How To Make A Matress

Not satisfied with the commercially produced mattresses available today? Have you ever wonder how to make your own? Well thank goodness the Wyoming Agricultural Extension Service (now the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service) can help! Since 1914, in addition to providing advice on livestock and crops, the Extension Service provided folks with demonstrations and workshops on everything from canning garden produce and sewing clothes to how to use color in home decoration and how to refinish furniture. In this series of photos from the 1940s, Wyoming Home Economics Specialist Pauline Bunting helps an unidentified community group stitch and stuff mattresses.

Between 1987 and 1989, the Wyoming Extension Homemaker’s Council interviewed many of the long time homemakers club members  about their experiences with homemakers extension clubs over the years. Many of these women started in the clubs in the 1930s and 1940s as new brides. Several mentioned community mattress making projects and demonstrations like this one during their club days, and especially during the early 1940s and World War II.

In the fall of the year we used to make mattresses. We went to the community hall, everyone in the neighborhood that needed mattresses. The government would furnish the cotton and the material for the mattresses, but we had instructions that showed us how to make ‘em. We could make about four mattresses at a time… I can’t remember how long it took us to make a mattress, three days I think. By the time we got finished, everyone [had] a mattress… [Folks came by] Model T’s or team and wagon or whatever. Some of them came on horseback. We’d take our lunch and stay all day. We were pretty tired at the end of the day. — Mabel Doris Hageman of Douglas, Wyoming (H98-44 Box 4)

The first step was to make patterns and cut out the ticking for the mattress covers. Ticking is the sturdy cotton fabric used for mattress and pillow covers. It is usually off-white with brightly colored pin-stripping.

(WSA P2008-10/81)

(WSA P2008-10/81)

Here an extension agent helps a man sew the ticking together for the mattress cover. They are wearing bandannas over their noses so they do not breath in the fine cotton dust.

(WSA P2008-10/82)

(WSA P2008-10/82)

Weighing cotton for stuffing the mattresses. Notice the bandannas again. Cotton came in large bats and the cotton was weighed out to ensure each mattress received its fair share. According to a 1940s USDA circular, 50 pounds of cotton went into each mattress.

(WSA P2008-10/83)

(WSA P2008-10/83)

Rolling out the cotton onto the ticking. Rolling rather than stuffing produced a more even mattress.

(WSA P2008-10/84)

(WSA P2008-10/84)

Then it is time to add the top ticking and stitch it to the sides. The stick that is waiving in the foreground is a broomstick used to beat out the lumps in the stuffing.

We’d go down there and we’d take our broom, and I suppose you’re wondering how a broom helped? We had to beat ‘em when we got those layers in. We had to beat those layers of cotton so long to mat ‘em together. — Mabel Doris Hageman

(WSA P2008-10/85)

(WSA P2008-10/85)

After the ticking is sewn closed, a welt was sewn around the edges to give it shape and keep it square. Look how handy these men are with those long needles!

(WSA P2008-10/86)

(WSA P2008-10/86)

Almost done!

(WSA P2008-10/87)

(WSA P2008-10/87)

The mattress was then couched to keep the stuffing from shifting. Couching is a process where you attach buttons to each side of the mattress and pull them tightly together. The buttons keep the thread from pulling or wearing holes in the fabric.

(WSA P2008-10/88)

(WSA P2008-10/88)

The finished mattress is ready for a bed and a good night’s sleep after all that work.

(WSA P2008-10/89)

(WSA P2008-10/89)

For more information, take a look at this wonderful  ca 1940 circular from the USDA encouraging farm families, especially in the south, to turn surplus cotton into mattresses. Thanks to our friends at the National Agricultural Library Special Collections for digitizing this gem!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cheyenne Day Closure Reminder

Cheyenne Day Closure poster 2014, Facebook

Leave a comment

July 21, 2014 · 7:00 am

Green River County?: A Pre-Territorial Docket Book

 

The volume called "Records of the Probate Court, Green River, UT" is one of the oldest documents in the Wyoming State Archives. Its first entry predates Wyoming Territory by 8 years.

The first entry in “Records of the Probate Court, Green River, UT” predates Wyoming Territory by 8 years.

One of the oldest local government records in the Wyoming State Archives dates from the years before Wyoming Territory was created.  The bound volume is titled “Records of the Probate Court, Green River County, U.T. [Utah Territory],” and covers the years 1861 to 1871.  The southwest corner of what would be Wyoming was part of Utah Territory for 18 years prior to July 25, 1868, when Wyoming Territory was created.  In addition to recordings related to probate matters, the volume includes information normally maintained by a county clerk.

One of the very first cases handled by the  probate court of Green River County was to settle the estate of Michael Martin in 1861. Looking at a portion of the inventory of his estate, it appears that he ran a general store.   Bolts of cloth, jars of pickles, barrels of crackers, tobacco and pipes, cans of fruit and even "stomach bitters" appear on the list along with their valuation.

One of the very first cases handled by the probate court of Green River County was to settle the estate of Michael Martin in 1861. Looking at a portion of the inventory of his estate, it appears that he ran a general store. Bolts of cloth, jars of pickles, barrels of crackers, tobacco and pipes, cans of fruit and even “stomach bitters” appear on the list along with their valuation.

Only that portion of the volume from 1861 to 1866 pertains to probate proceedings.  Famed Fort Bridger sutler William A. Carter was the Probate Judge during this time. His son-in-law, James Van Allen Carter (no relation before  marriage), served as Clerk of Court.  Entries refer to filings and proceedings related to wills, inventories and appraisements, and the settlement of estates.  There is also mention of a divorce case considered in probate court in 1866. (In modern courts, divorces are handled by the civil court)

In 1869, the County Clerk recorded the contract between Charles P. Regan and James Bright for the sale of the Fort Bridger Brewery. Bright paid $2,500, which is equivalent to approximately $43,000 today.

In 1869, the County Clerk recorded the contract between Charles P. Regan and James Bright for the sale of the Fort Bridger Brewery. Bright promised to pay $2,500, which is equivalent to approximately $43,000 today.

Much of the volume contains records of the County Clerk.  A variety of instruments were recorded, such as homestead claims, mining claims, chattel mortgages, bills of sale, powers of attorneys, and a lengthy record concerning the issuing of bonds for the Union Pacific Railroad. Some references are made to the re‑recording of these records in volumes maintained by the county clerk, which is probably the newly created Uinta County Clerk.  An index is included at the beginning of the volume.  Overall, the record provides information about early settlement and property holders in the southwest corner of Wyoming.

– Curtis Greubel, Wyoming State Imaging Center Supervisor

This map, filed with the county clerk, shows the location of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak (COC &PP) Express Company.

This map, filed with the county clerk, shows the location of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak (COC &PP) Express Company in 1862.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Writing an “Authentic” History of Wyoming: Charles G. Coutant

Wyoming historian Charles Giffin Coutant was born on October 16, 1840 in Rosendale, New York.  Orphaned at seven years old, he spent the next seven years on his uncle’s farm.  At the age of fourteen, he started his newspaper career as an office boy for a New York City publisher.  Eventually, Coutant became a roving reporter, writing about life in California for his New York audience in 1859, and visiting Mexico for the same purpose. He also covered Civil War events and military conflicts with Native Americans.  Coutant’s first marriage to Carrie (maiden name unknown) ended with her death in 1863, leaving him with their two children, Clarance and Wilbur.  Coutant married Mary Elizabeth Clark of Boston, Massachusetts on Christmas Day, 1867. They had six children: George, Walter, Charles, Laura, Georgia, and May.

Charles G. Coutant collected biographical information about many of Wyoming's prominent pioneers. He had planned to publish a three part History of Wyoming, but only completed the first volume.  (WSA Sub Neg 1692)

Charles G. Coutant collected biographical information about many of Wyoming’s prominent pioneers as well as the general history of the state. He had planned to publish a three part History of Wyoming, but only completed the first volume.
(WSA Sub Neg 1692, from History of Wyoming, Volume 1)

Moving west, Coutant continued his journalism career in Kansas, where he served as editor of a Topeka newspaper.  He originally came to Cheyenne in 1890.  After brief stays in Lander and Laramie, he returned to Cheyenne in 1899.  That same year, Coutant published the book, The History of Wyoming From the Earliest Known Discoveries, Volume I.  He did not complete the anticipated second and third volumes.

The title page of Coutant's History of Wyoming, Volume 1. He inscribed the book to "the memory of those pioneers, living and dead, who explored our mountains and valleys..." Coutant claimed in the preface that "it will be observed that, with a single exception, every account given is based upon authentic history; the exception being the chapter devoted to "Spanish Occupation"."

The title page of Coutant’s History of Wyoming, Volume 1. He inscribed the book to “the memory of those pioneers, living and dead, who explored our mountains and valleys…” Coutant claimed in the preface that “it will be observed that, with a single exception, every account given is based upon authentic history; the exception being the chapter devoted to “Spanish Occupation”.” This first, and only, 700+ page tome covered the pre-territorial period, from earliest exploration through about 1869.

Coutant was the Wyoming State Librarian from 1901 to 1905.  He also held the position of Secretary of the Wyoming Industrial Convention for four years.  After a lengthy visit to Alaska, Coutant relocated to Grants Pass, Oregon in 1908, where he edited the Daily Courier newspaper.  Coutant died at his home in Grants Pass on January 17, 1913.

H74-9, examples of notebooks 2

Examples of the biography notebooks Coutant kept while researching for his history book.
(WSA H74-9)

The Wyoming State Archives’ Coutant Collection consists of biographies and assorted Wyoming history material that was probably intended for the unfinished History of Wyoming volumes.  The majority of the collection dates from the late 1890s to the early 1900s. Topics include prominent citizens, Indian Wars, Army activity, early territorial settlement, county histories, ranching, and farming. The biographies include prominent citizens, primarily wealthy and influential men, from the territorial period to early statehood.  There is also correspondence to, from, and about Coutant.  This collection is a good source for genealogical research and social history and related photographs are also available.   A complete inventory of the collection is available in the State Archives reading room or here.

- by Curtis Greubel, Wyoming State Imaging Center Supervisor

 

Coutant transcribed newspaper accounts and collected stories from locals while researching for his book.  (WSA H74-9)

Coutant transcribed newspaper accounts and collected stories from locals while researching for his subsequent books, which were never completed. 
(WSA H74-9)

Leave a comment

Filed under WSA Collection Highlights

Archives Closed Friday

Just a reminder… the Wyoming State Archives will be closed this Friday, July 4th.

Our staff hope that you and yours enjoy the long weekend!

(WSA Sub Neg 13417, 4th of July decorations in Newcastle, Wyoming, 1890)

(WSA Sub Neg 13417, 4th of July decorations in Newcastle, Wyoming, 1890)

Leave a comment

Filed under Closures

Wyoming Day Questions (& Answers)

In honor of the Wyoming Day festivities at the Historic Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle published five questions yesterday about Wyoming. For those who are interested, here is “the rest of the story.”

1. What is Wyoming’s “almost” state cookie?

The Chocolate Chip Cookie almost became our official state cookie in 1995. House Bill 158 was introduced in the by Representative James C. Hageman of Goshen County, but died in the general file. The legislation even included a proposed official recipe:

(i) The following ingredients:

(A) One (1) cup granulated sugar;
(B) One (1) cup brown sugar;
(C) Two-thirds (2/3) cup butter or
(D) Two-thirds (2/3) cup shortening;
(E) Two (2) eggs;
(F) Two (2) teaspoons vanilla;
(G) Three (3) cups flour;
(H) One (1) teaspoon soda;
(J) One (1) Teaspoon salt;
(K) one (1) twelve (12) ounce package of chocolate chips.

(ii) Mixed and baked as follows:

(A) Cream sugars, butter or margarine and shortening together;
(B) Add eggs and vanilla and mix well;
(C) Sift together remaining ingredients, add to creamed mixture and mix well;
(D) Bake eight (8) to ten (10) minutes at three hundred seventy-five (375) degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Who sent the telegram informing Wyoming of statehood?

During the summer of 1890, Territorial Governor Francis E. Warren traveled to Washington, DC, to help lobby for support of Wyoming statehood in Congress. Congress seemed favorably disposed toward adding states to the union, having added North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Montana in November 1889.

The first official step toward statehood had come in February 1888 when the Territorial Assembly passed a jointed resolution asking Congress  for legislation that would enable to people of Wyoming to draft a constitution and organize as a state. Though several member question Wyoming’s readiness in terms of finances and population, Governor Warren, Wyoming’s congressional delegate, Joseph M. Carey, and several of Wyoming’ s political heavyweights campaigned mightily.

The bill for statehood was introduced into the House of Representatives by Carey in December 1889. Desipite much vocal support, it was not until July 10, 1890 that an act was finally signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison. That same day, Carey sent a telegram to Acting Governor (Territorial Secretary) John Meldrum announcing the news.

Telegram announcing statehood sent by Senator Carey in Washington DC to Acting Governor John W. Meldrum (WSA Secretary of State record group, Constitutional Convention)

Telegram announcing statehood sent by Senator Carey in Washington DC to Acting Governor John W. Meldrum
(WSA Secretary of State record group, Constitutional Convention)

3. The Cheyenne Daily Sun used what color ink to celebrate Statehood?

In 1890, nearly every newspaper was published using black ink but the Cheyenne Daily Sun changed things up a bit to celebrate statehood. They used red and blue ink throughout the 8 page paper on June 29th. This issue reported the passage of the statehood bill in both the Senate and House of Representatives. All that remained was a signature by President Harrison, which was assumed to be imminent.

Colored inks were more costly than the standard black and dual tone copy, like the red and blue used that day, were also more labor intensive than using a single color. But it was well worth the extra cost and time to celebrate such a momentous occasion.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun printed their June 29th, 1890 issue in red and blue ink to celebrate statehood.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun printed their June 29th, 1890 issue in red and blue ink to celebrate statehood.

 

4. The official Wyoming 44 star flag was presented by whom?

Esther Morris presented the official 44-star American flagon behalf of the women of Wyoming to Governor F.E. Warren at the statehood celebration on July 23, 1890.  Money was contributed by women around the then territory and covered the cost of the flag. Co K of the Wyoming Girl Guards was the guard of honor for the flag.

Cover of the booklet listing all of the women who contributed to the purchase of the 44-star flag presented during the statehood celebration in 1890.  (WSA P2004-8)

Cover of the booklet listing all of the women who contributed to the purchase of the 44-star flag presented during the statehood celebration in 1890.
(WSA P2004-8)

 

5. How long was the original Wyoming State Constitution?

The original Wyoming State constitution includes 40 hand-written pages. Wyoming’s constitution is one of the longest in the nation and includes over 300 sections. It is nearly 5 times longer that the United States Constitution!

Preamble of the original, hand-written Wyoming Constitution. (WSA Secretary of State RG)

Preamble of the original, hand-written Wyoming Constitution.
(WSA Secretary of State RG)

Don’t forget to stop by the Historic Governor’s Mansion tomorrow, June 21st, to join in the fun!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t Fence Me In: A Baxter Sets the Record Straight

To fence in or fence out…that is the question. At least it was one of the major questions early Wyoming lawmakers grappled with when it came to landowners’ rights.

Large cattle operation relied upon open range grazing on government lands to sustain their herds. These savvy businessmen could control much more land than they actually owned by controlling the water and access to it on the semi-arid plains. There was still bickering among these large outfits, mostly about said water rights, but the major disputes did not erupt until fences began to appear, cutting up the wide open spaces and making it hard for open range cattle to access grazing and water.

The construction of fences eventually contributed to the end of the large scale open range cattle industry. The question became was this fence to keep the cattle in or out? (WSA Sun Neg 9338, B-183_37, Hereford calves, photo by CD Kirkland, 1870s-1880s)

The construction of fences eventually contributed to the end of the large scale open range cattle industry. The question became was this fence to keep the cattle in or out?
(WSA Sun Neg 9338, B-183_37, Hereford calves, photo by CD Kirkland, 1870s-1880s)

Cattlemen argued that their livelihood relied upon the open range and they were entitled to the use of government lands and thus fencing was detrimental, if not criminal. Settlers, farmers and smaller producers argued that fences helped to protect their lands and herds from the damage done by open range herds (and their handlers). Tempers flared, sides were chosen, and lawyers hired (and some gunmen, too) as the situation escalated. Eventually, it was decided that Wyoming would be a “fence out” state, meaning that if you owned property you were expected to construct and maintain fences that kept whatever it was you did not want on your property out, rather than building fences to keep what you wanted in, or on your property.[1] This decision favored the open range cattle industry who continued to use their money and influence to protect this right.

Roundup at Heaton Warm Springs near Douglas, 1887.  (WSA Sub Neg 17589)

Roundup at Heaton Warm Springs near Douglas, 1887.
(WSA Sub Neg 17589)

On November 5, 1886, President Cleveland appointed George W. Baxter as governor of the Territory. This decision was made in deference to the plea that he choose someone from the Territory to fill the position rather than bringing in a politician from back East. They argued that the territory needed a local executive who was familiar with local issues and players. The implication, of course, was that the big cattlemen wanted one of their own to protect their interests. Baxter was in fact a resident and a cattleman, too. He and his brother, John, ran a ranch (later called the LU) near Fort Washakie and he had recently served as president and founding member of the American Cattle Company. Baxter was also a graduate of West Point (class of 1877) and his appointment as 2nd Lieutenant brought him to Fort Washakie. According to his brother, “While there he saw so much of the cattle raising on the public domain, he resigned his commission… and became a cattleman.”[2]

Territorial George W. Baxter  (WSA Sub Neg 1395)

Territorial George W. Baxter
(WSA Sub Neg 1395)

But his time as governor was not long. Baxter’s opponents almost immediately accusing him of illegally fencing government land and he was removed from office December 20th, less than two months later. Secretary of State Elliot S.N. Morgan took over until Thomas Moonlight of Kansas, a vocal opponent of cattlemen in general, was appointed in January 1887. Baxter was later a delegate from Laramie County to the Wyoming Constitutional Convention and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1890 against Francis E. Warren.

In 1936, Edith Alger of Lander contacted John A. Baxter requesting information about his time in Wyoming.[3] Alger was employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers Program. This program was designed to provide jobs to the unemployed while collecting the history of their area through the Stories of Pioneer Life project. Baxter and Alger exchanged several letters that year, one of which included this defense of his brother’s actions.

September 16, 1936
Tulane Hotel
Nashville, TN

When Cleveland was president of the US and Wyoming a territory, and the governors were appointed by the president, the people of Wyoming requested he appoint someone who resided in Wyoming instead of sending some on from some eastern state out to Wyoming to be governor; so Cleveland consented, and he tendered the honor to my brother, who, while a Democrat, was not a strict partisan, but he was classed as a businessman.

Now, some of the active Democratic politicians, no doubt hoping to be the lucky man, began to complain and told Cleveland that Baxter had fenced in unlawfully government land. He was removed as governor and Moonlight of Kansas was named instead. You may know that the United States gave the Union Pacific Railroad as a subsidiary every other square mile for twenty miles both north and south of the survey of said railroad. The railroad held said land for about twenty years after they had finished their road before offering it for sale. My brother sought advice from the best lawyers in the east, and was assured that he would have the right to fence the same.

Now this grant of every other section of one mile square made a checkerboard condition, so I herewith hand you a diagram, showing clearly, that it was impossible to fence his land purchased of the railroad, without fencing thereby the government sections. On this map I enclose you will notice the little black spots at the corners of each section represents the cornerstones that marked and defined each section, and to make it clear to your mind I have used red ink marking a dotted line around four sections, and the same necessarily enclosed the one section of government land (where there is a blot of red ink) and that was the cause of their saying he had unlawfully enclosed government land. Now to remove any impression upon the minds of the public that he had unlawfully fenced government land and to remove the implied stigma, my brother forced the question after his removal up to the US Supreme Court, and they decided in my brother’s favor, and that the same was Not Unlawful as every post hole was on his own land, and the wires from post to post were over the land he had purchased and owned. So you see he was removed for a charge which did not exist.

In spite of their political trickery and a false accusation, my brother’s name is respected by all that knew him as an honorable upright man.

Your truly,
Jno. A. Baxter[4]

Diagram sent by John Baxter showing how his brother's fences were constructed.  (WSA WPA Bio File 45)

Diagram sent by John Baxter showing how his brother’s fences were constructed.
(WSA WPA Bio File 45)

____________

1. To be precise, Wyoming is a “fence out” state for cattle (and domestic buffalo), but a “fence in” state for sheep. For more information, see “You Fence It, They’ll Stay Out” from the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service.

2. “Letters from John A. Baxter, Concerning his brother, Territorial Governor George W. Baxter” September 6, 1936. WPA Bio File 45, Wyoming State Archives.

3. Governor Baxter had died at his home on Long Island, New York, in 1929. He is buried in the family plot in Knoxville, Tennessee.

4.  “Letters from John A. Baxter, Concerning his brother, Territorial Governor George W. Baxter” September 18, 1936. WPA Bio File 45, Wyoming State Archives. Minor formating and spelling changes, but the emphasis is his own.

Leave a comment

Filed under Wyoming Governors

This Day in Wyoming History… UPRR Express Train Robbed at Wilcox

“On Friday morning June 2, 1899 a party of [6] masked robbers held up the first section of train number one of the Union Pacific Rail Road Co about 10 miles west of Rock Creek Station Albany Co Wyoming and after dynamiting bridges, mail and express cars and robbing the later, disappeared. The second section of this train being the Overland Limited passenger, following ten minutes behind, was fortunately stopped by the breakman of [the] first section who escaped from the robbers.” — excerpt from message sent by UPRR to the Laramie County Sheriff June 11, 1899

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery. (WSA Sub Neg 21457)

The Union Pacific Railroad Car after it was blown up by dynamite during the robbery.
(WSA Sub Neg 21457)

For rest of June, confusing reports swirled around the country as members of the Curry and Wild Bunch were pursued by posses of lawmen, soldiers and concerned citizens. The situation escalated further when Sheriff Joe Hazen of Converse County was killed in a confrontation with the outlaws at Dugout Creek, 10 miles north of Casper. By the middle of June, rewards of up to $3000 per outlaw were offered jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and US Marshall’s Office.

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.  (WSA Sub Neg 9720)

The outlaws used dynamite to blow open the safe. It is unknown just how much money was actually stolen, but it is believed to have been more than $10,000. Unsigned $100 treasury notes were used to track the robbers through the region.
(WSA Sub Neg 9720)

 

The interior of the railroad car.  (WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The interior of the railroad car.
(WSA Epperson Neg 808)

The posses included many of the most notable lawmen in the area. These men were determined to bring the outlaws to justice by any means necessary, including the use of a pack of bloodhounds brought out from Beatrice, Nebraska. The high profile nature of the crime caught the attention of the Pinkerton Detective Agency who also sent “operatives” to aid the investigation. It is believed that US Marshall Frank Hadsell and Tom Horn, both of whom were involved in the investigation, were Pinkerton operatives. Hadsell would later pursue Horn himself and orchestrate his capture.

Various military organizations offered their assistance. Governor DeForest Richards ordered a group from the state militia to join in the pursuit and he visited Casper himself to be updated on the situation. Regular US Army troops were also called out from Fort Washakie and a contingent from the Wind River reservation also participated.

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in order to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.  (WSA Sub Neg 27294)

Some of the men who pursued the Wild Bunch after the Wilcox Train Robbery. The Union Pacific shipped posse members and their horses in railcars to save time help the men catch up to the bandits.
(WSA Sub Neg 27294)

By the end of June, the trail had gone cold. In August 1900, the Union Pacific express train was again robbed at Tipton, Wyoming, netting the bandits nearly $50,000 in gold. The Wild Bunch was also credited with this crime, but they eluded the posse again.

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

On This Day in Wyoming History… USS Wyoming is Christened

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the battleship USS Wyoming’s christening. This was the third of four naval vessel to carry Wyoming’s name.

On May 25, 1911, the battleship USS Wyoming was launched in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Her keel had been laid just over two years earlier in February 1910 by William Cramp and Sons.

The USS Wyoming was the largest military ship in the world in 1911. To give you an idea of the size, here are the specs that were printed in the newspaper:

“Has displacement almost 4.000 tons great than Great Britain’s mightiest dreadnought
In length is equal to that of two ordinary city blocks.
In width more than twice that of two wide streets.
Its hull sinks into the water to a depth equal to a two-story business block, with as much hull as this above the waterline.
Twelve 12-inch rapid-fire until for defense, against torpedo boats. Also fourteen additional smaller guns.
Twelve 50-caliber guns which hurl 876-pound projectiles a distance of two miles.
Hull is protected by 11-inch steel.
Will carry 1,076 men and 36 officers.”

USS Wyoming dreadnought christening in Philadelphia, May 25, 1911  (WSA Sub Neg 17011)

USS Wyoming dreadnought christening in Philadelphia, May 25, 1911
(WSA Sub Neg 17011)

After her christening, the entire Wyoming delegation of over 40 people was treated to a sumptuous banquet at the Bellevue-Stratford by the Cramps.

 

According to the press, when Congressman Mondell gave his toast, he characterized the state as the fairest in the union; fairest because it was the first to give ballot to women. “My best wish is that the new battleship may never fire a hostile shot and be truly a man of war but daughter of peace, and a force for good in the world’s history, as the namesake is to be in the nation.”

Senator Frank W Mondell  (WSA Sub Neg 2619)

Senator Frank W Mondell
(WSA Sub Neg 2619)

Congressman Mondell’s toast turned out to be very prophetic. The USS Wyoming never fired a hostile shot during her 35 years of service, even though she participated in both WWI and WWII.

From 1914-1918, she escorted convoys and VIP’s across the Atlantic and served with the British Grand Fleet. After the London Naval Conference of 1930, she was demilitarized and served as a training ship in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This training was continued during and after WWII. She holds the record for firing the most ammunition of any American ship during the War, firing nearly 2 million rounds through 7 different types of guns while training an estimated 35,000 anti-aircraft gunners. All without a single personnel casualty. The ship was decommissioned, sold for scrap and dismantled in 1947.

Sub Neg 15436, USS  Wyoming Battleship, 1958, WYSHP-1---NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO

USS Wyoming (National Archives Photo, WSA Sub Neg 15436, WYSHP-1)

The State of Wyoming presented the battleship with a full silver service, as was the custom. Though the State Legislature allocated some money, the public was given the opportunity to contribute. Certificates were issued to donors for their subscription of at least $1. A total of $7,500 was used to purchase the 50+ piece set. The officers aboard the ship used the silver for 35 years before it was given back to the state when the USS Wyoming was decommissioned.

USS Wyoming Monitor Silver service fund certificate issued for donations of $1.00 or more.

USS Wyoming Monitor Silver service fund certificate issued for donations of $1.00 or more.

The Gorham Company of New York designed the silver, with the assistance of Cheyenne jeweler Hugo Buechner. Each piece is masterfully engraved with scenes representing Wyoming and its history. The 24 punch cups are decorated with images of the blue gentian flower, the unofficial state flower prior to the designation of the Indian paintbrush in 1917.

The impressive punchbowl can hold 10-gallons and is adorned with figures of Sacajawea and a pioneer woman. The largest platter is 2 feet by 3 feet and bears an engraving of the State Capitol Building as it stood in 1911, before the second addition of both legislative chambers in 1917.

The silver is currently on display in the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne.

Meyers Neg 1551 raw, USS Wyoming Silver service on display at Buechner Jewelry Co CHeyenne Sept 1912

The USS Wyoming silver service on display at the Buechner Jewelry Company in Cheyenne in September 1912. (WSA Meyers Neg 1551, photo by Joseph Shimitz)

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

Reminder: Archives Closed Monday

Just a reminder, the Wyoming State Archives will be closed on Monday, May 26th.

Our staff wishes you and yours a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

 

Summer is here! (WSA P2008-41/4, Kindergarden class running toward the camera, 1950s)

Summer is here!
(WSA P2008-41/4, Kindergarten class running toward the camera, 1950s)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized