Category Archives: Wyo Whiskers

Wyo Whiskers: Dr. Thomas Maghee

Today’s Wyo Whiskers feature was a frontier Army surgeon and medical pioneer.

Dr. Thomas Maghee was born in 1842 in Evansville, Indiana. During the Civil War, he fought with the 24th Indiana Volunteers but was discharged two and a half years later for wounds he sustained. He began studying medicine at the local college. Following graduation in 1868, he began practicing in his home town.

In April 1873, Dr. Maghee was given an appointment as Army Surgeon. This position moved him steadily west to Omaha Barracks, North Platte, Fort McPherson and finally Fort Brown (later called Fort Washakie) and Camp Stambaugh, keeping him in the thick of the military action against the Native American tribes. After resigning in 1878, Dr. Maghee entered private practice in Green River and was soon Sweetwater County’s representative to the Territorial Legislature.

Thomas G. Maghee, M.D.  (WSA Sub Neg 2442)

Thomas G. Maghee, M.D.
(WSA Sub Neg 2442)

In 1880, Dr. Maghee moved his practice to Rawlins, where he served as surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad. The practice grew, as did Dr. Maghee’s fame and influence.

Dr. Maghee and patient George Webb infront of his practice in Rawlins. (Sub Neg 5237)

Dr. Maghee (center) and patient George Webb (right) in front of his practice in Rawlins.
(Sub Neg 5237)

The incident Dr. Maghee is possibly best known for is his involvement with the outlaw “Big Nose” George Parrott. Following Parrott’s lynching of  in 1881, Dr. Maghee and Dr. John Osborne (who later became governor of Wyoming) claimed his body in the name of science. The doctors proceeded to examine the body for evidence of malformation, especially in the brain, that may have led to Parrott’s crimes and shortcomings. They buried his remains in a barrel behind their practice, except for the top of his skull, which their assisting nurse, Lillian Heath, kept as a memento, and a portion of his skin which Dr. Osborne had tanned and made into shoes in Denver. On November 26, 1984, Parrott’s skull, death mask and Dr. Osborne’s shoes were given to the Carbon County Museum. A replica of his skull, as well as the shoes and death mask are on display there today.

Sub Neg 988 or 11324, P73-28.4, Big Nose George Parrott, lynched in Rawlins 1881

“Big Nose” George Parrott, who sported another wonderful ‘stache, seemed to have wilder adventures after his death in 1881 than before.
(WSA Sub Neg 988, 11324)

A few years later, Dr. Maghee made medical history for completing one of the first successful plastic surgery and facial reconstructions in Wyoming’s history. On November 2, 1886, herder George Webb, age 53, attempted to take his life with a shotgun in a sheep wagon south of Rawlins. Webb succeeded only in loosing a large portion of his nose, upper and  lower jaw. Over the course of 39 surgeries “under profound chloroform” between November 12, 1886 and April 27, 1887, Dr. Maghee was able to reconstruct Webb’s face, including his nose and lips, using muslin, silk thread and skin and tissue grafts from other portions of his body. Dr. Maghee wrote a detailed account of his experience in a national medical journal, which made Webb something of a celebrity for a time. Dr. Maghee reported that Webb was  seen in 1905 in Los Angeles, California and that his “scars have about disappeared, the nose is natural in shape, size and color.”

George Webb after facial reconstruction by Dr Thomas Maghee, ca 1887 (WSA Sub Neg 9812)

George Webb after facial reconstruction by Dr Thomas Maghee, ca 1887
(WSA Sub Neg 9812)

Dr. Maghee moved his practice to Lander in 1905, where he passed away in 1927 at the age of 85. He claimed “no less than 17 minor injuries” during his career and was proud of the fact that he “never failed to respond to a call, regardless of how great the hardship of reaching the domicile or a patient might be or of the inability of a patient to pay for service” during his nearly 50 years of practice.


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Wyo Whiskers: George “Coyote” Smith

Today’s Wyo Whiskers feature was a jack of all trades, working as postmaster, newspaper editor, photographer, trapper, musician and even city marshal.

George H. Smith’s life was destined to be an adventure. He was born in a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in November 1863 to an Englishman and his wife. By age 10, he was a naturalized citizen of the United States. He picked up a talent for photography somewhere along the road and by the early 1890s he had made his way to Lander, Wyoming. In Lander, he met his wife, Hattie Mitchel, and the two were married in 1894. The couple tried their luck in Chicago for a short time, but by December 1897, they were on the trail back to Lander, dead broke and with an infant. They arrived in Glenrock on the 6th with only $1.00 and a played out team to their names.

P2007-18_5, Coyote Smith with wolf over shoulder

Coyote Smith with a wolf he harvested.
(WSA P2007-18/5)

In an effort to provide for his family, Smith began hunting coyotes with one trap, his rifle and a hatchet. At the time, a little money could be made selling furs to manufacturers back east. “Good coyote hides sold at from 15 cents to $1.00 each.” From time to time, the county or local ranchers would offer a bounty on the animals if they were particularly overrun. Coyotes and wolves would harass and sometimes kill livestock. Every other day “Coyote” Smith would walk his trap line, harvesting coyotes, wolves, skunks, bobcats and muskrats as well as deer, antelope,  grouse and rabbits to keep his family fed. It turned out he had quite the talent for it and  hides began piling up in front of the family’s rented cabin. Between the summer garden, a few head of livestock and the abundant game, the family thrived.

The Smith cabin lined with a season's work. (WSA P2007-18/6)

The Smith cabin lined with a season’s work.
(WSA P2007-18/6)

Only a couple years after they arrived, the Smiths were able to purchase a small ranch on Deer Creek, nine miles outside of Glenrock. At the end of the winter, the log cabin would be covered with hides waiting to be sent east. Smith also developed a skill for taxidermy and mounted many trophies for hunters in the area. Mrs. Smith, a good shot herself, would make rugs to sell out of bobcat and coyote hides with the heads attached.

P2007-18_1, Mrs Hattie Coyote Smith with bobcat under arm and pointing pistol

Hattie Smith, George’s wife, poses for his camera with a pistol and a bobcat.
(WSA P2007-18/1)

Around 1914, the family built a frame house beside their log cabin but they didn’t move into it for several years. Instead, it was here that they held regular country dances. According to their daughter, Hattie:

“Ranchers, town people and people from the Parkerton oil fields would come by horseback, wagons and cars and stay all night dancing square dances, two steps, waltzes, and fox trots to the music provided by the Smith family. Dad as the main musician, playing the violin, my brother Muriel and I playing the piano, and Ira playing the banjo and calling the square dances. Mama provided her popular midnight supper at fifty cents a plate. She would have roast beef; or family and visitors would go fishing and they would have a fish supper. There were pies and cakes, too. The men, only, were charged a dollar admission to the dance. Fifty to seventy-five people would come and dance until dawn.” — Pages from Converse County’s Past p.549

Still smitten by photography, Smith opened a small studio on 4th Street in Glenrock. His daughter, Hattie, helped in the studio developing negatives. Smith traveled around Wyoming as much as he could with his camera, but also captured much of Converse County’s history. Oil field gushers were a favorite of his and he would often run out to the oil fields to photograph them.

"A Glenrock Gusher" Smith was fascinated by the oil fields and frequently photographed them.  (WSA Sub Neg 27668)

“A Glenrock Gusher” Smith was fascinated by the oil fields and frequently photographed them.
(WSA Sub Neg 27668)

In addition to his ranch, trapping and photography, Smith worked odd jobs as opportunities presented themselves. During World War I and through prohibition, Smith worked as Glenrock’s town marshal. For a time, he was postmaster. He also tried his hand as newspaper editor. During the war, the family sold and traded their abundant milk, eggs and vegetables in Glenrock and in the neighboring oil fields.

"Busy Glenrock, The Oil City" photo by George H. Smith (WSA Sub Neg 14219)

“Busy Glenrock, The Oil City” photo by George H. Smith
(WSA Sub Neg 14219)

“Coyote” Smith passed away days after his 71st birthday. He was laid to rest on the ranch beside his wife and a daughter. Of the four surviving Smith children, Harry and Ira stayed in Converse County. Murriel moved to Denver and Hattie to California.


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Wyo Whiskers: Tom Horn

I case you missed it, today is the 110th anniversary of the death of notorious Wyoming bad boy (and wearer of a fantastic ‘stache) Tom Horn. Rather than doing a standard bio for such a well know figure, how about a few illustrated fun facts?

Tom Horn standing outside his cell in the Laramie County Jail. (WSA Wagner Neg 30A)

Tom Horn standing outside his cell in the Laramie County Jail.
(WSA Wagner Neg 30A)

Did you know….

1. Horn wrote an autobiography called A Vindication: Life of Tom Horn while in jail? The book was posthumously published by John C. Coble.

The cover of Horn's autobiography.

The cover of Horn’s autobiography.

2. Horn served in Cuba during the Spanish-American War?

3. There is an (incorrect) rumor that Horn shot Steamboat, the legendary bucking horse? The story goes that the old horse was so well loved that when the time came to put him down, no one had the heart to shoot him. So they dragged Horn, the most cold-hearted man they could find, out of jail and made him do it. There are clearly a couple of big holes in this story, but the largest may be the dates. Horn died in 1903, a full 11 years before Steamboat’s demise in 1914.

Colored postcard showing "Steamboat" the bucking horse in action (WSA P90-28)

Colored postcard showing “Steamboat” the bucking horse in action
(WSA P90-28)

4. Horn’s trial is one of the few from that time period in Wyoming where the trial transcript was preserved? The nearly 1 cubic foot of material is available at the Archives.

A page from the testimony of John M. Bray from Horn's trial transcript.

A page from the testimony of John M. Bray from Horn’s trial transcript.

5. Horn had a talent for braiding horsehair? He was well known for this skill and many examples of his work can be seen in museum collections.

Tom Horn braiding rope in Sheriff Smalley's office (WSA Sub Neg 2089)

Tom Horn braiding rope in Sheriff Smalley’s office
(WSA Sub Neg 2089)

6. The gallows upon which Horn was hanged was designed so that the convict would hang himself?

The Julien Gallows set up at the State Penitentiary in Rawlins (WSA Sub Neg 9136)

The Julien Gallows set up at the State Penitentiary in Rawlins
(WSA Sub Neg 9136)

7. The 3rd Territorial Legislative Assembly met in the same building where Horn was hung? When the 3rd Territorial Legislature convened in 1873, the Capitol Building had not yet been built. The 9 councilmen and 13 representatives met in the newly constructed Laramie County Courthouse. This original building has since been razed, but the current Laramie County Courthouse Complex sits on the same block.

The original Laramie County Courthouse at 19th and Carey. (WSA sub Neg 8737)

The original Laramie County Courthouse at 19th and Carey.
(WSA sub Neg 8737)

8. Horn escaped from jail? He was recaptured before he got too far and was escorted back to jail by a large crowd.

Escorting Tom Horn back to jail after his recapture (WSA Meyers Neg 625)

Escorting Tom Horn back to jail after his recapture
(WSA Meyers Neg 625)

9. There was a black man on Horn’s jury? His name was Charles Tolson.

Tom Horn's jury  (WSA Sub Neg 15339)

Tom Horn’s jury. Charles Tolson is second from the right in the front row.
(WSA Sub Neg 15339)

10. Steve McQueen, who portrayed Horn in the 1980 movie , Tom Horn, was married in Cheyenne? McQueen claimed that he chose the location because he liked the way Cheyenne looked as the location for the news stories.

Local news coverage of Steve McQueen's marriage in 1973.

Local news coverage of Steve McQueen’s marriage in 1973.

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Wyo Whiskers: Ah Say

Today’s Wyo Whiskers feature dedicated his life to improving the treatment of his fellow countrymen in his adopted country.

Ah Say was born in China around 1847. Like many of the Chinese who came to America to work on the railroad and in the mines, he never meant to stay. Many men came with the expectation that they would work for a few years, make enough money to start their lives and return to China to marry and raise their families. Very few saw Wyoming as a permanent home and fewer brought their families with them.

Ah Say arrived in Evanston from California in 1869, then moved to Rock Springs in 1892. He worked hard in the mines, becoming an effective translator and liaison between the workers and the Union Pacific. He eventually became superintendent of the Chinese UPRR workers and a recruiter of sorts, traveling to California and Omaha to recruit and escort new Chinese workers to Southeast Wyoming, contracting with both the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. By the time of his death, the Emperor of China had also appointed him a consul. Ah Say raised his family in Rock Springs, where all of his children (at least 4) were born. He also became a naturalized citizen and assimilated into Rock Springs society, while honoring his own cultural heritage.

Ah Say in the Joss House at Evanston, 1890s. (WSA Sub Neg 11823)

Ah Say in the Joss House at Evanston, 1890s.
(WSA Sub Neg 11823)

As a pillar of the Chinese community, Ah Say had the honor of overseeing the Joss House in Evanston. The Joss House was a sacred temple and center of the Chinese cultural community in the Rocky Mountain Region. At the time, only three Joss Houses existed in the United States: one in San Francisco, one in New York City and one in Evanston, Wyoming. Ah Say purchased and imported an elaborate dragon from China for the Chinese New Year parades which he lead down the streets for many years.

The traditional dragon, imported from China by Ah Say, was the showpiece of the annual Chinese New Year celebration in Evanston for many years.  (WSA Sub Neg 5527)

The traditional dragon, imported from China by Ah Say, was the showpiece of the annual Chinese New Year celebration in Evanston for many years. The man in the dark suit in the foreground may be Ah Say himself.
(WSA Sub Neg 5527)

Following the Chinese Massacre at Rock Springs in 1885, Ah Say implored the Union Pacific to provide the workers with transportation back to China or at the very least, pay them the money owed to them so they could afford to leave the area on their own. Despite his best efforts, the company refused to help the workers flee. Ah Say continued to work with the local communities smooth out the racial tensions and rebuild the scattered and terrified Chinese community.

(WSA Sub Neg 11822, P73-58)

Chinese worker in the coal mines of southwest Wyoming.
(WSA Sub Neg 11822, P73-58)

In 1899, Ah Say died at his home in Rock Springs. He had seen the end nearing and had prepared himself in the the “old ways”, bathing and dressing in his elaborate consul robes. He then called his family and friends to his bedside and put his final affairs in order. His lavish, $600 funeral was conducted in Rock Springs then his body was shipped to China, where his wife was living, for burial in his family plot. The newspaper published a detailed description of the tradition service and procession as well as a touching eulogy, devoting nearly two whole columns and a large photograph to him as a sign of their respect. They bid him farewell saying “the world is better because he lived. We mourn his loss now that he is dead. May he rest in peace.”

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Wyo Whiskers: Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh

Today’s Wyo Whiskers is a mountain man who witnessed the settlement of Jackson Hole and can be considered something of an expert in survival. He as also something of a historian in that he kept extensive journals throughout his life. He once wrote “Oh, I only wish I could give to the world my experience in Indian life and the Rocky Mountains so they could understand it, but I lack education to do it myself.” [1]

Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh was a red headed, blue eyed Englishman who sought his fortune in the America frontier. He trapped in Canada for the Hudson Bay Company before he joined the Americans and “went for the Mexican War at the close of ’48 attached to E Co. 1st Infantry.” After that, he traveled to the Salt Lake area, where Brigham Young is said to have given him the moniker “Beaver Dick” for his trapping abilities.

Like many trappers and mountain men, Leigh adopted habits from the Native American tribes in the areas he hunted and became fluent in both Bannock and Shoshone languages. The Shoshone called him “Ingapumba” or Red Head. He also took a bride from the tribes named Jenny.

One December night in 1863, Leigh stopped at the isolated camp of a Bannock couple named Pam-Pig-E-Man, called John, and Tadpole. Tadpole was in labor and Leigh acted as midwife. The couple, thankful for his fortuitous services, promised their tiny daughter Susan Tadpole to Leigh in marriage when she came of age. Leigh was 32 years old at the time and newly married, so he thanked them but did not accept the gift.

Leigh and his wife Jenny built the first cabin in the Teton Basin. Several small trading posts had been established in the Valley and Leigh frequently traded his raw furs at Market Lake, north of present day Roberts.

Part of Hayden's survey party at their North Geyser Basin Camp in Yellowstone.  (WSA Jackson Neg 56, Sub Neg 4334)

Part of Hayden’s survey party at their North Geyser Basin Camp in Yellowstone. Artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson are both in the picture.
(WSA Jackson Neg 56, Sub Neg 4334)

In 1872, Leigh became the guide for the G.V. Hayden’s assistants during his first USGS Survey into the Tetons and Yellowstone.[2] Jenny and their four children traveled and camped with the party. Expedition photographer William Henry Jackson took what became an icon photograph of the family in front of their tepee camp. [3] Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake were named in honor of Leigh and his wife during this expedition.

Jenny Lake at the foot of the Grand Tetons was named for Leigh's first wife Jenny who accompanied Hayden's first USGS survey party to the area (WSA J.E. Stimson Collection Neg 124E, 1899, hand-tinted by photographer)

Jenny Lake at the foot of the Grand Tetons was named for Leigh’s first wife Jenny who accompanied Hayden’s first USGS survey party to the area
(WSA J.E. Stimson Collection Neg 124E, 1899, hand-tinted by photographer)

In December 1876, Leigh, Jenny, and their now 5 children took in the wife and small child of another trapper in the area. The woman was very heavy with child, as Jenny herself was, and both her and her child  were starving. After feeding them and giving them shelter, the woman told them her husband had died of smallpox. Horrified at the idea of endangering his family, Leigh insisted that the woman and her child leave their camp. The woman died a few days later of small pox and once again, the Leighs took pity on the small child hoping she had been spared by the illness. After playing with their children for 4 days, the tell tale red bumps start to appear on her, too. About this same time, Jenny gave birth to their sixth child. Leigh never mentions whether the child was a boy or girl. Within 2 weeks, Jenny and all six children are dead of smallpox. Though he too had taken ill, Leigh recovers. He writes later “God has spared me for some work or other. I believe I am prepared to do it whatever it is.” The graves of his family are just above Teton Dam.

In 1877 and 1878, as tensions between the Bannocks and US military were escalating, Leigh led Hayden’s second survey of the region. By July 1878, Leigh had once again made it to Fort Hall, Idaho, and was serving as a scout and hunter for the troops stationed there. John and Tadpole, the couple Leigh had helped 15 years earlier were also at Fort Hall. John had been one of the leaders in the Bannock War but had lost his will to fight. The family came to Fort Hall to surrender. As tensions in the area continued to escalate, Leigh noted in his journal “Whether we get clear or lose our hair remains to be seen in the next three days…I have not been in as tight a place since 1863.”

Both Leigh and the Bannock family survived the next few days and all made it to Fort Brown (later called Fort Washakie), and John may have been one of the hostile Bannocks held prison at the fort that Hayden’s photographer W.H. Jackson captured in his photographs that October.

In 1879, Leigh did indeed marry Susan Tadpole, the baby promised to him 16 years earlier. The couple continued to live in the Teton Basin and raised three children. Like Jenny and her children, Leigh’s second family often accompanied him while he a guided surveys and hunting parties in the area.

Richard "Beaver Dick" Leigh and his second family. L-R: Sue Tadpole, William, Emma, Leigh and Rose. (WSA 2382)

Richard “Beaver Dick” Leigh and his second family. L-R: Sue Tadpole, William, Emma, Leigh and Rose.
(WSA 2382)

As Native American hostilities declined, sportsmen from around the world flocked to the Jackson region in search of trophies. One of these sportsmen was Theodore Roosevelt. After a chance meeting, Leigh helped to guide Roosevelt’s hunting party and had great respect for the man who would shoot and clean his own game. Leigh’s daughter Emma, who was 10 years old at the time, also remembered Roosevelt fondly. She had been spanked by him for mouthing off but was later given a rifle which she treasured for many years.

In March 1899, Leigh passed away after an intense illness and stroke at the age of about 68. Up until the end, he documented his life through writing, as was his habit, by writing to good friends. He is buried in Rexburg, Idaho, on a hill overlooking his second homestead.[4]


1. Several of Leigh’s diaries and letters are preserved at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. Transcriptions and digitized versions of some can also be viewed online.

2. The first Hayden Expedition discovered that the Tetons were 30 miles East of where earlier cartographers had placed them, which meant that they were actually located just inside Wyoming, rather than in Idaho. Hayden’s assistants James Stevenson and N. P. Langford also claimed to have climbed the Grand Teton during this expedition. A bitter debate followed and eventually, William Owen and his 1898 party were declared the first to reach the summit. Langford would become the first superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.

3. The Jackson Hole Historical Society’s collection includes a copy of the Jackson’s photograph of Leigh and his first family.

4. Leigh’s memorial.


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Wyo Whiskers: Francis E. Warren

In honor of Veterans Day this weekend, today’s Wyo Whiskers post highlights Francis E. Warren, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War. He also sport fantastic facial hair throughout his life.

Frances E. Warren as a young man (WSA Sub Neg 4101)

Frances E. Warren as a young man
(WSA Sub Neg 4101)

Frances Emroy Warren was born in Hinsdale, Berkshire County, Massachusetts on June 20, 1844 and attended the common schools in his area and Hinsdale Academy. During the Civil War, Warren enlisted and fought with the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, eventually advancing to non-commissioned officer and was award of the Congressional Medal of Honor. A farmer and stockman in Massachusetts, Warren moved to Wyoming in 1868 to clerk for Amasa Converse in his mercantile store. He soon became involved in a variety of businesses from real estate to livestock and promoted the first lighting system in Cheyenne, where he also served on the city council and the Territorial Assembly, becoming its president. Warren continued his interest in politics as chairman of the Republican Territorial Central Committee, Territorial Treasurer, and Mayor of Cheyenne.

Senator Warren, Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, Governor Robert Carey (soon to be Senator) and Senator John Kendrick, ca 1927 All four had  served as Governor of Wyoming. (WSA Sub Neg 12577)

Senator Warren, Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, Governor Robert Carey (soon to be Senator) and Senator John Kendrick, ca 1927 All four had served as Governor of Wyoming.
(WSA Sub Neg 12577)

Wyoming was granted statehood on July 10, 1890, during his second term as Territorial Governor. Warren  traveled  to Washington DC to campaign for statehood. He was then elected Wyoming’s first State Governor September 11, 1890. He served only two months of his term before he was elected as the second United States Senator for Wyoming in November 1890 and resigned as governor. He served in congress until his death on November 24, 1929, 39 years to the day after he resigned as governor.

Senator Warren lying in state in the Wyoming Capitol Building, 1929. (WSA Brammar Neg 5066)

Senator Warren lying in state in the Wyoming Capitol Building, 1929.
(WSA Brammar Neg 5066)

As governor, Warren was involved in many issues of the day, including the Chinese Massacre in Rock Springs and similar incidents, railroad routes, women’s suffrage, statehood, creation of Yellowstone National Park, Indian reservations, relief and aggression, and the national government’s abandonment of military instillation as agreed to in treaties. Fort D.A. Russell outside of Cheyenne was renamed Fort Frances E. Warren (now F.E. Warren Air Force Base.)  Dodge Street in Cheyenne was renamed Warren in his honor. Throughout his life in Wyoming, Warren and Hon. Joseph M. Carey were fierce rivals. But if you read the last Wyo Whiskers post, you know all about that.

Entry gate to F.E. Warren Air Force Base (WSA Sub Neg 20526)

Entry gate to F.E. Warren Air Force Base
(WSA Sub Neg 20526)

Warren’s daughter, Helen Frances, married a promising soldier, and distinguished ‘stache in his own right, named John J. Pershing in 1905. It is debated whether Warren helped to advance his son-in-law’s military career.

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Wyo Whiskers: Hon. Joseph M. Carey

Today’s Wyo Whiskers installment was called the “Grand Old Man of Wyoming” and used his considerable political influence to draft national legislation promoting irrigation projects in the arid West and to bring investors and settlers to the state.

Joseph Maull Carey, was born in Milton, Delaware, January 19,1845. His parents were well established farmers and able to provide him with an excellent education. After two years of college, Carey went to the University of Pennsylvania and obtained a law degree in 1867. Carey was an active political participant from his youth and enthusiastically worked for U.S. Grant’s campaign for the presidency. President Grant rewarded the ambitious young Carey with the appointment of U.S. District Attorney for Wyoming. He worked hard and soon became the U.S. Associate Justice to the Supreme Court of Wyoming. Carey kept the title of judge for the rest of his life in spite of all the other positions he held throughout his lifetime.

Carey as young man (WSA Sub Neg 15797)

Carey as young man
(WSA Sub Neg 15797)

He tired of public life for a time in 1879 and began a successful ranching and business career with his brother under the name Carey Brothers in central Wyoming. Their cattle were some of the first of the large herds to winter in Wyoming, showing that full time, large scale cattle operations were possible in the state. The post office that served the ranch was called Careyhurst, after one of their ranches, and is now located in Converse County.

 Judge Carey residence 1884, 2119 Ferguson Ave (WSA Sub Neg 8810)

Judge Carey residence in 1884, 2119 Ferguson Avenue. Ferguson Avenue was known as “Millionaires’ Row” because of the impressive mansions, like the Careys’, that lined the street. 
(WSA Sub Neg 8810)

Success in business propelled him back into civic life and he was elected mayor of Cheyenne in 1881, a position he held until 1885. Devoted  bringing civilization and culture to Cheyenne, Carey helped to organize the Cheyenne Opera House and the Laramie County Library Association. He also served as president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association for many years  and served as the first president of the Stock Grower’s National Bank of Cheyenne. As thanks for his service and influence, Ferguson Avenue, on which his palatial mansion stood, was renamed Carey Avenue in his honor.

As the delegate to Congress for the Wyoming Territory, Carey authored the bill to admit Wyoming to statehood and fought valiantly for its passage. Legend has it that Carey and the Wyoming delegation told congress that ‘Wyoming would wait 100 years for statehood rather than join without women’s suffrage.’ The was signed into law on July 10, 1890 and Carey was given the honor of sending the telegram to acting governor John W. Meldrum declaring the victory.

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)

Judge Carey was rewarded for his efforts by being elected the first U.S. Senator from Wyoming on November 12, 1890. He served as U.S. Senator from 1890 to March 3, 1895. His “Carey Act of 1894,” officially known as the Federal Desert Land Act, created the General Land Office and provided for the return of millions of acres of land to the individual states by the Federal government for reclamation by irrigation projects. Carey had organized the Wyoming Development Company, Wyoming’s first irrigation project and much of the regulation for the WDC was copied for other irrigation projects around the region.

Following his loss to Francis E. Warren, he returned to Wyoming and practiced law until his election as Governor for the 1911-1915 term. The legendary rivalry between Warren and Carey had existed on nearly every front for many years. Their cattle herds fought for forage and their political careers cast them as rivals in influence, if not out right opponents, in many races.  Both men were members of the Republican Party, but Carey switched to the Democratic Party after failing to win the Warren controlled Republican party nomination. Carey was one of seven governors to help form the new Progressive Party to reelect Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 presidential election.

Gov JM Carey and others with horses in front of Capitol (WSA Meyers Neg 278, Photo by Joseph Shimitz)

Gov JM Carey (center holding a small dog) and others with horses in front of the Wyoming State Capitol Building, ca 1914.
(WSA Meyers Neg 278, Photo by Joseph Shimitz)

As governor, Carey stressed settlement of Wyoming’s open spaces through irrigation projects and immigration campaigns to attract new residents and investors. In his 1911 State of the State speech to the Legislature, Carey called for the organization of new counties, which led to the creation of 7 new counties being added to Wyoming’s 14. The disastrous winter of 1911-12 prompted Carey to reevaluate and caution the 1913 legislature that they may have been too exuberant in creating counties and consider carefully the organization of any new counties. Whether it was his influence or not, Wyoming would add only two more counties in 1921, bring the county count to its present 23.

Governor J.M. Carey  (WSA Sub Neg 9659)

Governor J.M. Carey
(WSA Sub Neg 9659)

Joseph M. Carey died February 5, 1924, at his home in Cheyenne at age 79 following a long illness. In honor of the accomplishments of the “grand old man,” the Archie Allison, mayor of Cheyenne, called for local businesses to close from 1-3 pm on the day of his funeral and Governor William Ross closed State government for the entire day.

Judge Carey’s son Robert D. followed in his father’s political footsteps, serving as both Governor (1919-1923) and later US Senator (1931-1937). They are the only father and son to fill these positions.  Robert’s brother Charles D. graduated from Yale before returning to Wyoming and joining his father in running the ranching empire. Charles used the CY Ranch 25 miles north of Cheyenne as his headquarters and was an active member of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He and his third wife were killed in an auto accident just outside of downtown Cheyenne in 1935.

In 1959, Judge Carey was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. F.E. Warren also holds this distinction, as does John B. Kendrick.

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Wyo Whiskers: Fenimore Chatterton

Welcome to Day 1 of our MOvember Wyo Whiskers feature! Today we meet Fenimore Chatterton, our “poster ‘stache.”

Governor Fenimore Chatterton (WSA Sub Neg 1610)

Governor Fenimore Chatterton (WSA Sub Neg 1610)

Chatterton arrived in Wyoming in 1878 as a clerk in the mercantile and banking business at Fort Steele. He later took over as post trader, selling the business in 1888 to focus on politics and law. Chatterton represented Carbon County in the First and Second State Legislatures. In 1903, while serving his second term as Secretary of State, Governor DeForest Richards died in office, making Chatterton acting governor for the next two years.

After leaving office in 1907, Chatterton devoted his efforts to bringing railroad and irrigation projects to Wyoming, especially in the Lander and Riverton region. He believed that three things were essential to Wyoming’s growth: population, transportation and production.

Shortly before his death at age 97 in 1958, Chatterton published the memoir “Wyoming’s Yesterdays” about his life in Wyoming during the dynamic territorial and early statehood years.

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Happy MOvember!

It’s that time of year again. Fall is definitely here, Thanksgiving is just a couple weeks away and mustaches are starting to pop up on faces all over Wyoming. Must be MOvember!

In honor of Men’s Health Awareness Month, men across the country are sporting mustaches for the month of November. What better way to celebrate (and to provide some historical inspiration) than to showcase some of the epic ‘staches in Wyoming history! Starting Friday, November 1st, we will be featuring some of the facial hair, and men behind it, that has made Wyoming great. Tune in tomorrow to find out about our poster ‘stache!

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