The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Firsthand stories, an impressive professor, a royal's visit and a forty-niner's death on the trail

Firsthand stories, an impressive professor, a royal's visit and a forty-niner's death on the trail

March 2018

We debut a new digital toolkit this month, featuring first-hand accounts of the July 1865 fights at Platte Bridge, near present Casper, Wyo.—one version from a soldier and one from a Cheyenne warrior. A university professor who pioneered in her field, an emperor who made the first royal visit to Wyoming, an account of a forty-niner’s death on the trail and a 1901 stagecoach passenger’s jolting, sleepless journey round out our offerings for March. We continue our book listing as well, highlighting a new one about Army laundresses on the frontier.

March is Women’s History Month, and we invite you also to scroll down to locate links to stories of many more women featured on WyoHistory.org. 

A renowned UW professor

June Etta Downey, longtime head of the University of Wyoming psychology department, was an internationally recognized expert in personality testing. She published seven books and scores of articles, and served on the UW faculty for 34 years before her death in 1932. Read more in writer Rebecca Hein’s article “June Downey: Scientist, Scholar, Poet” at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/june-downey-scientist-scholar-and-poet.

First royal to visit Wyoming  

In 1876, Dom Pedro II, emperor of Brazil, traveled the United States in advance of the celebration in Philadelphia that year of the nation’s centennial. A Cheyenne Leader reporter managed to get a story—even though the emperor’s train stopped in the Magic City in the middle of the night. Learn more in historian Phil Roberts’s article https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/emperor-crosses-wyoming-1876.

Stagecoach travel, 1901

In 1901, a Casper newspaper ran this account of a 140-mile stagecoach trip from Casper to Thermopolis. The journey lasts a night, a day and another night. Rough roads make sleep impossible. But the food is pretty good and the service friendly at ranches along the way. Read more in “Riding the Casper-Thermopolis Stage, 1901” at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/riding-stage-casper-thermopolis-1901.

New Digital Toolkit

The battles at Platte Bridge in July 1865 were among the most significant in the Indian Wars of the northern Plains. Here we offer two first-hand accounts—one from a U.S. Army private and a second from a Cheyenne warrior—as part of a new digital toolkit of Wyoming history. Learn more at

More Oregon Trail Sites

On July 8, 1849, Charles Bishop, a member of the lavishly equipped Washington City and California Mining Association, died of cholera en route to the California gold fields. His gravesite, one of just 10 of the trailside forty-niner graves that still exist, lies near Torrington, Wyo. Read more in trails historian Randy Brown’s article “The Death of Charles Bishop” at https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/death-charles-bishop.

Watch for more articles soon about Wyoming’s historic trails, part of a collaboration with the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and TravelStorysGPS™ of Wilson, Wyo., to transfer to WyoHistory.org the information on many dozens of trails spots from a historic-trails website SHPO developed a dozen years ago, and to make GPS-triggered audio information about the sites available to smartphone-using travelers.

Timely Books 

Soap Suds Row: The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses, 1802-1876 by Jennifer J. Lawrence, 160 pages, High Plains Press, 2016. Trade paper $18.95; limited edition hardcover, $29.95.

This 2017 Women Writing the West Willa Award winner for scholarly nonfiction details the difficult lives of Army laundresses throughout the West, including information about the women who performed their duties at several of Wyoming’s posts. The author provides in-depth discussion of work, family and social life, as well as the negative aspects of the job, bringing more balanced coverage to what has often been a lopsided depiction of these women and their lives and work. The book, also recognized in the 2017 Wyoming State Historical Society awards, earning second place in the nonfiction category, is available at local bookstores and online as well as directly from the publisher at http://www.highplainspress.com.

More Wyoming women at WyoHistory.org

Read more about other fascinating women in Wyoming’s history at: