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Stephen Wheeler Downey
|Member of the Wyoming House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Wyoming Territory's at-large district
March 4, 1879 – March 3, 1881
|Preceded by||William Wellington Corlett|
|Succeeded by||Morton Everel Post|
|Wyoming Territory Auditor|
|Wyoming Territory Treasurer|
|Born||July 25, 1839|
|Died||August 3, 1902 (aged 63)|
Albany County, Wyoming
|Spouse(s)||Evangeline Victoria Owen (1853–1937)|
|Children||10 (including Sheridan Downey and Dr. June Etta Downey|
|Branch/service|| United States Army|
|Years of service||1861-1863|
|Unit||3rd Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade|
Stephen Wheeler Downey (July 25, 1839 – August 3, 1902) was a lawyer and politician in Wyoming. A Union Army veteran of the American Civil War, he was an early white settler of Wyoming, and served as its Treasurer, Auditor, and Delegate to Congress. After statehood, Downey continued to serve in local and state office, including Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives.
Downey was a founder of the University of Wyoming, and the longtime president of its board of trustees.
Downey was born in Westernport, Maryland on July 25, 1839. He was educated locally in preparation for a career as a lawyer, and then began to study law.
Civil War service
In 1861, Downey interrupted his studies and enlisted as a private in the 3rd Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade. He later received a commission and advanced through the ranks to lieutenant colonel as second in command of the regiment. He was discharged after the Battle of Harpers Ferry due to wounds he sustained in the fighting, and was promoted to colonel at his discharge.
After leaving the Army, Downey completed his law studies; he was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C. in 1863.
Move to Wyoming
In 1869, he moved to the Territory of Wyoming and established a law practice 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 to 1875, and as auditor of the territory from 1877 to 1879.
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 to 1897 he was a board of trustees member, and he was the longtime president of the board.
Death and burial
Downey died in Denver, Colorado on August 14, 1902. He was buried in the Greenhill Cemetery in Laramie.
He married Evangeline Victoria Owen (1853–1937) in Laramie, Wyoming in 1872 and they had ten children. His son, Sheridan Downey (1884–1961) became a lawyer and United States Senator from California. His daughter, Dr. June Etta Downey (1875–1932) 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.
- Stephen Wheeler Downey at Find a Grave
- Bureau of Land Management Wyoming Cadastral Survey: Stephen W. Downey. Retrieved May 28, 2006.
United States Congress. "DOWNEY, Stephen Wheeler (id: D000470)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. - From the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Thompson, Saban (2004). "Wyoming Photo History: Colonel Stephen Wheeler Downey". Retrieved May 28, 2006. - Includes a photo of Stephen Wheeler Downey.
- Antietam on the Web: Lieutenant Colonel Stephen W. Downey - Provides more details on his service during the Civil War.
- Civil War Archive, Union Regimental Histories: Maryland 3rd Regiment Potomac Home Brigade Infantry - Provides more details about the regiment Downey served in during the Civil War.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
William Wellington Corlett
| Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wyoming Territory's at-large congressional district
March 4, 1879 – March 3, 1881
Morton Everel Post