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People & Peoples

Carrie Burton Overton, First African-American Female Student at UW

Carrie Burton Overton, the first female African-American student at the University of Wyoming, triumphed over poverty and race prejudice in the course of her long life. After training as a stenographer at UW, she earned music diplomas from Howard University and the Juilliard School and, later, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. 

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Encyclopedia | In 1869 and 1871, John Wesley Powell led two expeditions from Wyoming Territory down the Green and Colorado rivers. These and other explorations brought him to a profound understanding of how the West’s aridity limits its economic prospects. He directed the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881-1894, and his ideas still affect land and water policy today. 
Encyclopedia | In 1905, Congress ratified an agreement with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho by which the tribes ceded 1.5 million acres of reservation land north of the Big Wind River. Tribal leaders questioned the final terms, however, and payments were slow in coming and fell far short of promised levels.
Encyclopedia | With the buffalo gone and poverty, hunger and disease increasing, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes came under intense pressure in the 1890s to sell their land. In 1896, they sold the U.S. government a piece of their reservation ten miles square—including the splendid hot springs at present Thermopolis, Wyo.
Encyclopedia | Congress in 1887 passed the Dawes Act, setting up a framework for dividing up tribal lands on reservations into plots to be held by individual Indian owners, after which they could be leased or sold to anyone. Critics saw it as a method clearly intended to transfer lands out of Indian hands. 
Encyclopedia | Aven Nelson, one of the University of Wyoming’s original faculty, became a world famous botanist. He founded the Rocky Mountain Herbarium on campus, which contains 1.3 million plant specimens from throughout the world. From 1917-1922, he served as university president, but was happy to return to botany when he got the chance.
Encyclopedia | In the life of American novelist Ernest Hemingway, scenes of hunting, a wedding, miscarriage, injuries and physical degeneration all found Wyoming settings. Friendships grew, he fished with his sons, and he wrote much of his best work here—with great energy, productivity, and vividness. 
Encyclopedia | In October 1918, when a deadly flu was sweeping the world, a Casper newspaper offered advice as sound now as it was then: Avoid crowds, wash your hands often, “[d]on’t worry, and keep your feet warm.” But there was reason to worry. Schools, churches and businesses closed—and 780 Wyomingites died.
Encyclopedia | Mountaineer Finis Mitchell shared his love of the Wind River Range through postcards, public talks and a famed, hip-pocket hiking guide. He ran a fishing camp, worked on the railroad, stocked mountain lakes with fingerling trout and served in the Wyoming House of Representatives. Mitchell Peak was named in his honor. 

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