Thomas Albert Stout, 1855-1926
Young Tom Stout was restless. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but his plans did not include more school, and now free of his father, his dreams did not include working on the Ohio family farm, either.
Thomas Albert Stout was the fifth son of Emeline Cochran Stout and Isaiah Stout–the third living son when he was born on the Stout farm in Guernsey County, Ohio. He was ten years younger than my great-grandfather, William Cochran Stout and five years younger than the 2nd living son, George Stout. He had one older sister and would have three younger siblings who survived infancy.
In 1872, when Tom was 17, his father Isaiah Stout died and was buried in the family graveyard on their farm. Tom’s brothers seemed focused on goals. His younger brother, Frank (John Franklin) wasn’t sure where he was heading, but he knew it involved more education after high school (or common school as they called it.) The oldest brother, Will, had graduated from medical school and George was attending medical school in Cincinnati and preparing to come back to Guernsey County to practice.
That left Tom to run the farm, which to this ambitious teenager must have sounded like a big bore.
Young men of his time were following Horace Greeley’s advice from 1865 to “Go West Young Men.” And coming from pioneer stock that had migrated either from Scotland to Ireland or from England to Holland and then to the Eastern United States and west to Ohio, he decided to keep the westward movement going. Tom took a train as far west as he could go– Colorado –where he got a job working in freighting. The first rail line reached Denver in 1870, but since it did not cross the Rockies, there was still plenty of freight going by mule and wagon.
After a year in Denver, Tom moved on to Idaho, “involved in railroading” according to the History of Wyoming, Vol. 3 (1918).
I would love to know what Tom did for the railroad. It was very early days for railroads in Idaho which was still a pretty wild place. At any rate, he heard about homesteads available in Wyoming. The railroad was headed that way, and with it would come growth. The Indian wars seemed to have been settled and the state was bursting with opportunity.
In the early 1880’s, he moved on to the town then called Mandell (population 281). After the railroad arrived and the town changed its name to Sheridan, it grew faster than prairie grass in a rainy spring. By 1900 nearly 10,000 people called Sheridan home.
Tom staked out a claim just a bit south of Sheridan and spent a couple of years building the first irrigation ditches in the town. By the Spring of 1884, two years after the railroad arrived, he became a landowner, farming and raising cattle on his own land. It seems he was working too hard to take time for a social life but around 1887, when he was 32, he met a young lady whose family had recently moved to Wyoming from Kansas. They were married in Johnson County, Wyoming, just before Johnson County was split and Sheridan County created in 1888. His bride, Minnie Vance, was only 18.
Wasting no time, the couple had a son, Frank Perry Stout, in 1888 and a second son, Harry Oscar Stout was born the following year (Minnie had brothers named Perry and Oscar). Wanting to ensure that his children would have good educations, Tom moved his family into Sheridan while continuing to run his ranch. There he bought (or more probably built) a house right in the center of town–behind the courthouse.
Tom, or T.A. as he was known in Wyoming, kept building his empire until it stretched over 7000 acres. And although the musical Oklahoma says “The cowman and the sheepman can’t be friends”, Tom was both, switching over from cattle to sheep about 1903.
In 1905, Emeline Stout, Tom’s mother, died in Ohio and the four Stout brothers gathered for the funeral. They had a portrait made -the sons of an uneducated farmer who had all achieved respect in their communities through professional accomplishments–two doctors still in Ohio and a lawyer and a prosperous rancher who had gone West.
He was to marry again and have another son, but that is another story…
That Wyoming history book, in the flowery language common to those early 20th century history/biography books, said in 1918, that Thomas A. Stout recently retired with an income that “not only supplies him with all the necessities but also with many of its luxuries.”
[revised 4/11]Tom Stout died in Wyoming in 1926. Thanks to that Wyoming history, I have a sketch of Thomas Albert Stout. Well, okay, it is a bit flowery, and every person described in the book seems to be a paragon of virtue, but here’s Tom/T.A.
After telling us that he is a member of the Methodist Church, Lodge 520 BPOE, and the Sheridan Commerce Club, and that he “votes with the Republican Party and strongly endorses its principles,”, the history closes with a description.
“(Mr. Stout) stands for those things which are most worthwhile in community life and is actuated by a spirit of progress and advancement in all things that he undertakes whether for the upbuilding of his own fortunes or the advancement of community interests.”
Not bad for a mixed-up teen from Guernsey County, Ohio.
Vera Marie Badertscher
Daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser
Daughter of Vera Stout Anderson
Niece of Thomas Albert Stout
- History of Wyoming, Vol. 3 (1918), edited by Ichabod Sargent Bartlett, pg. 245-6. Available on Google Books.
- Family photographs with inscriptions, in the possession of the author.
- BLM land transaction records for Wyoming.
- From Ancestry.com:
- Marriage License application for Thomas Stout and Minnie Vance, 1887
- Sheridan Wyoming Census for 1900, 1910 and 1920.
- Sheridan City Directories, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1916,1919, 1920, 1927 and 1933.
- Sheridan Municipal Cemetery Records available at Find a Grave.
This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.