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People & Peoples

The Old West's Female Champion: Caroline Lockhart and Wyoming's Cowboy Heritage

Caroline Lockhart wrote a handful of novels about Wyoming in the early 20th century. They made her famous and rich, and they hold up well today. At the same time, she was a new kind of activist, a central figure in bringing to the town of Cody and the state of Wyoming a new kind of nostalgia-based culture that both have embraced ever since.

The Muries: Wilderness Leaders in Wyoming

From their modest upbringings, Mardy and Olaus Murie became diligent, adventurous and charismatic leaders of the American conservation movement. With their siblings, Louise and Adolph Murie, they shaped conservation biology and ecology and are credited with some of our country’s most historic efforts to protect wild lands. The two couples split their time between remote Alaska and a ranch at the feet of the Tetons, where the Murie Center carries on their efforts today.

Francis E. Warren: A Massachusetts Farm Boy Who Changed Wyoming

Businessman, family man, territorial and state governor, U.S. Senator: Francis E. Warren succeeded in all of these roles, but he is best known for long service in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Wyoming. A Massachusetts native, Warren arrived in Cheyenne in 1868, when the city was still a mass of tents and other temporary structures, and quickly became involved in its business and politics. By around 1900 he was Wyoming’s most powerful Republican, and ran his party’s so-called Warren Machine for decades by patronage and pork-barrel politics.

Bob David's War: A Wyoming Soldier Serves in France

Bob David, an adopted boy reared by a well-to-do Wyoming family, never felt he truly belonged until he joined the military and went to France during World War I. He served in an artillery unit and survived numerous onslaughts during battle as well as a severe bout of the flu during the 1918 pandemic, which occurred as he was returning home. He recounted his experiences in a long manuscript and other items that became the core of the Casper College Western History Center. Bob David died in 1968.

Pictures on Rock: What Pictographs and Petroglyphs Say about the People Who Made Them

The earliest people appear to have come to Wyoming from Asia about 11,000 years ago and archaeologists now think there’s a good chance the people were direct ancestors of Shoshone people who live in Wyoming now. In recent years, the mostly white archaeologists have realized it makes sense to ask Shoshone people for help understanding the pictures and carvings their ancestors left on the rocks.

J. B. Okie, Sheep King of Central Wyoming

The vivid, charismatic J. B. Okie raised sheep near Badwater Creek at the turn of the last century, and was so successful he was called “Sheep King.” A businessman with great vision, he soon owned half a dozen stores in small towns in central Wyoming, and eventually an equal number in Mexico. Lost Cabin, Wyo., named for the legendary Lost Cabin Mine, was his base. Okie built an opulent mansion there, a big bunkhouse for employees, bungalows for guests, an office building, a roller rink, a golf course and an aviary full of birds of paradise (left), cockatoos and macaws.

Gathering the Tribes: The Cheyennes Come Together after Sand Creek

The Tongue River in northern Wyoming must have been as beautiful as it is now when George Bent saw it in 1865, with big, lazy curves under cottonwoods, the grass thickening on its banks and the trees sending out their first green shoots in early May. Nowadays, irrigated hay fields and the tiny towns of Dayton and Ranchester lie along the river. In May of 1865, however, one stretch of it was packed with human beings. That month, there was as large a town on the Tongue as that river has ever seen.

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Oral Histories | Former sheepherder, ranch foreman and schoolteacher Henry Jensen was past president of Wyoming’s historical and archeological societies. One day in the early 1990s he and Casper science teachers Dana Van Burgh and Terry Logue drove southwest from Casper to Devil’s Gate, noting all kinds of geology, archeology and history along the way. 
Encyclopedia | The 1911 murder of newlyweds Edna and Thomas Jenkins remains unsolved. But the crime on a ranch south of Tensleep still fascinates because of senselessness, the lack of hard evidence pointing at any single suspect—though three were considered—and the social prominence of the victims.
Encyclopedia | Laramie lawyer M.C. Brown tried thousands of cases during his legal career. President William McKinley’s appointment of Brown to a federal judgeship in Alaska in 1900, however, proved disastrous for the attorney, who returned to Wyoming where he continued to practice law, but on a much smaller scale. 
Encyclopedia | Cheyenne schoolteacher Harriett Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd, Wyoming’s first black woman legislator, served in the Wyoming House and Senate from 1981-92. She concentrated on social justice issues, and nine times sponsored a bill to make Martin Luther King day a state holiday before it was finally adopted in 1990.
Encyclopedia | John Campbell took office as the first governor of Wyoming Territory in 1869. A Republican appointed by President U.S. Grant, Campbell found the job plagued by partisan conflict with Democrats, an overbearing Union Pacific Railroad and by factionalism within his own party—but he left sturdy political structures behind him. 
Encyclopedia | Wyoming’s first poet laureate, award-winning poet and fiction writer Peggy Simson Curry, grew up on a ranch in North Park, Colo., a world that informed much of her work. As an adult she taught writing at Casper College for 25 years, nurturing the work and hopes of generations of writers that followed her. 
Encyclopedia | In January 1949, a massive blizzard rocketed through central and southeastern Wyoming and nearby states killing 76 people and tens of thousands of animals and leaving memories in its wake that are still vivid more than 65 years later. 
Encyclopedia | The brilliant lawyer Willis Van Devanter of Cheyenne made a name for himself in the 1890s as a loyal Republican and protector of the interests of the powerful. He was rewarded with a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1910, where he served as a staunch conservative for 27 years.

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