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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

People & Peoples

Fenimore Chatteron

Fenimore Chatterton was born in Oswego County, New York on July 21, 1860. Chatterton was raised in Washington, D.C. where he attended public schools. After attending Columbian University (now George Washington University) Chatterton graduated from Millersville State Normal School in Lancaster, PA. He moved to Wyoming in 1878 and became a clerk in a general mercantile and banking concern.

Verda James, First Full-term Woman Speaker of Wyoming's House of Representatives

Verda James, a schoolteacher, deputy director of public instruction for the state of Wyoming, assistant superintendent of the Natrona County schools, and later a faculty member at Casper College, was first elected to the Wyoming House in 1954. She served eight terms. During the last term, 1969-1970, she was elected House speaker, the first woman to serve in that position for a full term.

The Reverend John Roberts, Missionary to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes

The Welsh-born Episcopal priest John Roberts arrived in 1883 at Fort Washakie on what’s now the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, became a friend of the Shoshone chief Washakie, and served the Shoshone and Arapaho people with a loving paternalism well into his old age. John Roberts died in 1949.

Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate 1995-2002

The clear, quiet poetry and fiction of Robert Roripaugh, poet laureate of Wyoming from 1995 through 2002, has long been informed by his youth on his family’s ranch near Lander. In the early 1950s, Roripaugh won bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of the Wyoming before spending two years with the U.S. Army in Japan, where he met and married his wife, Yoshiko. In 1958, the Atlantic Monthly published a short story, and Roripaugh has been publishing and winning prizes on a national level ever since. Also that year he began teaching in the English department at the University of Wyoming, rising to the rank of full professor before retiring in 1993.

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Encyclopedia | Edward Ivinson made a fortune in banking in Laramie, Wyo. in the 19th century. Late in life, he turned to philanthropy, making large contributions to benefit his town and community. His generosity funded a hospital, a cathedral, a home for aging ladies and an orphanage, all in Laramie.
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.
Encyclopedia | The Finley Site, located near Eden in Sweetwater County, Wyo., was used by early American Indians to trap and kill bison. The Finley Site is an early Holocene Paleo-Indian bison-kill and processing area, dating back about 7,500 to 12,500 years before the present. This was the first place where Eden points and two kinds of Scottsbluff projectile points were found together, showing that the three were contemporaneous. The Finley Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Encyclopedia | Stephen Wheeler Downey was a prominent Laramie lawyer active in public life in Wyoming for more than 30 years beginning in 1869. He served in the territorial and state legislatures where he was an early supporter of votes for women and introduced legislation to found the university of Wyoming. He served in the U.S. Congress as Wyoming’s territorial delegate, as a member of the convention that drew up the state constitution in 1889, as president of the University of Wyoming trustees, and, at the beginning and end of his career, as Albany County’s prosecuting attorney. He died in 1902 and is buried in Laramie.
Encyclopedia | Samuel H. “Doc” Knight taught geology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. from 1916 until his retirement in 1963. For a decade he was the only geology teacher, but as his classes began to grow in size and popularity the geology department expanded into a nationally recognized program. He established the university’s science camp in the mountains west of Laramie and revitalized the university’s geological museum. Knight taught an estimated 10,000 students throughout his career and was known to many “Mr. Geology of Wyoming.”
Encyclopedia | Emma Knight, the University of Wyoming’s first dean of women, bore four children and served seven years as the Albany County, Wyoming superintendent of schools before she finally graduated from the university in 1911, the same year as her daughter. The wife and mother of UW professors of geology—Wilbur and Samuel H. Knight—she was highly regarded by her students and colleagues. Knight Hall on the UW campus is named in her honor.
Encyclopedia | Mary Godat Bellamy, Wyoming’s first woman legislator, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1910, where she sponsored bills aimed at improving the lives of women and children. She was active as well in the national movement for votes for women.
Encyclopedia | Owen Wister’s enormously popular novel, The Virginian, published in 1902, was set in Wyoming and established the cowboy in American literature as the noble, competent, humorous, laconic hero still familiar today. Wister, a Philadelphian, first came to Wyoming in 1885, looking for stories and better health. He visited the state 14 more times between then and 1900, writing and publishing western stories and books of stories before The Virginian made him famous and rich, and set a pattern for thousands of western novels and films to come.

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