History & News

A Rock Springs woman was the first in Wyoming to be issued a patent

work holder

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - October 27, 2020)       The first U.S. patent issued to a woman in Wyoming was held by a Rock Springs resident.

According to the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, on December 25, 1900, Myrtle M. Wallin was granted Patent #664597 for a device she called a “Work Holder,” for which she’d made application on June 1 of that year.

An excerpt from her application reads as follows:  

“Be it known that I, MYRTLE M. WALLIN, a citizen of the United States, residing at Rock Springs, in the county of Sweetwater and State of Wyoming, have invented new and useful Improvements in Work-Holders, of which the following is a specification.

“My invention relates to workholding devices for seamstresses, the object being to provide a simple and inexpensive device adapted to fit upon the knee of the user to clamp and hold the work, especially while basting, hemming, or gathering.”

Little is known about Wallin, though it is believed she was born in Missouri, probably in 1875, and lived on D Street in Rock Springs with her husband, Gustaf Wallin, a carpenter born in Sweden.

Other Wyoming patent firsts include the first one issued to a Wyoming Territory resident, granted to George Choate of Albany County on April 12, 1870, for an improved shovel handle, and the first patent granted a Wyomingite after statehood in 1890, issued to James N. Farlow of Lander on November 11, 1890, for a “improved friction wrench.”


August 20, 2020
The death of the first game warden killed in the line of duty in Wyoming may have resulted from legislation aimed at immigrants, according to an online article by Dick Blust, Jr. of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River, published recently on WyoHistory.org, the website of the Wyoming State Historical Society.
Just north of Rock Springs on September 14, 1919, Deputy Game Warden John Buxton encountered John Kolman, 16, and 17-year-old Joseph Omeyc, an Austrian immigrant. The boys were hunting rabbits, and Omeyc had a rifle, a .30/30 Savage. Unaware that Omeyc also had a handgun, Buxton took the rifle away from him. Angered, Omeyc shot him with the pistol, and Buxton died before he reached the hospital. Omeyc was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder. Later he would plead guilty to Second Degree Murder and be sentenced to imprisonment at the Wyoming State Penitentiary.
But Omeyc and Kolman were not poaching - at the time, rabbits were not the classified as game animals. Buxton seized Omeyc’s rifle under a state law that not only required non-citizens to obtain a special license in order to own firearms or even fishing tackle, but directed “the State Game Warden, his assistants and deputies, and all other peace officers in the State of Wyoming, to search for and take into their possession any gun, pistol or other firearms or fishing tackle found in the possession of any alien not entitled to hold or possess the same...”
Section 21 of Wyoming State Statutes, “Alien’s Gun and Fish License,” was a product of its time. The Red Scare of 1919-1920 was in full sway, and paranoia about European immigrants - especially in the wake of a series of anarchist bombings in eight American cities - was widespread.
The “Palmer Raids,” named for United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer - mass roundups and arrests of thousands of suspected anarchists, communists, and leftist figures, often on flimsy or non-existent evidence - were one result of the Scare; laws like Section 21 were another.
Documents over a century old discovered by Museum staff, including a transcript of testimony taken during an inquest into Buxton's death by the Sweetwater County Coroner's Office, provided details of his death.
The article, entitled "The Buxton Case: An Anti-Immigrant Tragedy," can be found on the WyoHistory.org website at
The Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge way in Green River. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00AM to 6:00 PM, and closed on Sundays and national holidays. Admission is free.

County Museum celebrating the centennial anniversary of national women’s suffrage

VotesForWomen title whiteCOLOR AWHI BOHS logo system primary

(Sweetwater County, Wyo. - August 15, 2020)      

The Sweetwater County Historical Museum in Green River is celebrating the 100th anniversary of national women’s suffrage with two special traveling exhibits.

“Votes for Women - A Portrait of Persistence,” is the creation of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It is the story of the long struggle that led to ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote nationwide. Also featured will be the "19th Amendment" traveling exhibit produced by the National Archives.

While the 19th Amendment guaranteed women's suffrage nationally, Wyoming was the first American territory or state to grant women voting rights a half-century earlier, in 1869.

The exhibits will be available for public viewing beginning Tuesday, August 18.


courthouse exhibit
July 16, 2020
The Sweetwater County Historical Museum recently completed an enhanced exhibit at the County Courthouse in Green River entitled "Mapping Our History: Surveying & Engineering in Sweetwater County." The new exhibit is an expanded version of a previous display of surveying instruments, books, and other items that belonged to the late Richard (Dick) C. Day, a distinguished former employee of Sweetwater County.
Day was an acclaimed civil engineer, land surveyor, and longtime resident of Rock Springs. Thanks to the efforts of Wayne Johnson, his former employer and colleague, Day's collection was donated to the County Museum.
Shortly after the Day Exhibit initially opened, a second collection of surveying artifacts was donated by John T. Nelson, Sweetwater County’s first full-time county engineer. To accommodate Nelson's collection, the exhibit grew fourfold, from a small five-foot case into two 10-foot cases.
With the expansion, interpretive wall panels were added to the exhibit, featuring the history of surveying and engineering in Sweetwater County and the West. Contributors to the project’s content and research included Mary Dunnewald, Tom Crank, Wayne Johnson, John T. Nelson, Mark Kot, Gene Legerski, and County Commissioner Wally Johnson.
The exhibit is located in the hallway near the front entrance of the Sweetwater County Courthouse at 80 West Flaming Gorge Way in Green River. It may be viewed during business hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
Due to COVID-13 restrictions, the public may only enter the Courthouse through the front entrance on Flaming Gorge Way and are asked to exit the 2nd floor west entrance on North 1st West. Visitors are asked to observe social distancing and face masks, while optional, are recommended.
The County Museum is located at 3 E. Flaming Gorge way in Green River is open. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00AM to 6:00 PM, and closed on Sundays and national holidays. Admission is free.