Obituary Details

James E. Mayes

(11/01/1864 - 06/08/1933)
Courtesy of Lusk Free Lance, 06/08/1933



James E. Mayes of this city, a pioneer, newspaper publisher, business man, political leader, and one of Wyoming's most prominent citizens, passed away at the Manring Convalescent home here at 4:00 o'clock this afternoon, succumbing to an internal hemorrhage. Mr. Mayes' death came as a severe shock to a host of friends - the accumulation of almost a half century, and which includes many of state and national prominence. Deceased was 68 years, 7 months and 7 days of age.

Mr. Mayes had been in failing health for several years, and during the winter contracted lumbago, from which he suffered spasmodically up until the time of passing. According to friends, he had been noticeably worse the past two days, and early this (Thursday) morning is believed to have had the first internal hemorrhage. He had eaten breakfast at a local restaurant and was returning to his home on Main Street when his strength gave out before he reached his quarters. Several assisted him and he was placed in a car and taken to the Manring home by Dr. W. E. Reckling, where an examination found his condition to be serious.

His daughters, Mrs. Orian F. Hamblin of Rushville, Nebr., Mrs. Ione A. Shidler of Midwest, Wyo. and Miss Julia, of Casper were sent for, the former reaching here shortly before her father passed away. Apparently there was little if any suffering during the brief period before death.

Funeral services will be held at the Congregational church Sunday afternoon, June 11th, at 2 o'clock. Arrangements are in charge of George Earl Peet of the Peet mortuary. Interment will be in the Lusk cemetery.

Had Colorful Career

With the death of Mr. Mayes, one of the most colorful careers of the west comes to a close. Few persons have attained the prominence reached by this man, whose residence here covered a period of about 46 years.

Mr. Mayes was a son of Lewis and Catherine (Jones) Mayes, and was born in Paynesville, Pike county, Missouri on November 1, 1864. He was one of fourteen children born to this union. The family made several removals, taking them to Pennsylvania and Nebraska, where the mother passed away in 1885. The father passed away in Greeley, Colo., in 1910.

Mr. Mayes received his education in the public schools of Missouri and Nebraska, and gathered a material knowledge of affairs between the hours of labor from day to day in his early years. At an early age he became a printer apprentice, which profession he later followed in a prominent manner. In 1885 he began his career as a newspaper man in the office of the Northwest News, at Ainsworth, Nebr, serving there as "devil" and completing his apprenticeship.

In 1887 he came to Lusk, and joined the staff of the Lusk Herald within a year after it had been established by J. W. Calkins. He later purchased that paper and edited and published it for 22 years. His brilliance, wit, and common-sense, as displayed in his writings, made for him the reputation of being one of the West's leading publishers. Being a staunch Democrat, he carried the banner of the Democratic party in his columns and later became one of the leading members of his party in this state.

In 1908 Mr. Mayes was elected to the state legislature, and a year later disposed of his newspaper. He then entered the merchandising business and continued in this endeavor for the eight years following the sale of the Herald. In 1916 he was elected to the state senate, serving one term in this capacity.

He was chosen as a delegate to the Democratic national convention n Baltimore in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson was nominated for the Presidency, and later took an active part in electing the man he had helped to nominate.

Mr. Mayes also served as mayor of this city, his first term, more than twenty years ago, and his latest being during the years of the oil boom. In each of the public offices to which he was chosen, as in the case of private enterprises, Mr. Mayes served faithfully and well. He also owned and operated a real estate business during the boom.

In 1922 Mr. Mayes felt the call of the newspaper game again and purchased the Van Tassell Booster. After publishing several issues at Van Tassell, where the paper was located, he removed the plant to this city, where he edited and published it under the masthead "The Lusk Free Lance and Van Tassell Booster." The latter part of the title was later dropped. In this enterprise he was assisted by John H. Slater, warm personal friend and former publisher. Together, they made the Free Lance a newspaper of the true Mayes type - fearless and aggressive in its publication, but a newsy sheet any time. The well-known Mayes' wit continued to show itself in the columns.

In 1930, when Mr. Mayes' health began to fail, he disposed of the Free Lance to its present owners, and has since that time lived in retirement from practically all public activity.

Mr. Mayes was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Hancock, a daughter of Rev. Joseph J. Hancock, in 1892. To this union five children were born, three daughters, Mrs. Orian F. Hamblin, Mrs. H. M. Shidler and Miss Julia surviving. One daughter and a son, preceded the father in death.

With the career of Mr. Mayes at its end; with the multitude of friends we know him to have had; and for the part he has played in the march of progress in this state and in this community, we can say sincerely and unanimously: "One of our best citizens and friends is gone."

Lusk Free Lance
June 15, 1933
Hundreds of Friends Attend Funeral Services for James E. Mayes Sunday Afternoon

Hundreds of friends, many of them long-time residents here, and others of more recent years, were in attendance Sunday afternoon, at the final services held for the late James E. Mayes, pioneer resident of this city, who passed away Thursday, June 8, at the Manring Convalescent home. The services were held from the Congregational church, Rev. Edwin F. Irwin, pastor, officiating.

The church was filled to capacity, many were compelled to stand and others were unable to get inside, as the life of Mr. Mayes, who had been prominent in newspaper, business and political circles was reviewed with great credit to him. His pioneering here and the many things he had done to aid the progress of the community and state were paid a high tribute in the service. The high esteem in which Mr. Mayes was held was attested by the attendance of men and women from miles distant, and often during the ceremony tears came to the eyes of those whose friendship was a part of his life.

A mixed quartet composed of Mr. H. J. Templeton, Mrs. Abdon DeCastro, R. A. Faulk and Ford B. Kuns, sang three beautiful selections: "The Old Rugged Cross", "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" and "Rock of Ages."

The pall bearers included all old-time friends of Mr. Mayes, and were Ral Callins of Douglas, Jurgden Lorenzen, Ed. M. Arnold, Henry Petz, Lawrence Johnson, Will Hassed, Elmer Meyers and John Harkin.

The remains were taken to the Lusk cemetery, where, amid the host of friends and relatives, the remains were lowered to their last resting place. A brief service was conducted at the grave. Funeral direction was in charge of George Earl Peet of the Peet Mortuary.

A complete obituary of the life of Mr. Mayes will be found on another page of this issue.

James E. Mayes

James E. Mayes was born on November 1, 1864, in Paynesville, Pike County, Missouri, a son and one of 14 children of Lewis and Catherine (Jones) Mayes. He passed away in this city, Thursday, June 8th, 1933, at the age of 68 years, 7 months and 7 days, death being caused by an internal hemorrhage.

In the passing of Mr. Mayes, we view the end of a career of wide scope - built up solely through the efforts of the individual - one which began in the meager way of pioneer time and which was later crowned with the rewards of industrious, tireless and conscientious endeavor.

Beginning with life on a farm in Missouri, Mr. Mayes received his education in the public schools of that State and also in Nebraska, into which state the family finally located after moving about the country for some years. At an early age, Mr. Mayes entered the employ of a printing office. It was at Ainsworth, Nebraska in 1885 where he began as a printer's scholar, completing his apprenticeship two years later. This work was his chosen profession as the history of his life reveals, for he spent more than half of his years in newspaper work.

In 1886 he came to Lusk when the inhabitants here numbered less than 125, and entered the employ of J. W. Calkins as typesetter on the Lusk Herald. A year later he purchased the paper and became Editor and Publisher. In this capacity he covered a period of 22 years, and being a staunch Democrat, his paper promoted the doctrines of that party. Not only was his paper known for its political influence, but the writings throughout were widely read, because of the fearlessness, common-sense and brilliance - and the wit which always found a place in Mr. Mayes' publications.

During his ownership of the Herald, Mr. Mayes became interested in local politics and was elected for a term as Mayor of the town. This was the beginning of his political career, which became an important part of his life and that of the community.

In 1908 he was elected to the Wyoming State legislature, and the following year he disposed of his newspaper interests to George C. Forsythe. He then entered the merchandising business and for almost 10 years operated one of Lusk's leading stores.

His fine service to the county as representative brought him additional political honors in 1916, when he was chosen as Senator from this county. He served one term in this office. In 1912 he was selected as delegate to the national Democratic Convention at Baltimore, which nominated Woodrow Wilson, and upon his return from that important gathering he actively participated in the campaign in behalf of the man who was to become President. He was elected Mayor of Lusk for the second time in 1918 and served another noteworthy administration.

In 1913 Mr. Mayes, seeing the opportunity for development and expansion of the town, entered the real estate business, and among his landmarks is the Mayes Addition, much of which is now well settled. He followed this business for a number of years.

But in 1922, the call of the newspaper became too strong to resist, and Mr. Mayes purchased the Van Tassell Booster. After publishing several issues at Van Tassell, he moved the plant to this city and changed the title to The Lusk Free Lance and Van Tassell Booster, later dropping the latter part of the name. He was assisted in its publication by J. H. Slater, a friend of many years, and together they gave their readers many good issues.

Mr. Mayes continued to edit and publish The Free Lance until in 1930, when his health began to fail, and in the spring of that year sold his interests to Arthur F. Vogel, present Editor and Publisher. Since that time he had been inactive in public life.

Summed up briefly, the part Mr. Mayes played in the pioneering and upbuilding of this community and state is one which merits an appreciative recognition from those of us who carry one, and we are proud to have had him as one of our fellow citizens and friends.

In view of the many successes Mr. Mayes enjoyed, probably the most cherished was the large host of friends which came to be his during his long residence here. For years, he knew practically every person in the county and in the acquaintance of each it represented a bond of friendship which was continued undiminished throughout his life. In his death, those many friends gladly remembered him with only words of praise, affection and respect, for to have lost a true friend and neighbor cannot but bring sorrow to those who experience this loss.

Mr. Mayes was married to Miss Elizabeth Hancock, a daughter of Rev. Joseph J. Hancock, in 1892. This union was blessed with five children, three of whom survive and are Mrs. Orian F. Hamblin, of Rushville, Nebraska; Mrs. Ione M. Shidler, of Midwest, Wyoming; and Miss Julia, of Casper, Wyoming, a son, James Ravlin, died in infancy in 1909, and a daughter, Mrs. Autumn Harris passed away in 1918. Mr. Mayes is also survived by one sister and two brothers.

The Lusk Herald
June 7, 1973
40 Years Ago - June 8, 1933

James E. Mayes, old-time editor of the Herald and Wyoming Pioneer, passed away at the Manring Convalescent Home in Lusk, at 4:27 this (Thursday) afternoon, an internal hemorrhage being the immediate cause of death.

Images & Attachments

James E. Mayes Well-known newspaper man, political leader and business man
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

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