Wyoming Pioneers are those who emigrated to the Wyoming Territory prior to statehood in 1890. The usual indication that a person was a pioneer is a listing in 1870 or 1880 censuses for Wyoming, or a land entry dated before 1890. County records are also good sources of information.
Wyoming is the iconic state of the Old West. The United States acquired international title to the area east of the Continental Divide by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and to the area west of the Contenential Divide in 1848 following the Mexican War. It secured its claims through wars and treaties with the indigenous people, the Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute between 1832 and 1890. The federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. It was admitted to the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.
Before the coming of white pioneers, the Old Snake Trade Route linked the Northern Plains tribal areas along the Missouri River to the Pueblo Indian communities of New Mexico. In Wyoming the route branched west to other trade centers, including one near the site of what would become Fort Bridger and others as far west as Ceilo Falls and The Dalles on the Columbia River in Oregon. (See Old West Magazine, Old Snake Trade Route (May 25, 2010)).
French fur trappers William Sublette, and others.
The Oregon Trail (1836-1869), California Trail (1845-1869), and Mormon Trail (1846-1869), ran through Wyoming, following approximately the same route. The Pony Express (1860-1861) ran through Wyoming. The Bozeman Trail (opened in 1864), and the Bridger Trail (opened in 1865) connected the Oregon Trail to a gold rush in Montana. In 1866 gold was discovered in Wyoming itself, resulting in an 1867 Wyoming Gold Rush and the brief boom of South Pass City.
The Transcontinental Railroad reached Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1867, and was completed in 1869. Wyoming is called the Equality State, because it was the first state to allow women to vote (1869). The first stock growers association was formed in 1871. In a territory where cattle were the main crop, the stock growers association was a powerful political group, and often exercised quasi-governmental authority. The famous Johnson County Range War (1892) took place in Wyoming, between large ranchers and small farmers.
For a more detailed timeline of Wyoming history, see Timeline of Wyoming.
Wyoming pioneers frequently had family connections to surrounding states. Many early settlers in the western part of the state were Mormon pioneers, who came to Wyoming from Utah and Idaho. There are particularly strong regional connections to Bear Lake Valley, Idaho. Connections to Colorado, Washington and Oregon, as well as California, are also common.
Frontier Forts and Trading Posts
- Fort Bonneville (Fort Nonsense) 1832-1839
- Fort Bridger 1842-1890
- Fort Caspar 1865-1867
- Fort Clay 1855-1856
- Fort Fetterman 1867-1882
- Fort H.W. Halleck 1862-1866
- Fort Laramie 1834-1890
- Fort McKinney 1876-1894
- Fort Phil Kearny 1866-1868
- Fort Platte 1840-1846
- Fort Reno 1865-1868
- Fort David A. Russell 1867-Present
- Fort Sanders 1866-1882
- Fort Stambaugh 1870-1878
- Fort Fred Steele 1868-1886
- Fort Washakie (Camp Brown) 1870-1878
Treaties and Battles
- Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851), guaranteed safe passage by the tribes of the northern plains for settlers travelling along the Oregon Trail.
- Grattan Fight (1854), Lt. Grattan and 29 infantrymen were killed while trying to arrest a visiting Miniconjou near Fort Laramie. The battle opened 35 years of Indian warfare on the northern plains.
- Connor Battle (1865), General Patrick Connor’s U.S. Cavalry attacked and destroyed Chief Black Bear's Arapaho village
- Sawyer Fight (1865), Araphoe Indians attacked an expedition surveying the Bozeman Trail, in retaliation fo rthe Connor Battle.
- Fetterman Massacre (1866) (Battle of the Hundred Slain), Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, including Crazy Horse, decoyed and killed 80 soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny
- Wagon Box Fight (1867), Lakota Indians attacked an expedition of 31 men guarding woodcutters near Fort Phil Kearny.
- Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), guaranteed Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
- Dull Knife Fight (1876), U.S. Army attacked and defeated Dull Knife and his Cheyennes, who had helped defeat Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in South Dakota.
- Mary Bellamy (1861–1954), first woman elected to the Wyoming Legislature
- Eliza Stewart Boyd (1833–1912), first woman in America to serve on a jury
- John Allen Campbell (1835–1880), first governor of the Wyoming Territory (1869–1875)
- Joseph M. Carey (1845–1924), Governor of Wyoming, first U.S. Senator from Wyoming
- John Colter (c1774-1813), American explorer
- Lilian Heath (1865-1962), first female doctor in Wyoming
- Tom Horn (1860-1903), Range detective
- Jacques La Ramée, French-Canadian fur trapper
- Steve “Big Steve” Long (?-1868), Gunfighter
- Esther Hobart Morris (1814–1902), appointed first female judge in United States
- Robert LeRoy Parker “Butch Cassidy” (1866-1908), American outlaw
- Nellie Tayloe Ross (1876–1977), Governor of Wyoming, first female governor of a U.S. state
- Jedidiah Smith (1799–1831), Mountain man, trapper, explorer, first American to get to California from the East
- Chief Washakie (c1798-1900), Shoshoni leader
- Ezekiel Williams (c1775-1844), American explorer