#Lookback: J.A. Delfelder

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    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.

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    Jacob Astor Delfelder was born January 11, 1871, on his parent’s farm in Effingham, Kansas. Delfelder attended Atchison Business College in Atchison, Kansas, when he was a teenager. He paid his tuition for school by dehorning cattle, which he became adept at during his younger years. After school, Jacob Delfelder moved to Wyoming at the age of 21 in 1892. He planned on starting a business dehorning cattle. However, Delfelder began his career in Wyoming herding sheep in Evanston, Wyoming. This job didn’t last long and he moved to Fremont County three months later.

    In Fremont County, Delfelder worked for David L. Swinney herding sheep. He worked for Swinney for two years and learned a lot about the sheep business. After learning about the business, Jacob Delfelder partnered up with Austin Bunce to start his own sheep business in the Beaver Creek and Beaver Rim area. Bunce was also involved in freighting and lumber business, so Dlefelder worked herding the sheep while Charles Bunce, Austin’s son, kept the books for the business.

    Austin Bunce died in 1901 and his son, Charles, took over his father’s interest in the sheep business. Later, Delfelder bought the interests from Charles Bunce. In May 1903, Governor Fenimore Chatterton appointed Jacob Delfelder as the Wyoming Sheep Commissioner. He was the Wyoming Sheep Commissioner for 10 years.

    Later, Delfelder met Charles H. King, who was a large part of the freight business in Wyoming that connected the wool to the Chicago Northwest Railroad. King and Delfelder joined forces to open the Omaha Wool and Storage Company on May 16th, 1908. During this time, Delfelder helped develop a plan for a central storage and marketing of wool. In January of 1909, Delfelder was one of the three directors from Wyoming chosen to oversee a National Wool Storage House in Chicago.

    The headquarters for Delfelder’s business was in Wolton, Wyoming, which is now known as Hiland, Wyoming, in Natrona County. While in Wolton, Delfelder lived in the local hotel operated by Joe Marquis. While staying at the hotel, he met the sister of Joe Marquis’s wife, the recently divorced Evelyn Hartman. Evelyn Hartman had been married to Charlie Hartman and had one son named William Hartman. By 1910, Evelyn and Jacob Delfelder were married in Wolton.

    In 1911, Delfelder was re-elected to the Board of Directors of the National Wool Warehouse and Storage Company in Chicago. Around May 2nd, 1913, Delfeldor purchased a home from the wife of J.W. Blake, who was the Director of the Commercial State Bank in Riverton.

    When Delfeldor moved to Riverton, The Wyoming Central Irrigation Project was floundering. Delfelder believed that the way to help Riverton grow was to get the irrigation system built in Riverton. In July 1914, Riverton landowners formed a ditch company to assist with the digging of an irrigation ditch. Delfelder was elected the president of the ditch company. By the end of 1914, the ditch had reached Riverton.

    In 1915, Delfelder was elected into the Wyoming House of Representatives. One of Delfelder’s big projects that year was to help get irrigation ditches built. On April 9th, it was announced that Delfelder had been involved in getting federal funding for construction of the LeClair-Riverton No. 2 Ditch. In July, Delfelder invested his own money to construct part of the Riverton Ditch No. 2. Later in 1916, Delfelder’s friendship with Congressman Frank Mondell got a bill introduced to contribute $250,000 to the construction of Wyoming Canal. In 1918, Mondell also got an additional $100,000 for the construction of the Wyoming Central Canal.

    Jacob Delfelder also became involved in many other businesses that were started in Riverton. In July of 1916, Delfelder bought the Riverton Garage, which he later sold. In 1917, Delfelder owned 43 acres used to grow some of the first commercially raised sugar beets in Riverton. In March of 1971, Delfelder purchased 240 total acres near Riverton for his sheep. In August of 1917, Delfelder helped E.J. Farlow plan a wolf roundup. By August 1918, the Farmer’s State Bank was opened in Riverton and Jacob Delfelder was one of the directors. In 1919, Delfeler occupied offices in the new Masonic Temple in Riverton. In June 1919, the Teton Hotel opened. Jacob Delfelder was one of the major stockholders in the hotel.

    Delfelder was also a big part of the local politics in Riverton. In May of 1913, Jacob Delfelder was elected Mayor of Riverton after running for office unopposed. He served as Mayor for seven years until he declined to run for office again on February 24th, 1920 due to his failing health.

    In 1919, Delfelder developed an ulcer. By June of 1920, Delfelder checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to treat his ulcer. A month later, Delfelder returned to Wyoming, but soon he became ill again and was checked into the Carter Sanitarium in Thermopolis. Later, he was transferred back to Mayo Clinic for an operation which was successful. However, the next year in February, Delfelder was checked back into Mayo Clinic. One month later on March 23rd, 1921, Jacob Astor Delfeldor died at 50 years old.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museums


    October 25th & 26th at the Pioneer Museum, “Halloween Night at the Museum”

                  Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    November 14th at the Riverton Museum, “What’s the Deal with J.B. Oakie” by Zane Fross

                  Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    December 7th at the Dubois Museum, “Christmas Open House”

    December 7th at the Pioneer Museum, “Old Fashioned Christmas”

                  Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    December 14th at the Riverton Museum, “Old Time Christmas Decorations”

                  Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    December 14th at the Riverton Museum, “Christmas Open House”


    Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. 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. 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.

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