Today in Wyoming History: 1886, The Beginning of the End of the Open Range

130 years ago today, on November 1, 1886, heralded the first snowfall for the disastrous winter of 1886-87. It was unusually cold and wet, with record snowfall and temperatures shattering left and right across the region. This winter also put the final nail in the coffin for the open range cattle industry, killing much of the livestock on the range and decimating the fortunes of many “cattle barons.”

nws-cheyenne-station-daily-record-journal-may-1885-march-1888-nov-1886

Official weather observations for one of the most historically significant winters in the history of Cheyenne are missing due to the severe illness and eventual death of the station attendant. Thankfully data exists from other stations in the region. (WSA National Weather Service, Cheyenne Station, daily record journal May 1885 – March 1888)

No one knows if any temperature records were official broken in Cheyenne that winter. The National Weather Service station observer, Corporal Stephen R. Richey, was sick and unable to record his observations. According to the log book, Corporal Richey came down with Malignant Erysipelas, also known as St. Anthony’s Fire, which is an acute streptococcus bacterial infection. His last entry was October 23, 1886, just days before that first snowfall. Apparently the US Signal Corp had held out hope for Corporal Richey’s recovery because they did not send his replacement until after he died on March 5, 1887, at the end of the brutal winter. Richey was interred in the Fort D.A. Russell (now Warren Air Force Base) Cemetery. [1]


1. Stephen R. Richey memorial, FindAGrave.com

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History...

The Last WWI Pilot from Wyoming

As a young man, Herman Kreuger dreamt of being

image-238

Photo accompanied the article “WWI flying ace talks with pilots on Italian team”, Billings Gazette August 25, 1988. A copy of this article is filed with Kreuger’s oral history interview at the WSA. It is interesting to note that “ace” was blacked out on the copy in the file.

a pilot.  During World War One, he got
his wish – serving in the U.S. Aviation Service piloting Italian bombers in northern Italy.

 

Herman was born on April 5, 1894 in Bern, Kansas.  His father worked for company prospecting for coal and moved his family from Nebraska to Wyoming in 1885.  Herman’s mother “figured that Wyoming wasn’t much of a place to raise a family.”  Moreover, “there was nothing except rattlesnakes and long horned cattle and cowboys.”  

Given this rather glum outlook, it is not surprising that the family eventually returned to Nebraska.  After graduating from school, Herman earned a living as a teacher.

In the early 1900s, airplanes were a novelty.  Herman was so fascinated by the romance of flying that he built a glider in 1910.  It crashed shortly after takeoff but he was not seriously injured.  “It turned out that it wasn’t very comfortable and my mother put a stop to that foolishness after the first flight,” he said.

Prior to America’s entry in World War One, Herman was working at an army camp near San Antonio, where he was mesmerized watching airplanes flying into and out of the nearby field.  Following America’s declaration of war, he enlisted in reserve officer training but later opted for artillery and then aviation.  

caproni_ca5

The final version of the Caproni aircraft used during WWI. Krueger probably would have flown one of these later iterations. Photo from Wikipedia

 

After his training in Austin, he was shipped to France and then was finally assigned to the First Aerial Squadron in Italy where he flew Capronis, an Italian bomber.  His initial responsibility was to train other pilots.  A fellow pilot in his squadron was future New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

In 1918, Herman was sent into combat, flying missions against Austrian forces near Padua in northern Italy.  It was not without danger.  The large plane with a four-man crew (Herman and three Italians) was an easy target.  One occasion, after returning to base, Herman and his crew discovered 67 bullet holes in their plane.  

Herman flew numerous aerial missions during the last five months of the war.  For his efforts he was decorated with the Italian War Cross.

sub-neg-1172-22nd-wy-legislature-house-1933-krueger

Krueger’s 1933 Wyoming House of Representatives portrait. (WSA Sub Neg 1172)

After the war, Herman moved to Wyoming, where he filed for a homestead and operated a car and farm-tractor dealership near Garland.  He married his wife Celia Gordon in 1925 in Deer Lodge, Montana, and served many years as a Wyoming state representative from Park County. In 1937, he was selected as Speaker of the House.

Herman Kreuger died in August 1991 at the age of 97.  He was the last World War One pilot from Wyoming.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

 

 


Additional Resources

  • OH-905, Herman Kreuger oral history audio and transcript, 1983, Wyoming State Archives
  • Herman Fred Krueger Find A Grave memorial

Leave a comment

Filed under Wyoming at War

On this Day in Wyoming History… 1936: FLOTUS Birthday Visit to Cheyenne

Happy Birthday to Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who was born October 11, 1884!

brammar-neg-5026-gov-leslie-miller-eleanor-roosevelt-and-ladies-by-train-oct-11-1936

Gov Leslie Miller and Eleanor Roosevelt with several local ladies in front of the president’s special train. (WSA Brammar Neg 5026)

In 1936, Eleanor and President Franklin Roosevelt stopped in Cheyenne during a campaign swing through nine western states. The 20-hour pause was the longest of the trip and the couples’ second visit to the Capitol City. The Sunday “rest” just happened to coincide with Eleanor’s birthday.

brammar-neg-3911-fdr-and-eleanor-roosevelt-coming-out-of-st-marks-episcopal-church-1936

President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor leaving St. Mark’s Episcopal Church follow the Sunday service. (WSA Brammar Neg 3911)

brammar-neg-4962-franklin-d-and-eleanor-roosevelt-in-car-st-marks-episcopal-church-1936

From St. Mark’s, the Roosevelts were drive to Fort F.E. Warren where they had an informal luncheon at the residence of Brig. General Charles F. Humphrey, Jr. Follow the meal, Roosevelt briefly addressed the crowd. Though the stop was a part of a campaign trip, Roosevelt declared the Sunday a political day of rest and did not speak about the election. (WSA Brammar Neg 4962, President, daughter-in-law Betsey (Mrs. James Roosevelt) and Eleanor Roosevelt in car in front of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church)

img_3609-deriv

A large bouquet of dahlias was presented to Eleanor by Governor Miller. There is a very good chance that the flowers were grown by Miller himself, possibly on the Capitol Building grounds. He was a dedicated dahlia enthusiast. (WSA Gov. Miller scrapbook page showing photos from the Roosevelts’ visit in 1936)

brammar-neg-4488-franklin-d-roosevelt-speaking-from-train-eleanor-on-left-oct-11-1936

President Roosevelt speaking to the crowd from the back platform of his special train car. (WSA Brammar Neg 4488)

Leave a comment

Filed under Presidential Visits, This Day in Wyoming History...

It’s Electronic Records Day: 10.10.16

Do you create documents on your computer?  Your tablet?  Do you write texts and posts on your cell phone?  Then you are creating electronic records.  Think of all the files you create in a week or a year.  Then, imagine how many such documents are created by Wyoming state employees in the same amount of time…  Where are they all kept?  How do we know that we will be able to read and have access to them in the future?  These are the knotty problems that your State Archives staff wrestle with every day.

electronic records logo_2015

We are participating in Electronic Records Day 10.10.16 this year by telling you about how we are solving those problems via the Wyoming Digital Archives, our system for preserving digital files created in the conduct of state business.

Why do electronic records need special attention?

Consider this tongue in cheek answer from the Council of State Archivists, “Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care…”

On a more serious note, they add,

With the increasing reliance on information technology, the challenge to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital records and information continues to grow. Action must to taken to ensure future access to electronic records.

Paper records stored in good conditions can be read centuries afterwards. Typical electronic file formats have a life span measured in decades at best.

Rapidly changing software and hardware environments can leave electronic records virtually inaccessible after just a few years if not monitored.

Electronic records require proactive management. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is at the time records are created, rather than when software is being replaced or a project is ending.

State Archivist, Mike Strom, says he is most happy that the Wyoming Digital Archives shows how the state of Wyoming is involved in e-records in a substantial way.   He says it is good to work with agencies to manage records so that they’re kept the right amount of time, according to our records retention schedules.

The State Archives is already working with fourteen state agencies that are entering their records into the Digital Archives – which contains over 300,000 individual records so far.

Strom’s goals for the future include seeing that all state agencies are engaged in some way with this project.  A broader goal is ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of all of the state’s records regardless of their format.

Can the public see these records, too?  Yes, the Digital Archives has a public access feature so that records which you might be able to see by contacting a state agency (like incorporation or other state reports) will be accessible through a portal on the State Archives’ web page or by a link to that portal from the state agency’s website.

src-wall-of-boxes-pallet-of-boxes-with-pallet-jack-7-22-2013

The State Archives operates a Records Center which has rows and rows of boxes, shelved fourteen levels high and served by staff with forklifts.  The Wyoming Digital Archives will soon house the same amount of records, but we won’t need a forklift to find the right box or file.  We will use online searching to find the information that agencies need to conduct their business – and that you, the public, need to find a court file or school transcript, write a research paper, or dig into your family history.

Still wondering what to do with your own personal digital files?  Here are some great tips from COSA. We also hope you join the staff of the State Archives this Thursday, October 13th as we present  recommendations on how best to store and preserve all types of family records, including electronic records.

preserving-not-just-veggies-flier-no-blurb

Leave a comment

Filed under Archives Month 2016

Bachelor War Bread and Pony Love: Words from White Eagle

“Few towns can boast an Indian writer. This Gillette can do with impunity.” So began the editor of the Gillette News’ introduction of White Eagle to Gillette and ultimately the nation.

White Eagle, photo from his 1916 The Gillette Cook Book, reprinted by the Campbell County Historical Society ca 1965

White Eagle, photo from his 1916 The Gillette Cook Book, reprinted by the Campbell County Historical Society ca 1965

Shields Wright, known as White Eagle, was born in 1878 or 1879 to a Sioux couple “on [the] south fork of [the] Red River 4 miles from Eufaula, Oklahoma,” deep in the heart of Indian Country. Born deaf, the cards were stacked against him from the start, but his infirmity seems to have only made him more observant. He was taught to read and write and eventually could speak with some difficulty. At age 15, he left the reservation and struck out on his own.

During the summer of 1909, White Eagle found himself working on the range as a cowboy near Gillette, Wyoming. This was a life he loved, out on the plains with only cattle and his horse for company and plenty of time to think. And write. Like many cowboys, White Eagle had the heart of a poet.

This pamphlet of poems included "Indian Maiden Up-to-Date", "I Love You My Pony", "The Dog Supper", "Indians Lament" and "Indian Cow-Boy Song" (WSA P2007-11)

This pamphlet of poems included “Indian Maiden Up-to-Date”, “I Love You My Pony”, “The Dog Supper”, “Indians Lament” and “Indian Cow-Boy Song”
(WSA P2007-11)

Starting in August 1912, White Eagle became an infrequent contributor to the Gillette News. He was compensated for his work, which was often published on the front page. Sometimes he would offer his opinion on a topic, but more often it would be a poem. He later published a pamphlet of poems entitled “The Dog Supper and Other Poems” and sold them for a bit of pocket change. Though much of his work spoke about his life as a cowboy, he also wrote about his experience as a Native American walking between both the old and new West and the Native and White cultures.

The Wyoming Wind

O, Wyoming wind why this way
Of coming round so rough today?
You close my door with such a slam
You almost caught me in the jam.
You make me feel a bit afraid
You shake the roof so e’er-head
You startle me with your wild roar
As you go racing past my door.
Coming screeching across the land
You fill my eyes with dust and sand
You catch up mud in your mad race
And sling it roughly in my face
You snatch my hat with gusts wild
And have me chase it most a mile.
You whip in rags my one old coat
And blow my breath back down my throat.
You took my wash tub most to town
And left it sitting upside down
You take the moisture from my crop
And leave me wondering where you’ll stop.

— published in the Gillette News

Some time around 1916 White Eagle acquired a printing press of his own. His first endeavor was to publish a local cookbook. He asked local women to share their best recipes and often included a short biographical note about the contributor. He also added a few of his poems for color.

White Eagle on his horse, Red Bird, made quite a splash when he appeared on the streets of Chicago promoting the Custer Battlefield Highway in 1922. (WSA Sub Neg 285)

White Eagle on his horse, Red Bird, made quite a splash when he appeared on the streets of Chicago promoting the Custer Battlefield Highway in 1922.
(WSA Sub Neg 285)

In 1922, White Eagle rode the entire length of the Custer Battlefield Highway, from Sheridan to Omaha to promote the highway and encourage tourism. His horse, Red Bird, was provided by Sen. John B. Kendrick. From Omaha, he toured the East by train, stopping in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC. He met with General Custer’s widow and was interviewed by Cornelius Vanderbilt. When he returned to Wyoming, White Eagle published a piece in The Highway Magazine entitled “Good Roads Force the Passing of the “Old West” about his travels and his memories of the west as it was. His story was also written up in Popular Mechanics.

Flowing his trip East, White Eagle’s writing disappear from the newspaper. There is a mention of his greeting Queen Marie of Romania in Washington State in 1926, but beyond that, his trail fades away. Perhaps he just rode off into the sunset.

Leave a comment

Filed under This Day in Wyoming History..., WSA Collection Highlights

October is Archives Month!

Welcome to Archives Month!

October is Archives Month, the time when archival institutions around the country make a special effort to promote the important work archives do in preserving and providing access to America’s documentary heritage. We take particular pride in the fact that the Wyoming State Archives has one of the best collections of Wyoming history anywhere. Our holdings include the State Constitution, the Suffrage Act, thousands of photos, hundreds of maps, governors’ records, and tens of thousands of feet of records that document all levels of government throughout the state. And those are just a few of the highlights.

archives-month-poster-2016-draft-2-copy

It would be a mistake, however, to focus solely on the historical research aspect of the material in our care. One of the things that makes working in a state archives so rewarding is the opportunity to help people resolve issues that come up in their daily lives. We processed nearly 4,200 research requests from the public last year and thirty-two percent of them involved school records. Year after year, school transcripts are our most-used records. People request them when they are going back to school or are applying for a job and need verification that they have graduated from high school. Other records in our collections have similar immediate uses. People use court records to document land ownership and mineral rights, to complete background checks, and to file for pensions and social security.  People often use marriage and divorce decrees when renewing driver’s licenses and applying for social security.  In these cases and others, the State Archives has the information citizens need to complete fundamental tasks.

My favorite example of the importance of the records in the archives occurred several years ago, soon after I arrived in Cheyenne. A woman in her seventies was attempting to locate her brother and sister with whom she had not had contact during her lifetime due to adoption. State Archives staff members found records in the District Court adoption files and school censuses that made it possible for a confidential intermediary to reunite her with her brother and sister.

Archives Month is all about telling those kinds of stories and promoting what we have and how to use it. Below is a list of the activities the State Archives staff will be participating in or organizing themselves this month.  I hope you will check in with all of our social media outlets throughout October for more information.

 

Mike Strom

Wyoming State Archivist


Calendar of 2016 Archives Month activities at the Wyoming State Archives

askanarchivist_hires_2016

Ask an Archivist Day – October 5, social media

On October 5, archivists around the country will take to Twitter using #AskAnArchivist to answer your questions about any and all things archives. 

electronic records logo_2015Electronic Records Day – October 10, social media

Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists, the purpose of Electronic Records Day is to raise community awareness of our digital records and of the need to manage and preserve them.

preserving-not-just-veggies-flier-no-blurb

Preserving is Not Just for Vegetables: Caring for Your Family Records – 7pm, October 13, Wyoming State Museum Multi-purpose Room

Staff archivists will review recommended methods for handling and storage of your treasures, and offer advice on digitizing your collections. How-to handouts will be available. This event is a part of the Wyoming State Museum fall lecture series.

finding-your-wy-roots-flier-no-blurb

Finding Your Wyoming Roots in the Archives – 9am to noon, October 29, Wyoming State Archives reading room

State Archives staff will present a three-hour workshop on “Finding Your Wyoming Roots in the Archives.” Staff members will guide you through the search for your family in vital records, city directories, and school records.  Following the presentations, attendees will be invited to stay for an hour and begin their research in the Archives. This workshop is free but registration is requested as space is limited. 

For more information or to register for the workshop, call us at 307-777-7826 or email us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Archives Month 2016, Events

Would You Have Passed 8th Grade?

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Gillette High School Class of 1916 (Lucas Collection, P74-19/26)

Gillette High School Class of 1916
(Lucas Collection, P74-19/26)

Did you know that students have only been graduating from Wyoming high school since 1879? High school education was not common until the early 20th century. Cheyenne opened the first secondary school in the state in 1874, followed by Buffalo in 1881 and Newcastle 1889. This meant that either the family had to move to town or the child was sent to board with family and friends. It also meant that graduation from 8th grade was similar to graduating from high school today.

Wyoming’s state constitution did include a compulsory education requirement, but it only  that:

…the legislature shall require that every child of sufficient physical and mental ability shall attend a public school during the period between six and eighteen years for a time equivalent to three years, unless educated by other means. (Article VII, Section 9)

In 1907, the Legislature passed an act mandating compulsory education for all students between the ages of six and fourteen years of age equating to 6 months per school session (school year).

By 1916, the number of high schools around the state had grown to 25. Today, there are 141 high schools in Wyoming.

The cover of the Superintendent's record book shows Columbia, the feminine personification of the United States.  (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools  ledger)

The cover of the Superintendent’s record book shows Columbia, the feminine personification of the United States.
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Buried in the Crook County Superintendent of Schools records are copies of questions from the 8th grade examinations given in 1913-1915. These questions give insight not only into the curriculum of the district, but also into the values of the local community, or at least the County Superintendent.

For the years 1912-1915, the superintendent included details about each of the tests include when and where they were given, who administered the test, and the questions included in the test. Unfortunately, no answers are given. The ledger also includes the names of the students and their test scores, though this information is restricted and cannot be released to researchers.  (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

For the years 1912-1915, the superintendent included details about each of the tests include when and where they were given, who administered the test, and the questions included in the test. Unfortunately, no answers are given. The ledger also includes the names of the students and their test scores, though this information is restricted and cannot be released to researchers.
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Would you have passed the test? Below are the questions from the test given at 10 schools in Crook County in November 1913.

Physiology and Hygiene

  1. Name the principal organs of digestion.
  2. Name the chief parts of the nervous system. State clearly their use in the system.
  3. Beginning with the right auricle, trace the course of the blood through the circulatory system.
  4. Discuss the importance of ventilation in the home and in the school.
  5. Give three uses of the bones. Name the bones of the hand and the arm.
  6. What are the organs of special sense? How may we increase their usefulness?
  7. What is hygiene? Give several important rules of hygiene.
  8. Why is the use of tobacco more harmful to a boy than to a man?
  9. Give the general effects of alcohol.
  10. Define the following: lymph, corpuscle, cardiac, vertebra, tendon

Agriculture

  1. Define agriculture.
  2. Define humus. Name several kinds of soil.
  3. What are some of the importaint elements that plants require from the soil? What is meant by the term “texture of the soil”?
  4. What is irrigation? What do you understand by the term “dry farming”?
  5. What is soil mulch? How is it obtained?
  6. What plants are called root crops? Name some plants having tap roots.
  7. What three conditions are necessary for germination? How should a seed bed for wheat by prepared?
  8. What is a cutting? What plants are propagated by cuttings?
  9. What are fiber crops? Cereal crops? Name the most important ones of United States?
  10. Name the different classes of insect pests.

Wyoming Civics

  1. Name the three departments of the state. Of what does each consist?
  2. Who is our governor? Give the length of term, salary and duties.
  3. Who represents our district in the state legislature? Give the length of the term of office.
  4. How often does the legislature meet? Give three of its powers.
  5. When was Wyoming admitted as a state?
  6. How are the public schools supported? What subjects does the school law require taught in our public schools?
  7. Name and locate the state buildings.
  8. Define treason; bribery; alien; citizen; jury
  9. What is meant by equal suffrage?
  10. Who is the judge of our district? What are his duties?
List of questions given (WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

This set of questions was used at 10 schools in the county in November 1913, including Sundance, Hulett, Alva and Rifle Pit Schools. 
(WSA Crook County Superintendent of Schools ledger)

Geography

  1. What is geography?
  2. Describe the motions of the earth.
  3. Explain the cause of seasons.
  4. Name the grand divisions in order of their size.
  5. Compare North America and South America in reference to position; drainage; climate; people.
  6. What is the leading production of [the] United States? Brazil? Germany? Cape Colony? Australia?
  7. Where and what are the following: Gibralter? [sic] Popocatapetl? Bombay? Shasta? Afghanistan?
  8. Bound the United States. Name and locate five of its leading cities.
  9. Name the states of the United States bordering on the Gulf of Mexico and give their capitals.
  10. Sketch a map of Wyoming and show the Principal mountains and rivers; a place noted for scenic beauty; locate the capital and two largest cities.

Orthography

  1. Give two rules for spelling.
  2. Define prefix; suffix; affix; antonym; homophone
  3. Give the use of the hyphen

Detach these and pronounce:

courage
grammar
judgement
bureau
magazine
separate
peculiar
prairie
patient
certificate
latitude
eclipse
siege
bouquet
condemn
ridiculous
paralysis
arduous
villain
victuals
telephone
resign
agriculture
control
kerosene
alcohol
permitted
police
examine
palatable

Arithmatic

  1. Reduce to decimal fractions: ½, 1/5, ¼, 7/8, 2/3, 2/5. Find the least common multiple of 3, 5, 8, 15, 24
  2. Find the sum of 2/3, 2/5, 7/8, 13/15, 5/24. How many feet in a mile?
  3. A man bought a hat for $3 and sold it for $4. What was his gain in per cent? One of these hats was damages and he sold it for $1.50. What was his loss per cent?
  4. What do you mean by saying that a fraction in an indicated quotient? Multiply 25 ¾ by 45 2/3
  5. Write a negotiable promissory note. How many parties to a note? What is each called?
  6. What sum put at interest January 1, 1909, will amount to $343.75 February 1, 1911, interest at 7%?
  7. A square field contains 622521 sq. rods. Find the distance around it.
  8. Find the cost of flooring a bridge 60 feet long and 12 feet wide with boards 2 inches thick, costing $40 per M.?
  9. Define mixed number, fraction, percentage, insurance, commission.
  10. Find the interest on $144 from August 1 to December 1. Find the interest on $8100 for 179 das. At 4 ½% interest.

Grammar

  1. Name and define the parts of speech.
  2. What is a sentence? Classify sentences according to use; form.
  3. Parse the underlined words:The spider’s web is a wonderful piece of work.
  4. Write a sentence using a personal pronoun, second, singular, as an attribute complement.
  5. Distinguish between regular and irregular verbs and illustrate.
  6. Give the principal parts of the verbs: see, sit, lay, lie (to recline)
  7. Write a sentence using “they” as the subject, object, attribute.
  8. Write the possessive plural of these words: wolf, donkey, sheep, man, I
  9. Give three uses of a noun in the nominative case and illustrate.
  10.  Analyze or diagram: As we traveled onward many important places were pointed out to us.

History

  1. Describe briefly the life, manners and customs of the inhabitants of North America at the time of discovery.
  2. Name four explorers of different nationalities; and tell what each of them did.
  3. Name the thirteen original colonies and tell about the settlement of one.
  4. Give the direct cause of the Revolution. Name three generals on the American side and give an event in which each was an important actor.
  5. What was the Constitutional Convention?
  6. How was slavery introduced into United States and how was it abolished?
  7. Name four territorial acquisitions of the United States of which Wyoming was a part.
  8. Name four inventions of the nineteenth century. Which do you think was the most important and why?
  9. Who were the Hugonots? [sic] Pilgrims? Quakers?
  10. Name the cabinet offices.

3 Comments

Filed under WSA Collection Highlights

Starting a New Chapter: Curtis Greubel to Retire After 29 Years

On June 1st, we will be saying good-bye to one of our long-time supervisors and archivists, Curtis Greubel. He will retire after 29 years here at the Wyoming State Archives. Before he turns his computer off and reshelves his last box, we asked him to share some memories:

How did you become associated with the Wyoming State Archives?

I received an MA in History from Colorado State University, with an emphasis in archival management, in 1985, about the time job opportunities for prospective archivists became scarce (after a hiring boom).  I kept busy with volunteering and part-time jobs at CSU, the Fort Collins Museum, and with a microfilm / records storage business.  In 1987 I found out that the Wyoming State Archives was seeking an archivist for a grant funded position.  I applied for the job, which involved the arrangement and description of records from the State Engineers’s Office and records of Wyoming’s governors.  I was hired and worked on two grant-funded projects before I was selected to fill a vacant permanent position.

Carl Hallberg and Curtis Greubel processing records and updating FAs at AS, 1990s

Curtis (right) and Carl Hallberg updating finding aid binders and processing collections in the mid-1990s.

How has the WSA changed over the years? How did your duties change?

Of course the amount of material managed and stored has grown many times the amount the Archives had when I started.  The use and management of technology has been a major change.  When I started we typed letters and finding aids on typewriters.  Staff had to share our first computer.  Now most information is created digitally.  Managing, preserving, and providing access to digital records has been a big challenge for archivists.  My duties initially focused on arranging and describing collections, as well as assisting the public with access to information.  Early in my career I was also being steered toward a focus on electronic records, but these efforts were stymied by lack of funds for equipment and training.  When I became a supervisor my duties broadened to overall collection management issues, developing procedures and planning, and personnel matters.  I continued to assist with processing new collections, which I enjoyed doing.  Later on, the supervision of microfilming and scanning operations was assigned to me.  Managing the increasing volume of information in all formats has been a constant challenge.

What do you see as your legacy/greatest achievement of your career at the WSA?

I don’t know about a legacy.  I’ve been involved in the continued effort to improve how we manage and provide access to information, and how we meet the needs of our constituents.  The records at the Wyoming State Archives help document who we are and where we’ve come from.  I think that knowledge is very important, and therefore the preservation of the historical record is very important, as is maintaining personal information needed by Wyoming’s citizens. Being involved in that effort has been rewarding. 

crop, Records Management Day event, 4-5-1995, Curtis Greubel answering phone

Curtis pauses during a reception in the Reading Room to answer a call from a researcher.

Do you have a favorite collection? Project?

A favorite collection is tough. There are so many interesting ones. What comes to mind at this time is the Campbell Collection, records relating to the lives of Wyoming’s first governor, John Campbell, and his wife, Isabella.  The collection includes their diaries.   Isabella Campbell’s diaries contain entries recorded when she resided in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. during the years 1864-1866.  Though most of the entries deal with personal and family matters, the diaries also reveal something of what life was like in mid-19th century America, and provide a few glimpses of civilian reactions to Civil War events and the assassination of President LincolnGovernor Campbell’s diaries, 1869-1876, cover his years in Wyoming Territory, and almost two years after he left the Governor’s Office.  The collection also includes letters to Governor Campbell from family, friends, favor seekers, and business and political acquaintances.   There are references to and correspondence with Wyoming’s political leaders and United States government and military leaders.

Favorite projects include writing administrative histories for state agencies for a Guide to the Archives of Wyoming, planning and organizing events for the grand re-opening of the Barrett Building, where the Archives is housed, after it was renovated, planning for various Archives Month activities, and being involved with strategic planning for the agency, to name a few.

What is your favorite memory/story?

 A humorous story involves co-worker Carl Hallberg.  In the mid-90s Carl and I were in Rawlins at the State Penitentiary, reviewing and boxing records for transporting to the State Archives.  It was a long process and we were there during the lunch hour.  A Penitentiary staff member suggested we have lunch in the cafeteria, which also served less risky inmates.  The food was free and we didn’t have to leave the site so we agreed.  We arrived in the cafeteria toward the end of when lunch was served.  When the last inmate left, the guard, apparently not noticing us in our corner, locked up the facility.  When we finished our lunch, Carl and I discovered we had become inmates.  Fortunately, a trustee who worked in the kitchen was still on duty and eventually discovered our plight.  He led us through the kitchen to an exit door.

Wyoming State Penitentiary Administration Building, 1980s (WSA P2012-6/4)

Wyoming State Penitentiary Administration Building, Rawlins.
(WSA P2012-6/4)

Overall, visiting many of the state’s historic sites, museums, and historical records repositories as part of the job has been enjoyable.

You have written many posts for our blog over the years, do you have a favorite? Were there other topics you would have liked to explore? Did/do you enjoy writing?

My favorite was probably the one about Tim McCoy.  His story is quite remarkable.  I also enjoyed the governors’ birthday series.  Like McCoy, many of these men started life in very humble situations, but they took advantage of opportunities available in Wyoming, worked hard, and occasionally benefited from fortunate circumstances.  The last couple of posts I wrote dealt with lesser known collections.  I probably would have continued to write about those.

What was your least favorite task/project?

As I mentioned, the first project I worked on was the organization of State Engineer records.  This included a very large amount of general correspondence that needed to be put in alphabetical or chronological order.  This tedious task took many months to finish.  I was glad to move on to something else.

Do you have plans for your retirement?

I’ll be assisting my wife with her business, working on honey do’s, and maybe doing some writing. 

 

Thank you for the memories, Curtis. We’ll miss you but hope you enjoy a long and well-earned retirement!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

LibGuides Are Here!

Researching in an archive can be daunting. So can tracking down primary sources on a topic. Sometimes you just have questions about where to go for more information or how exactly to request information. Thankfully, help has arrived!

The Wyoming State Archives is rolling out a new resource for how-to and bibliographic information called LibGuides. These guides are a part of the Wyoming State Library‘s growing collection of guides on a variety of topics.

This month, our first four guides are now available:

  • Wyoming Vital Records – Need a Wyoming birth or death certificate? Perhaps a marriage or divorce record? Wondering what to expect in it? Find out here.
  • Women’s Suffrage in Wyoming – Since 1869, Wyoming’s women have been guaranteed suffrage: the right to vote in elections and hold public office. They were the first in the nation to be granted this right. Learn more in this guide about women’s suffrage in the state.
  • World War One and Wyoming – Learn about Wyomingites who fought “over there” and those who stayed on the homefront during the Great War. This guide also includes a bibliography and where to find additional information on Wyoming and World War One.
  • Tom Horn – Learn more about the infamous Tom Horn, his trial and execution in 1903. This guide also include a bibliography and where to find additional information.

Each guide is tailored to the topic it covers and answers questions like: Where do I find ___? Is it a primary/secondary source? How can I request a copy? Where can I find more information?

Information about births from the Vital Records guide.

Information about births from the Wyoming Vital Records guide.

Several of our new LibGuides also contain bibliographies. These are lists of archival collections, manuscripts, photograph collections, maps, books, articles, etc. on the topic of interest. Links are provided where the resources are available online.

Bibliography section of the new World War One and Wyoming LibGuide

Bibliography section of the new World War One and Wyoming LibGuide

Check out the guides and let us know what you think of them! Have a suggestion for a guide? Tell us what you’d like to see in the comments below.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

An Overview of the Poll Tax in Wyoming

The poll tax was an integral part of Wyoming since the territory’s inception.  The Territorial Legislature required counties to impose a poll tax of two dollars ($25.94 in 2015) for each adult.  Initially, it applied only to individuals over the age 21.  In 1873, the territorial legislature limited it to individuals between the ages of 21 and 50.   Later, firemen and their wives and veterans were exempted from the poll tax.

Money raised from this tax was delegated to funding schools.  This provision would be incorporated into the state constitution.  In 1909, a new statute allowed county commissioners’ could institute a special poll tax to pay for roads.

The (WSA Session Laws of Wyoming, 1873)

The statute passed by the 1873 State Legislature limited those responsible for the poll tax to citizens over the age of 21. It did not specify what the money raised would be used. The only penalty for non-payment was a seizure and sale of property to pay the tax by the sheriff or collection agent. It does not appear that non-payment threatened the individual’s access to the polls on voting day.
(WSA Session Laws of Wyoming, 1873)

The poll tax seems to have elicited little discussion in Wyoming circles. Elsewhere, it was a serious matter.   In many states, particularly in the South, failure to pay one’s poll tax resulted in the loss of voting rights.  In Wyoming, failure to pay a poll tax put an individual on a delinquent list.  If still unpaid after a period of time, a person’s property could be seized and sold or wages garnished.

Legislation already defined in broad terms, who could and who could not vote.  Moreover, there is no connection between paying a poll tax and the right to vote.  It seems that the only connection between poll taxes and voting was that poll tax records were used to compile a list of qualified voters.  

In 1890, the state legislature passed legislation that made it unnecessary for individuals to pay their poll tax in order to vote.  One can only guess at the legislature’s generosity.  Maybe they saw this as a way to push the process of statehood forward.  We may never know the true reason.

Telegraph from ___ to Governor Hansen  (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Telegraph from US Senate leadership to Governor Hansen urging him to ask the State Legislature to discuss ratification.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

In 1962, Congress passed a resolution to amend the US Constitution by barring the poll tax as a requirement for voting in federal elections.  In January 1963 Sen. Gale McGee fervently encouraged Governor Clifford Hansen to get Wyoming to support the amendment.  McGee believed that “it would be in the interest of our State to have the legislature consider the proposal during its present session . . .”   Two months later, US Senators Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirksen also strongly urged Governor Hansen to should push the Wyoming legislature to support the amendment.  In their cable they stated that  “The strength and vitality of our democratic processes rests upon every qualified citizen expressing his views through the ballot – surely in this day, those otherwise qualified to vote should not be prevented from doing so by the anachronistic device of a poll tax.”    

Letter from Sen. McGee to Governor Hansen. (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Letter from Sen. McGee to Governor Hansen personally urging consideration of the amendment in the State Legislature.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Governor Hansen did not share any of the senators’ enthusiasm.  Moreover, even if the political logic seemed to have little effect on him, the matter was poorly timed.  At the time of McGee’s letter, the legislature was already in mid-session.   Hansen acknowledged Magee’s letter and in a dry, dispassionate terms that he had sent a memorandum to the speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to “take whatever action they deem advisable.”  After the legislative session had concluded, he stonily reported that no action had been taken by either chamber.  

Letter from Governor Hansen. (WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

Response from Governor Hansen to Senator Gale McGee.
(WSA RG0001.36, Hansen gubernatorial records)

With the legislative session concluded, the only possibility was a special session, but it did not seem practical to do so.  Unlike his Washington colleagues, Hansen was not inspired by the amendment to take any further action.  

In the meantime, between January and March 1963, 29 states ratified the amendment.  Between March 1963 and January 1964, 9 additional states ratified the measure and it became officially adopted into the US Constitution.  Wyoming is one of 8 states, most in the South, that did not ratify the 24th amendment.  

Wyoming is one of only a handfull of states that did not ratify the 24th Amendment. (map from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:24th_amendment_ratification.svg)

Wyoming is one of only eight states that have never ratified the 24th Amendment.
(map from Wikimedia Commons)

To its credit, the Wyoming legislature was not totally oblivious.  From 1957 to 1963, several house members called for repealing the poll tax provision from the state constitution but the issue failed to get the support of the majority of the house members.  

Finally in 1967, both chambers agreed to endorse the idea, and the proposed constitutional change was strongly approved at the general election in November 1968.  The following year, the legislature repealed the poll tax statutes.

— Carl Hallberg, Reference Archivist

Leave a comment

Filed under WSA Collection Highlights