When I accepted my position as the manager at the Historic Bishop Home, I did not anticipate how quickly the history of Casper would captivate me! While I had purchased many picture books on Casper, I soon became enthralled reading the short backstories of the community published in Casper Chronicles I and II. These paperback books written by descendants of the original pioneers tell in their own words the history of Casper.
I learned that from 1916-18, during the first oil boom, stocks were sold on a curb market that could make or break a man or oil company overnight. Evidence of these trades from companies such as Embar Oil Company, Plymouth Rock Oil, Wyoming-Blackfoot Oil and Republic Petroleum still exist in the collection of beautiful but worthless stock certificates at the Bishop Home. The influence of oil on the community continues in the story of James D. Morrison who graduated from NCHS as “Honor Male” in 1933 and found himself at age 24 bound for Arabia aboard the Queen Mary. His mission was to train people who rode camels and dressed in what he thought were “costumes” about the steam refining processes developed by the Texas Company, a local refinery. Years later, the young Morrison would be known as “Casper’s Secret Santa”.
Looking through a closet, an original article from 1902 newspaper caught my attention. The special early morning edition written by A. J. Mokler covered the hanging of Charles Woodard. Serendipitously, I read about the emotions of witnessing this event that are captured in the Casper Chronicles I essay. More emotions were triggered while reading the back story of Kurt’s Jackson Street Grocery. Kurt Burger and family were rescued from Hitler’s Germany by Casperite Richard Lindstaedt. Through Lindstaedt’s perseverance the Burgers emigrated to the US, and ultimately, opened the local Casper grocery in 1942.
Other stories explain much about Casper’s history. Examples are the history of the Bryan Stock Trail, the back ground of well-known photographer Thomas Carrigen, how “Crimson Dawn” was established, and the original founders of the Casper Artist’s Guild. I also learned about well-known pioneer family names such as B.B. Brooks, Haygood, Littlefield, Schnorenberg, Tripeny, Weaver, and others. The stories of how the saying “Powder River! Let’er Buck!” started in Wyoming and spread around the world as well as the many “firsts” in Casper such as the first home, church school, hotel, oil refinery, baby girl, and fishing worms are all revealed. I find them a good resource to learn some forgotten history!
These stories and many more of the people who established Casper comprise the two books that were published to support the Historic Bishop Home and the Fort Caspar Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The entire proceeds of the sales are shared by these organizations to support their charitable missions in the community. While not exhaustive of the many pioneer families that built the thriving Casper community, the books do capture many significant stories that may not be remembered except at family Thanksgiving gatherings!
So, if you love the history of Casper, particularly the stories of ordinary people who established a legacy that is evident in the community today, let me introduce you to these books. The books are quick reads and available for purchase at the Historic Bishop Home, Wind City Books, and the stores at Fort Caspar Museum, The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, and the NIC. For the reasonable price of $20 for Chronicles I and $15 for Chronicles II, the books are perfect for corporate, hostess, or stocking stuffer gifts. They can also be purchased by email at email@example.com. The Historic Bishop Home is located at 818 East 2nd Street, Casper, Wyoming, and is open for tours on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This lovely historic home is also available for rental for small gatherings. For additional information, please contact Ranola Miller at 307-237-2443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.