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Revised 27 December 2010


Wyoming, the land where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. . .This state sits directly upon the Continental Divide, where rivers on the eastern side drain into the Atlantic Ocean and those of the Western side drain into the Pacific.  Wyoming was home of the Plains Indians, the nomadic hunters who followed the bison herds throughout the grasslands.  

Wyoming was not really explored until the John Colter expedition into Yellowstone in 1807.  The South Pass across the Rocky Mountains was discovered in 1812, which enabled easier travel into the area. Although many settlers passed through Wyoming on their way to the west coast, few stayed because of threats of Indian reprisals and the extreme cold weather in winter.  Due to these hardships, women were scarce in the area.  As a result, Wyoming became one of the first states in the union to pass an equal rights law which guaranteed women the right to vote and hold office.  In 1924, Wyoming became the first state in the union to elect a woman governor.  (Nellie Tayloe Ross)

In 1833, oil was discovered near the Wind River Range.  Later, in 1868, coal mining began.  The first permanent white settlement in Wyoming on the Oregon Trail was Fort Laramie.  It was built in 1834.Wyoming's greatest claim to fame were the huge grass ranges to which the Texas cattlemen drove their huge herds each summer to fatten for market.  Woe be it to the sheep man or homesteader who attempted to settle the area.  The Texans jealously guarded the range lands and were known to deal with any such person who encroached upon what they deemed to be their land.  Rustlers were also a major problem throughout the area and frontier justice was swift and final.  

Wyoming became a territory in 1868  about the time coal mining was created.  With the advent of the Transcontinental Railroad in , things began to change.  Cattle continued to be a major form of economic resource until the about 1880, when severe climate, overgrazing and the years of infighting between the competing cattle ranches finally killed it off.  Instead of the huge cattle drives previously required to get cattle to market, the ranchers could now ship by rail. Wyoming became our 44th state on 20 July 1890.  

In 1891, the Yellowstone Timber Land Reserve was designated as the first National Forrest.  Things in the range wars came to a head in 1892 when a group of ranchers banded together to flush out a group of suspected rustlers and two men were killed in the fight.  The U.S. Cavalry was called in to settle the matter and restore peace.  This skirmish was named the Johnson County War and left  Wyoming with a reputation for vigilante justice.  In 1906, the Devil's Tower, a towering land formation in the northeastern corner of the state, was declared the nation's First National Monument.  

A couple more things the researcher will want to consider when researching the area is occupations of their ancestors.  In addition to cattle ranchers, sheepherders and coal miners, Wyoming was the site of a Uranium discovery back in the early 50s and the site of the First intercontinental ballistic missile base.  Military presence was prevalent from the days of the U. S. Cavalry onward and many ex-Civil War soldiers joined the Cavalry after the war as a means of earning a living.

The ethnicity of this area was English, German, Swedish, Russian, Italian, Austrian, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, Irish, Polish, Finish, Czechoslovakian, French and Hungarian.  You will also find later migrations of some Hispanic families into this region.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Albany 1868 Original County Laramie
Big Horn 1890 Fremont, Johnson Basin
Campbell 1911 Johnson, Converse Gillette
Carbon 1868 Original County Rawlings
Carter 1867 Renamed Sweetwater 13 December 1869  
Converse 1888 Laramie, Albany Douglas
Crook 1885 Pease Sundance
Fremont 1885 Sweetwater Lander
Goshen 1911 Platte, Laramie Torrington
Hot Springs 1911 Fremont Thermopolis
Johnson 1875 Pease Buffalo
Laramie 1868 Original County Cheyenne
Lincoln 1913 Uinta Kemmerer
Natrona 1888 Carbon Caster
Niobrara 1811 Converse Lusk
Park 1909 Big Horn Cody
Pease 1875 Changed to Johnson on 13 December 1879  
Platte 1913 Laramie Wheatland
Sheridan 1888 Johnson Sheridan
Sublette 1921 Fremont Pinedale
Sweetwater 1868 Original County Green River
Teton 1021 Lincoln Jackson
Uinta 1868 Original County Evanston
Washakie 1911 Big Horn, Fremont Worland
Weston 1890 Crook Newcastle