WyoHistory.org

The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Randy Brown

Randy Brown

Longtime historic trails scholar Randy Brown is author of Graves and Sites on the Oregon and California Trails (1998) and Inscriptions on Western Emigrant Trails (2004), both published by the Oregon-California Trails Association. A retired schoolteacher, he lives in Douglas, Wyo. and serves as preservation officer for the association’s Wyoming chapter.

The Grave of Ephraim Brown

Out of nearly 200 people who died from murder or other homicides on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, only one lies in a grave with a known location. Missourian Ephraim Brown, a leading figure on a wagon train bound for California, was killed near South Pass in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute. Details, however—who killed him, why and how—are frustratingly sketchy.

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Encyclopedia | In July 1862, a large train of 80 wagons was passing through mountains in what’s now western Wyoming when, within a matter of days, serious troubles led to the deaths of two women and their infants. Elizabeth Paul’s grave remains at the site under a tall pine.
Encyclopedia | The California Gold Rush lured many men away from their families. One was Charles Hatch of Wisconsin, who appears to have died of a fever after a June snowstorm near what’s now Farson, Wyo. His grave is on a bluff by the Big Sandy River near the Oregon/California Trail.
Encyclopedia | Seven pioneer graves survive in Wyoming from 1852, when more emigrants traveled the Oregon Trail than any other year. Near Fort Laramie, Mary Homsley and her baby died from measles, nearly as deadly as cholera at the time. She is buried under a stone on which her husband scratched her name.
Encyclopedia | In 1850, 19-year-old Alvah Unthank left Indiana to head to California with the Newport Mining Company. In late June, he carved his name at Register Cliff, but a few days later, he succumbed to cholera. His grave near present Glenrock, Wyo. is among the best preserved on the historic trails.

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