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W. J. Stover


Pleasantly located on an excellent ranch on Tongue River, Wyoming, where he is now pursuing the peaceful vocation of a farmer and stock grower although he was trained to the bar and in the midst of a region wherein the depths of the earth call on men to come forward and bring their hidden wealth of coal and other minerals to the surface and the use of mankind W. J. Stover is an example of the universal tendency in this western country to lead something of a personal life, whatever may be the surrounding conditions and he shows in his course and his comfortable state the independence and advantage of such a life. Mr. Stover was born in Tennessee on June 25, 1837 the son of Solomon H. and Elizabeth (Nave) Stover, also natives of Tennessee with ancestors who were pioneers of that state and who aided in subduing it to civilization and starting it toward its present great prosperity and development. His childhood youth and early manhood were passed in his native state and from the schools she sustains so liberally he secured the greater part of his scholastic education. After finishing this in 1856 he became a teacher in the public schools and was at the same time a student of the law teaching and studying in the winter and working on the farm in the summer until 1861. When his state passed the ordinance of secession and went out of the Union he cast his lot with hers and enlisted in the Confederate army as a member of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry. He was soon in active service in the field and participated in many hard fought and sanguinary battles that of Shiloh or Pittsburgh Landing in his own state being among the most notable. In September 1862 he was captured and carried as a prisoner of war to Indianapolis, Indiana where being at heart a Union man and having no slaves or other Southern property at stake he took the oath of allegiance to the Federal government and was set at liberty without a cent and with nothing to wear but his Confederate uniform. He went to Danville in an adjoining county and soon after began again to teach school continuing this occupation until 1863 when Morganís raid aroused the loyal spirit of the state to an intense enthusiasm and determined resistance in which he joined and helped to drive the raiders out of the state. He remained in the service for local defense and to aid in quelling disloyalty until the end of the war. In 1864 his wife and children made their way through the Confederate lines and joined him in Indiana and he remained there teaching school studying law and practicing before Justices of the Peace until 1868. He then moved to what is now Cowley County, Kansas and there squatted on un-surveyed land, which he at once began to improve. Here he also was a teacher and practiced law in justices courts remaining until 1879 when he sold out and moved overland to the Gallatin Valley in Montana where he bought an unimproved homestead and lived on it for five years. At the end of that time he moved into Bozeman and opened a law office having been admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of the state. In 1885 he took his family on a trip of observation through California, Oregon and Washington and finally concluded to settle in Wyoming, which he did in 1886. Here he bought out a settler on Prairie Dog Creek near Banner in what is now Sheridan County and once more started to improve his property. In 1887 he was admitted to the bar of Johnson County and in 1888 when the new county of Sheridan was organized he was elected prosecuting attorney and opened an office in the village of Sheridan. He was re-elected at the end of his term and served a second. By this time he was able to prove up on his preemption claim to the land he had settled on and then moved his family to Sheridan where they now live. He there continued in the active practice of his profession until 1896 when failing eyesight obliged him to relinquish efforts in that direction. Then turning his attention yet more fully to agricultural pursuits he bought another unimproved tract of land from its occupant and induced his daughter to also homestead. This is on Tongue River eight miles north of Sheridan and here he has lived much of the time since spending the rest at his home in Sheridan with his wife who is living there. He has been much occupied with local improvements and has given his best energies for some years to their development. He built the largest irrigating dam in the county across Tongue River and constructed a ditch from it through to Rocky Creek which has the largest dike in the county doing the work principally with his own hands. He has now practically retired from active labor of all kinds and is spending the evening of an adventurous and useful life in quiet ease and leisure. In 1856 before he left Tennessee, Mr. Stover was married to Miss Nannie Carriger a native of that state. They have had six children, five of whom are living: Etta B., the wife of George Harper of Sheridan County; Minnie living at home; Lena A., principal of the Sheridan high school and the county superintendent of schools; May B., also a teacher who is at this writing taking a post-graduate course at the Indiana State Normal School and Laura, a stenographer. Their only son Samuel is deceased.

  • I found a William J. Stover in the 1880 census living at West Gallatin Valley, Gallatin, Montana.

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