The Saratoga Sun -

Looking back to the Lyre

 

Joshua Wood

From left, on May 30 William Griffin Toole, William James Toole and William Timothy Toole stand in front of the former home of the Platte Valley Lyre, now home to Studio T Art Gallery.

On July 10, 1890 Gertrude Huntington became the first woman editor in the state of Wyoming shortly after she and her sister, Laura Huntington, had purchased the Platte Valley Lyre. Nearly 130 years after purchasing the paper, the Huntington Sisters' great-nephew, Dr. William James Toole, D.D. (Doctor of Divinity) stood in front of the former home of the Lyre, now Studio T, with his son and grandson for a photo.

During their visit to the Valley, the Toole family stayed in the recently renamed "Joe Pickett Room" at the Hotel Wolf before coming to the Saratoga Sun office on May 30. Dr. Toole, along with his son, William Timothy Toole, and grandson, William Griffin Toole, were excited to be able to see that the former home of their ancestors' paper was still standing.

The Huntington Sisters had moved to the Upper North Platte River Valley with their father, Reverend Roswell Elbridge Gerry Huntington, D.D., in 1886. Rev. Huntington moved to Carbon County to serve as Rawlins' second Episcopal minister. He would also ride horseback to Saratoga to preach to the small, yet growing, congregation.

In her book "Tough Country," Gay Day Alcorn wrote "A graduate of Cambridge University at Cambridge, England, Huntington had been engaged in Western missionary work since 1876. He was sent into Rawlins to build up the St. Thomas Church and later to Saratoga to the harder task of organizing the new Episcopal Church of Heavenly Rest."

The Church of Heavenly Rest kept its name until the turn of the 20th century when it was renamed St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.

Photo from the Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection. Photo courtesy of Historical Reproductions by Perue.

Saratoga's first newspaper was the Platte Valley Lyre established in 1888. Shown in this 1894 photo is the Lyre office on Bridge Street in downtown Saratoga. Pictured are, from left, Miss Laura Huntington, business manager, and Miss Gertrude M. Huntington, publisher.

In an article on wyohistory.org entitled "The 'Lyre Girls:' First Women Newspaper Owners in Wyoming," assistant editor of the website Lori Van Pelt wrote that G. Huntington and L. Huntington were just 24 and 22, respectively, when they began operation of the Lyre. According to Van Pelt, the sisters set the type for the four-page paper by hand on their own.

At one time, the Platte Valley Lyre served as competition for the Saratoga Sun, which was owned at the time by John F. Crawford. In "Tough Country," Alcorn wrote that subscribers took both papers to see what hotly contested issues Crawford and G. Huntington would argue over in their editorials.

In an editorial for the Feb. 27, 1896 edition of the Lyre, G. Huntington wrote "The Cheyenne Tribune is giving Senators Warren and Clark a little rest this week while it attempts to roast Congressman Mondell. It keeps the Tribby hustling to take care of Wyoming's able congressional delegation, and it is labor lost, since nobody pays any attention to such coyote-like howls."

According to Van Pelt, in her article, one of the other Huntington sisters, Roberta Huntington, would marry Reverend William Toole and settle in the Little Snake River Valley. Reverend Toole being Dr. Toole's grandfather.

 

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