Tag Archives: Sheidan

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Wife: Mattie Worley

Mattie Worley (1855-1923)

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?)

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. (It is interesting that one of the commenters below says that the story was that Mattie was very ill and traveled a lot.)

Sometime between 1912, when she is listed in the city directory and 1919, Mattie apparently stopped living with Tom. 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 newspapers.com)
  • From Ancestry.com:
    • 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.