The Mysterious Case of the Missing Wife: Mattie Worley and Minnie Vance

Mattie Worley (1855-1923)

(Edit April 2023 )And one hundred years later, the mystery is partially solved by an obituary.

In my prior 52 Ancestors entry about Thomas Albert Stout, I said that Tom married Minnie Vance and they had two sons.  But she was only the first of his wives.

Uncle Tom Stout, husband of Mattie

Uncle Tom Stout, the rancher, Photo taken in MIles City, MT Circa 1885

Although the History of Wyoming bio of Tom does not mention Minnie’s death, she disappeared from the records and in 1891 Tom married Mattie Worley who twelve months later produced another son, (Tom’s third) William Clarence Stout.

New Information, September 2021: A listing of marriage license applications appears in the January 23, 1891 issue of the Eureka Herald and Greenwood Republican (Kansas) .  Thomas A Stout and Mattie Worley.

I knew there was a second wife because census records clearly show that Clarence’s mother is a different person than the mother of the other boys, based on place of birth. I guessed the name Worley because in the 1910 census there is a Irena Worley (sister) listed. That name is confirmed in a newspaper listing of marriage licenses from Kansas. And yet, the History of Wyoming published years after the wedding, totally ignores Mattie and says that Minnie and Tom had three sons. Now why would that be?)

(Note:  The obituary also says Mattie’s two sons, Frank and Harry, survived her.)

The Sheridan city directories for 1919 and 1921 and the 1920 census give hints as to why Mattie may not have been mentioned in the 1918 history book.

1919: T.A. Stout continues to live at his house behind the courthouse at 244 South Brooks. But although Mattie still has land holdings with the value listed, she does not appear in the alphabetical residential listing.

1920: The census for Sheridan, Wyoming lists T.A. Stout (64), rancher on a stock ranch with wife Mae Stout (63).  At first I thought this was just a name error, which census data is prone to, but then I noticed that this wife was born in Ohio, her father in Pennsylvania and her mother in Ohio–entirely different than Mattie.

1921: Mattie Stout (Along with John D. Stout and his wife Sadie, whose relationship I have not yet tracked down) live at 515 West Works in Sheridan.

[added information, 4/11/2014] The other possibility is a mental breakdown brought on by the tragic death of her son, Clarence. William Clarence Stout was killed in an automobile accident on a country road in 1919 at the age of 27. [April 2023. This theory disproved by the obituary information. She had neuritis, an inflammation of the nerves, and was being treated at Mayo Brothers’ Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.]

(It is interesting that one of the commenters below says that the story was that Mattie was very ill and traveled a lot.) April, 2023: This Family legend proves to be true. Surely her taking the train to Rochester MN looked like travel. The newspaper does not say how long she had been at the Mayo Clinic, but she may well have made repeat trips.

Sometime between 1912, when she is listed in the city directory and 1919, Mattie apparently stopped living with Tom. (April 2023: Because of her neuritis? Was life on the ranch too taxing?)And it looks like Tom married again–for the third time– when he was about 60.  Although Mattie must have moved away from Sheridan, she is still listed as a property owner in Sheridan County as late as 1933.

Tom’s hard work and resulting prosperity set a good example for his sons [See update below], who all three (two of Minnie’s and one of Mattie’s) went into ranching, We are told that Frank and Harry are well-known ranchers in Sheridan County in 1918, and William Clarence “is also a rancher.”  At 26 years old, Mattie’s son gets no respect. But looking through city directories for Sheridan (city and county) from the early twentieth century shows that the property and personal property value owned by each of the sons upholds that statement. The two older sons own more land than William Clarence. By 1918, when Tom is 63, he has retired from sheep ranching, while Harry and Frank carry on.

What happened to wife #1, Minnie? [I believe that question is answered by the comments–she died in or after childbirth] And what about the second wife? Was there some scandal so shocking that the official area history felt it prudent not to mention wife #2, Mattie?  And who is wife #3, Mae? Or is Mae a relative of Tom rather than a new wife? This is one of those mysteries that I probably will never solve alone.  What I need here is to hear from a long-lost cousin–a descendant of Frank, Harry or Clarence Stout. Hello?  Are you out there?

It is no wonder that the Wyoming history book gushed about T. A. Stout, this noble citizen. And perhaps why they found it prudent to avoid mentioning the wife who disappeared from his life.

My relationship:

  • Vera Marie Badertscher
  • is the daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser
  • who is the daughter of Vera May Stout Anderson
  • who is the daughter of William Cochran Stout
  • who is the brother of Thomas A. Stout
  • who is the husband of Mattie Worley Stout

Research Notes:

  • 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.
  • Eureka Herald and Greenwood County Republican, (Kansas), 23 Jan. 1891. Marriage license: Thomas A Stout and Mattie Worley. Greenwood County. (From
  • From
    • Kansas, County Marriage Records, 1811-1911. Marriage License application for Thomas Stout and Minnie Vance, 1887
    • Montana, County Marriage Records, 1865-1993. Marriage license for Frank P. Stout, child of Thomas Stout and Minnie Vance.
    • United States Census, 1860, Oxford, Guernsey, Ohio; 1870, Wills, Guernsey, Ohio; 1880, Wayne, LaPorte, Nebraska; 1900, 1910 and 1920, Sheridan, Wyoming .
    • Sheridan City Directories, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1916,1919, 1920, 1927 and 1933.
  • Sheridan Municipal Cemetery Records available at Find a Grave.
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6 thoughts on “The Mysterious Case of the Missing Wife: Mattie Worley and Minnie Vance

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 15 Recap

  2. Elisa Salazar

    Hello, Thomas Archibald Stout was my third great grandfather on my mother’s side. I have always been told that was his name although I see you have “Albert” instead. My mother and I have been trying to dig up the past and help me work on my tree at Unfortunately my grandparents have all passed and so I have to learn the few stories my mother was told, although my grandmother was always very certain when talking about the Stout family. She said T.A. acquired some of his land by being crafty at poker. He would go play sober while other men got inebriated and sweep up properties so to speak. I was also told his sons Frank and Harry also played poker (although not as wisely as their father) and traded land back and forth between eachother so often that it took quite some time to dig up court records to see which land or water rights really belonged to so and so because every weekend or so often they would trade land over and over to eachother. As far as Clarence, I was always told it was possible suicide but didn’t know much from that. It was made to seem the reasoning for Thomas’ swift remarriage to Mattie was because Minnie Vance died in 1889, Prarie Dog County Sheridan, Wyoming. Meaning Thomas as a full time rancher had two small children at the time, a 2yr old and newborn infant. It is possible Minnie died in childbirth or after. So I’m sure it’s safe to say he remarried quickly as a necessity to rear his children. I am trying to find more and will have to get with my mother to fact check but hopefully we will be able to help eachother. My great grandmother was one of Harry’s daughters.

  3. Elisa Salazar

    P.s. Also, adding more similar name confusion to the family, Frank and Harry married Mooney sisters. Lol. Harry named one of his sons Thomas “Albert” Stout known as Bert, presumedly after their father.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Elisa: Never apologize for lots of comments. I LOVE getting additional information and am thrilled that you and your mother are pursuing this. YES! we will share information, and I’ll e-mail you with some details that might bore other readers.
      The poker stories are terrific, and might explain why he didn’t seem to be in as close touch with his family back in Ohio as the other “boys.” The Stouts were a very religious bunch. I know his brother, my great-grandfather William C., would not have approved!
      I think I probably assumed that Thomas Albert Stout (Bert) was named after his grandfather, and also saw some other family trees with that name for T.A., but that is not proof. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a birth record for T. A.
      As to the mystery of Mattie disappearing–I’ll put more details in my e-mail to you, but just want to clarify that I wasn’t surprised at him marrying a second time, shortly after the birth of his second son. I was surpised that the Wyoming History only listed Minnie as a wife in 1918, even though he would have been married to Mattie for several years by then. AND he and Mattie were listed at separate addresses in the 1921 City Directory (two years before she died). That’s the mystery. And then there’s the 1920 Census with T.A. 64 years old living with a Mae Stout (63).
      Thank you so much for getting in touch.

  4. Elisa Salazar

    P.s.s. Lol, my apologies on so many messages. I spoke with my mother who said one of Frank’s daughters is still alive and in the process of trying to get ahold of her for more information. She knows WAY more. Also, we did realize it was indeed Thomas Albert when I realized his grandson was named after him. Not Archibold as I previously stated.

  5. Sahnte (Lonnie) Stout Evans

    Hello All
    I am the daughter of T. A. (Bert) Stout, granddaughter of
    Harry . My Great Grandmother was Minnie Vance who died
    a few weeks after giving birth to Harry. I grew up on the ranch on Prairie Dog and often walked or rode my horse up to visit her gravesite. It touched me that she was so young and left an infant and toddler. I also have always wondered why, if T. A. was so successful, and owned property in Sheridan proper as well as ranch land, he was not honoured as a city “father” by a street named after him or some recognition. Perhaps gambling had something to do with it. His sons Frank and Harry were very wild cowboys- and both died of alcoholism. I remember both of them well.
    I understand that T. A. came to Wyoming via Colorado and was a surveyor and teamster. He built up a large ranch and ran sheep on Prairie Dog and Dutch Creek. I have some information as I spent many hours in the Sheridan courthouse researching mineral rights and even have a copy of T. A. ‘s will. I never knew of a third wife- but know that Clarence had a daughter – Mildred? And I recall my Father, Bert, talking about an Aunt Mae who lived on Box Elder Creek. I will go through some papers.
    I do remember hearing that Mattie was very ill the last two years of her life and travelled for her health. I must also add that Elisa Salazar’s Great Grandmother, Florence, (one of four of Harry’s children) was my favourite Aunt – a strong beautiful woman. She was an important influence in my life and I miss her every day.


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