Wyoming Church Records
This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
A guide to church inventories was completed in 1939 by the Works Projects Administration (WPA) and entitled A Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in the State of Wyoming (Cheyenne, Wyo.: The Historical Records Survey, 1939). This directory listed 470 congregations, institutions, and organizations in Wyoming in the late 1930s. It is not a complete listing for the period, but is useful in locating congregations by county and city.
A few Idaho Mormons settled in Star Valley in the 1870s, and many more arrived in the 1880s. Star Valley has a large Mormon population as a result of this colonization. There were Mormon colonists in the Big Horn Basin by 1895, but the main body of Latter-day Saint settlers came there as an organized group from Utah and Idaho in 1900. All ward/branch and mission records are on microfilm at the FHL.
An inventory of many Presbyterian congregations was undertaken by the WPA in 1936, entitled “Inventory of the Church Archives in Wyoming: Presbyterian Churches.” This valuable collection, on file at the Wyoming State Archives, was photocopied and indexed by the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This inventory, although very incomplete, is valuable. It consists of nineteen out of the forty-two congregations associated with the Presbyterian Church in the United States and one congregation affiliated with the United Presbyterian Church of North America. These inventories were in the form of questionnaires asking what record sources were available and what years were covered. Histories of each congregation are included in this collection, which has been indexed and microfilmed and is at the FHL.
The Catholic faith came to Wyoming through the migration of many Irish immigrant laborers. The Irish impact on Wyoming Catholicism is reflected in the fact that three out of the first four bishops of the Diocese of Cheyenne were from Ireland. The Diocese of Cheyenne was formed in 1887 and covers the entire state of Wyoming and Yellowstone Park. Requests concerning their record collection should be directed to the Diocese of Cheyenne, 2105 Capitol Ave., Cheyenne, WY 82001. The diocesan cemetery is Olivet Cemetery in Cheyenne.
The Greek Orthodox churches in Cheyenne and Rock Springs were the only two in the state until 1964. Orthodox members from many Eastern European countries became part of the Rock Springs Church.
There are records of Methodists in Wyoming before the area was organized into Wyoming Territory. A church was built in Laramie in 1867 and Cheyenne in 1870. African-American members withdrew from the Cheyenne Church in 1875 to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church. For a detailed history of Methodism in Wyoming, see Doris Whithorn’s Bicentennial Tapestry of the Yellowstone Conference (Livingston, Mont.: The Livingston Enterprise, 1984).
Wyoming has had a small Jewish community since territorial days, and Cheyenne and Rock Springs both have Jewish communities.