A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.
Jesse Knight arrived in South Pass in 1871 as a young man of 21. He was well educated for his day having attended public schools in New York, and then he attended seminary. He had clerked in a store in Omaha before making his way to the gold fields of South Pass. His first job in South Pass was as a clerk working for Sidney Tichnor in his general store. He became good friends with Ervin Cheney, another bachelor and veteran of the Civil War. The two young men studied law together at night. Cheney was a blacksmith/dentist and later moved to Lander when the gold mines fizzled.
About a year after arriving in South Pass, Knight’s
employer closed down his general store and left Knight without a job. Knight was soon appointed as clerk of the court for the Third Judicial District and was also appointed postmaster of South Pass. Knight held both jobs until 1874 when the District Court was moved to Evanston, so he left South Pass and moved to Evanston to continue to clerk for the court until 1884. He continued to study the law and was admitted to the bar in 1877.
Knight was elected Uinta County Attorney in 1888 and served for two years. In 1890, when Wyoming was a newly minted state he was elected judge of the Fourth District . He also served in the constitutional convention in 1890 and was active in constructing the Wyoming State Constitution. He served for 7 years as district judge and made many trips to Lander to preside over hearings. He was the presiding judge when Tom Osborne was convicted of murder after shooting Hiram Thorne for swindling him out of his ranch, the Quien Sabe. A few years later he presided over a trial that sent George Cassidy (AKA Butch Cassidy) to jail for stealing a horse. Cassidy was actually tried twice; the first trial ended in an acquittal. HIs good friend, Eugene Amoretti Jr. was on the first jury. In both these cases the governor released the convicts early after local citizens petitioned the governor for pardons.
In 1897 Knight was appointed Associate Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court and moved to Cheyenne. On Jan 2, 1905 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court, but he only served in that capacity for 3 months before he died of pneumonia on April 9, 1905 at age 55.
Judge Knight was instrumental in writing the laws and constitution of Wyoming. He presided when Wyoming was young, wild and yet untamed.
Next up for the Fremont County Museum
June 15, 7am at the Pioneer Museum, “Tim McCoy, A History with Cowboy Poetry by Schmidt” Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series
June 17, 10 am at the Pioneer Museum, “Historic Miners Delight Gold Mine Town Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
June 24, 9-2 pm at the Riverton Museum, “Castle Gardens Adventure Trek” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
June 27, 9-3pm with the Dubois Museum, “Geology Road Trip to Union Pass” Wind River Visitors Council Adventure Trek Series
June 28, 11am at the Riverton Museum, “Local Wildlife with Renee Schell” Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series
December 2022-October 2023 at the Pioneer Museum, “Wind River Memories: Artists of the Lander Valley and Beyond” art exhibition
Call the Dubois Museum 1-307-455-2284, the Pioneer Museum 1-307-332-3339 or the Riverton Museum 1-307-856-2665 for detail regarding their programs.
The Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation has been created to specifically benefit The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum. The WRCCF will help deliver the long term financial support our museums need to flourish. 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 four 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 Wind River Cultural Centers Foundation at PO Box 1863 Lander, WY 82520 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.