Philip Mandel passed his eighty-third milestone and then "the weary wheels of life at length stood still." As the day with its morning of hope and promise, its noontide of activity, its evening of successful and completed effort, ending in the quiet and rest of the night, so was the life of this good man, who was ever honored as the first settler in the Laramie valley and one of the oldest residents of the state.
He was born in Alsace, France, October 2, 1834, and there spent the first fifteen years of his life, after which he severed home ties and came to the new world. He was a youth of but twenty years when he arrived in Wyoming, taking up his abode in the Little Laramie valley, where he lived the life of a frontiersman "in the simple, peaceful way of men who have wrought long and well." A visitor to the beautiful city of Laramie, with its attractive homes, its substantial business houses, its well kept streets and evidences of a modern, progressive civilization cannot understand the conditions of the country into which Mr. Mandel came. Not a house marked the site of the capital city and the most far-sighter could not have dreamed of the changes which were soon to occur. He bravely faced every condition of pioneer life, met all of its hardships and privations and continued his work of converting a wild and undeveloped region into one of fertility, the abiding place of many happy, contented and prosperous people. After a time he went to the little village of Mandel, where he erected a stage station, and the log cabin that marked the station on the overland trail is still to be seen on the Lawrence ranch. "There he lived and conducted his affairs," writes the Laramie Republican, "meeting the pony express as it hurried across the country, giving a change of horses, the meal wished for and a word of cheer and a fond farewell as the driver of the pony express sped with his packages toward the setting sun. The Mandel stage station was known from ocean to ocean, and Mr. Mandel himself became a fixture in the landscape, always at the front door, always ready to bid the speeder good morning, always ready to lend a hand. In 1859 he was in Utah, fighting the Indians and helping to wrest the glowing west from the hand of the red man. He returned to Mandel, again took his place in the lonely cabin and filled his mission and fulfilled his destiny as it had been pointed out to him."
Mr. Mandel was married in Cheyenne. Wyoming, to Mrs. Alexander, a widow, whose maiden name was Jennie Louise Campbell, born in Norfolk, Virginia, and he and his wife established their humble home, and as the years passed two daughters came to them. Katherine married William Lasher and still resides in Laramie, her home being at No. 412 Grand avenue. She has two sons: Philip Mandel, born November 30, 1902: and Ronald, born July 6, 1904. Margaret, now Mrs. Charles Hopkins, is located in Los Angeles, California, and has a daughter, Norrine. At length the wife and mother passed away, the death angel calling her while she was in Mercy Hospital at Denver.
A few years prior to his death Mr. Mandel gave up the life of a ranchman and spent the latter years in the city, passing away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Lasher. He "was always cheerful, always contented, but never willing to say much about himself. I amount to so little that nobody will care.' he would say when asked to recount some of his experiences that they might be set down when the end came." This was the innate modesty of the man. He never felt that he had made much of a contribution to the world's work, but others recognized what he had done as the pioneer settler of this section of the state. We again quote from the local paper, which said: "Mr. Mandel, although confined to the house for most of the time recently, had not been seriously ill, and yesterday expressed the wish that he could go to his ranch home once again. He went to his room as usual yesterday, his daughter caring for his needs, and retired. This morning when she went to visit him, as is her wont the first thing after herself arising, she found him in the last sleep, death having come, presumably, about midnight, the old man passing from life to death with never a struggle or a pain–just the being gathered to his fathers like a babe on its mother's breast. It was a shock for the daughter, of course, but her heart swelled as she gazed upon the peaceful face of her father, a smile of content resting on the dear features, his hands lying idly, his heart having ceased its beating as a clock will stop its ticking. The end had come and the life went out like the falling of the leaves from the trees, like the dropping of the petals from the rose. It was the end of one of the most remarkable lives this valley has ever seen marking the passing of our really oldest oldtimer. * * * the passing of Philip Mandel marks the cutting down of the number of early comers who have made history momentously in this valley. He came when only the red man was a resident here and he lived to see the valley that was then a wilderness blossom as the rose–to see his lonely cabin of the pioneer days, set in the midst of solitude, now surrounded by prosperous ranches and enlivening scenes. N. K. Boswell and Edward Ivinson are here, R. E. Fitch and W. H. Holliday are left with us, and there be others that knew the land when it was new to all of them. It is with a feeling of sadness that we are to write 'finis' against the name of one of the first and one of the best known that made this the home of refinement, and happiness, and contentment, with no enemy of any man lurking behind the hill, ready to snuff out the life of those who have striven to reclaim the state."
He died October 22, 1917, at his residence in Laramie.