The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Breaking stereotypes and challenging rules

Breaking stereotypes and challenging rules

July 2019

This month, we tell the story of a pioneer African-American family ranching in Lincoln County and another of a strong-minded teenager and his mother bucking local school rules.

A black rancher

Starting in 1900, African-American homesteader Alonzo “Lon” Stepp built a prosperous ranch of about 1,700 acres on the Green River in Lincoln County, where Fontenelle Reservoir is now, triumphing in an era and a region where few blacks could claim such achievement. His descendants still live in the area. Learn more from Jonita Sommers’s article “Breaking a Stereotype: Black Rancher Alonzo Stepp.”

Challenge to school rules

In September 1967, Loren Evans, a ninth grader at Casper’s Dean Morgan Junior High, was suspended for refusing to get a haircut. Public controversy, vigorous on both sides, continued for three years while Evans studied college-level books at home. Read more in Rebecca Hein’s article “High School Hair Wars: 1960s Casper Board Suspends Boy’s Education.”

Reopening of the Wyoming State Capitol

More than 130 years after it first opened to the public, the newly restored Wyoming Capitol is reopening with festivities and an open house the afternoon of July 10, Wyoming Statehood Day. “I am delighted to see the completion of this historic project that protects the People’s House for future generations and ushers in a new era . . . I hope all Wyoming residents can attend this historic event, because the building belongs to them,” said Tony Ross, Chairman of the Capitol Rehabilitation and Restoration Oversight Group. Wyoming’s capitol is one of only 20 state capitols designated as a National Historic Landmark. 
Festivities begin at noon with live music and food trucks. Ribbon cutting is at 1 p.m. Tours of the building will run from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Click here for details. See more about the renovations at the Wyoming Capitol Square Project
The Wyoming State Museum also has a special exhibit about the Capitol. While the “Planning Your Class Visit to Cheyenne” section focuses on the needs of teachers and their students, others can learn more about the capitol through the information provided on the website and about the features of the special exhibit. Read more at http://wyospcr.state.wy.us/CapitolComplex/wyomingStateCapitol.html.

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center Summer Trail Treks

The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper has scheduled guided treks along the Oregon/California/Mormon/Pony Express trails this summer. All are open to the public. All depart from the NHTIC parking lot at 8 a.m. on Saturdays, except for the trek that leaves from the parking lot of Scotts Bluff National Monument at 9 a.m. July 27—most people will want to drive to Nebraska the night before. High-clearance vehicles are recommended; plan to carpool if possible. Bring lunch, water and sunscreen. See dates and general areas covered by the treks below. For more details on each trek’s likely stops and sights, contact Jason Vlcan at the Trails Center at (307) 261-7783, Jason_Vlcan@blm.gov.

  • July 13—Douglas/Glenrock  area to Casper
  • July 27—Scotts Bluff National Monument Trek – Spirited Pioneers
  • August 31—Douglas /McKinstry Ridge area
  • September 28—Emigrant Gap Hike/Walk/Family Fun

Women Suffrage Events throughout 2019

The Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) designated 2019 as “The Year of Wyoming Women,” to celebrate the 150th anniversary Territorial Governor John Campbell’s signing into law the measure giving women the right to  vote  on Dec. 10, 1869. See more at “Wyoming: Home of the Women’s Vote,” at https://www.travelwyoming.com/wyoming-womens-suffrage.
Learn more about women suffrage in Wyoming in these, and other, WyoHistory.org articles: