USA Famous People of Wyoming

Wyoming Biographies

James Bridger (March 1804 – July 17, 1881) Trapper, guide and storyteller. James or Jim Bridger  was among the foremost mountain men, trappers, scouts and guides who explored and trapped the Western United States during the decades of 1820-1840. He was also well known as a teller of tall tales. Jim Bridger had a strong constitution that allowed him to survive the extreme conditions he encountered walking the Rocky Mountains from what would become southern Colorado to the Canadian border he had also once said. He had conversational knowledge of French, Spanish and several native languages. He would come to know many of the major figures of the early west, including Brigham Young, Kit Carson, John Fremont, Joseph Meek, and John Sutter.

Jim Bridger was well known during his life and afterwards as a teller of tall tales. Some of Bridger's stories—about the geysers at Yellowstone, for example—proved to be true. Others were clearly intended to amuse. Thus, one of Bridger's stories involved a "peetrified forest" in which there were "peetrified birds" singing "peetrified songs" • James Bridger Books

Hon. Joseph M. Carey
Joseph M. Carey (January 19, 1845 – February 5, 1924) Mayor of Cheyenne, first U.S. Senator from Wyoming, Wyoming Governor; born in Milton, Delaware.  was a lawyer, rancher, judge, and politician, who spent most of his political career in Wyoming before and after it achieved statehood. Carey was born January 19, 1845 in Milton, Delaware and was educated in Fort Edward Collegiate Institute and Union College before graduating from the law department at the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1864. He was admitted to the bar three years later, in 1867.

Shortly afterwards, he struck west and became the first United States Attorney for the Territory of Wyoming from its organization and served in that capacity from 1869 to 1871. He subsequently became an associate justice in the Supreme Court of the Territory of Wyoming. He served the court from 1871 to 1876 before retiring from the bench to become a rancher. • Joseph M. Carey Books

Dick Cheney (1941 - ) White House Chief of Staff to President Ford, U.S. congressman, Secretary of Defense and Vice president of the U.S.; grew up in Casper. During a forty-year career in politics, Vice President Dick Cheney has been involved in some of the most consequential decisions in recent American history. He was one of a few select advisers in the room when President Gerald Ford decided to declare an end to the Vietnam War. Nearly thirty years later, from the presidential bunker below the White House in the moments immediately following the attacks of September 11, 2001, he helped shape the response: America's global war on terror.

Yet for all of his influence, the world knows very little about Dick Cheney. The most powerful vice president in U.S. history has also been the most secretive and guarded of all public officials. "Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?" Cheney asked rhetorically in 2004. "It's a nice way to operate, actually."  • Dick Cheney Books

William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846 - 1917) Pony Express rider, cavalry scout, buffalo hunter, and showman in the late 1100%s; born in LeClaire. William Frederick ("Buffalo Bill") got his nickname after he undertook a contract to supply Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. The nickname originally referred to Bill Comstock. Cody earned the nickname by killing 4,860 buffalo in eight months (1867-68). He and Comstock eventually competed in a shooting match over the exclusive right to use the name, which Cody won. In addition to his documented service as a soldier during the Civil War and as Chief of Scouts for the Third Cavalry during the Plains Wars, Cody claimed to have worked many jobs, including as a trapper, bullwhacker, "Fifty-Niner" in Colorado, a Pony Express rider in 1860, wagon master, stagecoach driver, and even a hotel manager, but it's unclear which claims were factual and which were fabricated for purposes of publicity. He became world famous for his Wild West Shows.

 Founder of Cody, Wyoming and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Nebraska; born in Iowa. • Buffalo Bill Books

John Colter, (1774 – May 7, 1812 or November 22, 1813)  Discoverer of Yellowstone Park: An Account of His Exploration in 1807 and of His Further Adventures as Hunter, Trapper, Indian Fighter trader. Following the return of the Lewis & Clark expedition, no member of the party lived so full a life of discovery and dramatic adventure as John Colter. The high point, of couse, was his discovery of that region of geysers, mud pots, and waterfalls known today as Yellowstone National Park. This explains why three authors, Stallo Vinton, Ethel Hueston, and Burton Harris, have written full-length biographies about Colter. Of the three biographies Vinton's is the earliest and most difficult to find. Originally published in 1926 by Edward Eberstadt, this early biography covers the life of Colter as hunter, trapper, Indian fighter, pathfinder and member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition • John Colter Books
June Etta Downey educator (1875-1932) Born in Laramie, Wyoming, June E. Downey came from a pioneer family that contributed a great deal to the development of the state. Her father, Colonel Stephen W. Downey, was one of the first territorial delegates to the United States Congress from Wyoming, and it was largely through his efforts that the University of Wyoming was established. June E. Downey graduated from UW in 1895 and took a job as a school teacher during that year. She received both her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago and, in 1898, began her UW career as an English instructor. In 1905, she became a professor of English and philosophy. Later, Downey chaired the Department of Philosophy and Psychology, making her the first woman in the United States to head an academic department. • June Etta Downey Books
Thomas Fitzpatrick mountain man and guide Known by the Indians as "Broken Hand," Thomas Fitzpatrick was a trapper and a trailblazer who became the head of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. With Jedediah Smith he led the trapper band that discovered South Pass; he then shepherded the first two emigrant wagon trains to Oregon, was official guide to Fremont on his longest expedition, and guided Colonel Phil Kearny and his Dragoons along the westward trails to impress the Indians with howitzers and swords. Fitzpatrick negotiated the Fort Laramie treaty of 1851 at the largest council of Plains Indians ever assembled. Among the most colorful of mountain men, Fitzpatrick was also party to many of the most important events in the opening of the West. • Thomas Fitzpatrick Books
Curt Gowdy (July 31, 1919–February 20, 2006) Sportscaster, TV play-by-play man for AFL, NFL and major league baseball. was an American sportscaster, well-known as the longtime "voice" of the Boston Red Sox and for his coverage of many nationally-televised sporting events, primarily for NBC Sports in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the course of a career that stretched into the 1980s, Gowdy covered pro football (both the AFL and NFL), Major League Baseball, college football, and college basketball. He was involved in the broadcast of 13 World Series, 16 baseball All-Star Games, 9 Super Bowls, 14 Rose Bowls, 8 Olympic Games and 24 NCAA Final Fours. He also hosted the long-running outdoors show The American Sportsman on ABC.

Gowdy called all the Olympic games televised by ABC (with the exception of the 1988 Winter Olympic games) from 1964–84 with Roone Arledge's sports department at ABC. • Curt Gowdy Books

Leonard S. Hobbs (1896 - 1977) Developed the engine for turbo jet airplanes; born in Carbon County. Leonard S. (Luke) Hobbs (1896 in Carbon County, Wyoming – 1977) was an aeronautical engineer who started in 1920 with the Army Air Service at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio and later worked for Stromberg Motor Devices Corporation. He developed the first float-type carburetor for aircraft engines that was capable of providing normal operation during inverted flight. In 1927 he became a research engineer at the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company and by 1944 was vice president of engineering for parent company United Aircraft Corporation. He won the prestigious 1952 Collier Trophy for "designing and producing the P&W J57 turbojet engine". In 1956 was elected vice chairman of United Aircraft, retiring in 1958 but remaining on the company's board of directors until 1968.

He was the author of The Wright Brothers' Engines and Their Design , published in 1971 by the Smithsonian Institution Press as part of its Smithsonian Annals of Flight • Leonard S. Hobbs Books

Tom Horn (November 21, 1861 – November 20, 1903) detective. An epidemic of cattle rustling in southern Wyoming in the 1890s and the desperate straits of stockmen set the stage for this saga of Tom Horn, a former Pinkerton detective, an expert hunter and dead shot, and one of the most mysterious and controversial figures in the history of the Old West. Some radicals in the powerful Wyoming Stock Growers Association turned to the man who once boasted, “Killing men in my specialty; I look to it as a business proposition, and I think I have a corner on the market.” Cattle thieves were duly warned, blood was shed, and Tom Horn was implicated but never charged. Then on the morning of July 18, 1901, Willie Nickell, the fourteen-year-old son of a Wyoming sheepman, was shot. Horn’s career was ended.

The arrest, trial, and execution of Tom Horn ignite fireworks in Dean Krakel’s book, and a colorful cast of cattle barons and lawmen adds to the sizzle. A jury convicted Tom Horn, but his hanging did not settle the specter of guilt. • Tom Horn Books

Isabel Jewell actress (July 19, 1907 - April 5, 1972) was an American film actress most active in the 1930s and early 1940s. Born in Shoshoni, Fremont County, Wyoming, Jewell was a Broadway actress who achieved immediate success and glowing critical reviews in two productions, Up Pops the Devil (1930) and Blessed Event (1932).

She was brought to Hollywood for the film version of the latter, by Warner. Jewell appeared in a variety of supporting roles during the early 1930s. She played stereotypical gangster's women in such films as Manhattan Melodrama (1934) and Marked Woman (1937).

She was well received playing against type, as a seamstress sentenced to death on the guillotine, in A Tale of Two Cities (1935).  Her most significant role was as the prostitute Gloria Stone in Lost Horizon (1937). • Gertrude Michael, a star of the golden age of Hollywood: And friends Lew Ayres, Joan Crawford, Jane Frohman [sic], Isabel Jewell, John Lodge

Velma Linford(1907 - 2002) writer - Velma Linford was born in Afton, Wyoming, and received B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wyoming with graduate work from Wyoming, Denver, and California Universities. She taught in the schools of Afton, Laramie, and at the University of Wyoming. She served as the State Superintendent of Schools from 1955 to 1963 and then went into government service on the VISTA Task Force. She won many awards in the fields of education and government service and her publications include articles on volunteerism, education, folklore, Western history, economics, problems of youth, and challenges of older Americans. She lived in Utah at the time of her death. • Velma Linford Books
Patricia MacLachlan (1938 - ) Author of children’s books and Newberry Medal for Sarah, Plain and Tall; born in Cheyenne. • Patricia MacLachlan Books
Esther Hobart Morris (1814 - 1902) Helped women receive the right to vote in Wyoming and the nation’s first female judge; born in New York. • Esther Hobart Morris Books
Ted Olson writer  • Ted Olson Books
John “Portugee” Phillips frontiersman • John "Portugee" Phillips
Jackson Pollock (1912 - 1956) Artist well known for his abstract paintings; born in Cody. • Jackson Pollock Books
Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross (1876 - 1977) Governor of Wyoming;  born November near St. Joseph, Missouri. • Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross Books
Jedediah S. Smith (1799 - 1830) Mountain man and first American to get to California from the East. • Jedediah S. Smith Books
Alan K. Simpson (1931 - ) Wyoming senator from 1979-1997 • Alan K. Simpson Books
Alan Swallow publisher and author • Alan Swallow Books
Francis E. Warren (1844 - 1929) First state governor. • Francis E. Warren Books
Chief Washakie chief of the Shoshone • Chief Washakie Books
James G. Watt (1938 - ) Former secretary of the Interior; born in Lusk. • James G. Watt Books