Wyoming Statehood Celebration
Talk of statehood began soon after the Organic Act was signed by President Andrew Johnson, making Wyoming a territory in 1868. Over the next 20 years, the territory worked to develop Wyoming politically and economically, to ensure her growth into statehood. A formal petition for admission into the Union was sent to Congress by the Territorial Assembly in 1888 which produced bills from both houses of Congress. The enabling act failed to pass initially, but this didn't deter territory leaders, who decided to proceed anyway.
A vote of the territory resulted in 55 delegates to Wyoming's Constitutional Convention and 49 took part in drafting the constitution in September of 1889. The voters approved the document November 5th, and in December, both houses again introduced bills for Wyoming's statehood.
On July 10, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill which created the the 44th state in Union -- Wyoming. The formal celebration of Wyoming's statehood occurred July 23, 1890, and was recounted in two of Wyoming's newspapers of the time, the Cheyenne Daily Sun, which sported the headline, "A GREAT DAY," and the Wyoming Commonwealth.
This online exhibit takes us back to that great day to explore the event through newspapers, distinguished people, the speeches were presented, and the other documents. A great day indeed.
Pages to Explore in this Exhibit
The Girl Guards were comprised of Company K, organized in 1889, and Company H, organized in May 1890, after the bill for admission as a State passed the U.S. House of Representatives. They were two groups of women who came together to become ceremonial drill companies. They trained with the Army at Fort Russell and had an active role in the statehood celebration. During the celebration parade, Company K flanked both sides of the second carriage which the standard bearer, Fannie Ollerenshaw, rode in. Company H was the guard of honor to the statehood float that followed at the end of the line of carriages.
The Union Pacific Band performed at concerts along the Union Pacific line. They led the militia and veterans division of the July 23, 1890 Wyoming statehood celebration parade. After the invocation at the capitol, they "struck up Yankee Doodle in the most spirited measure," (Cheyenne Daily Sun July 24, 1890, p. 1).
After Amalia B. Post gave her speech, the great musical feature of the celebration was now given—anvil chorus. Under the leadership of Professor Pasmore, this famous musical piece was produced by a combined chorus of trained voices, together with the Union Pacific band and anvil accompaniment. It was received with demonstrations of applause and delight by the audience and a repetition demanded. The encore was respected and the piece repeated.
"The column of march (for the parade) was formed with the superb 17th Infantry band and regiment at the head, under the command of General Mizner, whose public spirit and generous assistance on these occasions is highly appreciated by our citizens. The regiment marched with its usual splendid precision and soldiery bearing," (Cheyenne Daily Sun July 24, 1890, p. 1).
After Governor Warren addressed the crowd upon receiving the new state flag from Esther Morris, Nellie Dwyer sang the Star Spangled Banner. Her performance was followed by a forty four gun salute and rain before the celebration was moved indoors.
This guide is dedicated to Thomas Ivie. He created this content-rich original exhibit. Text was pulled directly from the historical Wyoming newspapers. He gathered a group of library folks to re-enact the speeches, added music, and created this interactive display of Wyoming Statehood Day.
Thomas was the WSL’s Research & Statistics Librarian, a position he had held since June 2015. He originally joined the WSL on October 30, 2013, as the Digital Initiatives Librarian working on the Wyoming Newspapers project. Thomas’s career spanned over 20 years in state, academic, school, and public libraries. He passed away June 5, 2021.
A special thanks to the volunteers who helped record audio and recruit volunteers: Judy Englehart, Robin Everett, Brian Greene, Carey Hartmann, Court Schilt, Rachael Svoboda, and Chris Van Burgh.