Brigida R. (Brie) Blasi

Brigida (Brie) Blasi is a public historian and museum professional. She grew up in southwestern Wyoming and earned a B.A. in Humanities and Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming in 2003. She then went on to earn an M.A. in History with specialization in Public History from New Mexico State University in 2007. After working in museums, historic sites, archives, and historic preservation in New Mexico and Texas for several years, she returned to her home state to become curator and later executive director at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River. She has also served on the boards and committees of several Wyoming organizations and, most recently, she has returned to the University of Wyoming to join the staff of the American Heritage Center as its public history educator.

In 1894, newspapers across Wyoming filled with stories of jobless men headed east along the railroads. Coxey’s Army, they were called, named for their “general.” All were unemployed, many were hungry, but they were bound for the center of the nation’s power. It became the first march on Washington.

Lifelong criminal James Costin forged checks, passed them, stole money from his employers and coyote pelts from a ranch. In April 1933, though he only drove the getaway car, he masterminded a bank robbery in Green River. Later, he sued the men who tried to shake him down for the loot.

Black strikebreakers were imported to the company coal town of Dana on the Union Pacific line in February 1890, but may instead have joined a strike there against unfair pay. Their presence made Dana the only coal town ever in Wyoming with a Black majority. Later, many settled in Hanna and Rock Springs.

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.