Collection Spotlight: Cheyenne Botanic Gardens Collection

The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens is a popular destination for tourists and residents of Cheyenne. The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens collection will give insight into the history of the organization. We obtained this collection in 2019 when State Archives staff were contacted about our interest in adding historical materials from the Botanic Gardens. Arriving at the Gardens’ storage areas we found boxes of scrapbooks, annual reports, newspaper clippings, volunteer guides, newsletters and more paper documents. There were also artifacts like t-shirts and plaques which were offered to the Wyoming State Museum as the State Archives doesn’t collect objects, only records. This wonderful collection also provides information about the clubs and volunteer projects that inspired the Botanic Gardens we enjoy today.

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A particular highlight of this collection are the scrapbooks made by The Cheyenne Garden Club, formed in 1936. These scrapbooks show Cheyenne’s gardening culture through the years, including pictures, newspaper articles, competition brochures, and gardening tips and ideas.


Other exciting aspects of this collection are the records about the Cheyenne Community Solar Greenhouse, the Botanic Gardens’ predecessor. If you’re interested in the greenhouse, you can read the Cheyenne Community Solar Greenhouse Annual reports from the project’s short window of operation.

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You can find the online finding aid on the Rocky Mountain Online Archive to learn more about the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens collection. If you are interested in exploring the contents of this collection further, you may come into the Wyoming State Archive and request to see the collection. As of right now, the only thing digitized in this collection is the paper finding aid, but you can make copies while you’re here!

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Friday Foodie: Dandelions Come to Wyoming

As spring moves into summer here in Wyoming, a profusion of little yellow flowers are showing their cheery, if cursed and cussed, faces on the fleetingly green plains and in town lots. But how did the dandelion make it all the way out to Wyoming? While there are most likely several accounts of the scourge’s first appearances, at least two are found in the collection here at the Wyoming State Archives.

In 1883, the Goldsmith family, lately from Iowa, homesteaded the barren plains several miles north of Cheyenne. There, Peter, Eva, and their five children scratched out a living from the virgin prairie. Their daughter, Eva Goldsmith Guy, later told the story of her mother’s careful cultivation of her dandelion patch:

“I remember my mother sending back to Iowa to one of her sisters for dandelion seed. She knew it was a hardy plant and thought perhaps if carefully planted and carefully tended, it might grow, and we could then have greens in the early spring besides the beautiful gold blossoms. They grew just a few at first. We were delighted, and when my sister was married in ’86 and moved forty miles farther north in the blue grass country, my mother very carefully gathered a few of the precious seeds to give them to her so she could have greens. Little did we dream what that innocent looking plant, with the glorious yellow blossoms, would mean in the years to come…” WPA Bio File 386, “Recollections of 1883” by Eva M. Guy

Woman standing beside shelves of plants grown in tin cans outside a log cabin

Many early settlers, especially women, experience an intense culture shock, especially when it came to growing plants on the virgin prairie. Like Eva Goldsmith, these women would carefully tend seeds and seedlings brought with them or sent by family. Here, a ranch wife proudly displays her collection of plants growing in tin cans. It is difficult to tell from this distance, but they may be flowers. (WSA Sub Neg 9196, Bob Fullerton Ranch, Shell Creek, Wyoming, 1890. Cropped to show detail)

Wyoming homesteaders weren’t the only ones looking for a hardy ray of sunshine. Set in Nebraska, the picture book Dandelions by Eve Bunting tells the story of how these resilient little flowers became a metaphor of hardiness and resilience for one lonely homestead housewife and her family on the great plains.

On the other side of Wyoming, in Evanston, the scourge arrived as a stowaway:

Mrs. Jubb, or “Auntie Jubb,” as she was called, also had an eye to floral decorations, though her efforts were not a joy to the residents, as they consisted in the importation of dandelion seeds from England. No doubt this common pest would have reached the country in time even without her agency. She was well known and well thought of, and her services were in demand in many an emergency such as nursing and the management of homes. Uinta County, It’s Place in History (1924)

Cover of the First Report on the Flora of WyomingWhatever their origin, dandelions were a common sight in disturbed soil across the state by 1896. That year, a disgusted Dr. Aven Nelson [1]  described them in his First Report of the Flora of Wyoming:

Taraxacum officinale… Apparently the Dandelion found its ideal home when it reached Laramie. It occupies every foot of ground along the irrigation ditches of our streets and takes complete possession of the lawns where eternal warfare is not waged upon it. In luxuriant growth and blossom from April to November. 


During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) put local writers to work gathering stories, histories, and folklore from around the state. Of course, the dandelion made an appearance here, too. This schoolyard fortune-telling game didn’t look too kindly upon the prospects of the Victors, Xaviers, and Zebulons.

Blow seeds from the dandelion until none remain, counting each puff as a letter of the alphabet; the letter which ends the blowing is the initial of the name of the person the blower will marry. — WPA Subject File 1348, Uinta County Folklore

Children playing on a teeter totter beside a one-room schoolhouse

The cheery dandelion, which thrives in disturbed soil, has been a common sight on playgrounds for many years. (WSA P76-9/98, Children at the Diamond Flats School, Goshen County, 1918-1919)

Used as medicine since at least the Romans, it is no surprise that dandelions also appeared on the list of Mary Elizabeth Simmons Robison’s home remedies:

Cooked dandelion greens, also water-cress, for liver trouble. — WPA Subject File 1348, Uinta County Folklore

  1. Dr. Aven Nelson was the head Botanist at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and an expert in plants of the Rocky Mountain region.

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Exile on Main Street

Exile on Main Street002 (1)

Rolling Stones 1972 Album Exile on Main Street inside sleeve of the album. Top of the image shows Casper, Wyoming.

Have you ever found people from your hometown staring back at you when you opened up a book or looked at the illustrations on the music album you were playing?

Hidden on the inside sleeve of the Rolling Stones 1972 album “Exile on Main Street”’ is a picture of servicemen saluting during an event. This photograph was taken in Casper, Wyoming, and the servicemen saluting were identified as men stationed at the Casper Filter Center* in 1956. How do we know it was taken then? Enterprising researchers used motor vehicle records to determine the photo was taken in 1956 by using the visible license plate on the KSPR panel truck.

Over time some of the saluting soldiers and spectators have been identified. A serviceman standing in the middle of the photo was identified as a Sgt. Maxwell by a Mrs. Claude Key, who gave a call to the Casper Star-Tribune with the identification. The spectator holding his hat in the middle of the photo has been identified to the Casper Star-Tribune by two Mills, Wyoming residents as Perry Abar. Abar lived in Mills, Wyoming, at the time of the photo.

This Casper picture is called a mystery photograph. Nobody is sure what the occasion of the photo was or who took the picture. A further mystery is, why was this specific photograph chosen for the album sleeve? What connection do the Rolling Stones have to Wyoming? These questions have no answers as of yet. Still, maybe one day, with the public’s help or with a Rolling Stone’s tell-all book, this small photographic mystery will have a satisfying conclusion.

Do you know anything more about this photograph? Leave your comments here!

Casper Star-Tribune, May 8, 1973; Partial ‘Mystery’ Solved

Casper Star-Tribune, May 9, 1973; Mystery Picture Clearer

* The Casper Filter Center is the location where volunteer civilian Ground Observer Corp plane spotters from all over the state of Wyoming call in planes spotted flying in Wyoming air space. The Casper Filter Center volunteers plot and track the planes. Necessary information about the planes are then relayed to the Air Defense Corp who make the decision if the incoming planes are hostile.

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Filed under Events, music, Mystery, Photographs

Combating a Contagion

By: Carl Hallberg, Wyoming State Archives

No Neg, WY General Hospital X-Ray Department, Rock Springs, WY, nd, C6, ROCKS-9

Wyoming General Hospital, interior, X-Ray Department, unidentified man laying on an X-Ray bed, anatomical chart on the far wall. (WSA, Cities & Towns–Rock Springs, Wyoming #1 of 4)

Controlling infectious diseases has been a daunting task facing Wyoming physicians and public health officials since the state was first settled. Readers may find echoes of the current day  in this account of the fearful ailment, smallpox. In later years, containing smallpox was a particularly troublesome endeavor for health officials, when it could be readily prevented beforehand through vaccination. However, educating the public on this preventive measure proved to be a significant public relations hurdle.

Smallpox is characterized by disfiguring blisters and pustules on the body, notably on the face and hands. The skin rash creates a burning sensation, and sores develop in the throat. Infected individuals become even more uncomfortable with the onset of severe chills, aches, pains, and sometimes convulsions, delusions, and nightmares. Many people survived with only pockmarks on their face. In more severe cases, smallpox can cause blindness or death.

Because it was so contagious, local physicians took all reports of smallpox very seriously. Infected individuals were immediately quarantined in their homes or the county pest house. A sign was placed at the site to warn away visitors and travelers. Both measures – quarantine and public notification – were “not a form of punishment,” noted Dr. John Hinds of Buffalo, “but a public duty for the protection of others.” Until the disease had run its course, doctors tried to make the patient as comfortable as possible. Also, clothes, furniture, and buildings at the place of infestation were fumigated and disinfected. Anyone in contact with the infected person was advised to be vaccinated.

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The Rock Springs Miner, Nov. 11, 1903

Newspapers published notices about local outbreaks. When such occurred, readers were warned to avoid the respective homes and areas until public health officials said otherwise. Frequently, publishers reaffirmed the severe nature of the disease and urged readers to take proper precautions. Following a report of smallpox in Laramie in 1902, the Laramie Boomerang commented that there was no need for residents to be alarmed. The report also said, “but it is a good time to look up that old [vaccination] scar.”

Smallpox did not discriminate between large and small towns or urban and rural areas. Wherever an infected individual went, there was a high probability that others would contract the disease. In 1875 an infected man was found on a train to Rawlins. The railroad car was disconnected from the train. The man and his fellow passengers were quarantined outside of town.

A Campbell County health official determined that a Rozet teacher contracted smallpox from clothing worn by a visiting girls’ basketball team. The disease had been reported in the neighboring town. Smallpox outbreaks could disrupt communities. An outbreak in Savery in 1902 threatened to close the school for the entire winter.

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Session Laws, 1901, see section 9

Local physicians and health officials responded quickly to quell any fear of an epidemic. Beginning in 1902, compulsory quarantine and vaccination following the confirmation of the disease remained the standard medical practice. The State Board of health required a quarantine period of at least 30 days. If an individual died from the disease, burial was to take place within 36 hours. All people exposed to the disease were to be vaccinated and isolated for ten days, but the public imagination could run wild. In 1902 Rawlins, during the construction of the penitentiary, steamfitters immediately left the grounds on the first report of smallpox near the site. Only after being assured by a local doctor did they return to work. Following another outbreak in Rawlins in 1910, rumors spread that 79 people were ill when only about a dozen had the disease. The stories also said the disease was spreading rapidly and threatening to get out of control when, in fact, it was confined to 11 houses.

The only effective deterrent to smallpox was a vaccine developed by Edward Jenner, an English physician, in 1796. However, in Wyoming, the vaccination agent for the disease was not mandatory for the general populace. To the frustration of public health officials, many people refused it or did not take smallpox seriously. Dr. J.WS. Hunter of Gillette wryly suggested that by quarantining smallpox patients,” these [healthy] people will be anxious and willing to be vaccinated.”

In March 1919, the State Board of Health passed a rule requiring compulsory vaccination for school children against smallpox. It was a bold move. The board could “adopt such measures for the general vaccination of the inhabitants of any city, town, or county in the state” in order “to prevent the introduction or arrest the progress of smallpox.” Even so, the board questioned whether its policy could be applied to schools. Nonetheless, the order was sent, and in the fall of 1919, it was challenged in Natrona County District Court.

In Brokus vs. Wheeler, et al., the plaintiff argued that the rule was arbitrary because other children who had not been vaccinated were attending school. The school district countered that given the prevalence of the disease in the plaintiff’s residential area, the action was a prudent one. Judge Ralph Kimball concurred with the defendants and dismissed the case.

P2009-4_1 crop, Ralph Kimball WY Supreme Court Chief Justice, portriat

Ralph Kimball, WY Supreme Court Justice. (WSA, WY Supreme Court Time Capsule Collection (P2009-4/01)

Shortly afterward, in Root vs. Wheeler et al., the plaintiff’s argument was much the same; the defendants could not prove that their action was based on a real public health need. Subsequently, Judge Kimball ruled that compulsory vaccination would not be mandated when the disease was not prevalent. For the State “Board of Health, the judgment was a tremendous setback. Dr. C.Y. Beard, secretary of the board, said that insufficient funds prevented the board from allowing a state health officer to be present throughout the entire trial. As a result of Root vs. Wheeler, only the legislature could prescribe vaccination as a prerequisite for school attendance. A mandatory immunization law was not passed until 1979.

In the meantime, health officials campaigned heartily for voluntary immunization. Their efforts had mixed results. Some years no cases were reported, and then suddenly cases flared up. For example, the State Board of Health reported 486 smallpox cases in 1921, 179 in 1922, and 20 in 1923. Epidemics occurred in 1929 and 1935 when 347 and 321 people were infected, respectively. Eventually, through perseverance, health officials won the battle, and the majority of the population was vaccinated. By 1930, the number of smallpox cases began to drop dramatically. The last report of the disease in Wyoming was in 1953. Several years later, since no cases were being reported, the Department of Health decided not to keep statistics on smallpox anymore. By then, the disease was non-existent in the United States.

In 1971 the smallpox immunization for children was discontinued. The disease was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980.


Board of Health Annual Reports

Local Ordinances

Wyoming Newspapers from

Wyoming Statutes

1901 Session Laws

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Filed under Events, In The News, Pandemics, Smallpox, Vaccines

William Brown: The Convict That Got Away

WSP Inmate 2686 William Brown-1_page-0001

By: Carl Hallberg, Wyoming State Archives

William Brown was an inmate at the Wyoming State Penitentiary from 1917 to 1920.  He has a unique standing in the annals of the Penitentiary in that he escaped and was never apprehended.

Born in 1896, Brown was raised on a farm in rural Michigan, received an eighth grade education, and married a local girl.  At just shy of six feet tall, he was of slight build, pleasant looking young man. He apparently left his wife to seek his fortune in the West, probably with the intent of sending for her later.  According to Penitentiary records, Brown listed his occupation as a ranch hand though there is no evidence he did such labor. Another account described him as a “would be” cowboy. At the time of his arrest, he was working as a clerk at the Normandie Hotel in Cheyenne.

On December 7, 1917, Brown and two unscrupulous acquaintances kidnapped Gust Kondaks, a Greek taxi cab driver and ordered Kondaks to drive them to Texas.  About 10 miles south of Cheyenne, for reasons that are not clear, Brown decided Kondaks was no longer needed and shot Kondaks twice, killing him. Kondaks’ body was discovered a couple of days later in a snowbank.  About 10 days later, Kondaks’ kidnappers were arrested in El Paso, Texas. They were brought back to Cheyenne and were summarily tried and convicted. Because he killed Kondaks, Brown was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced on April 3, 1918 to 25 to 30 years.  

Within a couple years, Brown conducted himself accordingly.  Through the influential persuasion of his parents before the state parole board, Brown’s sentence was commuted to 6 to 8 years.  Because he was a model inmate, he was transferred to a state road camp in Hot Springs County on April 11, 1920.

Brown’s family members tried  to bolster his spirits by writing to him often.  To their dismay, he wrote infrequently. His mother begged him to do otherwise.  A brother, probably looking for something to say, wrote awkwardly with standard pat questions, “How are you anyway and what are you doing? . . . Have you any idea when you will be home? Am glad you are doing so nicely now.”  His wife inquired about his work and condition, and let him know that their little boy, Martin, was doing fine and wanted to write his daddy. Little did anyone know that Brown had decided to take his fate into his own hands.

On August 15, 1920, Brown escaped from the road camp.   Concerned after receiving this news, Warden Frank Hadsell held Sheriff H.E. Holdrege responsible for Brown’s escape.  “Will you kindly inform what effort you made to apprehend Brown” Hadsell wrote. “I don’t want to get into your game but I want this man.”  Hadsell believed Brown would go north and cross into Canada. To make matters worse, both men learned that Brown had stolen a saddle and a horse and killed a sheepherder, Frank Belcher, in Park County.    

William Brown poster_page-0001After learning about Brown’s escape, Sheriff Holdredge immediately started a search.  He later personally posted a $100 reward for his arrest, and circulated a wanted poster in the northwest and Canada. Holdrege also enlisted the cooperation of the US Postal Service.  By intercepting the mail of Brown’s family members, officials hoped to locate and apprehend him.

But it was all for naught.  A year passed and Brown was still at loose.  Moreover, his family had no idea where he was.  Believing he would only create trouble for her if he should return, his wife divorced him in September 1921.

Brown was never apprehended and his whereabouts were never discovered.

WSP Inmate 2686 William Brown-2_page-0001On February 1, 1936, Warden Alex McPherson finally gave up the search and reluctantly notified Governor Leslie A. Miller that, for administrative purposes, Brown was officially discharged from the Penitentiary.  



Casper Daily Tribune, September 1, 1920, page 5

Laramie County District Court CR 5-386, State of Wyoming vs. William Brown, et al.

Warren Brown, criminal case files, Hot Springs County Sheriff Records

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Vagrancy in Wyoming

Carl Hallberg, Wyoming State Archives

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This image is from The Rawlins Republican no. 33 May 08, 1909, page 7 included with an article titled: “America’s Hobo Army” By: Daniel P. Wiles.

Like many modern challenges, homelessness is nothing new, including here in Wyoming.  To grow and prosper, Wyoming communities encouraged ambitious, enterprising and hard-working people to come to Wyoming.  Eagerly sought were laborers, farmers, and investors. Over time, much of Wyoming as well as western history would be dominated by images of individuals who embodied rugged individualism, the Protestant work ethnic and the entrepreneurial spirit.  But there was one element of society that was least desired and most detested – vagrants. 

A vagrant is defined as a person without a home or regular employment or income who wanders from place to place, usually at the expense of local charity.  Vagrants were often portrayed as social misfits or unwanted outsiders. In colonial times, individuals who did not have some kind of gainful employment were asked to leave town or face prosecution.  Such was the legal heritage that would become an integral part of Wyoming’s criminal code.  

Vagrancy was endemic to most communities but particularly during the winter months and difficult economic times.   Unemployed, disheveled persons idling and sleeping in sheds, saloons, and open spaces created an unsightly image to travelers and presented an image contrary to the clean, vibrant and prosperous city that public officials wanted to convey.   

To curb the presence of this unwanted element, the territory of Wyoming passed a vagrancy statute in 1876 imposing a fine of $100 or imprisonment for up to three months or both.  Complementing this statute, as well being part of community’s ongoing efforts to maintain an orderly and attractive atmosphere, Wyoming cities and towns usually instituted a vagrancy ordinance.  Municipal codes imposed a fine of up to but not more than $100. Since the individual was likely a pauper, the fine could be worked off by laboring in the streets at a cost of $1.00 per day. If the fine could not be paid, jail time up to 60 days could be imposed.  The responsibility for dealing with vagrants fell to police and sheriff’s officers and judges.  

Vagrancy Entry

Cheyenne City Jail Registers

Entries for vagrancy dot the pages of municipal court dockets and city and county sheriff’s jail registers.  Unfortunately, there is no substantive information about the individual of record, such as their age, background, or previous place or residence.   Whether the individuals were down and out, petty criminals or freebooters is impossible to determine. According to some newspaper articles, a handful of individuals appear to have been colorful characters well known in the community.  But most people are nothing more than shadowy figures on paper.  

Today we seek causes or “cures” for homelessness.  In these earlier days, a temporary, if unintended solution was found.  On the surface, the punishment meted out seems severe. But upon closer examination, there was some irony.  Given that the arrested individual had no money or livelihood, trying to collect a fine was like getting blood from a turnip.  Imprisonment did not impose any pecuniary or personal hardships. Moreover, by trying to prevent vagrants from being a social nuisance and a burden to local charities, the local government ended up providing housing and care at the public taxpayer’s expense.   

In the 1929 film The Cocoanuts, Groucho Marx, playing the part of a would-be real estate developer, shows a city map to his brother Chico, playing the part of the confidence man, and says, “Now here is the main road leading out of Cocoanut Manor.  That’s the road I wish you were on.” Marx’s sarcastic remark was actually a real choice for dealing with vagrants.  According to local ordinances, vagrants could be granted an early release if they promised to leave the community and not return in 12 months.   For many local officials, this was a pragmatic solution because it saved public money and time that would otherwise be expended on food and shelter.  By sending vagrants out of town, however, they remained homeless and became a problem for the next community.


Cheyenne Municipal Ordinances

City of Cheyenne Jail Register 1879-1948

City of Superior Municipal Ordinances

City of Laramie Ordinances 1869-1946

Laramie County Sheriff Prisoners Records Jail Registers 1916-1968

Laws of Wyoming, 1869 Chapter 3 Sec. 125 Vagrancy Pg. 136




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Lola West, Cheyenne African American Entrepreneur


Lola West, owner of the Black and Tan Cafe, standing with an unidentified man. Wyo State Archives Sub Neg 23565

Lola West was the owner of the successful Black and Tan Cafe, a popular destination for African American Cheyenne residents and Fort FE Warren soldiers. She was a key witness in the 1944 case against Mayor of Cheyenne Ira L. Hanna, Chief of Police Jess B. Ekdall, Captain Gerald J. Morris and Sergeant E.K. Violette of the Cheyenne police force for soliciting and accepting bribes. Her eye witness testimony and her foresight in marking down the serial numbers of the bills she used to pay one of her $100 “protection” money payoffs were instrumental in the conviction of these men.

West was born on January 3, 1892, in Arkansas. We know Lola came to Wyoming with her husband William H. West sometime around 1925. The couple is first mentioned in the 1926 Cheyenne City Directory. West is marked as the head of the house in the 1930 Federal Census and the 1940 Federal Census. It is unclear what happened to William. We don’t know if he died, the most likely scenario, or if he and West separated.

Lola West 1940

West is entered as head of the household on line 27 of the 1940 Federal Census.

West became embroiled in Mayor Hanna’s bribery scandal on March 1, 1944. West was a key witness for the prosecution. She testified that on March 1 Ekdall and Morris came to her establishment, the Black and Tan Cafe, and said, “they were going to open up the town.” They asked her if she wanted to get in on it. At the time West was boarding soldiers’ wives at the Black and Tan where she had 14 rooms to rent. West was part of a small community of African Americans who all lived on the West side of Cheyenne. Due to Cheyenne’s subtle segregation, West’s soldiers’ wives were, most likely, African-American. West’s establishment would have been one of the only places in Cheyenne where they could live.

When West disclosed this information to Morris he told her to “get some women open the doors, start some gambling and get some liquor.” She was also told if the soldiers’ wives living with her wouldn’t “hustle” to throw them out and get some girls who would. Morris and Ekdall left but then returned around 7 p.m. to ask her how much she could pay. They needed to make a report to the Chief and the Mayor. West was told to have money ready, and “no arguments either,” and to bring her money to W.C. (Pop) Grimes’ Porters and Waiters Club. Grimes was also a key witness for the prosecution. West testified the payment “wasn’t a fine. It was like a tax. It was a payoff.”

West made payments of $100 each on March 4 and March 17. Lola said all four of the defendants were in the room for the transactions. She claimed when she asked what she was paying protection money for the reply was it would allow her to have liquor, gambling, and prostitution at her establishment without a license.

Unbeknownst to Mayor Hanna and his partners West was approached by three federal investigators from the Alcohol Tax Unit to help with a sting operation. L.D. Parker and Fred M. Taylor, two of the investigators with the Alcohol Tax Unit, testified to witnessing a $100 payoff from West. Parker and Taylor were concealed in a room in the Porters and Waiters’ Club and saw Lola West count out the money and place it on the desk in Grime’s office. Sergeant Violette picked it up, and Mayor Hanna said he would count it later.

Parker testified that earlier in the evening he saw West and Grimes talking to Violette and Morris. She complained the $100 was too steep a price and she wanted to speak to the Chief or the Mayor before she paid that much money. Hanna and Ekdall arrived later around ten. Ekdall asked Lola what the trouble was and she told him she didn’t have any ‘girls’, no gambling or liquor and she couldn’t afford to pay the $100. Lola also said she was told she would only have to pay $50. Lola did admit to the federal investigators she sold beer without a license.

West was an African-American businesswoman who challenged the powerful white men of Cheyenne. After the trial, she moved on with her life in Cheyenne. There is hardly anything in the historical record that mentions West before or after the trial. Her name did show up in a 1950 court docket. She was fined for selling liquor without a license. Lola West died at 83 years old on August 24, 1975. According to the notice in the Wyoming State Tribune Lola left behind a large family: six children, 20 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. She is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne.


Casper Star Tribune, May 4, 1944

Casper Star Tribune,  May 7, 1944

Laramie County District Court CR 8-222, The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K.Violette
Laramie County District Court CR 8-223, The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K.Violette
Laramie County District Court CR 8-226, The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K. Violette
Laramie County District Court CR 8-227,The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K.Violette
Laramie County Distirct Court CR 8-228, The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K.Violette
Laramie County District Court CR 8-229, The State of Wyoming V Ira Hanna, Jess B. Ekdall, Gerald J. Morris, E.K.Violette

Wyoming State Tribune, March 20, 1944

Wyoming State Tribune, March 21, 1944

Wyoming State Tribune, May 3, 1944

Wyoming State Tribune, August 25, 1975




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Wyoming Digital Archives Adds One Millionth Digital Document

The Wyoming State Archives is delighted to announce that we have accepted the one millionth document into our Digital Archives!  We are celebrating the exponential growth of this secure storage method for the state’s valuable records.

In 2013, the Wyoming State Archives began working in collaboration with the state’s Enterprise Technology Services experts on the best solution for safely and securely housing the state’s digital public records.  We found the solution in the Wyoming Digital Archives, a military-grade storage database for public records, the documents that reflect the work of Wyoming’s government. This includes both permanent records and other documents with long-term value, which were either “born digital” (not created on paper) or digitized. 

To date, the Digital Archives boasts one hundred licensed security levels, allowing customized access for a variety of users, from the Governor to staff in government offices across Wyoming at the state and local level. At a nominal cost, it provides agencies a way to preserve and manage their electronic records in much the same way the State Records Center and State Archives preserve and manage paper records.

Documents added to the Digital Archives are available to the agency’s staff using a web interface with keyword search ability, drastically decreasing the time needed to access older records. Access restrictions can be set by agencies to protect confidential documents and information as needed and to document changes made to the files. The system also includes a page where anyone can search for publicly accessible documents.

  “It took us over four years to add the first half a million documents, but only two years to make it a million.  The Wyoming State Archives appreciates the opportunity to make public employees’ lives easier and put the information they need securely at their fingertips when they need it!” says Kathy Marquis, Wyoming State Archivist. 

Wyoming Digital Archives by the numbers:

  • 7 years
  • 1,000,000 records
  • 190 individual users in:
  • 19 state agencies
  • 12 county offices
  • 1 municipal office (Sundance, coming soon!)
  • 1st documents added by the Secretary of State
  • 1,000,000th document added by the Department of Environmental Quality Air Division

For further information, check out our website at; or contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at the Wyoming State Archives, 2301 Central Ave, Cheyenne WY 82002.  You can also call 307-777-8691 or message her at


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Ed Warren Cheyenne’s Vaudeville Mayor

By: Jessica Cosgrove, Wyoming State Archives

Ed Warren deputizing Miss Frontier

Ed Warren pinning police star badge on honoree, Miss Frontier Mary Magor. 1933. Cheyenne Police Chief T. Joe Cahill watching. (WSA Brammer Neg 1890A)

Ed Warren was elected mayor of Cheyenne in 1940 and served two terms. Prior to being mayor Ed Warren was a successful  vaudeville performer. At the pinnacle of his career Ed played the Palace Theater in New York City.

Ed and his two sisters were introduced to show business when they were children by one Fred Stone. Stone was a top notch circus performer, a star of vaudeville, a Broadway musical stage actor who played the scarecrow in the 1903 stage musical of the “Wizard of Oz” and eventually he starred in movies such as “The Duke of Chimney Butte,” “Billy Jim,” and “Johnny Get Your Gun”, to name a few.

The show business bug bit Ed and his sisters and they started performing vaudeville acts; they sang, danced and did acrobatics. At one point Ed adopted the stage name Ed Warren. His full name was Ed Warren Leisenring, but he felt his last name was too much of a mouthful so he dropped it. For the first few years of vaudeville performing Ed and his sisters were accompanied by their parents, but as the children got older they began to perform on their own. Ed lost a member of his troupe when one of his sisters became Mrs. Peter Appel Sr. of Cheyenne. In 1915 he lost his most prominent scene partner, Lillian, when she married a Chugwater rancher by the name of Curtis Templin.

After he lost his sisters to marriage Ed continued performing on his own, but sometimes he would join his act with Charles O’Brien or Dill Templeton’s performances. Some of Ed’s favorite performing memories were playing the Palace Theater in New York  and sharing review honors with May Irwin, a Canadian vaudeville star.

Due to his time on the stage Ed came away with friends such as baseball star pitcher Cy Young, player Bill Donovan, pitcher Ed Walsh and boxers Bob Fitzsimmons, John Mcgraw, and Abe Attell. He was also good friends with comedian Fred Allen who would tease Ed in letters about his love of cigars.

In 1909 Ed’s vaudeville act played the old Atlas Theater on 16th street in Cheyenne. Something about Cheyenne captured Ed’s imagination, and he decided to make the town his home. He would return during the summers, and eventually he moved there permanently. In addition to being elected mayor he was a former city commissioner and he sold Cheyenne real estate.[1]

The Wyoming State Archives has in its holdings some of Ed Warren’s sheet music for his performances with Charles O’Brien.

According to the November 14, 1939 Casper Star Tribune Ed Warren was the third Mayor in Cheyenne history who had been on Broadway. The article did not name the previous two mayors who had bathed in the lights of Broadway.[2]

Mayor Ed Warren died by suicide in 1963.[3]

1.“Ed Warren, Former Mayor had Successful Career on Stage”, Kirk Knox
2. Casper Star Tribune, November 14, 1939
3. Casper Star Tribune, April 15, 1963

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The Sedition Act of 1918

By: Robin Everett, Wyoming State Archives

Schweder pg 3

Throughout history, when governments have perceived threats from within, they have taken measures to protect their sovereignty. Unfortunately, there is ancillary damage along the way – innocents caught in the process because of who they are and what their heritage is.  One such measure is a US federal law passed just after entry into WWI, the Espionage Act of 1917. An extension of the Espionage Act came a year later, when Congress passed the Sedition Act of 1918, which covered a broader range of offenses, notably speech. The Act forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the US government.    

During WWI, invoking the interests of national security, US authorities required non-naturalized citizens to register as “enemy aliens”.  The action targeted several nationalities, but focused mainly on non-citizen German born residents. Women born in the US, married to such individuals were also included.  


Schweder pg 1

The State Archives has a small collection of enemy alien registrations from some cities, district courts and the US Department of Justice.  Like many records created for one purpose, they now serve another: genealogical research. If your ancestors might have been included in this group, read on:   In 1920, Congress authorized the destruction of these records, but some have survived. The National Archives has some from Missouri, Arizona and Kansas. Strewn across the country in various state/local archives and libraries, are more records.  These records contain biographical information, a physical description, and usually a photograph. The form also asked about loyalties to the US or sympathies to the enemy. Registrants were expected to provide names of friends and family members serving in enemy armed forces.  The documents reproduced here show the registration of a Henry Schweder of Sheridan County, Wyoming, and includes listings of his wife and daughter, a photo – and the notation that he was blind. 

Schweder pg 2To determine whether these records may contain some of your ancestors, start with the Federal Census prior to and following WWI.  Information contained on the 1910 federal census can assist you in determining an ancestor’s citizenship prior to WWI Enemy Alien Registration.  As a follow-up, the 1920 census specifically asks the year of naturalization. Through deciphering information from both returns an ancestor’s 1918 citizenship status may be determined.  All open U.S. census returns are available via in all Wyoming libraries. 

Basic research of WWI era Wyoming newspapers Schweder pg 4provides reports of actions being taken not only locally but in other countries and across the US.  In April 1917, various Wyoming newspapers reported how New York police officers directed all enemy aliens to turn over all firearms. An October 1917 Park County Enterprise reports how many American women, through marriage were now perceived as potential enemies, – even Gloria Vanderbilt. In December 1917, a Newcastle man was held for federal authorities, after making seditious talk.  Various April and May 1920 Laramie newspapers reported on a German born male, who had registered as an enemy alien and had illegally voted in a local election.




For further reading

“Featured Story: Rights Amid Threats” from online exhibit, “Documented Rights.”  National Archives and Records Administration,, accessed August 16, 2017. 

“Civil Liberties in Wartime,” from Share America online exhibit by the Bureau of International Information Programs, United States Department of State,   accessed August 16, 2017.

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Filed under Genealogy, Wyoming at War