The life story of Michael Henry is a most interesting
one. An Indian fighter of renown, a soldier during the Civil war, a
pioneer ranchman in the Cheyenne River district of Wyoming, a bank
president, a promoter of oil development, he is well known throughout
Wyoming as the builder of industries and an active participant in the
development of the natural resources of the state. What he has
undertaken he has accomplished. Opportunity has ever been to him the
call to action—a call to which he has made immediate response.
He was born in New York city in December, 1832, and has therefore passed the eighty-fifth milestone on life's journey. His parents were Thomas and Mary Henry, both of whom passed away when he was quite young. He attended the military school of the regular army on Governors Island in New York harbor and was graduated there in June, 1855. After leaving that institution he came to the west and participated in the battle with the Sioux Indians at Ash Hollow, Nebraska, on the 5th of September, 1855. He remained in active military service on the western frontier until after the outbreak of the Civil war, when he became a field musician in the drum and fife corps, being known as the "bugler boy" of his regiment. He had had considerable experience both before and after this time along military lines. He went to Fort Laramie under General W. S. Harney and he participated in a battle with the Cheyenne Indians in June, 1857, under General Sumner. He afterward returned to Fort Laramie and he participated in the trouble that broke out with the Mormons at Salt Lake, doing military duty in that connection under General Albert Sidney Johnston. It was during the summer of 1855, when the command reached Fort Laramie, that Mr. Henry, although very young, was given the rank of sergeant. After the trouble with the Mormons at Salt Lake was settled he went" across the plains to California, and when the Civil war broke out Sergeant Henry was offered a captaincy but refused and served as first sergeant. He was in a number of the most severe engagements of the war, including the battle of Gettysburg, where he saw the troops mowed down by the lead of the enemy. In 1863 he was granted a furlough and spent his time with Mrs. Henry in New York. He was on active duty in Montana and Wyoming in 1875 and 1876 under General Crook and left the service in 1877.
It was in that year that Mr. Henry took up a homestead when congress threw open for settlement the land lying north of the Platte river. After investigating numerous sections of the western country he finally decided upon Brown Springs in the Cheyenne River district as the place in which he preferred to locate and there he engaged in the sheep and cattle business. His place has become famous in recent years as the well known "88 Ranch" and he went through all the experiences of frontier life in the settlement of the state and the development of its resources as an agricultural and stock raising district. It is said that on many occasions he has driven a bull team over what today are the rich oil fields of Wyoming. Even at that period there were strong surface indications of oil, for the freight teamsters frequently greased the axles of their heavy wagons at the numerous springs in the Salt Creek and Cheyenne River district near Mr. Henry's ranch. It was this that led him to the idea of developing the vast possibilities of the country in the way of improving the oil fields that are now producing wealth for so many investors. In the meantime, however, Mr. Henry in 1905 organized the Popo Agie Coal Company, of which he is the president, and built a railroad connecting his coal mine with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. The coal mining company furnishes the enormous amount of fuel necessary for the railroad company on its western divisions, and it may be of interest to state in this connection that no man in these mines receives less than five dollars per day. He has also been the organizer of important financial institutions of this state, including the Bank of Hudson, of which he is the president. He still has important ranching interests, in which he is engaged in raising sheep, cattle and horses, being the largest horse raiser of the state. Many of these have found their way to France and Belgium in the last few years as cavalry horses. It is from the "88 Ranch" that the prize-winning draught, riding and bucking bronchos have been raised for many years. But in recent years he has given considerable attention to the development of the oil fields, being now president of the Eastern Wyoming Oil Company, president of the Mike Henry Oil Company and president of the Madsen Oil Company, all of which are operating profitably in the oil fields of eastern Wyoming. The Mike Henry Oil Company owns valuable properties, its holdings including twelve hundred and eighty acres of land in what is known as Big Muddy Group, No. 1; eighty acres in Big Muddy Group, No. 2; one hundred and twenty acres in Glenrock Group; twenty-five hundred and sixty acres in the Cheyenne River Basin Group; three hundred and twenty acres in the Lance Creek Dome; one hundred and sixty acres in the Irvine Monocline; one hundred and twenty acres in the Douglas Field; and forty acres at the Cactus Dome. In the development of the oil projects Mr. Henry has displayed the same keen sagacity which has brought him notable success in the conduct of his other business interests. He has never failed to carry forward to successful completion whatever he has undertaken, and people have come to rely upon him, as a man of the keenest discernment, readily discriminating between the essential and the nonessential in all that has to do with the attainment of success in any of his business projects.
On the 17th of January, 186o, Mr. Henry was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Mary Maher, of California. Their children are: John F., a resident of Douglas ; Thomas Ed, living upon the ranch ; Michael William ; Theresa Grace, the wife of Fred Scherck ; and Mrs. Agnes Clark. The wife and mother passed away March 29, 19o9, and her death was the occasion of deep and widespread regret not only to her immediate family but to many friends.
Mr. Henry is a Catholic in religious belief and has taken the third degree in the Knights of Columbus. He is also associated with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and he maintains pleasant relations with his old military comrades through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic. His career is indeed notable. There are few men of his years who maintain an active interest and part in business affairs, but Mr. Henry is still closely concerned in the management of his interests and his judgment and discernment are as sagacious and as keen as at any point in his career. Old age does not necessarily suggest idleness nor want of occupation. There is an old age which grows stronger and brighter mentally and morally as the years go on and gives out of its rich stores of wisdom and experience for the benefit of others. Such is the record of Michael Henry, to whom every phase of pioneer life in the west is familiar, whose history embraces important military service that has led to the reclamation of great sections for the purposes of civilization and who in his business life has been actuated by a spirit of enterprise and progress that has led to the substantial growth and development of the state as well as to the advancement of his individual interests and success.