Testing your Wyoming History Knowledge

We already know you’re brilliant, but here are the answers to the test just in case.

“Women suffrage stems from Esther Morris’ tea party.”

False. As much as we Wyomingites love the story of Esther Morris extracting suffrage promises from legislative candidates over tea and biscuits, research has shown that Mrs. Morris had little, if anything, to do with the introduction of the suffrage bill to the Wyoming Legislature. Much of the credit should go to legislator William Bright, possibly his wife Julia, Gov. John A. Campbell, and Territorial Secretary Edward M. Lee.

“Portugee Phillips rode War Eagle all the way to Fort Laramie.”

True…well, most of it. Phillips indeed made the celebrated ride from Fort Phil Kearny to Fort Laramie in the deep of winter to seek reinforcements for the post after the Fetterman fight. There is a mythical part though relates to his horse. Almost certainly, he did not ride Col. Carrington’s prize Kentucky thoroughbred. Even more certainly, he changed mounts at numerous points during the 235-miles ride. He did not ride just one horse the entire distance.

“All known copies of Banditti of the Plains were burned.” 

False. Copies of the book were neither banned nor burned. According to historian Pat Hall who conducted extensive research on the myth, the confusion resulted from the impounding of issues of the newspaper edited by A.S. Mercer, the Banditti author, as a result of debt disputes at the time the serialized version of George Dunning’s confession was being published in Mercer’s newspaper. The book was not involved in that action nor at any later point. Copies do exist in most libraries.

“Edison invented the electric light on the shores of Battle Lake in Carbon County.”

False. Wouldn’t it be great if that was true? Alas, it is a myth that was perpetuated on the Wyoming highway map and by a historic marker near the lake. That story cannot be accurate. Edison did vacation at the site, but when he returned to his Menlo Park, NJ, laboratory, it was more than year before he came across a substance suitable for a light bulb filament. The story of his purported “discovery” in Wyoming, where he supposedly watched the ends of a bamboo fishing pole glow when it had fallen into the campfire, was not told until nearly three decades after it was supposed to have occurred. Edison never mentioned such an incident in his lifetime.

“Chili was invented in Wyoming.” 

False…maybe? Denver Post columnist Red Fenwick humorously claimed that chili was invented by a Wyoming sheepherder to keep the feet of his sheep dogs warm on cold nights. The sheepherder sent some to a Texas friend who ate it by mistake, “which Texans have been doing ever since.” Although there is no evidence favoring Fenwick’s claim, neither has it been refuted…

“Winston Churchill narrowly missed being born in Wyoming.”

False. The only recorded time that Churchill’s parents vacationed in Wyoming at Moreton Frewen’s ranch in the Powder River country, they left their 10-year-old son Winston at home in England.

Our thanks to the Roberts’ brothers Wyoming Almanac for this test. We hope you scored an ‘A’!

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2 Responses to Testing your Wyoming History Knowledge

  1. Dan Nelson says:

    Thanks for the fun “test”! I did quite well!

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