State Historic Site
Four Wyoming Governors (AHC)
Dance Poster (Sopris Collection, TESHS)
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
April 2016 - December 2016
TO GET THEIR political news, Sheridan area readers had two main local newspapers to choose between: The Sheridan Enterprise and The Sheridan Post. Both began in 1887 and both were highly partisan publications.
Early in his career, John Kendrick purchased controlling interest in The Enterprise as well as The Cheyenne State Leader. As he told future governor Leslie A. Miller in 1912, Kendrick really had one overriding interest in the newspapers: "My own investment in the papers was made," he told friends, "for the sole purpose of promoting the growth and advancement of the Democratic Party in the State of Wyoming."
The state’s leading opposition papers, including The Laramie Republican, agreed with Kendrick and went on to state that The Leader was just a Democratic mouthpiece and wouldn’t last long under their ownership:
[The Cheyenne Leader] will cavort around for a brief spell and then pass into the hands of some other ambitious politicians who believe that the people are gullible.
The Democratic Big Horn County Rustler, on the other hand, welcomed the presence of another like-minded newspaper or two:
[We are] pleased to note this further evidence of the aggressive attitude of the Democrats of the state, and hail it as a good omen. While the nation is walking deliberately into the Democratic fold it might be just as well to take the state of Wyoming along.
BEFORE RADIO AND television were around to broadcast election results, Sheridan folk had to rely on local newspapers to find out who won and who lost. The Democratic paper (The Sheridan Enterprise) was popular around election time; not because most readers were Democrats, but because it was a daily paper (the Republican-oriented Sheridan Post only published twice a week).
For big events such as national conventions and presidential elections, the newspapers would hold public meetings at which updates were given every few minutes (via telegraph). Everyone was welcome at these gatherings, which usually started around eight in the evening and could last into the wee hours of the morning.
To break up the monotony of standing around and waiting for updates on who was leading and who wasn’t, the meetings would sometimes include dancing. Many a young woman became more politically aware while awaiting the next waltz. Since 1869, Wyoming women had put this awareness to good use – in the voting booth.