#lookback: Amelia Lyons Hall
A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.
Amelia Lyons, daughter of Norman and Sarah Lyon, was born in 1849 and grew up in New York. She attended the Canton Academy and the Oswego Normal and Teacher’s Training School. Prior to marrying Robert Hall, her life was spent in the school room either as a student or teaching. She married Robert H. Hall in New York on April 3, 1878. At the age of 29 she left the only home she knew to go with her husband to Territory of Wyoming.
By December, 1878, they were living in a two-room log cabin in Lander. Amelia arrived in Lander in an era when the foundation for a new town had barely been laid. It was only three years before her arrival (1875) that a post office was established and the town was officially named Lander. In 1874, just four years before her arrival, the government and Shoshone Tribe’s signed the Brunot Agreement that reduced the reservation by one-third and the land from the North Fork River to South Pass was now open to white settlement. The town of Lander, located in the almost unknown Territory of Wyoming, was now a desirable place to settle.
Some of the early Pioneers have left their diaries, letters and newspaper articles describing what it was like to come to this dangerous and rough country. One of these pioneers was Amelia Lyons Hall. She said, “You will have to stretch your imagination to the breaking point to see Lander as I first saw it.”
She saw Lander with only a few log houses on either side of Main Street, a couple of stores, post office, several saloons, no churches, and no trees except along the river. There were heavily loaded freight wagons pulled onto the Lander’s wide rough dirt road which was the freight road to Ft. Washakie. The freighters would take the yokes from the oxen, plie them up by the side of the wagons. The oxen were turned loose in the street to find their way to the river for water and make their way to the hills to graze.
Along the freight road (now Lander’s Main Street) there were a couple of places for lodging. Mrs. P. P. Dickinson kept the Cottage Home Hotel (near the corner of fourth and Main) and Ben DeCory had a boarding house, which later became the Lander Hotel (now where the Grand Theater is located).
All the supplies for the few scattered settlers and the military at Ft. Washakie had to be freighted in over the Wind River Mountain, and from spring until late fall it was a busy time for freighters. The only road into this part of the country was a government road from Green River, over the mountains and through South Pass City, Atlantic City, Camp Stambaugh, and Miners Delight. The freighters used this road to make their way to Valley. It took over two days to make the trip.
There was a rustic little log house that was used for a school. The same year Amelia settled in Lander she picked up where is left off–teaching about forty students, ranging in age from five to 15. The school had a few homemade benches, a stove and a table and a chair. Their books were odds and ends, no two books were alike. She had a Christmas tree for the children, which was the first one that had ever been seen in Lander.
About the only amusement in those early days were dances. These social gatherings were held in homes near and far from Lander. Amelia said “we often went forty miles in a lumber wagon, danced all night and sometimes had breakfast before we came home.” This was a time to dance, eat, drink and get caught up on local news and gossip.
In 1893, her husband bought a ranch on the little Popo Agie not far Lander. Along with others they took up ranching and soon they had a post office in their little community. The post office was given Amelia’s maiden name, “Lyons.” She was the postmistress for thirteen years. Today the ranching community in this area is still known as Lyons Valley.
The Halls were known for their hospitality and opened their door to cowboys, travelers, as well as friends. They shared together the work and hardships of life in a new country.
Amelia spent 58 years in the Lander Valley at time when change was happening at a quick pace. She died in 1936 at the age of 87. She lived the history and left us with a wealth of information.
Next up for the Fremont County Museums
February 7, 7pm at the Dubois Museum, “Bats in the Wind River Range”
Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
February 8, 6pm “What are Those White Lights in the Winter Sky”
Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
February 9, 6pm at the Riverton Museum, “Murder Mystery Event”
The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum need your financial support. In the current economic environment the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark over the last three and half years. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.