The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Thomas Moonlight

Thomas Moonlight was born of Scottish farmer parentage, in Forfarshire, Scotland, November 10, 1833. He came to America when he was thirteen years old. After Moonlight turned twenty, he enlisted in the Fourth Artillery C. D., May 17, 1853. The fall of that year he was ordered to Texas and served there until the fall of 1856. Moonlight rose to the rank of orderly sergeant and then settled in Leavenworth County, Kansas in 1860. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 Moonlight raised a light battery and was mustered in as a captain of artillery. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Eleventh Kansas Infantry, September 20,1862, Moonlight then made the rank of colonel, April 25, 1864.

Ordered to Fort Laramie in the spring of 1865, the regiment was distributed to various posts and stations throughout the northern subdistricts of the plains. Colonel Thomas Moonlight was placed in command at that time. Jim Bridger, the famed mountain scout, acted as guide to Thomas Moonlight on his expedition from Fort Laramie to Wind River, while he was in command of Fort Laramie.

Moonlight's Republican contacts obtained him positions as a presidential elector in 1864, and helped him be appointed United States Collector of Internal Revenue in 1867. Although elected Secretary of State for Kansas in 1868, Moonlight soon severed his relations with the Republican party due to his views on prohibition and became a Democrat in 1870. He was elected State Senator for Leavenworth County in 1872 and then appointed Governor of Wyoming Territory by President Cleveland on January 5, 1887. Governor Moonlight took the oath of office January 24, 1887 serving until April 9, 1889 and continued in government service as Minister to Bolivia for President Cleveland from 1893 to 1897. Thomas Moonlight died February 7, 1899, at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Term as Governor: Monday, January 24, 1887 - Tuesday, April 09, 1889