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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

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 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.
Encyclopedia | A childhood love of adventure eventually led the Belgian Jesuit priest Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to become a missionary to the Indians of the Rocky Mountains. He traveled throughout the northern Rockies, along the way celebrating the first Catholic Mass in what’s now Wyoming on July 5, 1840, during the Green River Rendezvous. In 1851, members of his party named Lake De Smet for him as they traveled from the Missouri River in present Montana to assist in treaty negotiations with the plains tribes near Fort Laramie.
Encyclopedia | In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt included Wyoming in his 25-state tour of the western United States. He spent nearly three weeks in Yellowstone National Park, gave a speech in Newcastle, and on the return leg from California, left the train long enough for a well-publicized horseback ride from Laramie to Cheyenne, and two extra days politicking and socializing in Wyoming’s capital.

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