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|Admitted into the Union as the 44th state
July 10, 1890
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|Several Native American groups originally inhabited the region now known as Wyoming. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. Although French trappers may have ventured into the northern sections of the state in the late 1700s, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, first described the region in 1807. His reports of the Yellowstone area were considered at the time to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The Oregon Trail later followed that route. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which the Union Pacific Railroad used in 1868, as did Interstate 80, 90 years later. Bridger also explored Yellowstone and filed reports on the region that, like those of Colter, were largely regarded as tall tales at the time.|
Because of Wyoming's location at the intersection of the Louisiana Purchase, the Oregon Country, and the Mexican Cession, the land which became Wyoming has a complicated history of territorial relationships. Portions of the territory which eventually fell under Wyoming's jurisdiction were at various points associated with Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Dakota, Nebraska and Utah, and had previously belonged to Great Britain, France, Spain, Mexico, and Texas.
The portion of the Wyoming Territory east of the continental divide was acquired by the U.S. in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and organized into the Nebraska Territory in 1854. In 1861, the northern half of the Nebraska Territory, including the northeastern portion of future Wyoming Territory became part of the Dakota Territory, while the southeastern portion remained with Nebraska, forming an extended Nebraska "panhandle" which included the settlement of Cheyenne. In 1863, the Idaho Territory was formed; it included the entirety of the modern states of Idaho and Montana and almost all of modern Wyoming save the southwest corner.
The portion of the Wyoming Territory west of the continental divide and north of the 42nd parallel was originally part of the Oregon Country, which was organized into the Oregon Territory in 1848; when Oregon entered the union as a state under its present boundaries in 1859, this land became part of the Washington Territory (although its eastern part had been granted to the Nebraska Territory in 1854). The Idaho Territory subsumed this land as well in 1863.
The southwestern corner of what became the Wyoming Territory, south of the 42nd parallel, became part of the United States with the 1848 Mexican Cession. An eastern section of this was once claimed by the Republic of Texas. In 1851, the portion of this land west of the continental divide was made part of the Utah Territory, and, with the organization of the Colorado Territory in 1861, most of it was transferred to the Nebraska Territory and subsumed into the Idaho Territory in 1863. A small corner of Wyoming remained part of Utah until the creation of the Wyoming Territory in 1868.
In 1864, with the formation of the Montana Territory, the southeastern section of the Idaho Territory (most of modern Wyoming) became briefly part of Dakota Territory once again, although a strip of land along the western border of what would become Wyoming remained part of the Idaho Territory.
The Territory of Wyoming was created by Act of Congress on July 25, 1868. At the time of its formation, it took land from the Dakota, Idaho, and Utah Territories. It was admitted to the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.
The region may have acquired the name Wyoming as early as 1865, when Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming". The name Wyoming derives from the Munsee name xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat", originally applied to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell.
After the Union Pacific Railroad reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region's population began to grow steadily, and the Federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. Unlike Colorado to the south, Wyoming enjoyed no significant discovery of such celebrated minerals as gold and silver, nor Colorado's consequent boom in population, although South Pass City experienced a short-lived boom after the Carissa Mine began producing gold in 1867. Moreover, some areas, such as between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Snowy Range near Grand Encampment, produced copper.
Once government sponsored expeditions to the Yellowstone country were undertaken, the previous reports by men like Colter and Bridger were found to be true. This led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which became the world's first national park in 1872. Nearly all of Yellowstone National Park lies within the far northwestern borders of Wyoming.
On December 10, 1869, territorial Gov. John Allen Campbell signed a suffrage act into law, which extended the right to vote to women. And in addition to being the first U.S. state to grant suffrage to women, Wyoming was also the home of other firsts for U.S. women in politics. For the first time, women served on a jury in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870). Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870) and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Wyoming became the first state in the Union to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who was elected in 1924 and took office in January 1925. Because of rights given to women, Wyoming earned the nickname of "The Equality State".
Wyoming's constitution included women's suffrage and a pioneering article on water rights. The United States admitted Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.
The History of Wyoming, from the earliest known discoveries, Volume 1
By Charles Griffin Coutant
The History of Wyoming, Volume I, edited by Ichabod Sargent Bartlett, 1918 - [HTML]
Ichabod Sargent Bartlett (1838-1925) was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, and served with the 10th New Hampshire volunteer infantry during the Civil War and continued serving in the U.S. Army until 1868, working as a paymaster in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. While in Texas, he became friends with Mexican President Benito Juárez. Bartlett moved to Wyoming in 1878 and served as an editor of the Cheyenne "Leader" and in the Wyoming Territorial Legislature. Bartlett was married to Mary Jane Eastman (1847-1918) in 1871.
History of Wyoming, Volume II - edited by Ichabod Sargent Bartlett - [HTML]
The History of Wyoming, Volume III - edited by Ichabod Sargent Bartlett - [HTML]
1804 - James Bridger - 1881
Woman Suffrage in Wyoming
Frontier Days- A True Narrative of Striking Events on the Western Frontier
by Judge William L. Kuykendall
Family Group Sheets Project
Western States Marriage Project
Wyoming GEDCOM Index
Digital Archive Of Wyoming History
Wyoming Gravestones Project
WYOMING-L at Rootsweb
Wyoming Unknown County Board at Rootsweb
All Wyoming Board at Genforum
Wyoming Libraries Directory
Wyoming Memory Historical Archive
Wyoming Vital Statistics
Wyoming State Library Online Databases
Wyoming Public Libraries Database
Devils Tower National Monument
Yellowstone National Park
Historic Forts of Wyoming
Como Bluff and The Bone War
Ghost Towns of Wyoming
Heart Mountain Internment Camp
Johnson County War
Dead Man’s Trail
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