This scene shows the town of Manville in its infancy. The photo was taken about 1918 and was shot looking west.
Last updated: November 15, 2017
Niobrara Historical Brevity
July 1, 1986
From "Niobrara Historical Brevity" published by the
Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986
Manville is located at the junction of Highways 20 and 270 --- 9 miles west of Lusk, Wyoming.
H. S. Manville of Milwaukee, Wis. migrated to the Territory of Wyoming in 1879. He became partners with James Peck in a cattle ranch seven miles west of the Hat Creek Stage Station. In 1880 Manville was named manager for the Converse Cattle Company. He hired Addison A. Spaugh as ranch foreman.
When the railroad came in 1886, a new town was born. Addison Spaugh was asked to name the town and he named it after his good friend and business associate.
Hiram S. Manville was also influential in the early development of the community. Manville passed away at Oakdale, Nebr. on December 14, 1911.
Oscar Selden filed the original town plat in October 1886. He paid to have the land surveyed and platted by Henry Chase. Selden purchased this land, subdivided the site into lots, streets and alleys and offered the lots for sale. He would give anyone a lot if they would build a house of value on it. He was killed by a shot fired through the window of his home. The killer was never apprehended.
Almost all of the original houses in Manville were of rock and some of those landmarks are still standing.
Manville has been situated in Laramie County, Converse Co. and Niobrara County. The first mayor was J. F. Christensen. At the height of Manville's prosperity, the population grew to 1500 people. Oil had been discovered at Lance Creek and several oil companies had their headquarters in Manville as well as their warehouses. The town boasted two lumberyards, a realty office, insurance business, two banks, post office, variety store, telephone office, four hotels, elevator, hardware store, bakery, furniture store, mercantile, meat company, candy store, a shop that did general repairing, plumbing and tinning, several barber shops, numerous saloons, several cafes, a town hall, three newspapers, physician, surgeon, drug store, attorney at law, two garages, billiard hall, dance hall, theatre, baseball diamond, Masonic Lodge, Eastern Star, Royal Neighbors Lodge, grade and high schools and at one time there were about 100 pupils in the grade school. Later the schools were closed and the pupils were bused to Lusk. There was also a cheese factory, livery barn, sawmill, blacksmith shop, dentist, jewelry store and watch repair shop.
Manville's first post office was allotted in 1887 with John A. Shaeffer as postmaster.
Early day volunteer firemen were summoned by the tolling of a bell hung on Main Street. A hand-drawn cart carried limited equipment and courageous fire fighters did their best to control the blazes.
Part of the J. A. Manorgan homestead became the Bell View Cemetery. In it rest many of the early day pioneers.
When the Lance Creek Oil boom came to an end, Manville began to dwindle. There is still a post office, Community Church, mayor and town council and a population of 94 people.
In the late eighteen hundreds a tornado ripped thru Manville wrecking many buildings. Shaeffer's hall and opera house were completely destroyed and the post office and Manorgan & Company's general store were badly damaged.
The Lusk Herald
July 9, 1986
Manville proclaimed 1920's 'best home town'
by Irving Goff McCann, President of Manville Commercial Club...About 1920
Manville is a town of about 1000 inhabitants. It is the headquarters for three of the largest oil companies in the United States, the Ohio, the Texas and the Union. The Midwest is moving its headquarters here in the near future.
Manville is the best home town in Eastern Wyoming. Its residences are well built and not of the boom order. Its social life is high class. Toughs and immoral people are not countenanced. For more than a year the city administration, backed by public sentiment in Manville, has not allowed the riff-raff of society to settle in Manville. Time and again influences have been brought to play by the vultures of society to make their lodgment in Manville on the ground that Manville was a boom town, and the evil as well as the good had to be provided for. To these people, the Mayor and the City Council have answered that Manville was not building in that manner and did not desire their presence.
On the other hand, every effort has been made to advance every worth cause. Manville has a new public school building which a town of 10,000 people could consider an asset and an ornament. The Protestant life of the community worships in one church and the entire community has co-operated with the Catholic Church in erecting a place of worship for that organization. The business life of Manville is united to a man in the upbuilding of the community as a whole. The co-operative spirit of the business men of Manville could not be surpassed by any town. The Commercial Club is thoroughly organized and harmonious. Last year the businessmen of Manville expended for the community good the sum of $18,000.
Has two banks
Manville has two banks. They will, and they have, gone the limit with every individual and every proposition that is honorable and worthy. From an agricultural point of view, Manville is surrounded with splendid farms and ranches. There is no question that the finest farm land in eastern Wyoming lies adjacent to this town. Opportunities are here in this line which the Easterner could not believe. The finest farm land can be purchased from $25 to $35 per acre adjacent to our town. When farm land in the East is selling for $200 to $500 per acre, no better investment could be made by men who are adapted through training for intensive farming. No doubt land will increase in value in the next five years. Several times in the day of the rancher has passed in this community, and the opportunity is ripe for the small farmer.
Manville has a fine climate and splendid water. An electric plant will be operating as soon as engines arrive. Our town has unlimited possibilities for growth and an ideal location for a city. No town in the United States has more to offer capital at present than Manville, Wyoming. Real estate values and living expenses are reasonable.
God made Manville what it is. He put Lance Creek oil field at our front door. We are sitting on top of the world and invite you to sit beside us. If you are a man or a woman with business or professional talent or capital that you desire to invest, Manville offers you the biggest opportunity, the finest co-operation, and the heartiest welcome that can be found in the United States.
Is mentally alert
In 1898 Manville was mentally alert. Their literary society debated that "Resolved, a woman is more adapted for home duties than for business pursuits." In June they dedicated their new Congregational church. They ordered $45 worth of fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. They also had a band and listened to an orator. In December, the Hitshew Brothers blacksmith shop and all of its contests burned.
The Lusk Herald
July 9, 1986
Sheldon murder in Manville apparently still unsolved
Did you know that Manville had an unsolved murder in its history? It is an old tale. Mr. Shaffer and Mr. Sheldon were in partnership. They sold lots on the townsite of Manville. They were both prominent men of the town. Both of the men had families.
It was a dark night with no moon. Mr. Sheldon was seated in his home with his family at the supper table. The table was in front of the window. A shot rang out and Mr. Sheldon fell dead. The murder as never solved, for there was no evidence of who did the shooting.
Mr. Sheldon was the first man to be buried in the Manville cemetery. It has often been said, "Wyoming is so healthy they had to kill a man to start a cemetery."
The Lusk Herald
July 9, 1986
Manville hosted Converse County Fair in October 1891
Converse County Fair was held in Manville in October, 1891. A.A. Spaugh was secretary of the fair association. Accommodations, tents, were furnished for all who attended, without charge. Liberal premiums were given on stock, farm products, fruit, vegetables and flowers. A $2 prize was given for the best two loaves of bread. "The race track was a daisy," with races of all kinds. A feature was a wolf race. A wolf was turned loose and a pack of hounds stationed nearby. The wolf stood off the hounds and killed one of them. The fair was again held in Manville in 1898, with more racing and fewer premiums.
The first Niobrara County Fair was held in September 1913. The Niobrara County Fair and Racing Association was organized in August. A. P. Stewart was president; J.E. Hawthorne, secretary; finance committee, H.C. Snyder, M.D. Barnes and G.D. Cureton; agriculture, H.L. Koontz, W.K. Daniels, M.J. McCormick, A.A. Spaugh and S.E. Snyder; arts and crafts, Miss Bruch, Mrs. M.C. Agnew and Miss Hattie Federle; sports and races, M.C. Agnew, Chas. McGinnis, Harry Rogers, A.H. Faust and George L. Willson; entertainment, Ed Arnold, Miss Florence Miller and Mrs. Ed C. Daley; publicity, J.H. Slater and G.C. Forsythe.
Premiums were made on the usual exhibits. Bronco busting, all types of foot and horse races, two ball games and a big dance made the first fair a gala occasion. The vacant space between the Masonic Temple and the IOOF Hall in Lusk was temporarily roofed over for the agricultural exhibits. Livestock was kept in the livery barn back of the Northwestern Hotel. People of Lusk accommodated visitors in their homes. Many brought their own tents: The hotels were "chock full."
Niobrara county had the best booth at the State Fair in 1920.
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