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Rocky Ridge

Their wagons lurching over sharp boulders up a steep grade, westbound emigrants found a particularly difficult stretch of trail about 40 miles east of South Pass. The late-starting Willie Company of Mormons pulling handcarts suffered terribly here in 1856. For many, the end of the journey was a grave.

Making a Home in Empire, Wyo.

Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.

Father De Smet in Wyoming

A childhood love of adventure eventually led the Belgian Jesuit priest Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to become a missionary to the Indians of the Rocky Mountains. He traveled throughout the northern Rockies, along the way celebrating the first Catholic Mass in what’s now Wyoming on July 5, 1840, during the Green River Rendezvous. In 1851, members of his party named Lake De Smet for him as they traveled from the Missouri River in present Montana to assist in treaty negotiations with the plains tribes near Fort Laramie.

Journey to Martin’s Cove: The Mormon Handcart Tragedy of 1856

In August 1856, more than 1,000 Mormon emigrants in the Willie and Martin handcart companies left Florence, Nebraska Territory, with plans of reaching Salt Lake City and the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before winter. Their late start, substandard equipment and lack of sufficient supplies had disastrous consequences when they were hit by winter storms. Hundreds died on the journey across what’s now Wyoming and into Utah. Images of emigrant families pulling handcarts have since become an LDS Church icon of the triumph of faith over adversity.

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Encyclopedia | In 1862, Charlotte Dansie and her family sailed from England with hundreds of other Mormon converts, then gathered with others near Omaha to set out for Salt Lake—all while having a difficult pregnancy with her eighth child. Her descendants managed to relocate her grave in 1939 near Pacific Springs.
Encyclopedia | Their wagons lurching over sharp boulders up a steep grade, westbound emigrants found a particularly difficult stretch of trail about 40 miles east of South Pass. The late-starting Willie Company of Mormons pulling handcarts suffered terribly here in 1856. For many, the end of the journey was a grave.
Encyclopedia | Stability can be fleeting in a boom-and-bust economy, especially for racial minorities facing discrimination. African-Americans struggled to earn respect in early 20th century Wyoming, and building churches in Rock Springs and other towns helped them anchor their lives with a sense of belonging.
Encyclopedia | Two highly educated families of African-American farmers founded Empire, Wyo., near the Nebraska line northeast of Torrington in 1908. At one time it boasted school, church and post office. But drought, low crop prices and, evidence shows, the racial prejudices of their neighbors drove the people away; all were gone by 1930.
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin was still largely unsettled in 1900 when irrigation-minded Mormon colonizers from Utah established the towns of Byron and Cowley, expanded Lovell and began digging the Sidon Canal on the Shoshone River. Their influence settled and stabilized a previously lawless part of the state. 
Encyclopedia | In March 1965, clergyman James Reeb, a graduate of Natrona County High School and Casper College, marched in Selma, Ala., with the Rev. Martin Luther King to protect black voting rights. Reeb was murdered soon afterward. Publicity surrounding his death helped move Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act later that year.
Oral Histories | Jamie Buckley King attended third grade at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.
Oral Histories | Tina Cook was the secretary at Cokeville Elementary School in Cokeville, Wyo., on May 16, 1986, when David and Doris Young took her and 153 other people hostage at the school, and detonated a bomb inside. The Youngs both died that day. Everyone else survived.

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