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Stephen Wheeler Downey: Wikis


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Stephen Wheeler Downey (July 25, 1839, Westernport, Maryland – August 3, 1902, Albany County, Wyoming) was a lawyer and politician in Wyoming.

In 1861, Stephen Downey enlisted as a private in the 3rd Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade, and successfully promoted to first lieutenant, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. He was discharged after the Battle of Harpers Ferry due to wounds he sustained in the fighting. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C., in 1863.

In 1869, he moved to the Territory of Wyoming and practiced law in Laramie. He served as the prosecuting attorney of Albany County, Wyoming, in 1869 and 1870. He also opened a survey office in Laramie and was assigned to six government survey contracts between 1870 and 1873. He was elected as a member of the Wyoming Territorial council in 1871, 1875, and 1877, as treasurer of the territory from 1872-1875, and as auditor of the territory from 1877-1879.

He was elected as a Republican delegate to the United States Congress from Wyoming Territory and served from 1879-1881. He was elected as a member of the territorial house of representatives in 1886 and 1890, was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1889, and was a member of the state house of representatives in 1893 and 1895, serving as Speaker of the house in 1895.

In 1886, Downey sponsored the bill that created the University of Wyoming and became known as "The Father of the University of Wyoming." From 1891-1897, he was a trustee and President of the university.

He married Evangeline Victoria Owen (1853-1937) in Laramie, Wyoming in 1872 and they had ten children. His son, Sheridan Downey (born in 1884) became a lawyer and United States Senator from California.

From 1899 until his death on August 3, 1902, aged 63, he served as the prosecuting attorney for Albany County.

His daughter, June Etta Downey (1875 - 19??) became a prominent psychologist, and a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of Wyoming.

The Downey Family Papers (1866-1997) are located at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center Archives.


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