Submitted by Marrie Miller
The unending versatility of the American mind, which can mold a shapely destiny out of any plastic conditions that fate may fling before it. is well illustrated in the career of Strauther Dean of Crook county, Wyoming, one of the first settlers in his part of the country and one of the valiant men of Wyoming who have come up through tribulation. His life for years was one continuous succession of dangers and difficulties, constantly threatened by savage beasts and still more savage men. being exposed to the ravages of hunger and thirst, the rage of storms and the violence of floods, with no companion in the un-trodden wilds but nature's hostile children and no covering at night but the canopy of heaven, black with clouds or beaming with stars as the weather willed. In Westmoreland county, Pa, on December 23, 1840, his eventful life began and early in its history he was earning his "keep" by working in the mines. His parents were Philip and Rachel (Maheney) Dean, the former a native of Virginia of probably Scotch ancestry, and the latter born and partially reared in the Emerald Isle. The fatherowned and worked valuable salt mines in Pennsylvania and also worked at his trade as a constructing millwright. He was a man of fine mental endowment and superior talent in mechanics and lived a very useful life in the midst of a progressive people until 1872, when he was called to his final rest. His widow survived him ten years, being summoned in 1882. Mr Dean received a limited education in the schools of his native county; but nature, having marked him for instruction in her own great schools by field and fell, forest and stream, did not permit him to linger long under the guidance of human pedagogues. He began mining long before "manhood darkened on his downy cheek," and afterwards learned his trade as an engineer. He remained at home until he was twenty-two years of age and in 1862 went to Washington, D C, to aid in constructing a canal of which that city was one of the terminals. In this work he was occupied about eighteen months when he returned to Pennsylvania and resumed his mining operations, working there and in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio until 1865. Then, soon after the assassination of President Lincoln, he went to the oil regions of West Virginia and there remained until the spring of 1866 when he began making his way westward, reaching Fort Benton, Mont, in July. For ten years he lived the wild life of the Northwest in this section and British Columbia, hunting and trapping, trading and mining, and in 1876 he came to the Black Hills, making his headquarters at Deadwood and Spearfish and prospecting through "The Hills." At one time he owned many valuable mining claims in that section, but never worked them extensively. In 1884 he came to Crook county and located on the ranch he now occupies, which has been his home ever since, although he has not given much attention to ranching, but has rather followed his inquisitive bent by prospecting throughout the surrounding country, and for a period of years he owned 160 acres of the best coal land in it on Hay Creek. His ranch is eleven miles north of Sundance and contains 160 acres, being capable of being brought to great fertility and high cultivation, well located and pleasantly diversified in surface and soil and adapted to both farming and cattle raising. Mr Dean is held in high esteem, is a leading citizen, full of that worldly wisdom learned only in the hard school of experience, but always available in every public and private need. lie was elected to the state legislature on the Populist ticket in 1892, in the ensuing session giving his constituents faithful and appreciated service, working for the good of his section and the advancement of the state. In fraternal relations he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, holding membership in the lodge at Spearfish, S D. He is vigorous and active, even for his years, notwithstanding the strenuous life he lived in his early manhood, the mark of which he bears in three wounds made by Indian bullets at different periods in his scouting and hunting days. His knowledge of woodcraft is extensive and accurate; his knowledge of men is wide and comprehensive: his grasp of elemental principles of government and social relations is intuitive and direct. He has, therefore, without effort or ostentation, been a force potential in shaping the trend of affairs in his locality and giving color and tone to civil institutions.
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