Online Exhibits

Jackson Hole by Number

USING PRIMARY SOURCE DATA TO COLOR YOUR STORY In Jackson Hole, the Census records help to paint a complete picture of the different stages of settlement; from the needs of a small self-sustainable pioneer community to that of a thriving tourist-based economy. What are the needs of an early homesteading family and how were they […]


“Cakes and cookies were often the “conversation openers” on the frontier. A housewife always kept a cake handy if a neighbor dropped in, and a cookie jar filled to the brim just in case any kids were hanging around on bake day. Cakes came in handy for ice cream socials, Sunday picnics, house raising and […]

Cabin Construction

Each family built a two-room cabin, with a fireplace in one room and a cook stove in the other. The logs were cut out of a nearby canyon and hauled to the flat valley they called South Park. A pit saw was used to plane lumber, since it would be nearly a decade before a […]

Second Generation

Melvina Edna Wilson was 3 years old in 1889 when she accompanied her parents, Sylvester and Mary Wilson on their move to Jackson Hole. She loved to ride, fish, and owned a .32 rifle. She was a talented piano player, and earned commendations in school. She helped her mother care for sick neighbors and deliver […]

Hospital & Medicine

When the Wilsons fell sick, they were without any formal medical care. Especially in isolated Jackson Hole, the families had to rely on their own knowledge and any training one might get. Mary Wilson (Sylvester’s wife) and Matilda Wilson (Nick’s wife) were known in the South Park area for being health care providers. Mary had […]


In 1891, tragedy struck the Wilson family. Sylvester’s son John had traveled to Eagle Rock, Idaho (now Osgood) to meet his sister Rebecca, who had been married and living in Utah. When unexpected circumstances prevented her from making the trip, John decided to continue on to Sugar City, Idaho to visit with his cousins and […]

Post Office

In 1893, Nick Wilson moved back to the South Park area with his large family. His children attended the local school, the only one operating in the valley. Nick surveyed the area before settling on a homestead along Fish Creek, a few miles northwest from the South Park community. Here he built the second Post […]


After the first winter of 1889 was over, while Nick Wilson was scouting for a homestead location, the women in the Wilson party were becoming unsure of their new home. In such a newly-settled, and isolated area, there were no schools. The women banded together and told their husbands they were not going to live anywhere […]


On July 30, 1893, the South Park branch of the Mormon Church was officially organized. Due to his role in organizing the branch, Sylvester Wilson was named a presiding elder. He opened his newly built home to his neighbors, and church services were held in a large room that also served as a schoolroom. The services […]

Community Growth

From 1890 to 1900, the population of Jackson Hole increased exponentially. From an initial rough count of 28 individuals in 1889 when the Wilsons first arrived, the population had risen to 638 individuals by 1900. Of these, over 25% were Mormon. It would be no accident that the Wilsons, being the first Mormon residents, had […]