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Genealogical Research in Wyoming

Genealogy Research Wyoming

There is a wealth of genealogical records and resources available for tracing your family history in Wyoming. Because of the abundance of information held at many different locations, tracking down the records for your ancestor can be an ominous task. Don’t worry though, we know just where they are, and we’ll show you which records you’ll need, while helping you to understand:

  • What they are
  • Where to find them
  • How to use them

These records can be found both online and off, so we’ll introduce you to online websites, indexes and databases, as well as brick-and-mortar repositories and other institutions that will help with your research in Wyoming. So that you will have a more comprehensive understanding of these records, we have provided a brief history of the “Cowboy State” to illustrate what type of records may have been generated during specific time periods. That information will assist you in pinpointing times and locations on which to focus the search for your Wyoming ancestors and their records.

A Brief History of Wyoming

The forebears of the Native Americans who resided in Wyoming when the first Europeans arrived probably came by way of the Bering Strait and then ventured south. The first Europeans to explore Wyoming were French Canadian traders, namely the Vérendrye brothers, Louis-Joseph and Francois, who most likely reached the Big Horn Mountains in 1743, but moved on without laying claim to the area.

It wasn’t until John Colter, an American fur trader, traversed most of the northwestern part of the state between 1806 and 1807, that any interest in the area was generated. Colter’s reports of the beauty, probably including Yellowstone Park, fueled interest in the area, and subsequently many settlers passing through via the Oregon Trail decided to remain in Wyoming. Before the discovery of gold in California in 1848, travel on the Oregon Trail was minimal, but after the discovery a flood of "forty-niners" passed through the state.

Supply points along the Oregon Trail were established at Fort Bridger in the west and Ft. Laramie in the east, though few travelers remained in these areas. What finally brought serious settlers to the region was the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad, and towns such as Laramie, Rawlings, Cheyenne, and Rock Springs sprang up along the railway path. Wyoming was made a territory in 1868, and became the first state or territory to pass a women’s suffrage act, doing so in 1869.

What Indian resistance to settlement existed was subdued before the end of the 1870’s, and Wyoming became a center for cattlemen. Cattle barons dominated the land and the political sphere, and smaller ranches and cattle businesses were thwarted in their attempts to compete. The fight between the barons and small ranchers culminated in the so-named Johnson County War of 1891–92, in which the large landowners were arrested by government troops following attempts to take the law into their own hands.

Wyoming was made a state in 1890, but growth continued at a slow rate. Farming endeavors proved unsuccessful in this high, arid region, and Wyoming still remains a sparsely settled ranching state. The growth that has occurred has been mainly through the minerals industry, especially the development of oil, coal, and natural gas resources during the 1970s. The world's oil glut in the early 1980s slowed the growth of the state's energy industries however, and in 1984, nonfuel industry growth rates slowed as well.

  • Important Genealogical Dates in Wyoming History
    • 1803 – Part of Louisiana Purchase
    • 1834 – Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger established
    • 1851 – Fort Laramie Treaty council held with plains and mountain tribes
    • 1861 – Part of Dakota Territory
    • 1867 – Gold Discovered at South Pass
    • 1868 – Created as separate territory
    • 1890 - Statehood

Famous Battles Fought in Wyoming

There have not been any great military battles fought in Wyoming, but there were numerous skirmished between white settlers and Native Americans during the formative years. The Legends of America website has a comprehensive listing of Wyoming Indian War Battles, Skirmishes & Massacres.

The battle accounts that exist can be very effective in uncovering the military records of your ancestor. They can tell you what regiments fought in which battles, and often include the names and ranks of many officers and enlisted men.

Common Wyoming Genealogical Issues and Resources to Overcome Them

Boundary Changes: Boundary changes are a common obstacle when researching Wyoming ancestors. You could be searching for an ancestor’s record in one county when in fact it is stored in a different one due to historical county boundary changes.

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries can help you to overcome that problem. It provides a chronological listing of every boundary change that has occurred in the history of Wyoming.

Name Changes: Surname changes, variations, and misspellings can complicate genealogical research. It is important to check all spelling variations. Soundex, a program that indexes names by sound, is a useful first step, but you can't rely on it completely as some name variations result in different Soundex codes. The surnames could be different, but the first name may be different too. You can also find records filed under initials, middle names, and nicknames as well, so you will need to get creative with surname variations and spellings in order to cover all the possibilities. For help with surname variations read our instructional article on How to Use Soundex.

Wyoming Genealogical Organizations and Archives

Genealogical resources include not only records, but the organizations that house them, or can direct you to them. These institutions include: Archives, Libraries, Genealogical Societies, Family History Centers, Universities, Churches, and Museums.

Following are links to their websites, their physical addresses, and a summary of the records you can find there.

  • Archives and Libraries
    • Wyoming State Archives – Vital records, maps, newspapers, oral histories, school records, court records, cemetery listings, city directories, probate records, deeds, census records, military records, business records

      2301 Central Avenue 
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Telephone: 307-777-7826
      Fax: 307-777-7044
    • National Archives at Denver - Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930, Revolutionary War records, Pension and bounty land warrant applications, Ship's passenger lists, Indian censuses

      17101 Huron Street
      Broomfield, CO 80023
      Telephone: 303-604-4740
      Fax: 303-407-5707
    • Laramie County Library - Books and periodicals, state, county and town histories, probate, land, cemetery, church and vital records, federal census indexes, Family histories, military records and publications of American historical societies, including the Massachusetts Vital Records, the Rhode Island Vital Records, the War of the Rebellion series and the American Genealogical and Biographical Index

      2200 Pioneer Avenue
      Cheyenne, WY 82001
      Telephone: 307-634-3561
      Fax: 307-634-2082
      Genealogy & Special Collections: 307-773-7232
    • Wyoming State Library – Historical maps, newspapers, obituaries index, Ancestry and Heritage Quest

      2800 Central Ave
      Cheyenne, WY 82002-0006
      Telephone: 307-777-6333
      Fax: 307-777-6289 
    • University of Wyoming Library – Huge collection of genealogical and historical resources

      Dept 3334
      1000 E. University Ave
      Laramie, WY 82071-3334
      Telephone: 307-766-3190
      Fax: 307-766-3062 

Genealogical and Historical Societies

Genealogical and historical societies have access to extensive catalogues of genealogical data. They are also able to offer expert guidance for genealogical researchers. Many members are professional genealogists who are most willing to share their expertise in finding ancestors.

Wyoming Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are internet based facilities that use email to distribute a single message to all who subscribe to it. When information on a particular surname, new records, or any other important genealogy information related to the mailing list topic becomes available, the subscribers are alerted to it. Joining a mailing list is an excellent way to stay up to date on Wyoming genealogy research topics. Rootsweb have an extensive listing of Wyoming Mailing Lists on a variety of topics.

Wyoming Message Boards

A message board is another internet based facility where people can post questions about a specific genealogy topic and have it answered by other genealogists. If you have questions about a surname, record type, or research topic, you can post your question and other researchers and genealogists will help you with the answer. Be sure to check back regularly, as the answers are not emailed to you. The message boards at the Wyoming Genealogy Forum are completely free to use.

Wyoming Newspapers and Periodicals

Many genealogy periodicals and historical newspapers contain reprinted copies of family genealogies, transcripts of family Bible records, information about local records and archives, census indexes, church records, queries, land records, obituaries, court records, cemetery records, and wills.

  • Wyoming newspapers and periodicals that you can search online or on-site

Historical Wyoming Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are an integral part of genealogical research. They help us to locate landmarks, towns, cities, parishes, states, provinces, waterways and roads and streets. They also help us to determine when and where boundary changes might have taken place, and give us a visualization of the area we’re researching in.

For locating place names, a gazetteer is the best possible resource for any genealogist. Gazetteers are also sometimes called “place name dictionaries”, and can help you to locate the area in which you need to conduct research.

Wyoming City Directories

City directories are similar to telephone directories in that they list the residents of a particular area. The difference though is what is important to genealogists, and that is they pre-date telephone directories. You can find an ancestor’s information such as their street address, place of employment, occupation, or the name of their spouse. A one-stop-shop for finding city directories in Wyoming is the Wyoming Online Historical Directories which contains a listing of every available online historical directory related to Wyoming. Another useful site is US City Directories which identifies printed, microfilmed, and online Wyoming directories and their repositories.

Wyoming Genealogical Records

Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Records – Also known as vital records, birth, death, and marriage certificates are the most basic, yet most important records attached to your ancestor. The reason for their importance is that they not only place your ancestor in a specific place at a definite time, but potentially connect the individual to other relatives.

  • Below is a list of repositories and websites where you can find Wyoming vital records.
    • Wyoming Department of Health – Births 1913 – present, Marriage, Divorce, and Deaths, 1963 - present

      Vital Records Services
      Hathaway Bldg
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Phone: 307-777-7591
    • Wyoming State Archives – Birth Certificates 1909-1912, Marriage Certificates 1941-1962, county marriage record books and indexes from 1869 up to the 1960s, Divorce Certificates 1941-1962, Death Certificates 1909-1962

      2301 Central Avenue 
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Telephone: 307-777-7826
      Fax: 307-777-7044
    • Family Search has the following indexes that can be searched online for free:
      Wyoming, Marriages, 1877-1920

Census Records

Census records are among the most important genealogical documents for placing your ancestor in a particular place at a specific time. Like BDM records, they can also lead you to other ancestors, particularly those who were living under the authority of the head of household.

  • Wyoming State Archives
    • Wyoming State Archives – Territorial Census Records, 1869, 1875 and 1885; US Federal Census Records 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930

      2301 Central Avenue 
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Telephone: 307-777-7826
      Fax: 307-777-7044
    • Laramie County Library – State and federal census records

      2200 Pioneer Avenue
      Cheyenne, WY 82001
      Telephone: 307-634-3561
      Fax: 307-634-2082
      Genealogy & Special Collections: 307-773-7232
    • National Archives at Denver - Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930, Indian censuses

      17101 Huron Street
      Broomfield, CO 80023
      Telephone: 303-604-4740
      Fax: 303-407-5707
    • The Free Census Project has transcribed many Wyoming indexes and new material is added daily
    • Access Genealogy – Wyoming county census records dating from 1790-1930
    • African American Census Schedules Online – slave schedules, mortality schedules, slave-owners census
    • Native Americans in Census Records (US National Archives)

Wyoming Church Records

Church and synagogue records are a valuable resource, especially for baptisms, marriages, and burials that took place before 1900. You will need to at least have an idea of your ancestor’s religious denomination, and in most cases you will have to visit a brick and mortar establishment to view them.

Most church records are kept by the individual church, although in some denominations, records are placed in a regional archive or maintained at the diocesan level. Local Historical Societies are sometimes the repository for the state’s older church records. Below are links archives that maintain church records, as well as a few databases that can be viewed online.

The Family History Library contains many church records from a variety of denominations on microfilm.

Central Repositories for Denominational Records

  • Central Repositories for Denominational Records
    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

      Early Mormon Church records for Wyoming can be found on film located at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City and can be searched via the Family History Library Catalog
    • The Church History Library has an even broader collection of historical church records than the Family History Library.
      Church History Library
      15 East North Temple
      Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-1600
      Phone: (801) 240-2272
    • Baptist

      American Baptist - Samuel Colgate Historical Library
      1106 South Goodman Street
      Rochester, NY 14620-2532
      Phone: (716) 473-1740
      Fax: (716) 473-1740
    • Methodist

      United Methodist Archives Center 
      Drew University Library 
      P.O. Box 127 
      Madison, NJ 07940
        Phone: (201) 408-3189
        Fax: (201) 408-3909
    • Presbyterian

      Presbyterian Historical Society
      425 Lombard Street
      Philadelphia, PA 19147
      Telephone: 1-215-627-1852
      Fax: 1-215-627-0509
    • Roman Catholic

      Diocese of Cheyenne 
      2121 Capitol Avenue
        Cheyenne, WY 82001
        Phone: (307) 638-1530
        Fax: (307) 637-7936

Wyoming Military Records

More than 40 million Americans have participated in some kind of war service since America was colonized. The chance of finding your ancestor amongst those records is exceptionally high. Military records can even reveal individuals who never actually served, such as those who registered for the two World Wars but were never called to duty.

  • You may also find your ancestor’s military records in the following databases:
    • Wyoming State Archives – Wyoming casualty lists (KIA) for WWI, WWII, and Vietnam, Spanish American War Regiment Rosters, 1890 Federal Census veterans & widows schedule, Wyoming Territorial military post returns
      2301 Central Avenue 
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Telephone: 307-777-7826
      Fax: 307-777-7044
    • National Archives at Denver – 1790-1930, Revolutionary War records, Pension and bounty land warrant applications
      17101 Huron Street
      Broomfield, CO 80023
      Telephone: 303-604-4740
      Fax: 303-407-5707
    • National Archives and Records Administration - World War I Draft Registration Cards
      Microfilm Roll List
      8601 Adelphi Road
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Toll free: 1-866-272-6272
    • US Department of Veterans Affairs Nationwide Gravesite Locator – includes information on veterans and their family members buried in veterans and military cemeteries having a government grave marker.

Wyoming Cemetery Records

As convenient as it is to search cemetery records online, keep in mind that there are a few disadvantages over visiting a cemetery in person. They are:

  • Tombstone information is not always accurately transcribed
  • The arrangement of the graves in a cemetery can be crucial as family members are often buried next to each other or in the same grave. This arrangement is not always preserved in the alphabetical indexes that are found online.
  • Databases that can be searched online for Wyoming Cemetery records.
    • Wyoming Tombstone Transcription Project - death and burial records
    • Wyoming State Archives – Cemetery records, Wyoming cemetery survey, funeral home records
      2301 Central Avenue 
      Cheyenne, WY 82002
      Telephone: 307-777-7826
      Fax: 307-777-7044
    • African American Cemeteries Online – African American, slave, and Native American cemetery records
    • Access Genealogy – database of Wyoming cemetery record transcriptions
    • Find a Grave – over 100 million grave records can be searched on this site. Search can be conducted by name, location, or cemetery name.
    • - A free online database containing approximately 4 million cemetery records from around the world.
    • Billion Graves – as the name implies, you can search a billion records including headstone photos, transcriptions, cemetery records, and grave locations.

Wyoming Obituaries

Obituaries can reveal a wealth about our ancestor and other relatives. You can search our Wyoming Obituaries Listings from hundreds of Wyoming newspapers online for free.

Wyoming Wills and Probate Records

The documents found in a probate packet may include a complete inventory of a person’s estate, newspaper entries, witness testimony, a copy of a will, list of debtors and creditors, names of executors or trustees, names of heirs. They can not only tell you about the ancestor you’re currently researching, but lead to other ancestors.

Probate files may include a person’s will, date of death, heirs, list of property and assets, and information about the settlement and distribution of the estate. As with other court records, many courts regularly transfer their inactive files to State Archives but retain their indexes. If you can’t find the Wyoming probate record you’re looking for in the state Archives, contact the Wyoming Clerk of District Court in the county the person lived in at the time of their death for a docket number

Wyoming State Archives – County Clerk Land Abstracts and Deeds, Wills, and Probate records dating from late 19th century
2301 Central Avenue 
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Telephone: 307-777-7826
Fax: 307-777-7044


Laramie County Library – County probate records from Laramie and surrounding counties
2200 Pioneer Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Telephone: 307-634-3561
Fax: 307-634-2082
Genealogy & Special Collections: 307-773-7232

Wyoming Immigration and Naturalization Records

The naturalization process generated many types of records, including petitions, declarations of intention, and oaths of allegiance. These records can provide family historians with information such as a person's birth date and place of birth, immigration year, marital status, spouse information, occupation, witnesses' names and addresses, and more.

If your ancestor lived in or near a large city, or near a city where U.S. courts convened, you may find naturalization records in the U.S. District Court before 1906.

Laramie County Library - Wyoming Naturalization Index for the years 1867 - 1920
2200 Pioneer Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Telephone: 307-634-3561
Fax: 307-634-2082
Genealogy & Special Collections: 307-773-7232

National Archives at Denver – Ship’s Passenger lists
17101 Huron Street
Broomfield, CO 80023
Telephone: 303-604-4740
Fax: 303-407-5707

Wyoming State Archives – County naturalization records dating from the late 19th century
2301 Central Avenue
  Cheyenne, WY 82002
Telephone: 307-777-7826
Fax: 307-777-7044

US National Archives – Immigration records, Naturalization records, Ship’s Passenger lists
The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Tel: 1-866-272-6272; 1-86-NARA-NARAS

Wyoming Native American Records

  • Wyoming Native American Records
    • Wyoming Memory (Digital Archive) – Plains Indian Museum Collections Database
    • Fold3 (Digital Archive) – Indian Census Rolls, Dawes Packets, Dawes Enrolment Cards, and moreCherokee Applications,
    • Marquette University - Records of St. Stephen's Mission Wyoming, dating from 1880's; records of the Tekakwitha Conference (Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, 1939-1970s)
    • Department of Special Collections and University Archives
      R360 John P. Raynor, S.J., Library
      1355 W. Wisconsin Ave.
      Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
      Telephone: (414) 288-5904
      Fax: (414) 288-6709

      Mailing Address:
      Raynor Memorial Libraries
      P.O. Box 3141
      Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-3141
    • National Archives at Denver – Native American censuses
      17101 Huron Street
      Broomfield, CO 80023
      Telephone: 303-604-4740
      Fax: 303-407-5707
    • National Archives and Records Administration - Dawes Commission Final Cards of the Five Civilized Tribes
      8601 Adelphi Road
      College Park, MD 20740-6001
      Toll free: 1-866-272-6272
    • Access Genealogy – Wyoming Native American census records, tribal histories, and much more
    • U.S. National Archives - information on American Indians who maintained their ties to Federally-recognized Tribes (1830-1970).
    • Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
    • American Indians Records Repository - records dating from the 1700s including trust, education and other historic Indian Affairs records
      American Indian Records Repository
      Meritex Enterprises
      17501 West 98th Street
      Lenexa, KS 66219
      Phone: 913-888-0601

Missing Matriarchs – Resources for Researching Female Wyoming Ancestors

Looking for female ancestors requires an adjustment of how we view traditional records sources. A woman’s identity was often under that of her husband, and often individual records for them can be difficult to locate. The following resources are effective in locating female ancestors in Wyoming where traditional records may not reveal them.


  • Wyoming from Territorial Days to Present. 3 Vols., Frances B. Beard (American History Society, 1933)
  • The Important Things of Life: Women, Work, and Family in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, 1880-1929, Dee Garceau (Putnam’s Sons, 1958)
  • The Feminine Frontier: Wyoming Women, 1850-1900,Denice Wheeler (The Author, 1987)
  • Stories of Early Days in Wyoming: Big Horn Basin, Tacetta B. Walker (Daily Sentinel Print, 1875)

Selected Resources for Wyoming Women’s History

Women’s History Research Center
American Heritage Center
University of Wyoming
Box 3924
Laramie, WY 82071-3924

Laramie County Library
2200 Pioneer Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82001

Wyoming State Archives 
2301 Central Avenue 
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Common Wyoming Surnames

The following surnames are among the most common in Wyoming and are also being currently researched by other genealogists. If you find your surname here, there is a chance that some research has already been performed on your ancestor.

Abraham, Appleby, Andrus, Barone, Baroody, Bates, Battermann, Baughman, Berry, Beissner, Binning, Bloomfield, Bowers, Bowman, Boynton, Bradshaw, Brady, Brown, Brunel, Buchmeier, Burbeck, Camp, Campbell, Carter, Cater, Chiester, Christiansen, Churchill, Clements, Coffta, Coggins, Colshan, Combs, Conyers, Cottle, Crawford, Dahlsted, Danhuaser, Darling, Davis, Delp, DeRosa, Dickinson, Dixon, Doman, Douglas, Dupaly, Dye, Draeger, Eastin, Ellis, Engelking, Engel, Erickson, Estep, Evans, Ezquierdo, Fergus, Fisher, Froman, Fuller, Fowler, Fry, Frye, Gardner, Gaveka, Garcia, Gawel, Generous, Gerland, Gewecke, Georgeanna, Gersbach, Glasgow, Gongwer, Greser, Gulli, Gustin, Hagerdon, Hall, Hasenjaeger, Hammer, Hancy, Heishman, Helsley, Heltzel, Hendrickson, Hively, Herendeen, Hines, Hoag, Holsow, Holt, Holmes, Houghton, Hunter, Hurt, Huxhold, Huxhole, Huzzy, Hyatt, Issa, Jackson, James, Jenkins, Jepson, Johnston,Johnson, Joseph, Justus, Karcher, Kauke, Kelkenberg, Keller, Kendell, Kimball, King, Kirkley, Knight, Korecko, Krause, Khour, King, Kirchoff, Koch, Koehler, Kossuth, Krama, Laird, Lange, Lawless, Lewis, Lomax, Long, Lemons, Leybe, Lien, Loghry, Lowther, Luther, Magdalena, Martinez, Maynard, Merk, Matthies, McCoy, Merckel, Meriwether, Merkele, Meyer, Micheal, Mills, Moeller, Morgan, Moomaw, Moore, Morris, Mullins, Munson, Nation, Neese, Neels, Nicholaus, Nowatzki, O'Leary, Offutt, Ostfeld, Owen, Oxford, Olson, Orndorff, Ovis, Parent, Pasquali, Pape, Parmalee, Partley, Payne, Peachy, Peasley, Petet, Peterson, Pitman, Pohler, Pope, Potts, Preckel, Quarles, Ramaha, Ranney, Reade, Rice, Riding, Richardson, Roberts, Roberta, Robertson, Rogers, Rosenbaum, Ross, Sager, Sale, Sanchez, Santucci, Schamber, Scott, Schaper, Scranton, Senne, Seegers, Seggebrok, Sieckmann, Shadman, Shanley, Showman/Sherman, Smith, Spair, Spereaw, Spears, Stahlhut, Stunkel, Swift, Spigle, Spillman, Stevens, Stipke, Tanner, Taliaferro, Taylor, Tegtmeier, Thatcher, Thomas, Thorton, Thurlow, Thyret, Tindell, Tussing, Umberger, Van Male, Vandehei, VanLeuven, Vehling, Veach, Wakefield, Walker, Warner, Warnstrom, Webster, Wetzel, Whitman, Wicken, Wilcox, Wilson, Wilkenson, Wilkins, Willard, Woodhouse, Wright

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