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People & Peoples

John B. Kendrick: Cowboy, Cattle King, Governor and U.S. Senator

John B. Kendrick rose from poverty to great wealth and later to the pinnacle of political power. He arrived in Wyoming Territory in 1879 with a Texas trail herd, and by the early years of the 20th century was running his own ranches and a local bank. A Democrat, he was elected governor in 1914, and later served three terms in the U.S. Senate. There he worked tirelessly on irrigation, land use, and protection of natural resources. With humor, charm, broad intelligence and a willingness to work with political opponents, he became a model for long-term success as a Democrat in a Republican state.

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Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Nellie Tayloe Ross, a Democrat, was elected governor of Wyoming a month after her governor husband, William Ross, died of appendicitis in the fall of 1924. She ran because of respect for her husband’s Progressive ideas and also as a result of her own ambition. She lost her bid for re-election in 1926, but went on to figure prominently in the leadership of the national Democratic Party. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to direct the U.S. Mint after he took office in 1933, a job she held for 20 years. She died in Washington in 1977, at the age of 101.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | Was she a hard-drinking, swashbuckling mule skinner and Indian fighter? Or an alcoholic prostitute, stuck in menial jobs in a life both dreary and mundane? Calamity Jane's life is two stories: the facts of her biography, and the romantic tales that came to comprise the Calamity Jane legend.
Encyclopedia | Tom Horn, stock detective and hired killer, was hanged in Cheyenne in 1903 for a crime he probably did not commit. He remains controversial because of lingering questions about his guilt and the nature of the trial. Horn’s death remains important as it shows the power of Wyoming’s cattle barons, once substantial, beginning at last to wane.
Encyclopedia | Early Wyoming was seen as a hardscrabble place. But after 1900, dude ranches showed off Wyoming’s mountain scenery, fishing, hunting and hospitality, and thanks to the elite guests’ taste-making powers, Wyoming and the West became associated less with cold wind and distance and more with romantic glories.
Encyclopedia | Elwood Mead was only 30 in 1888 when Territorial Gov. Thomas Moonlight hired him to bring order to Wyoming’s water law. As territorial engineer Mead did just that, and his ideas were written into the state constitution adopted in 1890. Mead spent only 11 years in Wyoming, but all his life carried with him what he learned in the state.
Encyclopedia | Celebrated Wyoming sculptor Robert Russin created works of all sizes in bronze and stone. Though not a native of the state, Russin lived and taught in Laramie for sixty years, and his work continues to influence artists, students, collectors and the public.

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