the Albany 
County Commissioners included women on their list of 
jurors. The most common explanation is that Laramie 
was not a safe place to live during its early days. 5 Rob- 
beries and garrotings supposedly were daily occurrences 
and murder far too frequent. Apparently the city govern- 
ment had failed to bring peace and respectability to the 
the town and it was difficult to get juries to convict the 
criminals. According to this explanation, the last alter- 
native was to have women serve on juries. Said one 
author, the women, "unhampered by outside influences, 
would conscientiously consider cases and convict wrong- 
doing." 6 The women would clean up the town. 

Sarah Wallace Pease, in her account, gave a differ- 
ent reason. According to her, men were concerned by the 
fact women had not exercised their right to hold office 
and to vote to the fullest, believing apathy was the cause. 
In order to shake the women up and force them to prove 
their compentency, the men conspired and had them 
drafted for jury duty. 7 

4. Biographical information about Justices Howe and Kingman taken 
from Virginia Cole Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol. I 
(Cheyenne: Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department, 
1974), p. 116. 

5. For examples see "The First Woman Jury," Works Progress 
Administration (WPA) 157, Historical Research and Publications, 
Parks and Cultural Resources Division, Department of Commerce 
(HR&P), Cheyenne, Wyoming; "Wyoming Women First in 
World to Be Jurors," by Agnes Wright Spring, Wyoming Stockman- 
Farmer, November 1938, pp. 3, 7; and Grace Raymond Hebard, 
"The First Woman Jury," Journal of American History, VII (1913): 

6. "Wyoming Women First in World to Be Jurors," by Agnes 
Wright Spring, Wyoming Stockman-Farmer, November 1938, p. 3. 

7. "Woman as Jurors, Recollections of One of the Grand Jurors 
of Albany County," by Sarah Wallace Pease. 



A third explanation was proposed by Judge Kingman 
in his autobiography. 8 He wrote that there was "very lit- 
tle public sentiment" for the suffrage act just after its pas- 
sage, and "much bitter feeling against it." These feel- 
ings surfaced, when 

The [Albany] county officers, thinking to throw ridicule on 
the act and make trouble for the judge [Howe], summoned 
nearly all the respectable women in the city as jurors, mak- 
ing both the grand and petit juries largely composed of 
women. This made their husbands furious, as they looked 
upon it as an insult as well as an outrage. Threats of vio- 
lence were made unless the Judge would discharge all the 
women at once, and public feeling was aroused to a danger- 
ous pitch. 

Knowing what to expect, Howe insisted Kingman join 
him at that opening session to support him in ruling that 
women could serve on juries. 

Whichever one of the three explanations is most cor- 
rect, the fact remains the women who were summoned 
for duty showed up in the Laramie courtroom on March 
7, 1870. Once court convened, Howe addressed the grand 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Grand Jury: It is an innova- 
tion and a great novelty to see, as we do to-day, ladies sum- 
moned to serve as jurors. The extension of political rights 
and franchise is a subject that is agitating the whole coun- 
try. I have never taken an active discussion, but have long 
seen that woman was a victim to the vices, crimes and 
immoralities of man, with no power to protect and defend 
herself from these evils. I have long felt that such powers 
of protection should be conferred upon women, and it has 
fallen to our lot here to act as pioneers in this movement, 
and to test the question. The eyes of the whole world are 
to-day fixed upon this jury of Albany County. There is not 
the slightest impropriety in any ladies occupying this posi- 
tion and I wish to assure you that the fullest protection of 
the court shall be accorded to you. ... It seems to me to 
be eminently proper for women to sit upon grand juries, 
which will give them the best possible opportunities to aid 
in suppressing the dens of infamy which curse the country. 
I shall be glad of your assistance in the accomplishment of 
this object. . . . 9 

At the conclusion of the address the judge asked if 
anyone wished to be excused. Three did, one woman and 
two men. Howe excused them and ordered the sheriff to 

8. John W. Kingman, "Honorable John W. Kingman: Associate 
Justice of the Supreme Court, Wyoming Territory," Annali of 

Wyoming 14 (July 1942): 225. 

9. "Judge Howe's Address to the Women Jurors," Cheyenne Daily 
Leader, March 8, 1870, p. I, c. 1. 

summon three replacements. One of those was Sarah Wal- 
lace Pease. 10 

Then came a challenge to women jurors. Stephen W. 
Downey, one of the attorneys of the court, moved to 
"quash" the panel because the law stated only "male 
citizens" were qualified to serve as jurors. Howe heard 
the arguments of both sides of the issue, and overruled 
the motion. Kingman concurred. Women could serve and 
four took the oath along with eleven men. 11 Howe had 
written Downey on March 3 of his intention to allow 
women to serve. "... they will have a fair opportunity 
at least, in my court, to demonstrate their ability in this 
new field, ..." "Of their right to try it, I have no 
doubt." 12 The petit jurors also were selected March 7. 
Again, women were included. 13 

The events which transpired in Laramie on that spring 
day made headlines around the country. For the first time 
women were to serve on juries. Not everyone was pleased 
with this, however. 

The Cheyenne Daily Leader especially did not look 
favorably on the new development. Even before women 
had sat on any jury, an editorial appeared in the Leader 
ridiculing the idea. According to this, the idea of coop- 
ing up the women in a bad smelling courtroom while the 
husbands were home taking care of the children was ludi- 
crous. Also, the women would not reach the correct ver- 
dicts because "the feminine mind is too susceptible to the 
influence of the emotions to allow the supreme control 
of the reason." 14 After the petit jury heard its first case — a 
murder case — and reached its first verdict — guilty of 
manslaughter 15 — the Leader, after dutifully reporting on 
the fatigued state of the ladies of the jury, again spoke 
against the practice of mixed juries, hoping to protect the 
health of women. 

10. Albany County Minute Docket, March 1870, p. 140, Archives 
and Records Management, Parks and Cultural Resources Divi- 
sion, Department of Commerce (A&RM), Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

11. Albany County Minute Docket, March 1870, p. 140, A&RM. 

12. Grace Raymond Hebard, "The first Woman Jury," pp. 
1306-1307. According to Kingman's autobiography, both he ami 
Howe were the ones who convinced Governor Campbell to sign 
the woman suffrage bill. John W. Kingman, "Honorable John 
W. Kingman, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Wyom- 
ing Territory," pp. 224-225. 

13. Albany County Minute Docket, March 1870, p, 141. A&RM. 

14. "Females in the Jury Box," Cheyenne Daily Leader, March 1. 1870. 
p. 1, c. 3. 

15. It has been written in several accounts about the first woman 
jurors, that jusl before the jurors in the murder case to, 4. the first 
poll, the minister's wife on the jury had everyone kneel and pray. 
The author could find no Drimarv source to documenl tin- ston . 



FALL 1990 


... It will be almost a miracle if some of the delicate women 
who are going through this painful ordeal do not sink under 
the weight of their privations and return to their homes with 
shattered nerves and reduced health. . . . 

In fact, if we candidly trace the physiological argument 
to its foundation we must acknowledge that there are condi- 
tions in the very nature of woman which render her partici- 
pation in lawmaking and injudicial affairs especially unwise 
and dangerous to the public interest. . . . 

. . . The sooner it dies (as die it must,) the earlier our 
people may congratulate themselves on having escaped one 
of the most unnatural and dangerous innovations ever 
projected in this or any other age. 16 

Women serving on juries did have an effect, not on 
the health of women, but on the behavior of juries and 
their verdicts. Just as Esther Hobart Morris had demon- 
strated that a woman could ably carry out the duties of 
justice of the peace, the Laramie women illustrated what 
effect they would have in court. Because of their presence, 
the men dropped the practices of drinking and gambling 
during deliberations. Smoking and the chewing of tobacco 
by the jurors while on duty stopped. The women did not 
accept so quickly pleas of self defense, and were more likely 
to convict and impose longer sentences. 17 Governor 
Campbell, in his address to the 1871 territorial assem- 
bly, stated: "It is simple justice to say that the women 
entering, for the first time in the history of the country, 
upon these new and untried duties [voting, holding office, 
and jury duty], have conducted themselves in every respect 
with as much tact, sound judgment, and good sense, as 
men." 18 Even the Cheyenne Daily Leader by 1871 had 
reversed its earlier protestations. "It is certainly true that 
ladies are usually possessed of a finer sense of justice and 
right than men, and it may be that our judicial proceed- 
ings are to become characterized by less of the passions 
and prejudices of human nature, who so often of late years 
operate to defeat justice. Let all honor be accorded to Chief 
Justice Howe, for securing a fair trial of female jurors." 19 

The experiment of including women on juries ended, 
however, in 1871. Howe resigned from the supreme court 
in October of that year. 20 The man who replaced him as 
chief justice, Joseph W. Fisher of Pennsylvania, appar- 
ently did not believe that jury duty was a right provided 
by the suffrage law and so the trial period ended. During 
the following years women served on juries only a few 


The front page of the Thanksgiving, 1895, edition of the Cheyenne 
Daily Sun-Leader. 

times, and only when women were being tried. 21 Finally, 
in 1949, the state legislature amended the law concern- 
ing juries and under qualifications used the words, "he 
or she." The change took effect January 1, 1950. 22 

16. "The Lady Jurors," Cheyenne Daily Leader, March 14, 1870, p. 3, 
c. 3. 

17. T.A. Larson, History of Wyoming, 2nd cd., rev. (Lincoln: Univer- 
sity of Nebraska Press, 1978), p. 85. 

1 8 . Council Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wyoming, 
Second Session, 1871, p. 18. 

19. "Female Jurors," Cheyenne Daily Leader, March 8, 1871, p. 1, cc. 
2, 3. 

20. Trenholm, ed., Wyoming Blue Book, vol. I, p. 110. 

21. T.A. Larson, Wyoming: A Bicentennial History (New York: W.W. 
Norton & Company, Inc., 1977), p. 86. 

22. Session Laws of Wyoming, 1949, pp. 105-106. 




It may be that the old pioneers will take an interest 
in reviewing with me some of the events connected with 
the early history of Wyoming. 

The law granting the right of suffrage to women was 
enacted in 1870. It did not appear to have any marked 
effect upon the women of Wyoming. They went on with 
their usual avocations, and conducted the details of their 
household affairs, as before and indeed attended strictly 
to their own legitimate business. They did not seem to 
realize the increased responsibilities thrust upon them and 
the possibilities of their new situation. And strange as it 
may seem they did not demand of the men all the offices 
nor seek to encroach upon their regular lines of business, 
nor did they in any way undertake to appropriate any of 
their rights, honors or emoluments. In fact they behaved 
themselves with such becoming dignity and humility that 
the men at last became alarmed at their apathy, and began 
to conspire together and plan a method by which the 
women would be compelled to show their mettle and prove 
whether or not they were competent to bear the burdens 
that had been laid upon them. 

As a result of this conspiracy a number of ladies were 
drawn on the regular panel, to serve upon the grand and 
petit juries, at the following spring term of court. This 
proceeding was considered as a very ludicrous affair, and 
the ladies took that view of the matter until they were con- 
vinced that they would be obliged to appear in court or 
subject themselves to the alternative of being arrested for 
contempt, and perhaps fined and sent to jail. Consequently 
when the eventful day arrived, they were all in attendance, 
with the mutual understanding that they each would 
request to be excused. 

When we reached the old club house or barracks which 
was dignified by being called a court house, we found it 
filled to overflowing with a crowd of men and women. 
The bench and bar were well represented, being composed 
of the three district judges of Wyoming and many of the 
prominent lawyers in the territory. 

Chief Justice Howe formally opened the court, mak- 
ing an earnest appeal to the ladies to serve as jurors. 
Remarks were also made by Associate Justices Kingman 
and Jones. The principal argument advanced for such an 

innovation was the fact that hitherto they had been unsuc- 
cessful in securing juries that would convict well known 
guilty criminals tried in their courts, because the com- 
munity at that time was led and controlled by lawless and 
desperate men. That there was a public sentiment that 
did not demand that criminals should be punished for their 
deeds. The judge believed that women serving on the 
juries would remedy this flagrant evil, and inaugurate a 
better condition of things. They were fully convinced that 
women would do conscientious work, and that a marked 
reform would speedily follow. I hardly need to add that 
such words of commendation coming from the bench had 
the desired effect, and as a result every woman who had 
been called to serve was promptly sworn in. 

This event caused great commotion, both at home and 
abroad. In Laramie little else was talked about. Many old 
fogies (not mentioning the young ones) were filled with 
righteous indignation that their places should be usurped 
by women, who did not know anything about law. The 
law breakers and evil doers — and their name was legion — 
were filled with consternation, not feeling so secure as in 
the past, though there were many ready to assure them 
that they had nothing to fear for women were chicken 
hearted, and their tender feelings could easily be wrought 
upon by the lawyers, who would only have to make a 
pathetic appeal and the women jurors would show the 
white feather and capitulate at once. 

It did not require much time to find out that the 
women jurors were not made of that kind of material, but 
that they were disposed to do about what was right. The 
jurors seemed to be imbued with the idea that justice must 
be meted out, though the heavens fall, and their subse- 
quent acts verified this conviction. 

The news was wired far and near, and every paper 
in the country made favorable or unfavorable comment, 
usually the latter. In due time letters and telegrams came 
pouring in, making inquiries. As soon as possible 
newspaper correspondents came flocking to town from all 
parts of the country as well as special artists from leading 
illustrated periodicals. We were constantly importuned 
to sit for our pictures in a body, that we might be cor- 
rectly produced in the pictorials, but we steadfastly 
refused, although great pressure was brought to bear by 
the court officials. The members of the juries of which 
I was a member were obliged to go to the court room once 
each day, to carry in bills, and 1 remember we went 
closely veiled, fearing that special artists would make hasty 
sketches of us. Of course we were caricatured in the most 

continual on inside hack cover 



The View from Officers' Row: Army Perceptions of Western 
Indians. By Sherry L. Smith. Tucson: University of 
Arizona Press, 1990. Illustrated. Map. Index. Notes. 
Bibliography, xix and 251 pp. Cloth $24.95. 

This book belongs on the shelf of anyone interested 
in the history of Indian Wars in the trans-Mississippi 
West. In The View from Officers' Row, Sherry Smith cre- 
ates a context for a deeper understanding of the seem- 
ingly continuous stream of skirmishes, battles, and cam- 
paigns between the United States Army and the Indians 
of the American West in the last half of the nineteenth 
century. In her introduction, the author tells us that her 
study has two purposes. The first is to partly meet historian 
Paul Prucha's challenge to place the frontier army "in 
the social and intellectual milieu of the times," and the 
second is "to expand the discussion of white attitudes 
towards Indians by examining a largely ignored but cru- 
cial group on the frontier" (p. xviii). Thus, the focus here 
is not the tactics and strategy of those who commanded 
the Indian-Fighting Army, but their beliefs concerning 
their adversaries and their way of life. 

In eight chapters, Smith carefully examines the views 
held by regular army officers and their wives, discussing 
perceptions of Indian character, Indian women, causes 
of the Indian wars, Indian policy, Indian warfare, and 
the value of Indian scouts. As might be expected, these 
White observers praised and condemned Indian practices 
in terms of their closeness to or deviation from Anglo- 
European standards, and while officers and their wives 
were not always unanimous in their opinions, most held 
similar views. Smith points out that the military's van- 
guards envisioned themselves as occupants of an unhappy 
middle ground, lobbied by rapacious Whites to rid per- 
manently the West of all aborigines and loudly assailed 
by eastern humanitarians to get out of Indian affairs 
altogether and leave resolution of the problem to civilians. 

The author concludes that the men who led the army 
in the West were ordinary people, caught in a sometimes 
morally difficult and often brutal struggle for control of 
a continent, who saw merits in both the primitive life and 
that promoted by White America. While officers and their 
mates viewed Indian warfare as inevitable, they did not 
delight in the prospect, often expressing compassion for 
those whose cultures they believed doomed. Most officers 
concluded that the blame for warfare rested on both sides. 

The View from Officers' Row is based primarily on per- 
sonal documents: unpublished diaries, letters, and 
memoirs or printed essays, articles, and books. Exhaus- 
tively mined were manuscript collections at the U.S. Army 
Military Institute, the U.S. Military Academy, the 
Library of Congress, the Newberry Library, the Bancroft 
Library, the Colorado Historical Society, the Denver Pub- 
lic Library, the University of Colorado, and other reposi- 
tories. These together with the published sources provided 
ample material to render the judgments made. The study 
would have been strengthened by researching the military- 
oriented newspapers and periodicals of the period; namely 
the Army Navy Journal, the Army Navy Register, Win- 
ners of the West, the National Tribune, United Service 
Magazine, and the Journal of the Military Service Insti- 
tution of the United States. The latter, for example, held 
a competition in 1880 for the best essay by an officer on 
"Our Indian Question," eventually publishing offerings 
of five entrants. 

Hopefully, The View from Officers' Row is the first in 
a number of studies that will fully develop the social ideas 
of the participants in westward expansion. This book sets 
a high standard for those to come. 


Sheridan, Wyoming 

New Directions in American Indian History. Edited by Colin 
G. Calloway. Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1988. Figures. Table. References. Index. 288 

pp. Cloth $29.50. 

New Directions in American Indian History is the first 
volume in the Bibliographies in American Indian History Ser- 
ies of the D'Arcy McNickle Center for the History of the 
American Indian. Two types of books will characterize 
the series: bibliographical essays, and volumes of topical 
lists of publications in American Indian history. During 
the past decade or so, the McNickle Center has played 
an important role in spurring research in American Indian 
history by sponsoring conferences, research grants, and 
publications. If the present volume is an indication, the 
new series seems consistent with the high standards of 
other McNickle Center programs. 



The need for such a series is apparent. As editor Colin 
G. Calloway notes, more than five hundred books and 
articles about Indian history appear yearly. New Directions 
emphasizes publications which have appeared since 1983, 
especially material which was not considered in an earlier 
McNickle Center publication, William Swagerty's Scho- 
lars and the Indian Experience (Indiana, 1984). Divided into 
two parts, the first section examines Indian scholarship 
topics which have received "considerable attention." 
Included is an essay about Indians and quantitative meth- 
ods by Melissa L. Meyer and Russell Thornton, an arti- 
cle about Indian women by Deborah Welch, and a general 
discussion of the twentieth century Indian experience by 
James Riding In. Other essays in Part One address writ- 
ings about the southern plains, recent developments in 
Metis history, and Indian legal issues. While every arti- 
cle is a distinctive contribution to Native American histori- 
ography, several of the essays merit further comment. 
Meyer and Thornton argue that quantification holds great 
promise for students of American Indian history. Welch 
attributes the recent outpouring in Indian women's his- 
tory to the upsurge of scholarship in both women's his- 
tory and twentieth century Indian history. Riding In 
challenges scholars to move beyond a discussion of Indian 
policy formulation to research on implementation of that 
policy on the "grassroots" or reservation level. 

Part Two chronicles three "emerging fields" within 
Indian historiography, areas where substantial scholarly 
work is either lacking or undeveloped. Douglas R. Parks 
argues that most scholars have either inadequately or 
incorrectly utilized insights derived from an all too often 
superficial study of Native American linguistics. "Fun- 
damental insights" into historical problems are lost 
because of the "benign neglect" of careful American 
Indian linguistic study, according to Parks. Ronald L. 
Trosper demonstrates that many Indian-related histori- 
cal questions could benefit from the application of basic 
economic models. Particularly interesting is Trosper's dis- 
cussion of economist Albert Hirshman's criticisms of 
dependency theory, currently the most widely-employed 
model in addressing economic questions in Third World, 
colonial, or American Indian economies. The final essay 
in the volume is Robert Brightman's discussion of Native 
American religious change. Brightman asks scholars to 
focus on the process of change within the Indian commu- 
nity itself, rather than using traditional categories of analy- 
sis (i.e. Christian v. non-Christian (niits, or traditional 
v. modern practices). 

New Directions in American Indian History is an impor- 
tant addition to the historiography of the American Indian. 

The essays help orient the reader to recent academic trends 
while also pointing the directions toward future research. 
While the quality and utility of the nine essays varies, most 
scholars or general readers of American Indian history 
will find this volume useful. 


Mesa State College 

Adventures in Old Wyoming, 1879-1884. Compiled 
by Peggy H. Benjamin. Lincoln, Nebraska: 
Midgard Press, 1988. Illustrated. 71 pp. Paper 


Adventures in Old Wyoming (not to be confused with the 
newspaper column of a similar name, "In Old Wyo- 
ming," written by John C. Thompson) is a collection of 
oral histories of Cap Haskell. Haskell, although not a 
native of Wyoming, was, according to cattleman John 
Clay, ". . .an eastern boy, active and very intelligent." 
Haskell was in Wyoming for a five year period and at that 
time worked on the Seventy-One Quarter Circle Ranch 
which later became the Wyoming Cattle Ranch Company 
on the Sweetwater. He was the foreman of the ranch and 
Clay was the manager. 

The author, Peggy H. Benjamin, is the niece of the 
late Haskell and in this work has shown how interesting 
and informative oral histories/stories can be. She has com- 
piled sixteen of Haskell's stories that he related to her, 
and has published in an easy and readable form incidents 
that her uncle experienced during his tenure in Wyoming. 
Although most of the stories relate to Haskell's Wyom- 
ing stay, there is other reference to Indian activity in 
Colorado. The histories relate a variety of different hap- 
penings, from the Ute uprising in 1879, to the death of 
the Ute sub-chief, Captain Jack, just one year later in 
Colorado, then other, "lighter" stories. 

Each story is contained in one chapter. Each chapter 
length is different. Stories range from two pages for one 
chapter titled, "The Buffalo Hunt," to another titled 
"Seventy One Ranch," which is in excess of eleven pages. 

Ms. Benjamin has managed to capture the essence 
of the oral histories and, therefore, makes each and every 
story seem alive. In a time when so main oi us neither 
write letters, or indeed, feel we do not have the time to 
write, it is gratifying that Benjamin has somehow managed 
to retain such memories and to have this material pub- 
lished for the enjoyment and interest of others. 



FALL 1990 

Although as stated in the prologue, these histories were 
told to Benjamin's great-nieces and nephews, the style in 
which the stories are told would be suitable for both adults 
and younger readers alike. As we try to educate the young 
of the pioneer lifestyle, it is the personal reminiscences 
that appear to hold the most interest for young people. 
And, with this type of publication becoming more and 
more popular, in place of those unwritten letters, perhaps 
more people will realize the importance of recording oral 
histories/stories/reminiscences for the future generations. 
After all, we can only see so many television reruns 
about life — way back then — before we realize that we 
too can leave a legacy or, at least record a part of the life 
as we know it now and have it available for those yet to 

This is not Benjamin's only published work. She also 
has to her credit, Years to Share, Adventures of the Pale Pink 
Umbrella, and other short adult fiction. A yarn teller her- 
self from way back when, Peggy Haskell Benjamin's latest 
offering should be read. 


Division of Parks and Cultural Resources 
Wyoming Department of Commerce 

The Post Near Cheyenne: A History of Fort D.A. Rus- 
sell, 1867-1930. By Col. Gerald M. Adams, USAF 
(Ret.). Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing 
Company, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Bibliography. 
Sources. Maps. 268 pp. Cloth $21.95. 

At long last comes a much-needed history of Wyo- 
ming's long-lived military bastion and Cheyenne's com- 
munity partner, Fort David A. Russell. Established in 
1867 to guard the advance of the Union Pacific Railroad 
through southeastern Wyoming, the fledgling camp on 
Crow Creek quickly blossomed into a substantial military 
post whose role seemed ever-changing and ever-secure. 

Like other posts on the Northern Plains Indian front- 
ier, Russell's garrisons participated in most aspects of the 
infamous Indian wars. It was never exactly on the cut- 
ting edge of these affairs, yet invariably the army hier- 
archy duly appreciated the mobility of the post's garri- 
sons, its position on the railroad, and the quartermaster 
and commissary resources available at the adjacent, 
affiliated Cheyenne Depot, which operated until 1889. 

Fort D.A. Russell ultimately boasted of two assets that 
cut ii distinct from dozens of other frontier military instal- 

lations. In the wake of the army's centralization policies 
of the late 1880s, venerable posts like Fort Laramie, Fort 
Bridger, and Fort McKinney were abandoned, as were 
dozens more. The army preferred to consolidate large gar- 
risons on major rail lines, and D.A. Russell served their 
purposes perfectly. 

Even more important, few western military garrisons 
had so influential a patron as did Fort D.A. Russell in 
Governor and U.S. Senator Francis E. Warren. For some 
forty years the well-connected and politically astute War- 
ren, father-in-law to John Joseph Pershing, wielded a 
powerful hand, always insuring a substantial mission and 
a large garrison for his pet Wyoming fort. Moreover, War- 
ren's involvement brought prestige to the post and state, 
the residents of Cheyenne revelling in presidential visits 
and the ceremonies attendant to garrison maneuvering. 
As well, Cheyenne benefited directly by the post's seem- 
ingly endless building and rebuilding. It was logical and 
well-nigh predictable that the fort be renamed to honor 
Warren after his death in 1929. 

Fort Francis E. Warren survived the passing of its 
champion, the post assuming training and POW func- 
tions during World War Two. After the war Warren's 
infantry and horse cavalry foundation was slowly trans- 
formed into an air force base, and today's Strategic Air 
Command missiles belie the historical roots of this unique 
Old West outpost. A quick drive, however, down Ran- 
dall Avenue, is an immersion in vintage red brick bar- 
racks, cavalry stables, parade grounds, and other vestiges 
of a remarkable legacy. 

By any measure, a chronicle of Russell's/Warren's 
long history is a formidable undertaking. Aside from brief 
glimpses here and there, no formal Fort D.A. Russell his- 
tory existed. But Gerald Adams, a retired Air Force 
colonel who completed his career at F.E. Warren Air Force 
Base, more than meets the challenge. Adams demonstrates 
considerable research prowess wading through century- 
long runs of official post and departmental records and 
equally daunting files of successive Cheyenne newspapers 
to chronicle the cycles of this significant post. His narra- 
tive is pleasingly well-paced and remarkably complete. 
Though The Post Near Cheyenne bears the subtitled dates 
1867-1930, the "Epilogue," which is actually the longest 
chapter in the book, rounds the story into 1988. 

Other appointments heighten the pleasure of this sur- 
vey history. Dozens of historic photographs and many 
careful maps complement the text. A narrative "Sources" 
section leads one deep into primary and secondary 
material. And a fascinating final section of 1980s photos 
showing buildings and landmarks of the post as we see 



them today, is an armchair traveler's delight. Gerald 
Adams' The Post Near Cheyenne deserves not only Wyo- 
ming's widest favorable attention, but addition to all 
Northern Plains collections. 


Willis ton, North Dakota 

A Wyoming Mosaic: People and Places. By Norman 
R. Dickinson. Published by Letha L. Farley- 
Dickinson, 1987. Illustrated. 216 pp. Paper. 

In the preface to this anthology of writings and 
speeches by her late husband, Letha L. Farley-Dickinson 
reminds us that the collection is not intended as a "com- 
prehensive history of Riverton and Fremont County." 
Rather, she says, the speeches and writings may be viewed 
as a "mosaic." 

And "mosaic" is indeed an appropriate descriptor as 
the forty items of pieces listed in the table of contents cover 
a wide variety of topics. Predictably, there are pieces deal- 
ing with early Riverton and the various "firsts" — the first 
jail, first theater, first Christmas, first religious service 
— which magnetically attract the attention of local his- 
tory buffs. 

There are also individual pieces dealing with specific 
families, such as the Watson and Megown families, and 
individuals, such as Dulcie Lowe and the first woman 
mayor, Susan Wissler. Interesting as these and other 
biographical references are, especially to readers with local 
connections, one may ponder the rationale for their selec- 
tion. The same question might be raised regarding some 
of the less familiar places, such as Wahaba and Neble, 
early townsites near Riverton. Even though their histor- 

ical significance may not be immediately clear, they reflect 
the historical curiosity of their investigator. 

Given Mr. Dickinson's commitment to education, the 
various pieces dealing with early country schools in the 
area seem a natural focal point. Using county records, 
school district minutes, and oral histories, the author traces 
the growth and decline of various schools. The financial 
schools seem ironically prophetic. Most interesting are the 
personal accounts, such as Lavinia Dobler's recall of her 
parents and the old one-room schoolhouse known as the 
Dobler school. One wishes that additional first person 
accounts might have been included. 

Another set of pieces in the mosaic deals with the more 
celebrated topics in the history of Fremont County: the 
Oregon Trail, Atlantic City, South Pass City, the Pony 
Express, Sacajawea, Esther Hobart Morris, and Episcopal 
minister Father John Roberts. While all of these topics 
have been subject to closer scrutiny elsewhere, their inclu- 
sion here is certainly merited. 

When one finishes reading A Wyoming Mosaic: People 
and Places, one emerges with a keener perception of an 
important community in an historically significant county. 
But one also emerges with an increased appreciation for 
the manysidedness of Norman R. Dickinson: his 
enthusiasm for social studies, his commitment to the craft 
of teaching, his love for students, his active role in and 
support of community affairs, his dedication to protect- 
ing the environment, his civic leadership, and his spiritual 
sense of the rich interconnectedness of life's mosaic. One 
is certainly indebted to Letha L. Farley-Dickinson for 
keeping alive the writings, memory, and contributions of 
her late husband. 


University of Wyoming 



Devils Tower: Stories in Stone. By Mary Alice Gunderson. 
Glendo, Wyoming: High Plains Press, 1988. Illus- 
trated. Index. Sources, xv and 141 pp. Paper $9.95. 

Devils Tower became America's first National Monu- 
ment in 1906. It took more than eighty years for the first 
comprehensive history of Devils Tower to be published. 
This book covers the geology of the tower, the early days 
and Indian legends, exploration, classic climbs, and media 
events surrounding Devils Tower, such as the October, 
1941, parachute jump of George Hopkins onto the monu- 
ment. Forty-two photographs are included, many never 
before published. 

Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 
1900. Edited by Clifford E. Clark, Jr. St. Paul: Min- 
nesota Historical Society Press, 1989. Illustrated. 
Index. Notes, xiii and 607 pp. Cloth $35.95. Paper 

In this book, the Minnesota Historical Society Press 
has taken a topical approach to twentieth century Min- 
nesota history. Scholars from the fields of History, Histor- 
ical Geography, Political Science, and American Studies 
contributed seventeen essays which "help readers to 
understand the forces that have created the Minnesota we 
know at the end of the twentieth century." Topics include 
the image and identity of Minnesotans, the rural 
experience, the major manufacturers, agriculture, the 
labor movement, and women, among others. Such a study 
exploring twentieth century Wyoming history is sorely 


Colorado: A Summer Trip. By Bayard Taylor. Edited by Wil- 
liam W. Savage, Jr., and James H. Lazalier. Niwot: 
University Press of Colorado, 1989. xxvi and 185 pp. 
Cloth $19.95. Paper $9.95. 

Bayard Taylor, a noted American travel writer, jour- 
neyed to Colorado Territory in 1866 and toured the area 
on horseback. The New York Tribune published his letters 
describing the area. He commented on such topics as the 
construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, the myth of 
the Great American Desert, the passing of the frontier, 
and the future of Colorado as America's Switzerland. This 
book reprints Taylor's letters and includes an informa- 

tive introduction by William W. Savage, Jr., and James 
H. Lazalier. 

A History of Star Valley 1800-1900. Written and compiled 
by Forrest Weber Kennington and Kathaleen Ken- 
nington Hamblin. Salt Lake City, Utah: Valley 
Graphics, 1989. Illustrated. Index. Bibliography. 289 
pp. Paper. 

A History of Star Valley studies the nineteenth century 
history of western Wyoming and eastern Idaho, especially 
the Star Valley area. Included in the book are chapters 
which look at the land, the Indians, the fur trade, the out- 
laws, and the settlers. Also included are area records from 
the 1880 and 1900 censuses. 

Documents of United States Indian Policy. Edited by Francis 
Paul Prucha. Second Edition, expanded. Lincoln: 
University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Index. Selected 
Bibliography, xiii and 338 pp. Cloth $35.00. Paper 

Francis Paul Prucha, in the first edition of Documents 
of United States Indian Policy, made an important contri- 
bution to American Indian historiography by including 
in his book 161 "essential documents which marked sig- 
nificant formulations of policy in the conduct of Indian 
affairs by the United States government." Those records 
spanned the years 1783 to 1973. Thirty-eight new docu- 
ments, covering the years 1972 to 1988, and dealing with 
such topics as self-determination, economic development, 
water rights, legal education, and archaeological resources, 
are included in the second edition. Every document is 
prefaced with an introductory paragraph and can be found 
in a detailed index. 

Omen of the Hawks. By Virginia Cole Trenholm. The 
Woodlands, Texas: Portfolio Publishing Company, 
1989. 301 pp. Cloth $18.95. 

Virginia Cole Trenholm, noted authority of the 
Arapaho and Shoshone Indians, has written her first novel. 
It is the story of an Indian brave's coming of age during 
the 1850s. Tupaku, the young Bannock tribesman, is 
adopted by Chief Washakie of the Shoshones, and is torn 
between the two tribes. His adventures not only bring him 



into contact with some of the well-known personalities and 
events of the era, but also allow for an exploration of the 
Native Americans' everyday life, traditions, and practices. 

"and then there was one. " By Mabel E. Brown and 
Elizabeth Thorpe Griffith. Newcastle, Wyoming: 
News Letter Journal, 1989. Illustrated. Bibliog- 
raphy. Map. 61 pp. Paper $10.00. 

The histories of Cambria, Field City, also known as 
Tubb Town, and Newcastle, located in the northeastern 
part of Wyoming, are chronicled in this book. The impor- 
tant events are described as well as the personalities, 
schools, businesses, and everyday life of the communi- 
ties. Many historic photographs are included as is a list 
of Newcastle city officials who served from 1889 to 1989. 

Blue Star: The Story of Corabelle Fellows, Teacher at 
Dakota Missions 1884-1888. By Kunigunde Dun- 
can. New Introduction by Bruce D. Forbes. St. 
Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1990. 
Originally published: Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton 
Printers, Ltd., 1938. Illustrated. Index, xxxiv and 
216 pp. Paper $8.95. 

Corabelle Fellows left her Washington, D.C. home 
in 1884 and became a church-sponsored teacher among 
the Native Americans living in Dakota Territory. She 
taught English, art, and domestic science to students on 
the Rosebud, Pine Ridge, and Cheyenne River reserva- 

tions. Her teaching career ended in 1888 when she mar- 
ried Samuel Campbell, a Dakota mixed-blood. Fifty years 
later she related her experiences as a White teacher on 
Indian reservations to Kunigunde Duncan, who then com- 
piled them in this book, first published in 1938. This new 
edition contains an introduction by Bruce D. Forbes, 
professor of religion at Macalester College. 

U-bet: A Greenhorn in Old Montana. By John R. Bar- 
rows. Introduction by Richard B. Roeder. Lin- 
coln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. Origi- 
nally published: Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton 
Printers, 1934. Illustrated. 282 pp. Paper $8.95. 

In 1880, John Barrows, sixteen years old at the time, 
traveled from Wisconsin to Montana. After a short stead 
as a handyman, he became a cowboy and worked for the 
DHS Ranch until 1885. Barrows eventually became a law- 
yer, was elected twice to the Montana state legislature, 
and late in life became a writer. Upset with the distorted 
descriptions of the West in dime novels, which he had read 
growing up, and popular in movies in the 1930s, Barrows 
agreed to write a book presenting a more accurate pic- 
ture of western life. First published in 1934, U-bet: A Green- 
horn in Old Montana describes the transformation of the 
frontier in central Montana during the 1880s, the lives 
of the Indians in the area, and provides a realistic por- 
trayal of the life of a cowboy. This edition contains an 
introduction by Richard Roeder, history professor at Car- 
roll College, Helena, Montana. 


In reviewing my article, "Reform is Where You Find 
It," published in the Spring 1990 edition of the Annals, 
I noticed that I inadvertently attributed Benjamin Sheeks' 
1920 letter to Archibald Slack (p. 21). Sheeks, not Slack, 
believed that Julia Bright influenced her husband, Wil- 
liam, as the councilman contemplated introducing the 
woman suffrage bill. The information in footnote #81 is 
correct, as printed. 

Thanks for the opportunity to note this correction. 


Laramie, Wyoming 



Abney, J.C., 35-36 

Adams, Gerald M., "The Air Corps, Air Mail, and Cheyenne in 
1934," 131-139 

Adams, Gerald M. , The Post Near Cheyenne: A History of Fort D.A. Rus- 
sell, 1867-1930, review, 146-147 

Adventures in Old Wyoming, 1879-1884, compiled by Peggy H. Benja- 
min, review, 145-146 

Agriculture, 124 

Air Mail, 132-139 

"The Air Corps, Air Mail, and Cheyenne in 1934," Gerald M. 
Adams, 131-139 

Altorus Gulch, Wyoming, 4 

Anderson, William Marshall, 83-84 

Anthony, Susan, B., 26, 38, 49, 63-64 

Arnold, Henry H. "Hap," 133, 139 

Arnold, Mrs. M.B., 10, 64 

Ashley, William, 76 

Atlantic City, Wyoming, 4, 17 


Backus, Edward N., 135 

Baker, Nathan A., 25-26, 28-30, 33, 36-37, 41-42, 47, 49, 51-52, 59, 71 

Ball, John, 82, 84 

Barber, Amos, 124 

Barr, R.S., 13 

Bates, Redelia, 7-8, 28, 30, 38 

Bell, Faye V., Vanguard of the Valley: A History of the Ten Sleep Country, 

review, 106-107 
Benjamin, Peggy H., compiler, Adventures in Old Wyoming, 1879-1884, 

review 145-146 
Blair, Duncan, 16 
Boeing Air Transport, 132-133 
Bradley, CD., 26, 47 
Brady, James W., 9, 35-36, 43, 64 
Brainerd, Jean, review of Adventures in Old Wyoming, 1879-1884, 

Bridger, Jim, 76-77 

Bright, Julia, 5-6, 8, 11-12, 18, 21, 61-62, 70-71 
Bright, William H., 3, 5-12, 15, 17-21, 33-36, 41, 46, 49-50 55-56, 

59-64, 69-72; photo, 7 
Brown, M.C., 56-69 
Bryant, Edwin, 84, 87 

Caldwell, Frank G., 133, 139 

Calloway, Colin G., editor, New Directions in American Indian History, 

review, 144-145 
Campbell, John A., 6, 9-10, 13, 15-16, 21, 23, 27-28, 30, 33, 36-37, 

46, 50, 52, 54-55, 59, 63-69, 140, 142; photo, 38 
Campbell, Robert A., review of A Wyoming Mosaic: People and Places, 147 

Campbell, Robert A., review of Vanguard of the Valley: A History of the 

Ten Sleep Country, 106-107 
Campbell, Walter, 46, 66 

Carey, Joseph M., 30-31, 46, 50, 54, 57, 60, 63, 66 
Cariso Mine, 4-6, 11 
Carter, William A., 79, 86-87 
Castle, C.E., 16 

Castor, Major Bernard T., 133, 139; photo, 138 
Cemeteries, Cheyenne, 91-99 
Chalmers, Robert, 82 
"The Cheyenne Cemetery: Reflections of the Life of a City," Dennis 

Frobish, 90-99 
Cheyenne, Wyoming, 25, 28, 41-42, 91-99; photos, 29, 32, 90-91, 

93, 132-139; map 98 
Corlett, W.W., 53 
Curran, S.M., 8-9, 27, 34, 36, 43-44 


Dakota Territory, 26, 47 

Deer Creek, 80-81 

Democrats, 118-119 

Devil's Gate, 85-86 

Dickinson, Anna, 7, 28-30, 33, 42 

Dickinson, Norman R., A Wyoming Mosaic: People and Places, review, 

Douglas, J.N. , 35-37, 67, 69 
Downey, Stephen W., 141 

Eastham. J.V., 134 

Edgerton, Keith, review of The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, 

Ewig, Rick, "Wyoming Women as Jurors," 140-142 

A Fair Chance for a Free People: Karl E. Mundt, United States Senator, by 
Scott Heidepreim, review, 108-109 

Farley, Postmaster General James, 132 

Federal Government, 124-125 

Federalism, 120-122, 125, 128 

Fitzpatrick, Thomas, 76-77, 85 

Fleming, Sidney Howell, "Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle: One Suffrage 
Story at a Time," 23-72 

Flores, Verla R., Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming Coal Mining, 
review, 104-105 

Ford, B.L. (Barney), 60 

Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming Coal Mining, by A. Dudley Gard- 
ner and Verla R. Flores, review, 104-105 

Fort Bridger, 88-89 

Fort Laramie, 79 



Fosher, John, 16-18 

Foulois, Major General Benjamin, 132-133, 

Frobish, Dennis, "The Cheyenne Cemetery: 

of a City," 90-99 
Frye, Jack, 135, 139 

Kittredge, William, editor, The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, 
139 review, 105-106 

Reflections of the Life Kuykendall, William L., 16, 47, 56 

Gardner, A. Dudley, Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming Coal Min- 
ing, review, 104-105 

Green River, 88 

Gilkey, Signa A., 138 

Grenier, Jean D., 134 

Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far Western Frontier, by 
Elliot West, review, 107-108 

Gulliford, Andrew, review of Growing Up With the Country: Childhood 
on the Far Western Frontier, 107-108 


Haas, Herman, 36, 44 

Hadley, Amelia, 83, 86 

Hamilton City, Wyoming, 4 

Harrison, Dr. F.H., 16 

Hastings, Lansford, 85 

Hayford, J.H., 46-47, 50-51, 53-54, 61, 63, 70-71 

Hebard, Grace Raymond, 13, 19, 61-62, 70-71 

Hedren, Paul L., review of The Post Near Cheyenne: A History of Fort 

D.A. Russell, 1867-1930, 146-147 
Heidepreim, Scott, A Fair Chance for a Free People: Karl E. Mundt, United 

States Senator, review, 108-109 
Herrick, William, 36 
Hines, Celina, 79 
Holbrook, John, 7, 9, 36, 43-44 
Howard, Frank R., 136 
Howe, U.S. Marshal Church, 7, 46, 60 
Howe, Chief Justice John H., 10, 21, 28, 33, 37, 46, 59, 140-143 

Ice Springs, 86 
Independence Rock, 84-85 

Jenkins, Therese A., 58, 72 

Johnson, President Andrew, 117-118 

Johnston, William G., 79, 82-83, 87-88 

Jones, Judge William T., 15, 46 

Jordan, Roy A., "Wyoming: A New Centenni 

[udson, Phoebe G., 80 


" 114-130 


Kerwin, Arthur K., Jr., 136; photo, 135 

Kingman, Justice John W., 10, 13, 21, 44, 46, 49-50, 53, 56, 60, 
64-65, 68, 70, 140-141, 143; photo, 45 

Larson, T.A., 3, 18-19 

The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, edited by William Kittredge 

and Annick Smith, review, 105-106 
Laycock, Frederick, 35-36, 67 
Lee, Edward M., 8-10, 14-15, 21, 24, 27-28, 30, 33-34, 40, 46, 50-57, 

63, 69; photo, 51 
Leeper, David, 84-85 
Long, Priscilla, Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America 's Bloody 

Coal Industry, review, 104-105 


MacArthur, General Douglas, 133 

Massie, Michael A., "Reform is Where You Find It: The Roots of 
Woman Suffrage in Wyoming," 2-22 

McCray, William J., 138 

McDermott, John D. , review of The View from Officers ' Row: Army Per- 
ceptions of Western Indians, 144 

McGlashan, John R., 80, 83 

May, Richard M., 80, 82-83 

Menefee, James, 7, 9, 35-36, 44 

Miller, Louis, 30, 36, 60 

Miners Delight, Wyoming, 4, 17 

Moore, William Howard, review of A Fair Chance for a Free People: Karl 
E. Mundt, United States Senator, 108-109 

Morris, Edward, 11, 18 

Morris, Esther H., 3, 11-16, 18-21, 34-35, 41, 50-51, 55-56, 58-59, 
61-63, 69-71; photo, 12 

Morris, John, 11, 14, 18 

Morris, Robert, 11-12, 14, 18-20, 41, 61, 63 

Munger, Asahel, 82 

Munkres, Robert L., "Wyoming's Trails: A Centennial Celebration," 

Murrin, T.D., 35-36, 52-53 


Native Americans, 127-129 

Neil, Caroline, 14-15, 55 

New Directions in American Indian History, edited by Colin G. C 

review, 144-145 
Nickei-son, Herman G., 16, 19-21, 50, 62-63 
Nuckolls, S.F., 16, 33 


O'Donnell, John, 13 

Oregon Trail, 75-89; maps, 71-75, 81 

Oregon Trail — river crossings, 81-82 

Oregon Trail — weather, 78-79 

( )sborne, John I'... 124 



FALL 1990 

Paine, Mrs. Seth, 20 

Pease, L.D., 64 

Pease, Sarah Wallace, 140-143; photo, 48 

Pease, Sarah Wallace, "Recollections of One of the Grand Jurors of 

Albany County," 143 
Pierce, D.J., 47 

Plummer, Vivian, 137; photo, 137 
Plunkett, Horace, Sir, 47, 51, 56-58 
Poole, W.C., 35-36 
Post, Amalia, 10, 20, 33, 59, 63-64 
Post, Morton E., 47 
The Post Near Cheyenne: A History of Fort D.A. Russell, 1867-1930, by 

Gerald M. Adams, review 146-147 
Powell, John Wesley, 116 
Pratt, Orson, 80, 83-84, 87 
Pringle, Virgil, 78 

Sutton, Sarah, 83, 85 
Sweetwater Valley, 83-84 
Swingle, John, 13, 15 

Talbot, Theodore, 88-89 
Thornton, J. Quinn, 78-79, 87 
Train, George Francis, 28, 118 
Triggs, J.H., 60 


Union Pacific Railroad, 26-27, 117-118 
United Air Lines, 132-133, 138-139 
U.S. Army Air Corps, 132-139 
Unthank, A.H., 80-81 


"The Recollections of One of the Grand Jurors of Albany County," 

Sarah Wallace Pease, 143 
"Reform Is Where You Find It: The Roots of Woman Suffrage in 

Wyoming," Michael A. Massie, 2-22 
The Revolution, 26, 34, 38, 52, 55 
Richardson, H.G., 136 
Rickenbacker, Eddie, 134-135, 139 
Rockwell, William, 7-8, 34-36, 43 

Roosevelt, President Franklin D., 132-133, 135, 138-139 
Ryan, Tom, 4 

Schriever, Bernard A., 136 

Schultc, Steven O, review of New Directions in American Indian History, 

Sebree, Howard, 8, 36, 69 
Shaw, Anna Howard, 62 
Shedd, Frankie, 85 

Sheeks, Benjamin, 7-9, 14, 16, 34-36, 43-44, 50, 69-70 
Slack, Artemus, 1 1 

Slack, Edward Archibald, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 34, 61, 70 
Smith, Janet, 20 
Smith, Annick, editor, The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, review, 

Smith, C.W., 83 
Smith, Elizabeth Dixon, 87-89 
Smith, Jedediah, 76-77 
Smith, Sherry L., The View from Officers' Row: Army Perceptions of Western 

Indians, review, 144 
"Solving the Jigsaw Puzzle: One Suffrage Story at a Time," Sidney 

Howell Fleming, 23-72 
South Pass, 86-87 

South Pass City, Wyoming, 3-21, 59-60; photo, 2 
Stillman, James W., 12-14 
Strong, J. C, 8, 34, 36-37, 43-44, 47, 50 

Vanguard of the Valley: A History of the Ten Sleep Country, by Faye V. Bell, 

review, 106-107 
The View from Officers' Row: Army Perceptions of Western Indians, by Sherry 

L. Smith, review, 144 


Wardman, George, 7-9, 16, 35-36, 67 

Warren, Francis E., 123-124 

Waters, Lydia Milner, 85 

West, Elliot, Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far Western 

Frontier, review, 107-108 
Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America's Bloody Coal Industry, 

by Priscilla Long, review, 104-105 
White, E.D., 134 

Whitehead, J. R., 32, 34-36, 43, 52, 56 
Willcox, Hamilton, 47, 50, 55 
Willow Creek, 4, 11 
Wilson, C.E., 16 
Wilson, George, 34, 46, 67 
Wilson, Posey S., 9, 30, 36, 63 
Wind River Reservation, 128 
Wolff, David, review of Forgotten Frontier: A History of Wyoming Coal 

Mining, 104-105 
Wolff, David, review of Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America 's 

Bloody Coal Industry, 104-105 
Woman Suffrage, 3-21, 23-72, 118-119, 140-143 
Wyoming Air Service, 132-139 ■ 

"Wyoming: A New Centennial Reflection," Roy A.Jordan, 114-130 
Wyoming Constitution, 120-123 
A Wyoming Mosaic: People and Places, by Norman R. Dickinson, review, 

"Wyoming Women as Jurors," Rick Ewig, 140-142 
"Wyoming's Trails: A Centennial Celebration," Robert L. Munkres, 



- %V7 

Recollections continued 

hideous manner. Some of us were represented as hold- 
ing babies in our laps, and doubtless you all remember 
the threadbare couplet that appeared in about every 
newspaper and still has a place in the guide books: 

"Baby, baby, don't get in a fury; 

Your mamma's gone to sit on a jury." 

Some of us were represented as sharp nosed spinsters, 
holding a favorite cat or lap dog. They gave our genealo- 
gies from way back, in fact told all about us, but it must 
be confessed that what they said was not very flattering. 
However, we managed to survive the trying ordeal, for 
what cared we for such sublunary things, then fired by 
a lofty ambition and patriotic zeal to serve our country? 
We did feel deeply chagrined by the acts of one woman 
on that jury, and her conduct irritated us continually. She 
would persist in sitting there and knitting all day long. 

The grand jury was in session three weeks, and 
worked diligently and faithfully. Prosecuting Attorney 
Downey brought before the jury a large number of bills 
for consideration, including several murder cases and also 
those charged with horse and cattle stealing and illegal 
branding. The option prevailed then that a man would 
rather be tried for murder than for stealing a Texas steer. 

It did seem rather odd to hear the county attorney 
in reading the bills, begin: "We, good and lawful male 
and female jurors, on our oaths do say," etc. The jury 
had been charged by the court to make an investigation 
of all evil doing coming to its knowledge, without fear or 
favor. Therefore we felt it our sworn duty to bring to the 
notice of the jury some delicate matters, which subjected 
our moral courage to most severe tests. It was the ladies 
of that grand jury that demanded that the law should be 
enforced regarding the closing of saloons on Sunday. This 
proved to be a bomb thrown into the camp of the enemy. 
Nothing that had been done before created so much ill 
feeling. All day Sunday the streets were filled with excited 
people. Deep and loud were the anathemas heaped upon 
the heads of that jury. The court was persistent in enforc- 
ing the law, and imposed fines and penalties without stint. 

It is recommended that if a bad law exists, that the most 
effective way to get rid of it, is to enforce it until it becomes 
obnoxious, hence it is needless to state that the next ses- 
sion of the legislature with a zeal worthy of a better cause, 
lost no time in repealing this particular law. 

One of the petit jurors was the wife of a Methodist 
minister, and a devoted Christian woman. Before attend- 
ing court each day she prayed, asking divine aid to guide 
them to a just verdict. The story had obtained credence 
that former juries were in the habit of flipping coppers, 
shaking dice or playing a game of cards to determine what 
that verdict should be. The prisoner at the bar, in one 
case, was a handsome young man, of pale, dreamy 
Byronic type, and it was whispered that the susceptible 
feminine heart would be duly influenced by these exter- 
nal things. However, they promptly voted a verdict of 
guilty, and he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. 

Finally the grand jury closed its labors, and were taken 
in to the court room to be discharged. Greatly to our sur- 
prise Chief Justice Howe took occasion to highly commend 
the services of the jury. He complimented the ladies in 
the highest terms of praise. This coming from such a 
source had a tendency to make us believe that we would 
make just as good jurors as the men, if not a great deal 
better. We were also convinced that Judge Howe was the 
embodiment of all that was wise, great and good, and the 
best judge Wyoming ever had or ever would have. 

Ladies were called to serve in Laramie during three 
successive terms of court, when Judge Howe resigned his 
position on account of ill health. His successor did not 
favor the service for women on juries since which time 
the law has not been enforced. 

It having been ascertained that I was one of the few 
women that served as a juror in the pioneer days of Wyo- 
ming, the task has devolved upon me to give its history, 
but I can sincerely wish with you, my readers, that the 
narrative had fallen into abler hands than mine. 

Sarah 1 1 allace Pease 

On July 10, 1990, several thousand spectators at the state Capitol witnessed the reenactment of the official 
statehood ceremony which occurred on July 23, 1890.