Coffeen's Influence Still Felt

The new Coffeen Elementary School nears completion. (Photo by Pat Blair)
The new Coffeen Elementary School nears completion. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Besides the school on Sheridan Avenue, a street and a park here in Sheridan bear the name of Henry Asa Coffeen.

The Ohio native came first to Big Horn in 1884, where he ranched and operated a mercantile store. He has been credited also with planning Big Horn's first cemetery and starting a sawmill.

Coffeen also organized the first fairgrounds in the Wyoming territory, and the first fair, serving as both president and superintendent of the 1885 Johnson County Fair, held in Big Horn.

He came to the city of Sheridan in 1887. His property here included the land on Main Street where the WYO Theater is today. He paid $100 for the site, which became the location for the store that he dismantled in Big Horn and reassembled in Sheridan.

He served Sheridan for one year as mayor, in 1888, and helped establish the first church here. In 1889, he was a delegate to Wyoming's Constitutional Convention where, in addition to joining proponents for statehood, he pushed for women's suffrage, helping Wyoming earn its nickname, the “Equality State,” by being the first state to acknowledge the right of women to vote.

He represented Wyoming in Congress from 1893 to 1895, and is credited with introducing the concept of reclamation. He served on the University of Wyoming board of trustees from 1908 until 1911, the year before his death. He was a Mason, a Shriner, a Knight Templar, a student of Bible history.

After his death, the man who bought his ranch renamed it the Circle M. The ranch was later acquired by W.H. Harrison, a grandson of President William Henry Harrison.

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