Monday, August 10, 2009

WILLIS TROYER, "Cowboy and Early Settler"




Willis Troyer is a name that I have heard for all the years since my marriage into his family, nearly 40 years ago. Wyoming was made for cowboys and that is what he was...and much more.

All these past years of knowing the name and some dates but not many facts. Very recently I got to add some important facts and make a visit to his gravesite to honor the Man. Quite unexpectedly, my mother-in-law made connections with a man through Ancestry.com that helped to fill in some names, dates and places for several of our Troyer family ancestors, including that of Willis Troyer. I spent an evening of online searching to get more information about the Hillcrest Cemetery in Lagrange, Wyoming where many of the family were buried. My search yielded an index to the cemetery and to my surprise there were many Troyer and McComsey relatives who were buried there. A trip to the little cemetery was quickly planned and you can read more about it here.

Our Grandma Alda who was Willis' niece had often talked about him but typical of most younger people, we did not document her stories and as she and time passed, we lost the knowledge that we once had. All that were left were a couple photos which we have cherished.

Willis Troyer was an early settler to Lagrange, Goshen Co., Wyoming and was a cowboy and blacksmith for the L-D Ranch which was part of the famous Swan Land and Cattle Company. He worked for his father, Andrew Troyer, who was the ranch foreman and he also rode with Ben Smith, a fellow cowboy/ranch hand who became my husband's Great Grandfather. Ben Smith married Barbara Elizabeth Troyer "Lizzie", who was Willis Troyer's sister and through her was my husband's tie to Andrew and Willis by blood.

Our great- great uncle Willis was an all around ranch hand and according to John Rollinson in his book "PONY TRAILS IN WYOMING", Willis was the resident blacksmith for the L-D Ranch when Mr. Rollinson worked there as a young man. He stated that Willis was willing to teach others about his trade and that he was well liked by those he worked with. After the Swan Company, Willis Troyer owned/operated his own blacksmith shop in the town of Lagrange, Wyoming for many years. It was located on part of the land that is now The Frontier School of the Bible in Lagrange. Willis' granddaughter, Iris, still remembers the distinct smell of her Grandpa's blacksmith shop-recalled from her childhood. She also tells us that Willis worked on other ranches through the years around the Lagrange area and often he could be found at Hawk Springs, pole in hand, as he was an avid fisherman. He and his wife, Ida, also enjoyed and maintained a monsterous garden every year.

How great is genealogy? Our recent discovery of more Troyer and McComsey relatives in the Lagrange, Wyoming cemetery has also brought wonderful new acquaintances and "shirt tale" relatives into the light. Steve from Belen, NM and Iris from Cheyenne, WY are our newly found relatives. Iris has actually known my mother-in-law for some time but I just met her by phone and had a great visit, with anticipation to meet her soon. Both Steve and Iris have added precious pearls to our knowledge base and we have shared family ancestry and photos. Thanks to them both for adding new memories!

Willis Troyer and his family are still fondly remembered and honored by his grandchildren, great grandchildren and by us, his great- great nieces and nephews. We now have visited his final resting place and will visit often as we travel to Cheyenne often via the Lagrange, Wyoming route.

Links from the past,to the present,and back again to the past....how precious they are!


You can read more on The You Go Geneaology Girls blog "Have Bike, Will Travel" about my fun research trip to visit these family gravesites - with a light hearted tale of travel and discovery to the Hillcrest Cemetery in Lagrange, Wyoming.

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