Monday, February 24, 2020

NAMING WYOMING by Marisa Masterson

My next book, The Teacher's Star, is set in Belle, Wyoming. That started me wondering why that state got that name. Where did the word Wyoming originate? 

To understand, we have to look at a piece of Pennsylvania history.

Wait one minute! How does Pennsylvania enter into the naming of a western state?

The year was 1778. The British had recently lost the Battle of Saratoga. The Seneca, Iroquois, and Mohawk nations, however, remained allies of Britain. John Butler recruited members of the Seneca and Iroquoise for guerilla-style attacks against colonists.

Patriot defenders massed to try to hold of the attackers. When the patriots were defeated, many started to run away. Rather than take prisoners, the native peoples and the loyalists slaughtered everyone they caught, amounting to about 300. Colonel Butler claimed that 277 scalps were taken during the attack.
It’s a brave tale from the American Revolution. But what does it have to do with Wyoming?
The spot where these colonists were butchered was the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

Later, Thomas Campbell wrote a poem titled Gertrude of Wyoming.  The poem's popularity led to the name of the western state. 
The poem begins with these lines:

On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming!

Although the wild-flower on thy ruin'd wall,
And roofless homes, a sad remembrance bring,
Of what thy gentle people did befall;
Yet thou wert once the loveliest land of all
That see the Atlantic wave their morn restore.
Sweet land! may I thy lost delights recall,
And paint thy Gertrude in her bowers of yore,
Whose beauty was the love of Pennsylvania's shore!

Rustlers and a mystified marshal. A treasure map and a missing child. Why does nothing make sense to this smart school teacher?
Forced into the role of a U. S. marshal, Delia Perkins keeps that a secret and goes on with her life as a teacher in the small town of Belle, Wyoming. After all, she's only a courier. While waiting for her contact, she's drawn to the man she's sure is a part of a gang of rustlers.
Roland Anderson juggles training both his horses and his daughter. The bad thing is that the horses are better behaved than his little girl. He has a job to do, but the new teacher is on his thoughts much too often.
Will Delia Perkins give him away before he can find and arrest the leader of the gang of thieves?
When the two are forced into a sudden marriage, will Roland be able to catch the thieves without losing either his wife or his daughter?

This is one Valentine's Day that neither Delia nor Roland will soon forget.


  1. This bit of history was fascinating, Marissa. Who would have suspected the two states were connected in that way?

  2. Wyoming is such a beautiful state with its mountains and grasslands and blue sky, a perfect setting for a western historical romance. No wonder it derived its name from a poem. It's sad to think of all the men killed in that battle, even after the surrender.


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